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Introduction

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 February 2018

“Special Places” certificates. Over the past couple of years, C/D MHAC has worked with the Historic Resources Branch (HRB) to do an inventory of heritage sites in the Town of Carman and the R.M. of Dufferin. As part of the project, HRB consultants examined each building or structure using specific criteria, such as historical importance, architectural significance and structural integrity, to prepare a short-list of 21 sites warranting special recognition.

The HRB also designed, printed and framed certificates which we will be distributing to building owners during the coming weeks. At that point, the information also will be made available on our website. To give our readers a sneak preview, here is one of the certificates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


We also received a heritage grant this year to follow up on the project by providing outdoor signs to mark the sites. The objective is to identify and encourage preservation of valued heritage sites. Recognition is strictly honorific and places no obligations on owners. More later on this important aspect of C/DMAHAC activities.


Missouri or Hunters’ Trail. A sub-committee under the capable guidance of Debbie Nicolajsen is working on a proposal to reinstall a monument marking the place where the Trail once crossed the Boyne River in the R.M. of Dufferin, about a mile and a half east of the Town of Carman. The original sign was put up in 1961 by the Dufferin Historical Society but later removed by a landowner.

The Trail is of historical interest to all Manitobans because, for centuries, it formed the pathway for buffalo herds, Indigenous tribes, fur traders and buffalo hunters from the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers to what later became the south-western part of the Province and northern U.S.A. From the birth of Manitoba in 1870 until the arrival of the railways 20 to 30 years later, it then became a major route through which settlers poured into the area to claim homestead lands.


Indentation still visible where the Missouri Trail crossed the Boyne River.

The challenge for Debbie and her team is to design a permanent, attractive marker, visible to passersby but not publically accessible because it will be on private property.

As well, they want to tell the fascinating story behind a trail whose last rutted traces across the R.M. are disappearing in the face of cultivation and development.

The committee has some neat ideas which will unfold between now and 2020, when we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Province. A big high-five to our volunteers!


Advice from the Past. I’ve realized over the past while that one part of our heritage we are losing is the old sayings our generation grew up on, those quaint bits of advice and wisdom our parents and grandparents passed along to us.

Some were short-cuts to family memories. Our family lived in a hard-water area and my grandmother prized her rain barrel of soft water for washing hair and other important things in life. She is said to have stood looking out the window at the rain and wistfully saying “Too bad you can’t catch all the rain that comes down.” I’ve found recently, as the volunteer commitments pile up, I am more and more often reminding people: “You can’t catch all the rain that comes down.”

When asked to recall old sayings, my peers chuckle over expressions they grew up on, like:

“Keep frowning and your face will freeze that way.”

“What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

“When I was knee-high to a grasshopper…”

A hefty female was said, rather unkindly, to be “built like a brick outhouse.”

Getting older? You were “No spring chicken.”

Question: “How do you feel?” Responses: “Finger and thumb.” or “Fair to middlin’.”
Someone who was really ill had “one foot in the grave” or looked “like death warmed over” and an appliance or machine that broke down was said to have ”given up the ghost.”

A person who had “a bone to pick” or “an axe to grind” was likely looking for an argument. If they were more tolerant of others you might hear: “Everyone to their own taste (said the old maid as she kissed the cow).”

If you were in a big hurry, your parents probably told you to “Hold your horses.”

And one we all grew up on: ”If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” - which is maybe a good place to end this month’s News & Events.


Louis Riel Day. If you are looking for some relevant reading for the Feb.19th Louis Riel Day holiday, check out “The Confrontations at Rivière aux Ilets-de-Bois” by Alan B. McCullough, published by the Manitoba Historical Society and available online.


Îlets-de-Bois monument commemorates early Métis presence

McCullough outlines the complexities around purchase of HBC territory by Canada and the resulting interpretations of competing land claims.

Although he focuses on this specific area of Manitoba, McCullough places local events within the broader context of regional, provincial and national politics. Useful background for understanding our local heritage.

 


Boyne Regional Library
. While you are online, why not update on recent happenings at the Boyne Regonal Library. The Library Expansion/Renovation Committee recently unveiled a completely new, scaled-back version of their original two story renovation. They are confident that the new plan meets earlier goals of ensuring accessibility, expanding the children's section, and providing a tech resource centre to help patrons work with new devices and technology.

Of particular interest from a heritage perspective is the intent of organizers to ensure the plan maintains the integrity of the building as a designated heritage site. To achieve this outcome, the architects have worked closely with the Historic Resources Branch.

The new Library plan as seen on Library website. Note new accessible entrance on west side of building.


Homewood School Reunion.
If you aren’t already a regular visitor to the Homewood Reunion website, you really should check it out. Besides information on the reunion, organizing team members have posted photos of the town, the school, pupils and teachers through the years along with the early history of the district. They also have put out a call for stories of local history and families post-1980s. Keep up the good work!


C/D MHAC happenings.
The bitterly cold weather of the past couple of months has provided a great opportunity for getting immersed in heritage research and planning. And finally, time to browse through more of those old newspapers that C/D MHAC invested in digitizing through the Pembina Manitou Archive.

For decades, the Dufferin Leader was the main source of local and district news. Among the old ads, local happenings, extensive coverage of world events and ‘corny’ jokes are items that remind us of both changing times and in some ways, how things never really change.


Take, for example, changes in transportation. In recent times, local folks followed with interest as the Town made changes to traffic flow and parking. Back in 1900, transportation posed different challenges.

The Dufferin Leader, Sept. 13, 1900 reported that:

If the jail at that time was anything like the small cell built later in the Memorial Hall basement, this was likely a pretty good deterrent.

Just as it does today, politics was a topic that featured l prominently in early newspapers. Editorials, letters to the editor and other random comments left no doubt about party preference.

The Dufferin Leader, Nov. 8, 1900, p.2 noted that “The parrot owned by the genial proprietor of the Starkey House died a few days ago. Art Simpson is of the opinion the bird had heard so much Toryism of late he sickened and the overdose being too strong resulted in his death.” This is one of the milder ‘digs’ that probably helped boost newspaper circulation – at least amongst those of the same political persuasion.

Why not visit the old local papers (Carman Standard and the Dufferin Leader) in the Pembina Manitou Archive. You’ll be amazed at what you locate.


More old sayings.
Since our last update, several people have reminded me of old saying that were popular in earlier days. Some of the origins were pretty obscure so I finally consulted a little book titled “Why Do We Say It?” published by Castle Books, New York - another absorbing cold-weather diversion.

Do you know why we say:

‘He never even turned a hair’ meaning someone remained calm and collected? Supposedly it comes from horse racing, where a horse that ran without sweating and roughing up its coat was said to have ‘never turned a hair’. Seems to me the current expression ‘No sweat!’ is even more to the point.

‘Dead as a doornail’ was used because in the pre-doorbell days, the knob on which the hammer of a door-knocker struck was hit so often in a day, it surely couldn’t have much life left in it. Wouldn’t have guessed that one.

Closer to home, our most faithful reader * pointed out that the expressions ‘lock, stock and barrel’ (i.e., all parts of a gun or ‘everything’) and ‘half-cocked’ (on safety catch, so not properly prepared for action) both had their origin with guns.

* that would be our web manager, who makes sure everything on the website is ‘A1’, ‘above board’ and ‘in apple-pie order’.

Can’t promise there won’t be more of these sayings next update. Do you have any personal favourites?

 

Recent History

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