2. The Distant Past
3. First Nations
4. The Fur Trade
7. Railway Era
**Download as a PDF
|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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.