The railway line that now serves Boissevain was put into operation on
When the line approached the spot then known as Cherry Creek, the CPR
announced that they would erect a station there and a town appeared
Local businessman George Morton, quickly moved his general store from
the earlier location of Wabeesh, in the Whitewater area, to the new
town of Boissevain, where other buildings, stores and houses, were
The Boissevain CPR Station
Within a few short years the new town of Boissevain grew into the town
we would recognize today.
Three churches, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian (1887), St. Matthew’s
and St. Paul’s Methodist (1893) survive today.
|Preston and McKay built a large Flour Mill
in 1889, which proved to be an important boost to the local
In 1906 the Brandon, Saskatchewan and Hudson Bay Railway, which linked
Brandon with the Great Northern Railway system in the United States
provided competition for the CPR and additional service. The CPR also
provided additional service when it completed its Boissevain-Lauder
extension in 1913.
The Boissevain Great Northern Station
Boissevain Photo Collection
|In 1886, the new CPR line bypassed the
established community of Waubeesh and created the new village of
The boxcar railroad station that had been established to service
Waubeesh became the beginning of Whitewater village. Pioneer
businessman George Morton built an elevator in 1888 along with a large
general store and boarding house, using lumber cut by the Lake Max
The elevator was the first of five that came to spring up in the town,
making Whitewater a very important grain-handling centre.
| Until 1894, the children of
Whitewater attended Mountainside School,
which was about 7.5 km to the south. In 1894 a schoolroom was set up
above the general store in Whitewater. Petersburg School was built the
following spring at the south end of the community.
The train pulls into Whitewater Station.
A brickyard started up in the late 1880s about a mile northeast of
Whitewater which employed between 30 and 40 men. The bricks made from
Whitewater Lake clay were of very high quality, and they were used for
many buildings in the nearby town, including the Petersburg School.
By the early 1900s the village had a butcher shop, harness-making shop,
livery, carpenter, and draftsman. There was also an open-air skating
rink complete with a warm-up shack. Rail service was provided regularly
by the CPR, with daily passenger and mail traffic.
|When the first pioneers came and selected
homesteads and village sites
they considered several factors. Available wood and water and suitable
drainage were important. The railway companies were often more
interested in finding a good level route. Towns were located based on
the distance between stations.
In 1885, the railroad reached Cherry Creek (Boissevain) and began the
last stretch of the line. Instead of angling southwards towards the
bustling community of Deloraine they headed almost straight west. The
route across flat prairie was certainly easier to build than the path
through the hills and valleys where Deloraine was located.
So a “new” Deloraine was created.
Deloraine Park – Designed by Dr. Thornton
|Deloraine immediately replaced Boissevain
as the grain shipping centre
of the Southwestern plains, receiving wheat for the next four years
from as far as Pierson and Hartney.
The sites that pioneers chose near water and trees where often quite
But the railway often selected sites on a treeless prairie. In
Deloraine it was Dr. Thornton, whose love of nature, and wide knowledge
of horticulture, made him perfectly suited to the task of planting
tress and creating parks.
Both the Presbyterian and Methodist Congregations built fine large
churches. However in 1917 they united their congregations and only need
building. Both were still standing in 2917 with the Presbyterian
served many other purposes.
|The railway 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.
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
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
|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
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.
|Until the railway passed through Hartney
on a path to Melita, Melgund
was where residents in the Lauder area got their mail. It had a school
and church as well.
With the railway came the new towns of Lauder and Napinka. As soon as
town sites were laid out there were people on hand eager to set up
places of business and Lauder was no exception.
Before the end of 1892 there were numerous buildings and
In 1893 records for the town show seven married couples, fifteen boys
and ten girls, with ten children in school.
As was common in all too many of these new towns, there were setbacks.
A fire in 1894 did a lot of damage.
The residents didn’t waste any time – they rebuilt.
By 1895 the town layout was firmly established. It had a rink and
tennis courts, and its curlers and tennis players were well known in
neighboring towns as were its baseball and hockey teams. There was a
literary society and a bicycle club. Dances were held in Hamelin's
Another typical business venture in many new towns was the “Cheese
In 1895 the farmers of the area met to make plans. General approval was
received and the factory was located just north of town. The rise in
the road at this point was known for years as the "Cheese Factory
The milk was gathered daily in large barrels and the whey returned to
the farmers for feeding pigs. Henderson Directory 1897 lists W. Brigden
It did not last too long - probably not more than year.
Other enterprises included a mill and a lime kiln just north of Grand
|In 1892 Napinka was a boom town located at
the junction of two busy CPR branch lines.
The first building appeared in July of 1891 before the tracks were laid
through the area, and before the townsite had even been surveyed.
A year later after the first railway line (from Brandon to Pierson)
created the town, the line from Deloraine was finished to Napinka.
Nearby Melita, had sent a delegation to Winnipeg to argue for the
junction to be placed in their town but Napinka won.
Trains came in every day from Brandon, Winnipeg, Estevan and the many
small towns along the line. To service the trains, the CRP built a
water tower and pumped water from behind a dam the railway built on the
A coal dock, tool shop, roundhouse and bunkhouse were also built to
serve the CPR. The passengers and crew on the trips that stopped
overnight in Napinka used the hotels and stores built along Railway
Avenue. In 1892, an article in the Brandon Sun mentioned Napinka having
“…two general stores, three hardware stores, two butcher shops, one
flour and feed store, one watchmaker, two dressmakers, builders, coal
and wood dealers, one elevator, two lumber yards, a drug store and a
It also had boarding houses, two hotels, two banks, a blacksmith,
doctors, a Massey-Harris dealership, and eventually, with the arrival
of the automobile, two garages.
A beautiful two-story stone school now a designated Heritage Site, was
built in 1900.
Sports teams, social clubs, and women’s organizations were set up. An
open air skating and curling rink was built in 1896, while a newer
curling facility was built in 1906, and curlers from Napinka achieved
great success in bonspiels across Manitoba.
|By the time the current town of Melita
appeared in 1890, the region
itself had a long and interesting history. Three communities existed
within a few kilometres. Sourisford lives on as a location and a part
of our heritage. Dobbyn City never really got started, and the district
of Menota lives on as a school site.
Manchester, renamed Melita, moved to be along a new rail line, and
became the commercial centre of the region.
Before the first train whistle sounded, Mr. G.L.Dodds had moved his
Hardware & General Store to the site of the new town and everyone
Melita’s first CPR Station
More buildings were built quickly from materials readily available via
the new rail line. Within a few years they were replaced by more
ambitious structures such as the Northern Bank, the I.O.O.F Hall and
the Crerar Law Office; all of which are still in use.
By 1892 numerous business blocks lined Main and Front
As early as 1892, sidewalks were to be laid on Main Street. By 1898
Melita had a population of over 500 people.
1905 saw street lighting by gasoline lamps.
In 1916 permission was granted to R. N. Wyatt to place gasoline tanks
at business on Front Street. Garages were replacing Livery
As the town grew, its selection of businesses attracted customers from
C.P. Holden’s Furniture Store
The Grand Union Hotel
The view down Elva's
Railway Avenue in 1940.
of the first homesteaders in what came to be known as the district
of Elva was H. J. Archibald and his family. They settled northwest of
where Elva was later built. Archibald established a post office out of
his home, which received the mail once a week from Brandon.
In 1891 James Skelton agreed to sell some of his land to the Canadian
Pacific Railway, which was looking to continue the line west from
Melita. An unincorporated village grew on a corner of Skelton’s land.
The community was later named after the first baby to be born in the
district: Elva, the daughter of James Modeland and his wife.
Elva continued to grow, and by 1904 it had a population of 100 people.
Four years later the numbers had grown to 150 people.
Elva seemed to be on the road to becoming a very important town—its
elevators serviced farmers as far south as the United States boundary.
Elva Photo Collection
This elevator in Elva (the
oldest still standing in Canada) was built over a century
The Lake of the Woods elevator was built sometime between 1892 and
1899. Before the turn of the century, the Lake of the Woods Milling Co
was one of Manitoba’s top companies in the grain industry. Their
elevator shared the business with three other elevators, all built near
the turn of the century and operated by different companies.
Matt Pedden, Lake of the Woods agent in 1912
The Pierson train station in 1915.
|The CPR laid tracks through what would be
the village of Pierson in
1891 and surveyed a town site. Merchants Alfred Gould and David Elliot
from Sourisford were the first to buy lots. They established Pierson’s
first business, a grocery store
Pierson quickly became the service centre for the southwest corner.
February of 1892 saw the first train rumble down the tracks. In short
order, three grain elevators were built beside the tracks by different
companies. In 1900 this number had risen to four.
The usual assortment of services followed in a building boom that
provided the shops and businesses necessary to make the community
flourish: a blacksmith shop, millinery shop, wheelwright, livery barn,
butcher shop, lumberyard, drug store, jewellery store, bank,
barbershop, and café, among others.
Around 1900, the businessmen of Pierson, especially J. F. Dandy, saw a
need for more accommodations for the travelling public. Dandy owned the
first hardware, furniture and lumber businesses. In 1900 Dandy financed
the building of the Leland Hotel, which catered to travelling
businessmen, doctors, dentists and incoming settlers.
In the fall of 1891 Sherriff's and Company built a large warehouse,
with the lower part housing machinery, sleighs, cream separators, parts
and feed and the upper part was used as a hall.
Today it is a private home.
Pierson Photo Collection