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Like Glenora, Neelin, the town, didn’t make an appearance until the arrival the Wakopa Line. From Glenora the rails skirted the north shore of Rock Lake in search of a suitable place to cross the deep valley between Rock Lake and Lake Louise. It found such a place on 19-3-14 a site that Joseph Neelin had recently purchased and a town was born.

Grading the line near Neelin. (McKee Archives)

The community had been there quite a while. Mr. Neelin had settled just east of the future town site in 1881. John Cumming, former soldier and ship’s captain, who first came to the Marringhurst area in 1879 had moved to the Huntly area northwest of Neelin in 1882.  The region was soon served by the Moropano Post Office, a bit to the south and in 1887 Roseberry School was established not far from where the village would be located

The railway was the heart and soul of small towns like Neelin; it was the only means of transportation both for passengers and freight of all kinds, livestock, grain and fuel.

Flour was brought in by carload lots by Western Canada Elevator Company. The railways flourished until trucks and cars became general after WW I.

There was a daily mixed train except Sunday, which meant passenger car or cars attached to freight cars. Sometimes the heavy snowstorm delayed the train for several days.

Some of the agents at Neelin were Mr. Upton, Mr. Bill Easterly, George Richens, Art Skinner, Bruce McLeish. Some of the foremen were George Giddings, Bill Huddlestone, Sr., John Trinder, Calvin Angel, Alex Rivist. Some of the regular men were Mr. Bill Henwood, Enoch Tomlin, Stan Wright, Ben Free.

All mail and perishable goods came by train. The mail was sorted for in-between stations by mail clerks on the train, so a letter could be mailed one day and an answer arrive by next day.

Most farmers used to load cars of grain from the loading platform. In the winter the town would be alive with teams and sleighs bringing the grain.

The water tank for the steam-engines was located at Neelin and when the grain trains were running, it was a busy stopping place.
The decline of the railway began when the trucks took over much of the goods handled by the railway. Grain continued to be shipped by rail until 1978.


Shortly after the C.N.R. went through Neelin, the first grain elevator was built, by the Western Canada Flour Mills Company. Andrew Easton operated it as long as it remained under that name.

In 1928, the Grain Growers built a second elevator. Wilbur Ross was the first operator and Mac Archibald was his successor.

The first organizational meeting of the Neelin Pool Elevator was held in1940. The chairman of the first board was F.A. Neelin and the board members were: J .H. Cooper; J. Lockerby; P.L. McLaren (secretary); H.D. McLaren; Alfred Neelin; and N. Mabon.
The last meeting of the Neelin Pool Board was held in 1978. The last board members were: M. Turner (chairman); R.E. Mabon; J.A. Riglin, (secretary); D. McGill; C.B. Darling and K.A. Riglin. The last agent in Neelin was Fred Bowles. The elevator closed in 1978.
The Pool took over the Western Canada Flour Mills elevator and Mr. Easton retired. Larry Abery was manager, then Vic Janz. In 1966, Fred Bowles became operator and the two elevators were competitors. In 1969 or 1970, the Manitoba Pool took over the Grain Growers. Trucking was taking over the delivery of grain. In 1973, the elevator was closed, peace and quiet reigned, where there had been such activity, so vital to the community.


Several of photos, like these two by  by Laurie Gilles can be found on the Legends of Neelin Facebook Page

The CN Station

Stuart Hicks was a station agent from 1929 to 1932.   Many cans of cream and crates of eggs made their way to market on the old CNR Wakopa. The station unfortunately burned on a windy winter day in 1959.

An elevator was built in 1927 with a capacity of 32,000 bushels. The annex was built in 1952, having a capacity of 45,000 bushels. All facilities: elevator, annex, house, etc. cost $41,000. (the replacement value of course would be much higher than this). The living quarters were at first in the north-west corner of the elevator until a comfortable bungalow was built about 1943.

Total bushels handled up to July 31,1969 were 5,835,000 bushels.

Following are the agents since the association was formed until its closure in 1978:

1927-1928 - W. P. Waters; 1929-1950 - C. C. Douglas; 1950-1952 - F. W. McIntosh; 1953-1958 - D. P. Miller; 1958-1962 - R. N. Denbow; 1962-1973 - W. B. Gordon; 1973-1975 - Denis Magwood; 1975-1978 - Claire Lobreau.
The original directors: Bruce Fraser - President; J. E. Brinkworth - Vice; J. M. Cruikshank - Secretary; P. T. Cuthbert, Silas Wardell, N. Galloway, Frank Nelson.

The final directors: Wesley Nelson, Jim Kynoch, John Thomas, Grant Harrison, Ralph Ballantine, Roger Lebeau, Robert Lundgren.

January 28, 1949 - Winnipeg Tribune

Alf Marshall operated the snow plow on the Wakopa line.

Barry Beaulac posted this on the Legends of Neelin Facebook Page….

“My father George Beaulac worked for the CNR on the Neelin section. Cal Angell was forman. This branch railroad line was called the Wakopa branch and ran diagonly from Greenway/Glenora northeast of Neelin, then southwest to Wakopa with rail service provided once a week by steam locomotive. A water tower was located at Neelin to provide water for the locomotives. The storm recorded in this news article was huge and the first train through Neelin had a wedge plow on the front. It travelled on towards Wakopa but once it was out of the Pembina valley where Neelin is located it ran into the flat prairies with huge snow drifts the height of the telegraph poles. With no plow on the back of the train it could not reverse and get refuge in Neelin because the track had blown in with snow. A second train was dispatched to the area with a huge snowblower on the front that was capable of throwing the snow over the high banks. This plow had been brought in from BC. The first locomotive that was stuck was running out of water for steam so workers threw snow from the high drifts into the engine's water source for steam. It took several days to clear the trains and the track. I was quite young at the time and this is my best recall from my father those many years ago.”

Jan 29, 1949 - Wpg Trib

Feb. 1, 1949 - Wpg Free Press

**Thanks to the members of the "Legends of Neelin" Facebook Page for their help.

Much to the disapproval of all area farmers and after many attempts on their part to persuade the powers that be, to leave us our elevator, it was closed at the end of 1978. The elevator, annex, coal sheds were sold to Desrochers farms and the house to Tony and Renee Bisson. 

Main Source: Argyle History Book