Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Pioneers of Isabella and Blaris, towns in Manitoba

This brief overview of a small community in Manitoba is provided by the digital collections of community books on Manitobia.ca. Their page provides links to many history books of numerous rural communities such as: Birtle, Emerson, Gimli, Holland, LaRiviere and Pilot Mound. Manitoba Digital Resources on Manitoba's History was funded by Canadian Culture Online, Department of Canadian Heritage of the Government of Canada. Original concept in 2005.

Manitoba field of sunflowers
© Penny Allen
Rural Reflections Vol.2 : Isabella and Blaris Communities in Manitoba (centenary)

Ebook of Rural Reflections  - produced by the Isabella History Committee (1879-1982). The town of Isabella Manitoba was named after Isabella Gould Taylor, a Scottish woman who came to the area to join her family.

Family History Name Index was transcribed from Rural Reflections by Donna Campbell. Her great grandfather, Francis Augustus Campbell, was born in 1857 at Campbell's Cross, Ontario and came west in 1882.

On page 5 a picture captioned: 'Fifty Year Jubilee Picnic Blaris Manitoba 1885 - 1935' depicts the following families ( 'x' indicates number of family members in the photo):
Astle (1), Bell (7), Brown (1), Campbell (10), Clark (4), Cowling (1), Craig (2), Ellis (1), Fredborg (1), Grey (2), Gurr (1), Harrison (8), Hill (8), Hudson (1), Hunter (1), Irving (1), Iverach (2), Miller (4), Mitchell (1), Palmer (5), Reid (2), Robinson (1), Stevenson (3), Stewart (2), Sunley (7), Sutherland (2), Torrance (5)
Travelling from Ontario to Manitoba circa 1880
On page 13, Mrs. Iverach's account of 'Our Pioneer Days' - gives a very vivid description of travelling from their home in Toronto (1880) to Emerson, Manitoba (border) via Chicago and St. Paul, by train and 'team', including arrival in Winnipeg and then onwards to Blaris. (Emerson was recently highlighted with news of the refugee crisis of February 2017.) There are many other depictions of travel in this book from the eastern counties of Ontario to the 'west' some of which reveal how single men struggled to find boarding and jobs. A worthwhile read to understand the conditions that beset emigrants of every nationality.

Accounts of English born settlers. 
[Note: Sec.= Section; Twp.=Township; R.=Range.]

Harry Guy DOWELL came from England many years ago and homesteaded the E. Y2 of Sec.18-Twp.14-R.25. Some of his housekeepers had children who attended Blaris. He had a [land] sale and Joe JOHNSTON rented the farm for three years. Then Gordon LeLOND came home from overseas [assume this was a mention of the Great War 1914-1918] and bought the farm. Mr. and Mrs. DOWELL went to Brandon to live. William MILLER then took up ownership.

Josiah D. HARRISON's grandfather, Thomas HARRISON, came from Wiltshire County in England in 1819 with his wife and family.

Wm. J. HILL came from England to Manitoba in 1879 when he was 19. He worked at railway construction and other jobs for a few years and then took for a homestead the S.E. Y4 of Sec.28-Twp.14-R.25.

A letter from Mr. ST.GEORGE received (about 1967) by the committee compiling the history book which provides recollections of his early days in the community. Mr. P.I. ST.GEORGE's address is noted as "Woodsgift", Woodlea Way, Ampfield, Nr. Romsey, Hampshire, England.
He had come to Canada, and accepted a position with the Northern Crown Bank of Canada, at Isabella.  "As a small boy I had lived in India (my father being a soldier and stationed there). After leaving Isabella, I came back to England to take part in the 1914 war, which I was fortunate to survive, except for being blown up and shell shocked. However I am still alive at 77 years and went through the last war with the rank of Major in the Intelligence Corps."
Single young Englishman finds farm work:
Robert Bruce WALLACE came from England as a young man. He worked on farms. In the days when threshing was done from the stacks, it was often completed after freeze-up. He would work on threshing gangs often as a busheler. He took a homestead on Section 28 north of Isabella.

Manitoba Historical Society - Historic sites of Manitoba: Isabella Museum (RM of Miniota)

Bernice Still keeps tiny towns homes alive - an article in the Winnipeg Free Press (2012) about Bernice Still who grew up in the town of Isabella. With the help of local women, she has created a representation of the buildings to scale.

This collection of history books will give you great insight into the lives of people who pioneered in rural Manitoba during the turn of the century.

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