The Distant Past * First Nations * The Fur
Trade * European Settlement
Many of the pioneers who came to
take up homesteads in the southwestern
corner of Manitoba in the 1880’s came from Ontario. One popular route
was via boat to Duluth on Lake Superior, then by rail to a point on the
Red River directly south of Winnipeg, where they might have a choice
between a riverboat or a train. From the border crossing at Emerson
they could then make their way westward along the Boundary Commission
Trail, often in wagons drawn by oxen or horses, with whatever
belongings and supplies they owned. It was a long, slow, journey, but
the trail first blazed by the Boundary Commission in 1873 was well
travelled, and several “Stopping Houses”, pioneer versions of the
roadside motel, had been established in farm houses along the trail. If
the weather cooperated, and the wagon didn’t lose a wheel or break an
axle, it might well have been almost an enjoyable trip.
Preferable in some ways to the crowded steamboats, and uncomfortable
railway cars they had just left behind.
The Boundary Commission Trail in western Manitoba.
(Vantage Points Collection – TM-SPHA)
River crossing could be tricky,
depending on the time of year and the
water levels. Fortunately, the Boundary Commission, following roughly
the lead of a route used for centuries by Aboriginal hunter and Metis
traders, had selected advantageous locations for crossing streams. Upon
reaching the southwest corner in what would become the Melita / Pierson
area, the Souris River was the main obstacle.
Boundary Commission has chosen a natural crossing that had existed
for centuries. Bison herds in their yearly migrations, Aboriginal
Peoples on their hunting trips, fur traders and Metis pemmican
brigades; each had used the site.
place, which was soon called Sourisford, a gravel bottom spans
the width of the river and the soft banks on either side were worn down
by herds of bison over years of migrations. The bank of this portion of
the river was a popular camping place for First Nations and the
location of impermanent villages. It was also a camping place for early
explorers, the Boundary Commission Surveyors, and the North West
The path the buffalo took down the east side of
the Souris Valley.
Early photo of the crossing by the Boundary Commission.
(Archives of Manitoba Photo)
The highways of one era can be
forgotten in the next.
The Sourisford Crossing, which was
so important for the many centuries,
was no longer necessary as railways and automobiles replaced the horse
community that grew up around the crossing is long gone, but the
story lives on. As new towns began to thrive along rail lines and
highways, the pioneers took steps to commemorate the location through
the creation of Coulter Park and the conservation of this important
The convenient river crossing that came to be called Sourisford, is
near the crossroads of ancient trading routes used by First Nations
groups. One, which passed from the Turtle Mountain westward, was
adapted by the Boundary Commission; the other, the Yellowquill Trail,
angled southwest from the Portage La Prairie area.
The general vicinity was a natural place for both lasting villages and
Two archeologically significant national historic sites are located in
the immediate vicinity. Those sites each feature Interpretive Signs.
Sourisford Linear Burial Mounds
The mounds at this
site are remnants of the largest concentration of
ancient burial mounds in Canada. Archeologists believe that the
casualties of harsh winters were ceremoniously buried when the ground
thawed – an event of cooperative behavior and cultural importance.
Artifacts found in the mounds have included stone tablets, clay
mortuary vessels, and shell gorget masks made from Gulf Coast conch
people who left the Sourisford Linear Mounds are known only as the
Mound Builders. They are thought to be related through common ancestry
to—or influenced by contact with—the Mississippian peoples who lived
along the mid and lower reaches of the Mississippi River. The idea of
burial mounds spread from these Mississippian people, who in turn drew
their influences from Central American civilizations even farther south.
Mound Builders were a nomadic bison hunting society who moved about
according to a seasonal cycle, summering on the plains. The burial
mounds at Sourisford date back to 800 AD, over 1,000 years ago.
The Brockinton Site
National Historic Site of Canada is a multi-component,
stratified archaeological site located on the east bank of the Souris
River a few kilometres north of the Sourisford Crossing. Located on a
steep slope between the flood plain and the prairie the site consists
of a thin crescent-shaped strip of low-lying land that has yielded
evidence of three distinct periods of occupation, dating from 800 to
its earliest occupation around 800 AD, the spot was used as a
bison kill and butchering site by an unknown Plains group. They used
contours of the landscape to drive bison down the valley to the
riverbank, where they built a structure known as a pound. The pound
consisted of a collection of posts driven into the ground in a row
among the trees growing on the bank. The structure was about 1.5 metres
thick and held together using horizontal branches and saplings
intertwined among the posts and trees. Gaps in the structure were
covered with hides. Bison would then be herded down the steep valley of
the Souris River to run, tripping and tumbling, into the structure.
This proved to be an efficient method of killing bison with a minimum
of bone breakage. The site has yielded a large number of small
side-notched arrows, ranging from 10 to 45 pounds of material per
An Interpretive Sign, recently placed at the site.
The pound at
Brockinton was a rare find, not so much because of its
use, but rather what was done with it after it had served its purpose.
Though evidence suggests that the site was hurriedly abandoned, extreme
care was taken in leaving the landscape as it had been. After its use
the pound was dismantled to the point that the holes left by the posts
were filled in with vertically placed bison bones. The site is one of
the first and certainly the best-documented cases of such a rare
Bison bones in the Souris River's bank at the Brockinton Site – readily
found in 2014
Going back in time,
the Duck Bay Culture, a regional variant of the
Blackduck complex found in northern Ontario, used the site for camping
sometime between 1100 and 1350 AD. They adapted to the seasonal bison
hunting of plains people and adopted a number of traits found in plains
cultures, such as the use of Knife River flint, which came from western
North Dakota and was used for tool-making. Another adopted trait was
the use of a flat milling stone to grind up seeds. Artifacts found at
the site from this era include: shards of large woodland pottery
(distinguished by cord wrapped impressions and shallow stamps),
endscrapers, bifaces and three mini stone awls. The site produced
projectile points with broken bases that had been abandoned when arrows
had been repaired with new points, and a channeled sandstone abrader
for smoothing wooden shafts, a rarity in Manitoba. The animal remains
discovered at the site reflect a mixed economy fed by bison, canines,
beaver, deer and fish.
recently, an indigenous group known as the Williams culture used
the location as a camping site, dating back just over 400 years ago
(1600 AD). This was a group of plains First Nations who were primarily
dependent upon the bison. They produced uniquely decorated pottery
pieces: small bowls with twisted cord impressions in triangular and
horizontal patterns, and tiny stamps created using materials such as
reeds, bird feathers, quills or tiny bird bones. Some of the pottery
pieces have a more broad decoration with smoother surfaces. These
pottery fragments suggest a tie to the Oneota culture in southern
Minnesota or Iowa. The Oneota included several groups that occupied the
area of these states between 1000 and 1650 AD. Significantly, the
Brockinton site was the first excavated evidence of the Williams
A Bison Pound
(Vantage Points Collection – TM-SPHA)
This tradition is not
usually found on the plains, but rather has a
widespread distribution in the wooded portion of south-eastern
Manitoba. This appears to be the only occurrence of these peoples in
Canada, who are represented by a uniquely decorated, rich and varied
relationship between the site and the neighbouring Linear Mounds
National Historic Site of Canada is also of interest. All these things
give us a more complete picture of the First Nations associated with
was designated a Canadian National Historic site in 1973 because it
confirms that dynamic cultural changes that occurred in this region
before contact with Europeans.
It is a
common perception that most plains Aboriginal peoples were
nomadic wanderers who were largely dependent on what has been described
as the “mobile supermarkets of the vast herds of migratory bison.”
Although this was true of some First Nations, the Snyder II site south
of Melita suggests that agricultural activities in southwest Manitoba
did not begin with European settlers.
is on the bank of the Gainsborough Creek just half a kilometer
west of its junction with the Souris River. In 1970, and again in 2006,
Archaeologist Leigh Syms made an excavation of the site, which produced
direct evidence of pre-contact native agricultural activities.
A replica of a shell
mask/gorget found at the
(Vantage Points Collection – TM-SPHA)
Syms excavated a bell-shaped
storage pit at the site, which measured
over a metre deep. The lower portion of the pit revealed two distinct
hearths with concentrations of fire ash, artifacts, evidence of a sweat
lodge, and bison scapulae (shoulder blades). The bison scapulae were a
particularly significant find in an agricultural sense because of their
use as hoeing implements—evidence that the soil was being worked in the
storage pit itself was used to store surplus produce, an indication
of a semi-sedentary occupation. The people who worked the land here
would either have lived in a permanent village or were around for
enough of the year to maintain crops and live off of the storages they
made in pits such as this one.
of a village occupation is scattered over many acres of the
neighbouring cultivated field. This field, among others, exhibits
depressions on its surface, which Syms speculates is indicative of at
least seven other pits. The activities of modern agriculture have wiped
out evidence of how many other storage pits there might have been, in
addition to whatever gardens or fields the village residents might have
worked. These fields were probably located on the nearby floodplain
below the storage pits.
concluded that the Snyder II site was used as a village during the
protocontact period: that is, during the time when local Aboriginal
groups were receiving some European items through trade, but before
Europeans set up trading posts in the area. The site dates very loosely
to 1610 AD.
also revealed pottery shards from several Late Plains Woodland
vessels—artifacts that have not been found before on the Canadian
plains. These artifacts were dated to about 340 years ago.
we have seen, the Sourisford area has been home to many cultures,
and sits on trading routes that connected those cultures to others far
distant from here. At the time of European contact, and throughout the
Fur Trade era, several groups would use this particular area. It was
often visited by Cree and Ojibway hunters in the centuries leading up
to European settlement, but it was the Nakota, whom the traders called
the Assinboine, that LaVerendrye encountered on his trips in 1837 and
Assiniboine, once members of the Yanktonai arm of the Dakota
Nation, were once a Nation 10000 strong that occupied a territory that
spanned the Prairie Provinces and parts of the northern United States.
Over at least two centuries they hunted bison on the Souris Plains, and
in later years actively participated in the fur trade on the Souris
likely of Cree or Ojibway origin, means “Stoney Sioux.” They
call themselves the Nakota Oyadebi, which is also the name of their
Assiniboine Indian Camp, Lac de Marons, Manitoba, July 17, 1874 July
(Archives of Manitoba Photo)
decline of the herds, competition from other groups, and the
devastation wrought by diseases like smallpox, decimated their
population and they moved westwards where their descendants now
has no Assiniboine reserves, only individual members living
The region in 1825
region in 1859
are five Dakota bands in Manitoba today. While many of their
ancestors are descended from groups who came to Canada after an
unsuccessful uprising in 1862, and after the Battle of Little Bighorn
in 1876, Dakota people have been here for centuries.
kept by the Hudson’s Bay Company indicate that the Dakota were
active in Canada as far north as Churchill River in northern
A group of
Cree living in this area called their village
Kimosopuatinak, meaning “Home of the Ancient Dakota,” which confirms a
strong Dakota presence here.
group of Dakota near Turtle Mountain
(Archives of Manitoba Photo)
is in territory covered by Treat #2.
Yellow Quill Trail
Yellow Quill Trail began as a trade route used by First Nations. As
European influence in southwestern Manitoba grew, explorers, fur
traders and bison hunters from the Red River Settlement found the trail
a convenient avenue of travel as well.
Quill Trail takes its name from Chief Yellow Quill who was
the leader of a band of Saulteaux living near Portage La Prairie during
the late 1800s. He is known for signing a treaty for land allotment
with the Canadian Government in 1875 and for being Chief over two
Indian Reservations: Swan Lake No. 7, and Long Plains No. 6.
mixed accounts as to the character of Chief Yellow Quill.
Some say that he was an arrogant leader who was uncooperative and not
always diplomatic. Others report that he was a highly respected citizen
of the prairies and a prominent figure in the early days of the Portage
La Prairie area.
Dakota make their way along the Yellow Quill Trail. CREDIT: Town of
Hartney Archival Collection
The first European to explore this
part of the prairies was La
Verendrye, who in 1838 made a journey south from the forts he had
established near Portage La Prairie and Winnipeg, in search of the
Mandans, who were supposed to know a route to the western sea.
His trip took him through this region.
1742, his two sons, travelled up the Assiniboine and Souris
Rivers, in another visit to the Mandans. There is every reason to
believe they camped at Sourisford, as mention is made in their records
of the Antler Creeks; called in Cree "He-a-pa-wa-kpa" or "Head and
Horns Creek". David Thompson in 1897 and Alexander Henry in 1804, also
passed this way.
18th and 19th Centuries, fur trading posts along the Souris
River benefitted from access to the surrounding plains - the grazing
grounds of the bison. They were key to the production and supply of
pemmican, which supported the rest of the fur trade. A total of 18
posts – belonging to companies and independents alike – grew and faded
from the Souris River between present-day Souris, Manitoba and Minot,
Sourisford area was home to an American Fur Company Trading Post
believed to be near where North Antler Creek enters the Souris.
Metis Hunting Grounds
around 1820 large hunting expeditions originating in the Red
River Settlement set out twice yearly to supply the settlers and the
HBC with pemmican and hides. In the first decades, the Souris Plains
supplied all they needed, but as the bison population fell sharply,
they had to travel for weeks before they came into contact with the
of Manitoba Photo)
In the first expeditions as many
as 540 carts were involved. The
passing of several decades saw these numbers grow to 820 and reach its
peak in 1840 with a record of 1,210 carts. The larger hunt took place
in summer and a smaller one in autumn. For days in advance of a hunt
the Red River Settlement would shut down as preparations for the
expedition were under way. After everyone was gathered the rules and
regulations for the hunt were laid down with solemnity. The officials
of the hunt were also chosen before the eight kilometre train of Red
River Carts set off in search of the bison.
Metis hunting communities located on the Plains in a more
permanent fashion. These temporary villages varied in size; some only
several families large, others with populations that reached 1,000.
Families congregated in these communities for convenience as well as
for safety and protection due to the presence of competing First
Nations, such as Dakota and Assiniboine. The villages were made up of
roughly built sturdy huts which provided the necessary protection from
harsh winters. It often took no longer than a day or two to construct
such a hut with the aid of a single axe and a knife. Wealthier traders
would often have multi-room dwellings which were used to house
religious services and dances. These social activities were the main
source of entertainment throughout the long winter of hunting,
processing and tanning hides, and making pemmican.
general locations of the some of the wintering communities that existed
in southwest Manitoba. Adapted from John Welsted "Geography of
A wintering community generally
consisted of hunters and their families
and a few Métis fur traders. The leader or chief of each community was
often the most accomplished hunter or main fur trader. In the 1850s and
'60s, a missionary priest was often present as well, and he frequently
assisted in leadership duties in addition to aiding in the relief of
social discord, the presence of which could challenge the integrity and
effectiveness of the community altogether.
were usually constructed in late fall in preparation for
winter and abandoned in early spring. Sites of past communities were
not generally returned to year after year because of changes in the
bison's wintering range, and also due to the fact that rival First
Nations would often burn the buildings to the ground as soon as they
until the 1860s, Métis hunters returned to the Red River each
spring to sell their robes before returning to the prairies for the
summer bison-hunting season. As the bison disappeared in the late
1870s, wintering communities lost their economic function and most of
them simply disappeared from the prairies, with the exception of a few
that made the successful switch to agricultural communities. Métis
hunters either started up homesteads of their own, joined First Nation
bands, or settled in other established communities.
wintering communities were created in response to social and
economic conditions in Manitoba. Though practiced for only a short
time, the formation of wintering communities was a crucial element in
the emerging Métis identity and pre-railroad prairie culture.
The Oldest Highway in the West
Boundary Commission trail was the route taken by the Boundary
Commission in 1873 & 74 as they surveyed the Canada – US Border.
They bridged creeks, established crossings, and cleared bush as
necessary; but the general route they followed spans centuries, crosses
cultural lines, and involves a multitude of goals and purposes.
one short period of its life at the dawn of European
settlement gave the trail its name, it was well travelled long before
it began as a First Nations travel and trading route, which
the fur traders of the 18th Century naturally used when they began
penetrating the interior of Rupert's Land as the region was called. Not
too long afterwards, the Red River carts of the Métis wore grooves into
the prairie sod of the trail in their pursuit of the bison as the large
animals retreated ever westward.
published in 1876, this map likely relied on information gathered prior
to the Boundary Commission’s work.
1818, Canada and the United States had agreed that from Lake of the
Woods to the Pacific, the 49th parallel would separate the two
countries, but there was no pressing need to be more specific about it.
In 1870 when Canada had purchased Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay
Company, and thoughts were turning to the possibility of large scale
agricultural settlement on both sides of the border, the time had
come to mark it more precisely.
September of 1872, two parties set forth from Lake of the Woods,
Ontario: Her Majesty's North American Boundary Commission and the
United States Northern Boundary Commission. The two parties worked in
cooperation from their respective sides of the border. They each had
their own astronomer who calculated the location of the 49th parallel
and in the event that calculations were different, the mid-point
between them was accepted as being correct.
– Sourisford is on the map.
America Boundary Commission camp at] South Antler Creek., Man. 1873
Crossing - Souris River 170 miles west of Red River & 10 miles
north of Boundary. 1873
(Archives Canada Photo)
two summers, the
Boundary Commissioners, guided by Métis scouts, were followed by
labourers breaking the trail and by surveyors traveling behind. While
the British commissioners traveled very lightly armed, the Americans on
the other side of the border were accompanied by heavy military escort.
The Dakota, who hunted on both sides of the line often hostile towards
Americans for establishing posts on sacred land and for ignoring and
supply ox train leaves from the Long River depot, following the newly
cleared Boundary Commission Trail.
(Archives of Manitoba Photo)
they came to the
Souris River they were fortunate in finding a spot about ten miles
north of the border with a firm gravel bottom and an easy approach to
the ford from each side of the river. Sourisford quickly became well
known to all Boundary Commission teamsters, and subsequently to the
incoming European settlers who would soon be arriving.
of Manitoba Photo)
over Souris River - 1st Crossing [Manitoba, June 1874]]
The North West Mounted
Boundary Commissioners finished their survey during the summer of 1874.
Near the end of that year the North West Mounted Police used the
Boundary Commission Trail – freshly blazed – as their avenue of travel
on their trek to “establish law and order in the west” and to prepare
the frontier for settlement.
Beginnings of a New Community
centuries the Boundary Commission Trail had served as the highway to
the west, transporting goods and people.
Once familiar with the feet of Nakota and Dakota bands, and their
horses, and later with Red River carts pursuing the hunt, it next
became accustomed to the sound of settlers heading west.
The first villages in southern Manitoba were established alongside the
Trail, flourishing until the railroad came to the area.
In late 1879 Walter F. Thomas came by way of Winnipeg, and in the
spring of 1880 Alfred Gould and David Elliott arrived using the
Boundary Commission Trail. Gould and Elliot built a house and barn at
the crossing along the trail, near the river. With the increase of
settlement travel westward, their home became established as a regular
Many settlers were relieved to arrive at Gould and Elliot’s where there
were warm and comfortable stables and a hot meal served in the house
for a very moderate price.
The stopping place slowly grew into a small unofficial community.
During the summer of 1882 a store was operated out of a tent by
settlers Warren and Snider. A regular post office called “Sourisford”
was installed the next year. T. B. Gerry opened a blacksmith shop and
F. B. Warren opened a store which operated for two or three years.
On July 6th, 1883, the Registrar's Office for the Electoral Division of
Souris River was removed from Deloraine to the "town of Souris", on the
NW 26-2-27. A plan of a townsite, had been filed in the Souris River
Registry Office on March 11th, 1882, by two early settlers, Carbert and
Lett under the name of “Souris City”. It was referred to as Souriapolis
in some accounts.
Mr. J. P. Alexander. The Land Titles Registrar built a house and office
on the townsite. His was the only house to be built, and it was moved a
few years later, when he obtained a homestead nearby. The office was
moved again in 1886 when Mr. Alexander resigned to contest the seat in
the Provincial Legislature and once more, in March 1891, to the Town of
Melita where the building was soon put to other uses.
Twenty-three year old Walter
Thomas left Winnipeg on November 16, 1879
and headed for the Souris River Valley, arriving at the junction of the
Souris River and South Antler Creek by December 1st. By March 1880,
Thomas had to return to Winnipeg for provisions. Upon returning, in
May, he found Alfred Gould and David Elliot had arrived. Land claims
were staked, cabins built and clearing and plowing commenced. Gould and
Elliot shared a cabin while the Thomas cabin was close to the ford on
the Boundary Commission Trail.
Plattsville, Ontario, in 1856, Alfred Gould came to western
Manitoba in 1880. He took up land in the fall of 1881 after the area
had been surveyed, but before it had been thrown open to settlement, on
Section 22 of Township 2, Rage 27.
1881, John B. Elliot, brother of David Elliot, arrived. His
claim was made 2.5 miles south west of his brother’s cabin. Along the
South Antler Creek. These land claims were firmly in place before the
official land survey of 1881.
Alfred Gould, David Elliot, John Elliot & Walter Thomas
The Gould and Elliot Store:
and Elliot Store and Stopping Place was built on the western
slope of the Souris near the Boundary Commission Trail. It served,
first informally, as the Post Office from 1882. Below the store
and house, a stable was excavated into the hillside.
Deloraine Land Titles office the mail was usually put in a grain
sack and sent on to Gould and Elliott's by the first traveller going
west. If that person was not going all the way, he would give it to
someone else who was. Often letters were carried by chance travellers
one hundred miles further west. It was a maybe a few weeks late, but
Gould was officially appointed Postmaster at Sourisford from
1884-1896 and following his resignation. David Elliott from 1896-1920.
John Snyder Log House
Snyder was one of the first four to file on homestead lands west
of the Souris River, on Oct 29, 1881. A log house was built in 1879.
Sitting Eagle of the Pipestone (Canupawakpa) Reservation,
came to the area in 1914. During the 30’s and 40’s, he spent the
winters at Coulter Park, living in a teepee, and trapping fur-bearing
animals. He died several years later in a winter camp on Turtle
Methodist service to be held in what later became known as
the Melita-Napinka Circuit of the United Church was conducted by
Reverend Albert D. Wheeler who served the Antler Mission of the
Methodist Church from 1882-1884. He held his first service in the home
of Alf Gould at Sourisford in 1882. In those days, services were held
in the different farm houses reaching from the Antler on the south to
the sandhills on the north, and only in summertime as the winters were
too cold, the trails were few and far between, and it was easy to get
lost, even in daylight.
In 1885 a
patrol consisting of one officer, one Non Commissioned
Officer and 24 constables went to southern Manitoba to prevent horse
were stationed at Manitou, Clearwater, Wakopa, Deloraine and
Sourisford. This force returned to Regina on November 18,1885, and
reported not one case of horse stealing in the district during the
summer. At Sourisford they issued "Let Passes" and watched trails
leading from Bottineau.
Alfred Gould Stone House
fieldstone and mortar house, built in 1889 at the fork of the
Souris River and South Antler Creek, was a familiar gathering place and
general store. Previous to the 1967 Centennial Celebration, Alfred
Gould’s son Norman donated the house and nine acres of land to the R.M.
of Arthur for incorporation into the Pioneer Picnic Grounds, now known
as Coulter Park. A dedication plaque has been mounted on the house.
Gould's stone house also
preserved on the site.
David Elliot Log Cabin & Post Office
The log structure of one and a
half stories was constructed in 1887.
With the building of the C.P.R.’s Kemnay to Estevan Railway in 1892.
The Post Office was moved to the David Elliot residence, with David
Elliot becoming Postmaster. The Post Office was closed in 1921.
Oldest Picnic Area in the West
Photo from the Archives of Manitoba
Today, Sourisford is the location
of one of the earliest regularly used
recreation sites in rural Manitoba. On July 1, 1882, the first Pioneer
Picnic was attended by a few settlers and local aboriginals. A
tradition was established as each year a larger group attended the
Picnic. Since then, picnics have been held in the grove every summer.
These gatherings used to attract thousands of locals and visitors
alike, many from the United States. Bannock with syrup would be served
up, along with a dinner laid out on blankets in true picnic style.
Short addresses were sometimes given before a band played to liven
Pioneer Association was founded in 1889 under the
chairmanship of Alfred Gould.
the 20th anniversary of settlement was marked by the largest
gathering of people to that date in Southwestern Manitoba. Upwards of
fifteen hundred persons attended.
the event became a combination between track and field
activities and a bush picnic. The town of Melita declared the day a
holiday so that everyone could attend.
at the Pioneer Picnic celebrating 100 years of peace between
England and the U.S., Myrtle Elliot of Sourisford represented Canada
and Henry Werriner of Westhope N.D. dressed as Uncle Sam.
Sourisford & Coulter
In rural Manitoba the arrival
of the railway changed everything.
first settlers, Sourisford, located at a well-used crossing,
was the obvious place for a village. In time perhaps other businesses
would spring up and a few residential streets would be surveyed.
T.B. Gerry’s blacksmith shop, on the east side of the river,
serviced the area. A Stopping House, the Post Office, and store were
the beginnings of a town. R. M. Graham, already established in Melita,
established a branch store at Sourisford.
poised to become the service centre for the region.
railway line that connected Brandon with southeastern
Saskatchewan in 1890 had crossed the Souris River here instead of
Melita, a major town would have grown here and Melita would have faded.
But Sourisford remained a rural community with its Post Office and
Store – offering the necessary basic services, until 1901 when another
CPR branch stretched westward from Waskada and established Coulter a
few kilometres away.
became one of dozens of Westman communities that had served
its purpose and was no longer needed as a commercial centre. It did
however remain its identity as a community.
While Sourisford is still on this
map, the new rail lines have dictated which communities will grow,
which will survive, and which will disappear.
On May 25, 1924, the Arthur
Pioneer Association met to consider
erecting a memorial archway at Coulter Park in honour of the late
Francis Coulter who had donated land to the Association. The new
archway was dedicated at the 50th Annual Picnic on June 28, 1929.
after Mr. W.R. Cosgrove donated a pioneer log house, built in
1885, to the Association. A work “bee” was held in which local settlers
moved the cabin to the park, some improvements having been made to
assist in its long-term survival as an artifact of pioneer days
Coulter Park, 2011
Restored Fraser Cabin
The Turtle Mountain - Souris Plains Heritage Association is preparing a
set of Interpretive Signs for Coulter Park. These signs will summarize
some of the content in this project.
Melita: Our First Century (Town of Melita and Municipality of Arthur),
Melita - Arthur History Committee
Wright, N.E. In View of Turtle Hill - A survey of the history of
southwestern Manitoba to 1900, Deloraine Times Publishing, 1951(online
at Peel's Prairie Provinces)
Sourisford: "Sourisford and Area from 1879", The Sourisford
Morran, G.A. Souris River Posts , The Souris Plaindealer
Clarke, Lawrence, Souris Valley Plains. A History, Hartney Mb.
Turtle Mountain - Souris Plains Heritage Association Vantage Points I,
II, III, & IV