We Made Hartney

We Made Hartney

Community Leader

Clergyman and Sportsman Reverend William Butterworth



Revered William Butterworth would have preached in the elegant and refined interior of Hartney Anglican Church, constructed in 1893-94, and now a designated Municipal Heritage Site.

THE FIRST RECORDED MEETING of the founders of Hartney’s Anglican church was in March 1894. Previously, Reverend William Albert Butterworth had held services from 1892 in Bateman’s Hall, in a building owned by J.E. Sparrow, and in the Orange Hall.

The first recorded baptism was that of Henry, son of W.E. Crawford at Mr. Butterworth’s home in January 1893. Four other baptisms took place in the Orange Hall in the same year. The first baptism in the church was of Myrtle Ellen Shepherd on June 18, 1895. One of the first marriages was that of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Moore of Elgin.

At a vestry meeting held August 11, 1894, it was decided that a church should be built, the cost not to exceed $1500, of which $500 was to be raised in cash. The cornerstone was brought from Boissevain, by team and wagon, by Robert Taylor and Ben Roper, and the painting inside and outside of the church was done by Robert Taylor. The chancel was added some years later, around 1907. The cornerstone was laid by J. Ovas, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba.

The rector’s stipend in 1896 was $250 per annum. Mr. Butterworth remained in Hartney until 1897 and was rector in other parts of Canada until 1907, when he returned to England.  After his departure, Canon Rogers of Winnipeg addressed a meeting of the vestry proposing that St. Andrew’s by joined with St. Luke’s, Souris. This motion was defeated and St. Andrew’s decided to carry on alone.

Rev. John Gibson was rector from 1899 until 1906.  He also held services in Elgin from 1900 until 1903 when a church was opened there. Rev. D.J. Hull succeeded him in 1906.

Rev. G. Brownlee was rector from 1910 to 1912. Rev. C.A. Blay began his ministry in Hartney on June 23, 1912, remaining for ten years, the longest recorded time of office. From 1913 to 1918, he held services in Lauder. In addition, he took services at Cavell and Findlay on alternate Sundays, as well as morning and evening services at St. Andrew’s.

At the annual meeting of April 1914, the ladies of the congregation were for the first time, granted the right to vote on church affairs.

Early in 1915, at a vestry meeting, a motion was made by Robert Taylor, seconded by James Barber, that the wardens be instructed to pay off the church mortgage, and it was a very happy occasion for the congregation and rector when on October 24, 1915, the church was consecrated by His Grace, Archbishop Matheson of Rupert’s Land.

From A Century of Living, page 25.

While they were important leaders in a community, the quick turnover of Anglican clergy noted above suggests a rather less secure position than might be imagined. The clergy of Hartney’s Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, were also familiar with a similar transitory lifestyle.


Hartney’s handsome Baptist Church.

The Sporting Life

A tennis club was formed in 1893 with Rev. Butterworth of the Anglican church as first president, Miss Nina Dickson was secretary and the first treasurer was Miss Tena Hopkins who played tennis until 1930. Three tennis courts were levelled and taped west of the railway tracks. The ladies made the first nets and the men set them up. The tennis courts became a social centre where young men and young ladies met without benefit of chaperones. If warming to the game were a prerequisite of successful playing, the costumes of the ladies must have given them a distinct advantage. Pictures of the time show the men in shirt sleeves and bowler hats while the women wore ground-length full skirts, high-necked shirtwaists with long sleeves and sailor hats held to high-piled hair by sturdy hatpins. Tennis was a dignified game in those days.


Hartney’s tennis court is visible in the foreground of this old photograph.


Of all the sports enjoyed in the fist decades of Hartney, lacrosse was the game that appealed most to players and spectators. In the first year of the town’s existence there was a lacrosse team consisting of business men, clerks and farmers. The team grew stronger until in 1898 it captured the championship of Western Canada at a game at Winnipeg that aroused the Hartney folk to hilarious pitch. Edgar Russenholt was a young boy, newly arrived in Hartney with his father and recalled the home-coming of the victorious team:

Everyone in town and from miles around was at the station when the train came in. The players put on quite a show. They wrapped bandages around one another and came limping off the train on crutches and canes. They piled onto high seats rigged up on one of Billy McDonald’s big drays and were hauled in triumph through the streets by four sleek horses with beribboned harness, and were preceded by the Hartney brass band drawn on another dray. At the tail end of the procession came all of us boys, hollering our lungs out.

Swimming and the Natatorial Society
Because Hartney had the advantage of being near the river, many happy outings were connected with it. The boys early found it ideal for swimming and the old swimming hole just west of the bridge was a favourite summer meeting place. In the spring before mothers realized that the river was clear, their sons came home with damp hair and often with sniffles. Bathing suits were not always thought necessary and warnings appeared from time to time against the indiscretion of the boys who swam too close to the road for complete privacy, as well as the suggestion that bathing suits were cheap.

For the girls who were barred by propriety from swimming at the river the boys did, a swimming club gloried by the name “Natatorial Society” was formed in 1914. Because no woman knew how to swim we had male instructors for each of the three groups into which club was divided. This made a chaperone for each club a necessity and they were duly selected.

The would-be swimmers were dressed for propriety rather than for swimming. Each wore a navy blue lustre blouse with elbow-length sleeves and sailor collar, gathered knee-length lustre bloomers under decent knee-length lustre skirts, and on their legs long black lisle stockings. In order to teach us the proper strokes with touching us, the instructor suspended his pupil face-downward by a strong band of webbing much as if he were weighing her. Thus supported she struggled to carry out his spoken instructions. Needless to say, few of us learned to swim that summer.

Canoe Club

One day in the spring of 1905 a few young men gathered in Dr. Woodhull’s drugstore as they so often did. This time they discussed boating and decided to form a canoe club. They ordered three canoes through Hunter’s Hardware as a beginning. The Hartney Manufacturing Company secured two more canoes which they sold to prospective boatmen. The club and the canoes were launched. The new owners took many other young men as crew members and that summer the Souris was enlivened by their exploits. The following year a boathouse was built, other canoes were purchased and canoeing became a popular pastime with many participants and with an interested audience on the bridge and river banks

Albert Henry and Dan Sutherland, not so young as the canoeists, each bought gasoline launches in which they took young and old for rides around the river’s curves. Walpole Murdoch was a frequent passenger and noted the beauty of the green banks where gold finches, orioles and swallows could be seen undisturbed and where even the beavers, growing used to the boats, did not seem greatly disturbed.

Adapted from The Mere Living, page 160.

Hartney canoeists on the Souris River.

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