When Crops Failed — Lanark County Went Manitoba Dreamin’




Log Dwelling in Hun’s Valley, near Minnedosa–Manitoba, photographed in 1889 by Ernest Baxter


The exodus to Manitoba was a milestone in Lanark County in the late 1800s. From north to south and east to west the farmers and farmers’ sons were flocking westward.  The main reason was that it was said Manitoba was the destination of finally having good fortune in farming.

The results of farming were terrible in the years of 1880- 1890 and a hay crop had failed owing to drought in summer of 1888. Yesterday I learned in the Almonte Gazette there was a terrible infestation of insects and grasshoppers that ate the crops that summer of 1888. The spring of 1889 was turned into rain and dampness which also hindered growing.

In January of 1889, the Almonte Gazette suggested farmers should cultivate less land and grow more apple trees. The newspaper also noted that not one car of crops was shipped out of Renfrew due to the drought. In contrary, 20 carloads were shipped into to Renfrew for demand.  Here is a very minor list of the thousands from Lanark County that moved west in the late 1800’s.


The Carleton Place Herald of 13th March 1889 says Robert Lawson and family of Middleville; George Manahan of Lanark; Ahijah Code of Carleton Place; and E. Cook and family are among the passengers to Manitoba on todays special settlers train.  A number of families have already booked for next week.

Lanark Links:  Gone WestMessrs J.J. Story, J. Wilson and T.R. Bullock started for Manitoba on Tuesday.

On Tuesday a large number of farmers and farmer’s sons left this quarter on an excursion and prospecting tour to Manitoba among them were Messrs. T.R. Bullock, Alexander Yuill, two Ready boys from Lanark Township and John Wilson of Lanark Village.  Most of them visit there with a view of settling in Manitoba if everything suits.  David Affleck and James Affleck, council members also went on the same train.

Winnipeg in the early days

Isaac Wilson, Scotch Line, North Burgess, has made up his mind to go to Manitoba and will sell all that he has to go there.

Mr. Daniel Cameron has concluded not to settle down at McDonald’s Corners and will leave shortly for the Northwest country probably Manitoba.  Dr. Bradford, who has proved himself to be a favorite with his patrons, will have the ground all to himself.

MaberlyWilliam Manders and family, who left here over a month ago to seek their fortune in Montana have returned loaded with wealth and honor in the springtime of their life.

George Thornton, the well known piano, organ and sewing machine agent, arrived back from Manitoba Tuesday evening having sold over $8,000 worth of goods there.  Dull times there but good prospects.


The Winnipeg Free Press of the 6th August 1889 says that Jeremiah Jacklin, tailor and insurance agent who “levanted” from that city with a young woman named Scott has been heard from.  The couple were married in Grand Forks, Dakota.  Jacklin carried a tailor shop in Perth but made an assignment after a few months.  His wife who is of a respectable parentage, is with her friends in North Elmsley.  The Free Press says that his bogus wife Miss Scott is a native of Tennessee and was a tailoress in one of Winnipeg’s leading tailoring establishments when she met Jacklin.  She had been warned that Jacklin was married but she refused to believe it.

Perth Courier, May 11, 1883

For the West—On Wednesday tickets were sold by Mr. A. E. Seeley to the following parties to the Northwest:

Mrs. A.D. May and two children to Winnipeg.

Mrs. C. J. Bell, to Oak Lake, Manitoba.

Mrs. Archibald Nichol and child to Manitoba.

Mr. Hugh McLean to Broadview, Manitoba.

Mr. Patrick McEwen and wife and three children to Broadview, Manitoba.

Mrs. Galbraith to Grand Forks, Dakota.


Files from the Almonte Gazette online — The Perth Courier can be read at Archives Lanark


One of my favourite bands from Winnipeg singing “I Hate Winnipeg”– The Weakerthans

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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