The Town of Hartney
The rail companies usually put towns wherever they needed them. But in 1889 local farmers heard that the CPR was going to build a town to the northeast of where Hartney is today, settlers protested. They insisted that the new town should be near where James Hartney had established a post office and store on his farm in 1882.

Mr. Hartney moved to the area in 1882 with his family. He imported a carload of Red Fife wheat from Minnesota and soon had a good wheat crop. This gave the district a reputation as a first-class wheat producing area. His success attracted more settlers and Hartney's farm became the centre of a new community. The post office, which he named after himself, and a store, were first operated out of his home. He brought men into the community to operate this business as well as a blacksmith shop that he later established.

When the surveyors did appear they selected a spot within a mile of the Hartney farm and, the settlers, were happy.  When the C.P.R named the town Airdrie they made another request. They wanted the new place named Hartney already in use for the post office. Once again, the CPR made the change.

Hartney grew quickly on each side of the new railway track. The Mill and Elevators were important services.

When the train whistle sounded for the first train on Christmas Day 1890, there were already two elevators, a boarding house, a store and post office. Dr. Frank McEown had set up a practice and started work on a drug store.

As the town grew, two brickyards, a flour mill, and a sash & door factory contributed to the economy. In 1902 A.E. Hill built the two-story brick block that still stands on the corner of Poplar and East Railway.

The A.E. Hill store.


A second railway, the Canadian Northern connected Hartney to Virden to the west in 1900. By 1904, in addition to being the home of eight operating elevators and 10 clergy members, 51 businesses were listed in the town newspaper.


Community Form and Layout

The layout of the town of Hartney was a direct response to the railway line to which it owes its existence. Unlike many prairie communities, it grew, from its very inception, on both sides of the tracks, with residences on each side.  While the main business section grew along East Railway Avenue which evolved into the “Main” street, some public and commercial buildings were erected on West Railway Avenue, and to this date, it is not completely residential.

The railway runs south-east and the town was surveyed to conform. A second railway entered Hartney from the southwest but this was after the town was well-established.

That Hartney grew quickly and confidently on each side of the track is not surprising in that its security was almost a given, in that the vital rail link was in place and that it was at the centre of an already well-established agricultural base. There was no speculation or uncertainty about its importance as a service centre.

Hartney Highlights

Hartney Town Hall
220 West Railway Street
217.A.2 / 1906

Designed by H. Arthur Vaughn, the hall features round arches on the front and - fire truck entrance
It was built on land purchased from William McDonald. It was the site of the pump factory.
It represents a considerable investment for a community of this size and as such was the source of some disputes.


St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church

401 East Railway Street
217.B.1 / 1892

Hartney contractor H.H.Hotham built the church. Now a private residence it retains
Its window details and bell tower.

St. Andrew’s Anglican Church
02 River Avenue
217.B.2 / 1894

The church is a good example of Anglican/English style with its steep gable, and nice windows.
The well conceived interior has exposed rafters, nice pews and furnishings.

The cornerstone was brought from Boissevain by team and wagon by Ben Roper and Robert Taylor. Mr. Roper did the painting as well.

Hartney United Church
108 Spencer 
217.B.3 / 1928

Contractor A. Ibbetson, from Winnipeg built the church, on the site of the former Methodist Church. He incorporated part of that structure in the new building. The Forbes Hall (formerly Forbes Church) was moved to the site and connected in 1960

A.E. Hill & Co. Store / Hart-Cam Museum
310 Poplar Street
217.D.1 / 1902

The contractor was Wilson & Mawhinney  and James McArter was the bricklayer.

This store was erected in 1902 on the site of the original (1890) Hartney-Dickenson store. A.E. Hill also had stores in Griswold and Underhill. It was managed by Harry Hill and later by his daughter Irene Hill.

Building Features of Interest:

Stone foundation
Local brick from Kirkland, nice trim at top
Elevator / pressed metal ceiling
“A complete kiln of Kirkland brick used.”
Stone brought in by railway. Hand powered lift between floors with counterweight.

The building was adapted twice in the early 2000’s for its roles as a bank in “The Lookout” and as Currie’s General Store in “The Stone Angel”.


Lewis Building
308 Poplar Street
217.D.2 / 1902

The building features nice brick work such as the arches over windows.
A separate recessed entrance gives private access to the 2nd floor. A large arched central window opening has been altered.

In  1901 Walpole Murdoch and F.G. Lewis bought the Hartney Star from Dr. Woodhull. Mr. Lewis supplied the capital while Mr. Murdock served as editor and manager.
Also widely known as the former Credit Union and a Post Office before that, this building has served a variety of purposes. Other known uses include; The Union Bank, The Bank of Montreal, a telephone office, and a Liquor Commission outlet.

When Annie Playfair was owner of the Hartney Star (1910), she lived on the upper floor.

Crawford Building
213 West RR
217.D.4 / 1902

The building features nice brickwork and a side entrance

The bell tower has been altered, and it never did contain a bell. The building served as a jewelry store for four years before being sold to the Union Bank. Later the building saw long service as Link’s Grocery Store and McDowell’s Grocery. It is prominent in many early photos.

This postcard view shows three notable downtown buildings – in 1925.

Merchant’s Bank Building
21 East RR
217.D.7 / 1914

The building served as a Merchant’s Bank then Bank of Montreal. The red brick exterior and the nice cornice are typical “Bank” elements
It has been converted to a residence.

Hartney Machine & Motor Works
229 East Railway Street
217.D.9 / ca. 1900

Narcisse Isabey, whose father Edmond had been operating a Machine Shop since 1899, bought this building in 1935 and moved the recently acquired Ford Dealership and repair shop to these premises.

Gideon Field House
115 Queen Street
217.C.2   /   ca. 1905

Gideon Field was a Cabinet Maker. The house features a Mansard roof with gable dormers, and a stone foundation
It has some original woodwork and hardwood floors.
This building appears in a street scene from 1905.

Former Methodist Church Manse
106 Spencer
217.C.8 / ca. 1900

This large home features a Central gable with bargeboard and small window

Tena Hopkins’ Boarding House
112 Spencer
217.C.9 / 1890

The house was built by Dr. McEown, who sold it to Tena Hopkins in 1903. 

Tena’s Boarding House was a Hartney institution for several decades.
The house features the original windows and trim, and a modest bay window.


Irene Hill House
207 King Street
217.C.12 / ca. 1898

Built by Harry Payne for the Hill Family

The brick (From Payne’s Brickyard) has been retained and the detailed verandah, the nice attic windows, fish scale shingle trim and the stained glass on porch all add to its charm.

Both the Irene Hill House and the Harry Payne House can be seen in this photo of King Street.

Chris Somerville House
210 King St.
217.C.13 / ca. 1910

Once owned by Chris Somerville, this fine home has a two- level veranda and features some leaded glass.

E. Brunsdon House
208 Poplar St.
217.C.18 / 1928

Edgerton Brunsdon was a Lumber Dealer. The builder was George Robinson from Elgin.

The building features a nice porch and a piano window,

Woodhull House
323 East Railway 
217.C.24 / ca. 1905

This modest home was once owned by Dr. Fred Woodhull and later by his daughter, Margaret.

Mills House
408 Souris Street
217.C.30 / ca. 1905

The beveled brick was cast specifically for the foundation lip of this building. Other features include the moon dormer window.

W.P. Cowan House
406 Souris Street
217.C.31 / ca. 1910

Siding covers the original brick on this house. The window frames and other wood trim was milled locally at Hartney Manufacturing.  Other features include stained glass, a bay window and a modest dormer

Chapin House
404 Souris Street
217.C.32 / Prior to 1907

This was the home of pioneer businessman and community leader, Festus Chapin.
It is built of poured concrete with a half moon window in gable, fish scale shingles on trim and nice  bargeboard.

Hunter House
02 Souris Street
217.C.33 ca. 1900 (Oldest house on the street)

The builder not known but teacher Blanche Hunter and her parents John & Mrs. Hunter lived here prior to 1923.  

Note the oval window and the trim on the small gable. The interior retains some woodwork, fixtures, an old light switch and some stained glass.

George Brunsdon House
601 River
217.C.37 /  ca. 1928

The home was built by S. Westman for George Brunsdon, then sold to Mervin Leach by Mrs. Brundson in 1970
It retains the fish scale shingle trim, an enclosed verandah and one attic dormer.

Perrin House
607 River Avenue
217.C.38 / Visible in 1905 photo

Harry Perrin came to Hartney in 1893 and this home was built before 1905.
The complex Mansard roof had a pitched extension added to top later.

The interesting squared tower has nice windows with rounded arches.
There is some coloured glass and good  brick detailing
The garage added later to this unusual and well-preserved building.

Galbraith House
600 River Avenue

W.H.Galbraith, builder of Hartney’s first hotel,  had this fine home built.

The tall 2 – storey  brick house sits high on a stone foundation.  Fish scale shingles on gables, and an attractive portico and balcony add to the look.   It also features nice brick window surrounds, some leaded glass and wood floors.

It appears briefly in the film “A Stone Angel”

Isabey House
118 West Railway 
217.C.47 / ca. 1893

This sturdy brick home was owned by Edouard Isabey, machine shop owner, and later by Narcisse Isabey.
The roofline has a  small gable dormer & half-moon window.