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1. Introduction

2. The Distant Past

3. First Nations

4. The Fur Trade

5. European Settlement

6. Notable People

7. Railway Era

8. Resources

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Sourisford: Notable People

The Walter Thomas Land Claim: 1879


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.

The Alfred Gould Land Claim: 1880

Born in 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 Township2, Rage 27 West.

The Elliots

In March 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: 1882

The Gould 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.

At the 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 arrived safely.

Alfred Gould was officially appointed Postmaster at Sourisford from 1884-1896 and following his resignation. David Elliott from 1896-1920.

The John Snyder Log House

John Snyder was one of the first four to file on homestead lands west of the Souris River, Oct 29, 1881. The log house was built in 1879.


Sitting Eagle

Chief 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 Mountain.



 Church Services


The first 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.

Law & Order

In 1885 a patrol consisting of one officer, one Non Commissioned Officer and 24 constables went to southern Manitoba to prevent horse stealing.

The men were stationed at Manitou, Clearwater, Wakopa, Deloraine and Sourisford. This force returned to Regina on November 18,1885, and Sanders reported not one case of horse stealing in his district during the summer. At Sourisford they issued "Let Passes" and watched trails leading from Bottineau.

The Alfred Gould Stone House

This 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.

 

The 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 things up.

The Arthur Pioneer Association was founded in 1889 under the chairmanship of Alfred Gould.

In 1899 The 20th manniversary of settlement was marked by the largest gathering of people to that date in Southwestern Manitoba. Upwards of fifteen hundred persons attensed.

In 1903 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. Date – 1915


 
In 1939, Francis Coulter donated the land the picnic was held on and it was designated as Coulter Park. Gould's stone house also remains preserved on the site as a last reminder of the town of Sourisford.