Chapter 8: Expansion

Page 53:  Minto Page 54: Highway 23
Page 55: Elgin
Page 56: Grande Clairiere
Page 57: Goodlands Page 58: Waskada
Page 59: Stops on the Lyleton Branch Page 60: Lyleton
Page 61: Wakopa and West Page 62: Bannerman and The Great Northern
Page 63: North to Minto Page 64: Railway Construction – Heaslip & Beyond
Page 65: West From Lauder - Bernice & Bede Page 66: West From Lauder – Broomhill & Tilston
Page 67: The Boissevain – Lauder Branch Page 68: Croll, Regent & Dand

Related Resources

Page 53:  Minto

Minto got its start when the Canadian Northern Railway came through in 1898 and it grew quickly. 

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.

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

The new Great Northern line offered excursions to Brandon Fair

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 nearby larger towns to shop. So many of the businesses 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 Photo Collection

Page 54: Highway 23


In 1899, after the railway was built, a survey was made of the village of Fairfax and building lots were sold. 

The first general store was built in 1900 was operated by Mr. J. L. Hettle, who also became postmaster and Justice of the Peace. Three grain companies were quick to build elevators.  

Fairfax school was established in August 1902.  It became the Fairfax consolidated school in 1913 when it merged with Crown, St. Luke, and Plainville schools.


The A.E. Hill Store in 2016

The ghost community of Underhill took its name from Mr. John Underhill who arrived during the rush of settlement to this part of the prairies in the early 1880s.

Three elevators were swiftly erected with the arrival of the railway. Mr. A. E. Hill, who operated a store in nearby Hartney, opened a general store in Underhill in 1897. 

The first school in the area was called the Berber School and was constructed over a kilometre south of the village in 1886. In 1909 it was moved into the village where it stood until 1928. A new school was built on the same site and used until the district consolidated into the Souris Valley School Division.

The school building was always a social centre for the district. Activities such as amateur plays, Sunday School, card games and dances were held.

Passenger service to the Underhill station was discontinued in 1954. Soon the railway line was abandonned and rural schools were consolidated further, shifting the focus from the small community to the larger surrounding centres.


Argue was known as the “Trackend” for a year as it was the most westerly station on the Winnipeg-Cameron-Hartney Branch of the Canadian National Railway until 1900 when the line continued to Hartney and Virden.


The community was named after pioneer John Argue. 

Page 55: Elgin

Elgin is another story of rapid growth.  In 1898 when the railway came through, there was not a building on the present site.  By 1900 the population of the village was about 400, and there were many more families in the district than at present.   By 1913, as progress continued, Elgin had a school, four churches, an active band, and 34 places of business.  

Most communities – even small ones, had a community band.

In 1912, Elgin Consolidated School was formed when the local school, started in 1884, joined with Alice, Gilead, Maguire, and Millerway Schools. In 1951 a new modern school was built.  That school closed in 1986 and a monument now commemorates it.


Built in 1904 this Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce building, to the left in this photo, was originally two stories high, providing accommodation for the bank manager.  The second level was removed in the 1950s.  After the bank closed in 1995, it became the Elgin and District Museum.

Elgin Photo Collection

Page 56: Grande Clairiere

The three-story convent in Grande Clairiere was built in 1906.  

The Grande Clairiere community, which was established in 1888, got a new look when the Canadian Northern line from Hartney to Virden passed through in 1906.

The train brought better mail service and better delivery of supplies.

Already known for its large church, and convent, it now became a village with
stores, garages and even a bank.

Store operated by Claude Rey and Marcel Martine.

The Bank of Hochelaga opened as “la Banque Nationale” by Father Pierquin and originally located in the Rectory. Later changed to La Banque d’Hochelaga.


The Bank of Hochelaga has been preserved on a local farm.

Page 57: Goodlands

Settlers in the area of Waskada and Goodlands in southwestern Manitoba waited in great anticipation for a branch line to be built through their communities. It arrived in 1900.


The town of Goodlands was first started in 1899 by Bert and Ernest Goodlands who built the first store. In that same year a lumber yard, boarding house and blacksmith shop were established.


The local school was called Lennox School – it had existed long before the town was created.


In 1928 Cranmer made the news when one of its elevators collapsed. Workers had heard the building creaking and groaning and evacuated in time. No one was hurt.

When a new rail line was built into a region the plan was to have a town about every fourteen kilometres. But as years went by those farmers between Deloraine and Goodlands who still had some distance to haul their grain started wondering if perhaps service couldn’t be better.

In 1906 an extra stop, called a siding, was built, at about the midway point and in 1913 the first of two elevators was open for business.

The U.G.G. elevator collapsed in 1928 and was rebuilt. Both elevators continued to serve the grain trade as well as being depots for the sale of coal. The loading platform was also used for other shipping needs, notably the shipping of cream to creameries.

Farmers to the north and south of the new Cranmer siding appreciated the shorter trips to deliver grain.

Page 58: Waskada

A Post Office named Waskada was opened in 1883 a few kilometres south of where the town is today.

When it was confirmed in 1899 that a rail line was coming nearby and that a new town to be was being surveyed they decided to keep the name.

Until this time businesses such as stores, post offices, blacksmith shops and gristmills were operated on the individual properties of homesteaders.  The railway brought the creation of towns, and towns then became the most logical place to do business.

When Charles Sankey arrived in Waskada in the fall of October 1899, the townsite was bare prairie. Sankey was a dedicated community worker, and in fact appointed by the municipality to look after general public interests in the town.

Waskada quickly became the commercial centre for the region.

On a walk south of the townsite one day, a vision presented itself to Sankey: a recreational park, surrounded by trees, with space for sports activities and community events. From this initial dream, a combination of hard work, determination and good lick accident brought the Waskada Park into being.


The Waskada Park in 1946, looking southwest.

Over the next two years funds were being gathered for the purchase of trees. In the meantime Chambers planted potatoes and other vegetables in the strips of land. He did an excellent job, and left the soil in good condition for receiving trees.


The first version of the blacksmith shop, now featured in the Waskada Museum is visible on the left side of this photo from around 1909.

Page 59: Stops on the Lyleton Branch


Dalny was the first stop after the train headed west out of Waskada. Soon two elevators were doing a thriving business and a third was added in 1925.


Coulter was the next stop and it did become a busy little village with a school, a church and a large general store.

The Coulter School was built in 1915.

The General Store built by pioneer Alfred Gould.


Coulter in 1959


This elevator, now in the middle of a field is all that is left of Cameron Siding. There were once three elevators and a store here.

Page 60: Lyleton

In 1902, when the railway branch finally arrived near the Lyleton Post Office, close to the US border south of Melita, another new town was created. In fact that was what they called it at first, “The New Town”.  The streets were placed on what had been a field of grain just two months before. Andrew Lyle's farm home was the first post office; because of this, the district had been known as Lyleton for some time.  Soon the town took that name as well.

A comfortable station was provided by the Canadian Pacific Railroad 

Before long the town was booming with all the stores and services the region needed.

The foundation of the new Presbyterian Church, which still existed in 2017, was laid and the main street was lined with businesses.
Little towns like Lyleton owed their existence to the homesteads around them and a shopping trip to town was something the whole family would appreciate.

Fire was the enemy of these new towns, and Lyleton had its share. On August 19, 1904, the entire business section portion of Lyleton was wiped out by fire, caused by lightning.

And like other towns before – they set out to rebuild.


The Home Bank

A visitor to Lyleton today might find it hard to believe that it once had a thriving bank and a busy hotel.

Fire was to strike Lyleton again in 1910 and again large portion of the business section was destroyed. The fire fighting equipment of the day could do very little to check its progress. 

The improvement in transportation and communication brought large towns of Melita and Brandon closer. There was already less of a need for some businesses. The store, school, church, elevators, post office, garages and lumber yard continued to serve the village for some time. Much of the community life continued to revolve around the church, school, hall and rink.

Page 61: Wakopa and West


In 1886 the CPR railroad reached Killarney and Boissevain, and Old Wakopa began to fade.  Then in 1905 the Canadian Northern from the east gave it new life. 

The Wakopa Village site in 2010 – the village was relocated here when the “Wakopa Branch” of the C.P.R. was build from Greenway in 1904.


Adelpha originated as a post office in the home of an early homesteader, John A. Hurt who settled just to the north of the Turtle Mountain Forestry Reserve, right next to the Boundary Commission Trail.  

In 1905, the Canadian National Railway built a rail line heading southwest from Greenway.  The rail passed just to the northwest of Hurt's home.  Construction stopped there and the train station was named Adelpha.

Since Adelpha was the “end of the line”, it became busy place for a time. A “wye” was built at for turning trains around so that they could head back east.  In 1914 the Canadian National Railways extended their Greenway Branch to reach Deloraine and other villages attracted the business.


In 2017, the Mountainside Store – now used as a house, stands as a reminder of the little village that once served the needs of the surrounding district.  At one time, in addition to the store there were nine houses, the school and two elevators in town.

They had church in the school and there was also a public dancehall in the basement.

Page 62: Bannerman and The Great Northern

In 1906 the Brandon, Saskatchewan and Hudson's Bay Railway, a part of the Great Northern Railway from the U.S., began service from Brandon to the small North Dakota town of St. John's, where it made connections to destinations across the United States.

The line was important to several communities south of Brandon.

Anything that would reduce the length of those trips to the elevator was welcomed by farmers.
    A Ride on the Great Northern

The train departed from St. John's, North Dakota, just a few kilometers south on the Manitoba / US border.

Charlie Bryant, long time conductor, well-known to folks all along the line, was a man who wouldn't hesitate to make an unscheduled stop or other accommodation for a good customer.

Before long it reached  the border and four kilometers past that was the new village of Bannerman.
Of all the newly created villages along the line, the rise and fall of Bannerman was the most dramatic.

In 1905 it was a field.  In 1906 it was a brand new village.
Soon a hotel with large dining room and bar encouraged visitors. A feed and livery barn and a lumberyard were open for business. A poolroom and barbershop, a store and post office, a blacksmith shop, a harness and shoe repair shop, all were built. Soon a second grocery store and additional blacksmith shop were needed, along with two dealerships for the fast growing farm implement business.

Because it was the first stop in Canada it was an official Port of Entry with a Customs and Immigration Office.

When the railway line closed in 1936 Bannerman became a town without a purpose. There were several other towns nearby that till had rail lines. It faded away quickly and is now back to being a field.

The Great Northern Story

Page 63: North to Minto


In 1908 the hamlet of Desford consisted of the water tower for the trains, the Railway Station, elevator, section house, bunk house, the Methodist Church, the blacksmith shop, a Community Hall, a General Store and a few houses.
The population exploded to near thirty.

A few kilometres out of Desford is to Fairburn. These "sidings" as they were called were put in place to accommodate local farmers, and were never intended to become villages.


The site of Fairburn School, now a park alongside Highway 3.

To us in modern times It may seem odd that a place like Fairburn was even on the map. It was just a lone elevator on the open prairie.

But although it had no stores or streets it was a community. A Post Office had existed nearby for many years.

Boissevain & Minto

By 1906 Boissevain and Minto were already well-established and already each had one railway line. The new line gave them a direct route to Brandon and another elevator to choose from. 

Eagerly awaiting the train at the Minto Great Northern Station for an excursion to Brandon Fair, 1917

Any town would welcome a new connection to the outside world.

It was exciting, as Sylvia Sprott indicates in her memoir in the Minto History;
"A trip to Brandon on the Great Northern train was indeed an event to remember."


The GN line crossed the CN line at Minto, a tower overlooked the crossing.

Minto Photo Collection

Page 64:
Railway Construction – Heaslip & Beyond

Crossing a ravine between Heaslip and Bunclody

Healslip had existed as a post office since the earliest pioneer days. It got a big boost when the Great Northern began operations in 1906 and the Heaslip community developed into the beginnings of a village, with a station and general store.

A Big Project

Just past Heaslip, the line angled north-westward to Bunclody. Along the way it had to cross two deep ravines that ran into the river from the west.

They built temporary trestles and dumped in earth to create a road-level earth dam, complete with huge pipes designed to let the runoff through. The pipes soon 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.

A concrete tunnel under the crossing.

The bridge over the Souris at Bunclody was the biggest undertaking.

The End of The Line

The line closed in 1936. It just wasn’t needed. People travelled by cars and the mail and freight service could
easily be handled by existing lines and by truck.

The line is credited with ending the rural isolation felt by many Westman settlers and offered them an important
time-saving travel option. Daytime shopping trips to Brandon were a treat, and students at university could get
home for weekends. But the car and the improved road conditions offered a new sense of freedom to rural residents,
and the line, though remembered fondly by old-timers, was just not needed any longer.

Page 65:
West From Lauder - Bernice & Bede

Bernice School


ln I902, the The Canadian Pacific rail line  from Lauder to Tilston was surveyed and in about 1905, the townsite of Bernice was established.

In its prime, Bernice had a large general store with a basement hall in which fowl suppers and community gatherings were held. The store also contained the post office.

The town also had a lumber yard, a blacksmith's shop, implement agency and machine shop, a C.P.R. (boxcar) station, a section house, a railway water tank, an open air skating rink, a church, and at least three homes.


Bede School
The rail line continued from Bernice westward. The next siding that sprang up was named Ruth and it remained with that name until the Canadian Pacific changed it to Bede in 1925.

The village consisted of an elevator, a school, and a store. The elevator closed in the late forties.

The cemetery, along busy Highway #83, is still in use.

Page 66: West From Lauder – Broomhill & Tilston


The tiny village of Broomhill never did get very big.

This large old concrete block building in Broomhill might make you wonder: Why such a large building in a tiny village?


Kilkenny’s General Store – Broomhill, 2011

Perhaps when local Postmaster William Kilkenny and his brother John built it in 1908, they expected the village to grow, or maybe they were just ahead of their time. 

The Broomhill post office had been established in 1892 on the Kilkenny homestead. When the CPR arrived nearby they moved to the new townsite and build their store.

It was more than a store - more like a shopping centre with a post office, a garage, gas station, and even implement dealership.


The first settlers to the region had chosen a site roughly two miles east of the present village of Tilston and established a community they called Eagleton. When the C.P.R. brought the railway through in 1907, they established the town at the current location, and the new name was chosen.

Soon, more settlers arrived and among the early buildings was a boarding house, a hardware, a blacksmith shop, a small school building, and a box car  for a station.


 Railway Avenue, Tilston


This small building is the former R.M. of Albert   Municipal Office. Tilston is now in the Municipality of Two Borders.

Tilston Photo Collection

Page 67: The Boissevain – Lauder Branch

In November 1913 the first train followed the route from Boissevain through stations at Sanger, Schaffner, Orthez, Croll, Regent, Hathaway and Dand before reaching Lauder.

The Blue Flea, as it was called, ran a passenger service connected small communities with the big passenger trains out of Winnipeg. The trains also transported hay, grain, milk or whatever was needed.

Sanger, Schaffner, Orthez  and Hathaway were sidings with elevators and they never did become villages.

Croll had just an elevator and a store while Regent and Dand had a few other services.


Dand United Church was originally the Chain Lake Quaker Meeting House.


The Regent Store and the home of the owners.

The End of the Line

After the railway stopped in the early 1960’s, the communities lost much of their purpose. Before long schools, churches, stores and grain elevators began to disappear.


A Cairn marks the location of Croll 

Page 68: Croll, Regent & Dand



Croll School wasn’t in the village. It was over three kilometres away, where it had been for many years before the village was started.



Of the many small railway villages that came and went, Regent’s just might be the only one that was named by mistake. The CPR bought the original homestead of John Riley for the town they were creating and proposed that Riley would be the name. Someone along the way made a mistake and Regent was the name used.  As Riley was long gone, the locals appeared quite OK with that.

Soon a large store, Post Office, Imperial Oil Dealership, hardware store, blacksmith shop/garage, poolroom, and barber shop were open for business

A Presbyterian congregation used the school for services and built a Manse for the Minister. Later, in 1957 a United Church was built in the village.

West Hall / Hathaway

Back in 1912, it was important for farmers that they have an elevator nearby.  Many were still using horse-drawn wagons to deliver grain and each trip took up valuable time. The railway and elevator companies tried to provide the service every 6 – 8 kilometres. There was no real need for towns at every stop. Places like Hathaway, in between the village of Regent and Dand, just had one elevator and used an old railway car as a station.


The station at Dand was at first known as “Landmark” before it was renamed to honour the Dand family’s role in getting the railway to come through the region.

Thomas Dand found hauling grain to the distant rail line was quite a job, often made worse by blizzards in winter and heat and mosquitoes in summer.

He asked his friends from his former employer, the CPR, to build a railway line that would connect Lauder with Boissevain and the CPR agreed. They were having trouble deciding exactly where to place the route so Mr. Dand, who had experience with railways, walked a line from Lauder to Boissevain and the CPR followed his path.