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Whether you are a visitor to our community, are researching your family roots, need background on an historic building or are just interested in local history, this website is your one-stop source of information on our heritage. 

The site offers you a glimpse of the history of Dufferin Municipality from the pre-settlement era to the post–1870 influx of homesteading families, and from the arrival of the railways to the rise and decline of the small towns and communities along its path.

You will also discover the wealth of historic buildings, cairns, plaques and other heritage resources that our communities have to offer.

Let us know of any omissions or errors. If you have information or photos you’d like to share, please contact us. Check out this site each month for our Special Features, including vintage photos from the area.

Please visit our Acknowledgements page, which recognizes the many people who contributed towards making the website possible, including the backbone of any endeavour—the volunteers who contributed material, researched, edited or proofread content, and gave in so many ways of their time and talents.

News and Events March 2018

Homewood Reunion Update. Merle Kluczkowski (nee Cutting) from the Homewood Reunion Committee is hoping to obtain as many family histories and pictures as possible for the Reunion Book they will be publishing for the July 15, 2018 reunion. She is looking for “short little memories or stories of things that happened in the district, or to yourself, [that] would help to make the book come alive for people who are reading it.

Homewood 1950s

Merle explains that “What we are looking for is a short write up about your family with things like when your family lived in the district, how you or your parents were connected to Homewood either through the school, church, curling, co-op, sugar beets, elevators or post office. It would be great if you could share who is in your family and what or where they are now living. Pictures and memories would also be appreciated.”

One of her own memories was of "the ditches swollen with water and kids out in the middle with homemade rafts with boots filled with water." That should bring back memories for a lot of us— that Spring run-off water was sure cold when you fell in!

You can send your history, pictures, memories to Merle by e-mail, letter or by giving her a call:

address:        Merle Kluczkowski
                              419 - 21 Clayton Drive
                              WINNIPEG, Manitoba  R2M 1G2
phone:         204-299-6059

Merle notes that: “You will not receive an immediate response from me from mid-April to about the second week of May. If you could get your information to me prior to that time it would be very helpful. I would like all information to me by the beginning of June.”

The books will be available at the reunion. CDMHAC looks forward to helping preserve this valuable heritage material and making it available later online as part of our ‘living history book’.

C/D MHAC Projects.
CDMHAC’s goal for 2018 is to complete our outstanding projects before taking on anything new. As the old saying goes: We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start.

This winter’s bitterly cold weather hasn’t been conducive to holding meetings or doing outside work, but it has given us a chance to hunker down in our warm homes and catch up on background reading and online research. Two productive sources were the early digitalized newspapers and a local family history.

Old Newspapers.
So what was happening locally around this time of year a century or more ago? Back in 1899, news of the dedication of the new St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Carman dominated the front page of the Dufferin Leader (Feb. 23, 1899). A week later (Mar. 2, 1899) the paper carried an attractive little sketch of the new church—an impressive structure that still stands strong today. It’s now a Bed & Breakfast and it’s one of the buildings short-listed in our recent heritage inventory.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Then and Now

Other items from the same edition suggest that much of the social life in outlying communities also focused around the local church. “Last Friday evening large sleigh loads of young and old people could be seen wending their way to the residence of Mr. Geo. Alexander, where they held the annual entertainment of Rosebank church. The house was well filled and a very enjoyable time spent in games, songs, etc., and in partaking of a liberal supply of good things. $8.40 was realized from the social.”

In the western part of the district, “The gospel meetings in Roseisle school house continue with increased interest.” But as folks coped with the unpredictable pre-spring weather, one news correspondent noted that, “The attendance, on Sunday at service, was rather small owing to the cold and stormy weather. You would think that when the preacher could drive 20 miles through the storm people could come one-half of a mile” to church. Seems the impact of February/March weather is one factor that hasn’t changed.

Some area residents were using the snow to good effect. From Ravenswood, north-west of Graysville, came a report that, “Moose and elk hunting is being surreptitiously carried on in the district, the hunters using snow shoes in their unlawful business.” Later in the same report, the correspondent notes that “Believing that a certain gentleman was out hunting on snowshoes, and being a law-abiding people, we thought it our duty to arrest the rascal if possible….So we traced the tracks through the bush, but the direction seemed kind of strange, and under the circumstances we deemed it wiser to return home, which we did. Why? Well, we did not wish our heads broken. The said gentleman was hunting “dear,” but not the kind we thought. As to whether he was successful, we are unable to state.” (Dufferin Leader, Feb. 23, 1899).

As the weather started to improve, one local correspondent cheerfully noted “At last the cold snap has passed and we now have splendid weather. Why, Mr. Editor, even our ideas were frozen.” As the snow started to disappear, farmers were busy moving their grain to local elevators, where they would store it until prices rose. Others were hauling wood down from ‘the distant mountain’ as the Pembina Hills were then known. And a local real estate agent reported “great activity in the sale of farm lands. During the last fortnight he disposed of over a dozen quarter sections of land at good prices.” (Mar. 2, 1899).

Family Histories. Also on the reading list was little gem that turned up in the form of a local family history – Jacob’s Flock 1735–1975 by M. Cummer Kiever.

What’s special about this book is the way in which the authors have gone beyond the usual ‘begat’ genealogy to fleshing out profiles of ancestors and providing a wealth of details and anecdotes portraying early homesteading life. In their words, “To attempt to tell of the lives of our forefathers without describing the life of the times would be like an effort to paint a picture without color and without perspective.” That’s a great reminder of how we should be recording our own life stories.

Jacob’s Flock gives a glimpse into the family’s life from their homesteading days in the forest land at the end of what now is Yonge Street in Toronto through migration to similar conditions in Manitoba, including several small settlement areas in what is now Carman/Dufferin.

In the process, the book highlights the tremendous changes that have occurred in every aspect of Canadian life over the past few two and a half centuries.

Take, for example, health care. At a time when health care concerns center around long waits in the ER and adequacy of Home Care, this history is a reminder that until recent decades, ‘Home Care’ meant pretty basic care in the home, by the family.

In winter, when the ‘grippe’ was epidemic, folks resorted to remedies like “Aunt Ida’s cure for a chest cold” (Jacob’s Flock, p. 270):

That dredges up old memories—of being told about a frail ancestor who wouldn’t have survived a childhood bout of the croup had he not been slathered with copious amounts of warm goose grease. Or, how grandmother might have lost her foot when she burned it with scalding tea, except for a salve she made of goose grease and Balm of Gilead buds (the sticky buds of black poplar). In retrospect, perhaps our grandmother’s ‘watch-dog’ geese—those detested birds that terrorized us youngsters by racing after us across the yard, hissing, their wings spread wide—just perhaps they were good for something other than gracing the New Year’s dinner table. Memories. That’s one reason we all should record our life stories for the generations to come, hopefully without being shy about including all the warts, wrinkles and family anecdotes.

Across generations, the members of ‘Jacob’s Flock’ are said to be motivated by a strong work ethic. Given that our committee is trying to complete a few outstanding heritage projects, anything having to do with motivation is sure to catch our eye. Here’s another bit of tongue-in-cheek ‘wisdom’ from the same family history (p.224), this one on how to deal with a balking horse (for those of you from the post-horse era, that’s one that won’t move):

Not much practical help in our case, but I’ll try not to smile when members refer to motivating their committees as ‘lighting a fire under them.’


Recent History

Earlier news items are stored on a separate "Recent History" page.