Minto & Area

Before Minto  …. there was Heaslip

Healslip had existed as a Post Office since the earliest Pioneer days.

In the early 1880’s the main road from Old Deloraine to Brandon was the Heaslip Trail named for Sam Heaslip who established the trail and used it to deliver the mail. Heaslip (pronounced hays-lip) came from Ontario in 1881 and homesteaded near where Minto would later be located. Mrs Heaslip was the first woman of European heritage in the district that soon bore their name.

In 1882 Sam received a contract for mail delivery. Each week he picked up the mail in Brandon and travelled to Old Deloraine where mail for more far-flung locales was picked up by others. 


The Heaslips's home served as a Stopping Place and Post Office.   School classes and Presbyterian services were sometimes held in the upper floor of a granary on their farm until Riverside School was built nearby.

In 1898 when the Canadian Northern Railway established the town of Minto, existing post offices, and the beginnings of villages that had grown up around them, were eclipsed by the new town.

But the name Heaslip would live on – it was reborn as a railway stop when the Great Northern began operations in 1906 and developed into the beginnings of a village, with a station and general store.

A Big Project

Just past Heaslip the railway builders had to cross the deep, wide Souris River Valley. The line angled westward to Bunclody. Along the way it had to cross two deep ravines that ran into the river form the west.

They built temporary trestles and dumped in fill to create a road-level earth dam, complete with huge pipes designed to let the runoff through. The pipes soon broke and had to be replaced with concrete tunnels two metres square - still quite visible today. Local childhood adventures often included a dare to go through these tunnels.

Minto is Born

Named after the Governor General, Sir Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 4th Earl of Minto,   was started when the Canadian Northern Railway came through in 1898.  

Farmers were now able to ship their grain and livestock closer to home instead of hauling to Boissevain or Hartney.


The town soon had all the shops that a community needed to thrive. These shops included everything from a butcher shop to a Chinese laundry shop.


Main Street 1906

In 1906 a second rail line from the North Dakota to Brandon made Minto an even busier place.


Minto School was established formally in the village of Minto in July 1901, becoming Minto Consolidated school in 1962.  The present red-brick school dates from 1928.  The old school bell is contained in a monument nearby.

On October 14, 1930, this booming town met a harsh reality that many communities had to face in those days.  A huge fire swept through the business section and razed everything in its path.

Like all small towns in the 1930’s, some of the businesses that had been very important in the early days, were no longer needed. People could take their cars to larger towns to shop. So many of the shops didn’t rebuild and Minto’s “downtown” was no longer as busy. It did however keep its basic services and continues to serve the local people today.

Minto & Area Highlights

Former R.M. Office
South Railway
347.A.1 / 1932


The R.M. of Whitewater used this modest but stylish building for decades - followed by the  Sunrise Credit Union.

It features nice trim and details and an attractive roofline facing the street.

Former Presbyterian Church
South Railway
347.B.1 /1903


The Church was originally located on the corner of Church and Railway Avenue.

When Methodist and Presbyterian Churches united, they drew lots to select which church would be used.

It was extensively renovated in the late 50’s.


Berbank Union Church
NE 35-6-19
1919 / 347.B.2


Wm. English donated the building site to the Berbank Union Congregation. It was built with voluntary labour. It closed in 1966.

The church was used for scenes in the movie “For the Moment” starring Russell Crowe.

Alexander Street
347.C.1  / ca. 1905


This well kept 4-square style frame house has been well-kept and renovated.

It retains its wraparound veranda with nice trim and its small roof dormer


Former Gardiner Saddlery Shop
South Railway  & Johnson St.
347.D.2 / 1967


Don Gardiner replaced his earlier shop with this building.

Sparks House
122 Johnson Street 
347.C.6 / ca. 1910

William Sparks was a well-known Minto businessman  and butcher.


Former Johnson’s Hardware
South Railway Ave.
347.D.1 / 1939


Built by Bain Johnson for his family hardware business.

Over the years it was used as:

Grieve’s Grocery (George Grieve) 1955
Ralph Evans 1976 (Evans Grocery)
Gordon & Gwen Wooley 1979 (Minto Community Market)

It replaced two earlier buildings that housed the Johnson Hardware. Though much modified it retains its original entrance and false front and some interior elements


Interior of the “Old” Johnson’s Hardware

Minto Consolidated School
South Railway Ave.
347.E.1 / 1928 

Minto School was established formally in the village of Minto in July 1901, becoming Minto Consolidated School in 1962. The present red-brick school building dates from 1928. The bell from Minto School is contained in a monument nearby, as a donation from the Minto and District Historical Society.


First Minto School – built 1902



Former Alcester School / Minto Legion Hall
South Railway
347.E.2 / 1887

This compact building served as Alcester SD #380. It was  moved to Minto in about  1954 and used as a Legion Hall


Former Fairfax School 

The Fairfax School District replaced this building with a larger one in 1913.
It was used as  an extra classroom as late as 1929, and as a Community Hall. It was moved to a farm near the Riverside Bridge




Riverside Park Hall Site
NW 21-6-19
347.J.2 / ca. 1947

In about 1938 Lisk Campbell established a cable ferry, store and gas pumps beside the Riverside Dance Pavilion  - all known as Riverside Park. Peter Balen took over in about 1947 and built this hall. Dancing continued here for a few more decades.

This building is collapsing in 2017.

Minto Hotel - Former Grout’s Hall
Highway 10. & South Railway
ca. 190


Built on North Railway Ave the building housed groceries and hardware on the lower level with a Hall on upper floor. The Hall was also used as a church by Presbyterians. It was later bought by Harry Austin and moved to south side on Johnson Street as the King Edward Hotel. It was moved to the Highway location after 1946.


Old Riverside Bridge
NW 21-6-19
Former Crossing -  #10 Highway at Souris River
347.M.1 / 1929

Built at a cost of $34,528 by the Winnipeg construction firm of Macaw and MacDonald, this concrete arch bridge was formerly the primary crossing for Provincial Highway No. 10 over the Souris River It has been superseded by a newer bridge to the west but is still used for local traffic.

This is the second of three bridges to cross the river near this location. Sheppard’s Ferry served here in the earliest pioneer days.


Great Northern RR Ravine Crossing
SE 30-6-19   Heaslip Area
347.M.2 / 1905 - 1936


Built by the Brandon, Saskatchewan and Hudson’s Bay Railway – part of the US Great Northern line.

Construction - trestle bridge – filled in.


Drainage culvert


Former Heaslip Station & Village Site
SW 18-6-19
347.M.4. / 1906

Situated on a rail line abandoned in 1936, the tiny village disappeared soon afterwards.