We Made Hartney

We Made Hartney


Carpenter and Gardener James McArter



JIM MCARTER WAS BORN IN 1863 on a farm in the Blythe-Seaforth district of Ontario. He received his education at Seaforth high school where he was very active in sports. The trade he followed was that of a mason, and after his apprenticeship in Ontario he decided to follow the building trade in Western Canada.

In 1890 he arrived in Portage la Prairie but two years later in 1892 he came to the Hartney district. His trade as a bricklayer leaves many monuments to his memory, in the various buildings he constructed. The Town Hall and Hill Store are two of his outstanding contracts. Along with several of the pioneers he laid out streets and planted many of the trees that are much in evidence today.

Jim participated in many sports and was particularly active in the first organized football leagues in the district. Following the introduction of curling into this district and the formation of a club, he became an expert and was always a member of Hartney’s “Big Four” which won numerous trophies at bonspiels in Manitoba and other provinces. He headed the local club for many years and later served as one of its honorary presidents. 

During the Great War her served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps overseas, at Otterpool and Risboro camps, and later transferred to the Canadian convalescent hospital at Epsom. It was here at Epsom he met Winifred Mills, a member of the British Army Medical Corps and on May 22, 1919 they were married at St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, England. Jim and Winifred returned to Canada and to Hartney in January of 1920, taking up residence on River Avenue.

In the following years Jim pursued his trade and community activities. Winifred was an active member of the Presbyterian Church and other community organizations in Hartney.

Adapted from A Century of Living, page 471.

A Master Mason

James McArter’s work on various Hartney buildings, especially those in brick, is a testament to his skill, and a reminder of the craftsmanship that attended so many building projects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Look closely at nearly any of Hartney’s brick buildings and be reminded of the kinds of skills and attention to detail that defined the work or so many of our builders.

Details of the Hill Block, one of Jim McArter’s projects.

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