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

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s