Tag Archives: manitoba

The Almonte Gazette in Manitoba


How the Almonte Gazette was for many years the only link between certain pioneer settlers of Manitoba and the outside- world, is told by Mr. James McKelvey, who with his wife has been visiting relatives in this district before leaving on a trip to the old land.

Mr. McKelvey tells how the Gazette was the only newspaper which came into their district in these early days. His father was a faithful subscriber and a warm friend of the late Hon. W William Templeman. When the McKelvey family had faithfully perused the contents of the Gazette’s weekly budget of news it was passed on to the nearest neighbor. 

A stream flowed between the two farms, and the neighbour was always on the alert for the first sign that the Gazette had fulfilled its mission on the McKelvey homestead. The creek could not always be forded and there was no boat so the McKelveys used to wrap the newspaper around a stone and fling it across the stream. Neighbor after neighbor read it for miles around and at the end it was so worn that the print was scarcely decipherable. 

‘The district correspondence which appealed to the McKelvey family most was the Middleville news written over half a century ago, as it is now, by Mr. Archie Rankin. It was a strong link which bound them to their old home. Mr. McKelvey  spoke affectionately of the message of cheer and friendship which the Gazette brought, to those people who in earlier days had gone forth to make a home for themselves in the wilderness. 

It is doing the same today, in far places and every little scrap of news about the old home and the old friends and the old associations is eagerly read. Mr. McKelvey is a cousin of Mr. Robert Stead, the novelist, and on his visit here he was accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Stead.

November 1930

Related reading

OFF TO MANITOBA 1879– Local Lads Names

When Crops Failed — Lanark County Went Manitoba Dreamin’

A Lanark Lad Goes Out West to Teach in 1915

A Lanark Lad Goes Out West to Teach in 1915


LAST JULY, 3rd, at half past eleven Winnipeg time, I sat on the steps of a one-room school fifty miles northwest Moose Jaw . While I talked with a tanned farmer, of forty-five years about Saskatchewan ‘s past and present, I watched the daylight fade over the Vermilion Hills. I saw the little shack, east of a  house at the bottom of the hill fade into the shadows.

 That little shack was the place I stayed in Western Canada , thirty-nine years ago; the school where I had pitched my tent, was my first teaching appointment on the prairie; the farmer, beside me, was one of my six, Grade One pupils. This visit was a return pilgrimage. I had been motoring from Winnipeg to the mountains when I noticed a road leading to Ernfold. Ernfold! The name brought back memories.

The summer of 1915 I had travelled West by day coach to take charge of Tuxedo School, number 3208. Passing through Brandon I had pointed to a large building on the hill. “That’s the asylum.” My companion said. “It is filled with women who have gone crazy from loneliness on the prairie.” I thought of his words as I got off the train at Ernfold and was met by a farmer, a fair haired, little Cockney with a wisp of a moustache. Leaving Ernfold we followed a trail winding past sloughs, bumping over the prairie towards the darkening hills. I heard the mournful call of coyotes but my driver paid them no heed. 

Where’s Holly? Photography

· October 18, 2018 ·  

This school in Ernfold, Saskatchewan is for sale, if anyone is interested…

At last we carne to Dick Cleland’s two-roomed shack. I was told that I could sleep in the kitchen until I found a boarding place. It was generous of them as Mrs. Cleland was expecting another child. The shack now lost in the night shadows was the same old shack; the boy who had peeked from behind Mrs. Cleland’s skirt that night was the farmer beside me. 

I remember I arrived early at my school the next morning, after walking two miles over a rough prairie trail. Then the school had stood at the junction of two trails. (Later moved to present site.) It was painted white, the only painted building for miles. The students hadn’t arrived but there was a welcoming committee of gophers. They popped out of their holes and looked at me in a friendly manner. Later I decided they weren’t so friendly.

The pupils and I started a garden. Our lettuce, onions, and radishes came up only to be eaten by those same gophers. The pupils waged war on them, carrying water for a quarter of a mile to drown them out of their holes; they put cord snares over their holes – but the gophers won the battle. 

After a few days I went to board at Oliver Kerr’s. It was a mile closer to the school and I had a room to myself. Today there are trees around the house, but then there wasn’t a tree for fifteen miles. I remember asking one of my pupils, who had made a trip to see the trees, how he liked them.

“Fine,” he said, “but trees don’t look like I though they would.” I asked Oliver’s father, who had come from north of Lake Superior how he liked the prairie. “It would be all right if I could only see a tree,” he said, sighing. “My eyes get tired just looking for trees.” 

To partly pay for my board, I helped Oliver with his job as secretary-treasurer for the Municipality. It seemed as if every farmer was behind in his taxes. But no wonder as there had be a crop failure in 1914. Oliver was hard working but lacked patience, and then he farmed with oxen. His language would have blistered the ears off mules, but his oxen simply chew their cuds. I stayed with him for a month; then as Mrs. Kerr was ‘expecting’ I was asked to look for another place.

I had trouble finding one where there hadn’t been a baby just born, or another one expected.  I finally moved from Kerr’s to a shack where I was to batch for the rest of the summer. It had two rooms, rough boarded, with a sod wall at the back.  It was vacant because the old man, who had lived in it, had committed suicide just before my arrival. I never saw any ghosts. The truth was that any decent ghost would have stayed away from it. Batching then, as now isn’t my forte.

Sod Houses | The Canadian Encyclopedia

But frequent invitations to Oliver’s for a meal, and getting one meal a day at old Mr. Kerr’s for twenty-five cents, saved me from starvation. I had another bright idea. I would shoot jackrabbits, take one as a gift to a farmers’ wife, and in return I would get invited to a home-cooked meal. To get milk to drink I milked Mr. Boss’s cow and was paid in milk. They lived in a sod shack set in the side of a hill. One evening I stayed for supper. It had rained. The sod roof was overgrown with grass. Their calf, not knowing where the roof began and the hill ended, stepped onto the roof to graze. Just as we were eating cooked dried apples, the calf’s leg came through the roof, sprinkling the apples with earth. 

Home - Red River North Heritage

I wasn’t the only student teaching summer school on the prairie. One Sunday morning I borrowed a horse and rode off to visit Isabel McDougall. She was teaching in Log Valley, about seven miles to the Northwest. We had been at Queen’s University together and I just had to see a familiar face to banish a wave of homesickness… and to talk over the problems of teaching summer schools. The trail through the hills was seldom used but I had no trouble following it in daylight. We had our visit, decided that summer schools had disadvantages because they could only be open such a few months each year; the pupils had different teachers every year, and to study in the heat was sometimes torture. Since, I’ve learned that the finest people on the prairies began their education in those lonely, little prairie schools. 

But that night it was dark before I started back to my bachelor shack. The darkness didn’t worry me. Western horses, I had been told, always knew their way home. My horse turned out to be an Ontario immigrant like myself. I let him have his head. He trotted for a bit then lagged and decided to graze. I allowed it for a few minutes then urged him on. Again he stopped. I dismounted to see if we were on the trail. We weren’t and all I could see was the dim outlines of hills that looked alike. I was lost. I might ride in a circle for miles without finding a house in this ranch land country.

I listened. There was no sound of even a coyote, but thinking of them I had an idea. I mounted my horse, and howled like a coyote … or as near as I could manage.  I listened. Far off I heard the barking of a dog. That meant a house. I rode towards the bark, stopping often to imitate a coyote, then ride on. Finally my howling and the dog’s barking led me to a house. I shouted hello and a farmer stuck his head out of an upstairs window. I told him I was lost. He grunted then turned to explain to his enquiring wife. “It’s that damn fool teacher from Tuxedo .. he’s lost.” But he gave me my directions and I finally reached my shack. 

But what about my teaching? I was pretty ignorant about teaching small children. I am not sure that I gave them a great deal. World War One was in its second year and my mind was divided. The next spring I enlisted. They were like able children and mostly eager to learn. Sam Cleland assured me that the ones who still lived there were good citizens. Perhaps that is as much as I should expect.

Finally I said goodnight to Sam and crawled into my sleeping bag. I lay there thinking about the prairie changes. Many of the people I knew had moved away. In 1915 I could stand on the top of a hill and see the sun’s rays on a score of houses; today the farms have become larger; the houses fewer but larger too. They are painted and have trees and telephones and radios. In spite of the homes being further apart there is not the same isolation: the same loneliness. Today they can get a doctor quickly .. get to town .. to church. In those days the road were trails; today there are gravel roads. The next morning, at daybreak, I was driving along one of them to a concrete highway .. away from the past, toward the future.

Appleton General Store – Names Names Names— Wesley West Appleton and Almonte Merchant

Moving West 1879– Lanark County Names

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 23- Code Family–Brother John — John Code Goes West

Men Of Lanark Play Big Part Building West

anark County Moves West — Sarah Plain and Tall it was Not

When Crops Failed — Lanark County Went Manitoba Dreamin’

Dr. Andrew Elliott of Almonte — Tarred and Feathered

Elizabeth Lindsay of Almonte — Victorian Women Business Owners

Henry and Harriet (Caswell) Roberts Part 3

Henry and Harriet (Caswell) Roberts Part 3


Glen Campbell

From Our Caswell Relatives–Shirley Isabelle Mayse out of print.

Henry and Harriet (Caswell) Roberts had two children:

1. Lillian Martha Roberts (Mrs. W.H. Reed)

One of the early suitors of Lillian Roberts was Glen Campbell, later a well-known Manitoba personality and a hero of World War I. He was a remittance man of a good Scottish family who married an Indian girl. My mother, probably when she was teaching at Elphinstone, visited their home and gave an admiring account of Mrs. Glen Campbell and of her care for her home,which was sparsely and simply furnished but spotlessly clean, and her children. There was a story that Glen Campbell’s mother, who had been told by letter that her son had married an Indian princess was much perturbed when she visited the family in their pioneer setting.

When Lillian Roberts did marry, her choice was William Henry Reed, who had first come to Strathclair as manager of Henry Roberts’s general store. William Reed had lodged at the Roberts hotel, where the Roberts family themselves lived too.

After Lillian Roberts and William Reed were married, and while their children were still quite young, they left Strathclair for Winnipeg. It was there that their children grew up and married.

In Winnipeg, William Reed was employed by the wholesale grocery firm of Foley, Locke, and Larson. This was about the time that Henry Roberts sold his Strathclair store to Chapman and Company.

Lillian Roberts and William Reed had four children:

a. Violet Reed (Mrs. J.Ben Dickey) (Mrs. Frank W. Mizen) -(1896-

The first child of Lillian Roberts and William Reed was born in Winnipeg in 1896. She is now a widow and lives in Vancouver, B.C.

Violet Reed and Ben Dickey had one daughter:

Lael Dickey (Mrs. F.E. Glover)

Mrs. Glover lives in North Vancouver, B.C. She has two children.

b. Nora Reed (Mrs. Cecil B. Philp) (1898-

Nora Reed was born in Winnipeg in 1898. In 1948 she died there. Her husband, a county court judge, remarried.

Nora Reed and Cecil Philp had two children:

i. Alan Philp

At forty he became the youngest county court judge in Canada. He and his wife Maureen live in Winnipeg. They have three children.

ii. Audrey Philp (Mrs. Joseph Ainsworth)

She livesin Calgary. She has three children.

c. Clifford H. Reed (1900-

Clifford H. Reed was the third child of Lillian Roberts and William H. Reed. He was born in 1900 in the house in Strathclair on the northwest corner of Minnedosa and Saskatchewan Streets referred to a little earlier in this chapter.

I learned from Clifford Reed that he and his sister Violet as children sometimes played in the storeroom of their Roberts grandparents’ home. There they found beautiful old dresses and a side saddle. I wonder whether that was the saddle brought to Canada by their County Carlow grandmother and mentioned earlier here on page 287.

Clifford Reed is the owner of the C.H Reed & Co. Ltd., Insurance Adjusters, in Vancouver, B.C. He in Vancouver for many years. Clifford and Carrie Reed have one son:

Clifford William Reed He lives in Port Moody, B.C.

d.,Hazel Reed (Mrs. Stephen L. Myers) (1902-

She was born in 1902. Her husband, now retired, was traffic manager for Seagrim’s in New York city. Before moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, Hazel and Stephen Myers lived in Louisville, Kentucky.

2. John Melzo Roberts (1875-1952)

He was born in Beckwith Township, Lanark County, Ontario, on December 15, 1875. He married Clara Abigail Devlin, of Durham, Ontario.

Clara Devlin’s father was a Protestant Irishman from near Cork. Her mother, whose maiden name was McLeod, was a Scottish Presbyterian. She had come to Canada with her parents at the age of three in a sailing vessel which took sixty days to cross the Atlantic.

John Melzo Roberts lived in Vancouver, where he died on September 16, 1952. He was survived by his wife and five sons and three daughters, several children having predeceased him.

The eleven children of John Roberts and Abigail Devlin are:

a. Charles Roberts (1899-

Charlie Roberts was born in 1899 in Strathclair, Manitoba.

He served in the Canadian army in World War I. He spent a harvest leave working on the farm of his cousin Ruby Williamson and her husband Frank at Strathclair. Writing of this experience he said, ” It was just after the fire which destroyed the house. Inez Reilly [Ruby’s niece] had come to help Ruby. We had a lot of fun.”

Charles Roberts and his wife Leslie live in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

b. Homer Roberts (1902- ?)

He was born in Strathclair in 1902. He lived in Red Deer, Alberta.

c. John Roberts

He died in infancy from what in those days was called “summer complaint.”

d. Dorothy Roberts (Mrs. D. Rushton) (Mrs. Field) (1905-

She was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1905. She lives in Victoria, B.C.

e. Lorne Roberts (1907- ?

He was born in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1907. He lived in Bella Bella, B.C. He is now dead.

f. Orville Roberts (1909- ?)

He was born in 1909 in Strathclair. He lived in Strathclair and Edmonton. He, too, is now dead.

g. Clifford Roberts (1911- ?)

He was born in Strathclair, Manitoba, in 1911. He lived in Edmonton, Alberta. He is now dead.

h. Lillian Abigail (Mrs. F. Oakie)(1914)

She was born in 1914 in Camrose,Alberta. She lives in Edmonton.

i. Margaret Roberts (Mrs. H.C. Foreman) (1916-

She was born in Camrose, Alberta, in 1916. Her family operates the Fraserview Golf Course in Vancouver, B.C.

j. William Allenby Roberts (1918-

He was born in Edmonton in 1918. He is an accountant with a Vancouver shipping company.

k. Mary Roberts(1920- c. 1922)

She was born in Edmonton in 1920. She died when she was two years old.’


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (US



Caroline Caswell and James Flintoft

Harriet Caswell Roberts— Genealogy

“Lanark is my Native Land” -Master Clarence Whiticar 1930

No Scruples For Wayward Children! T.B. Caswell


Part 1 of “My Dad was an Old Thresherman”





Photo of the “Cast of Characters” in this two part segment on threshing.

Another episode in: They were Set Down in Dalhousie Township”– Effie Park Salkeld

It didn’t matter where you lived threshing was threshing. This story will be done in two parts and thank you to Beverly Salkeld from Winnpeg Manitoba whose family Grandmother Effie Edna Park Salkeld was born to Duncan and Mary Mcintosh Park in Lanark County in October of 1892 and died at Langenburg Hospitial in Saskatchewan April 19th Easter Sunday in 1965. She is buried in Gerald United Cemetery Saskatchewan


Photo from  Beverly Salkeld17012650_10211454383182581_1387684606_n



Threshing-Bee_C.1900-644x383 (1).jpg

Perth RememberedThreshing-Bee_C.1900




Perth Remembered Threshing Lanark County



Perth RememberedThreshing-at-Imesons




Lanark Steam Threshing Machine, about 1900. Photo by Robert J Stead. 



Photo by ThistleTree

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.

Related reading:

They were Set Down in Dalhousie Township”– Effie Park Salkeld

Eggs 10 Cents a dozen–Farmers Markets of Smiths Falls and Almonte 1880 and 1889

Lanark Farm Life is Not so Bad- 1951

Once Upon a Time on the Farm

Farming Could be a Dangerous Business in Lanark County? Who Do You Know?

She Doesn’t Think My Tractor is Sexy–The Farmer’s Wife 1889


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun



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

Lanark County Moves West — Sarah Plain and Tall it was Not




For weeks I have been gathering information and compiling names to write a piece on the migration from Lanark County to Manitoba. Twice in the 1880s people made their way west due to drought or crop failure. There was also the fact that many worked on the C.P.R. Lines. Few returned, and that is why I still get a lot of local information from the Winnipeg newspaper archives as so many from our area were living there and still very interested in the Lanark County news. In fact the new settlers out west ordered 800 plows from Messrs Frost & Wood in Smiths Falls to be shipped out to Manitoba.

There was a large migration from the area to the USA beginning in the 1850’s as second-generation pioneers left to acquire farmland in the new frontier of the American mid-west namely North Dakota, USA.

Mr. E. Rice, Carleton Place, has gone west and if he is pleased with the country will make a home in Dakota near Fargo.  Mr. D. McLaren and family, formerly of Carleton Place, also intends settling in the same place on a 400 acre farm.- Perth Courier

Prior to the Irish famine years, 1846-1854, most of the Irish emigrants who came to Canada were persons with some monetary means who were able to acquire new farmland in the Lanark County wilderness. The second generation of these families, however, facing land shortages here, often moved to the United States. Many of the Irish-Canadians who settled in Canada were disappointed with their land in Ontario. The availability of land in western Canada and the local conflicts with their Scottish neighbours was a huge incentive for them to move.

At that time it was easier for west bound travelers in Canada going from Ontario to Manitoba to take a train to St. Paul, Minnesota and then to proceed on toward either Fargo, ND or Fishers Landing, MN. From there they went northward by boat to the Red River to Manitoba.

In addition, James J. Hill, (originally born in southern Ontario) builder of the Great Northern Railroad, recruited farmers to emigrate from Ontario and settle the Red River Valley. Most people at the time said they were going to Grand Forks, North Dakota.


“It was a sorry lot of human beings that arrived here yesterday from
Winnipeg. They constitute the advance guard of the main body of deluded
Dakotans who went to Manitoba in search of land flowing with milk and honey.

They find instead, a barren waste of desert sand, either destitute of all
vegetation or grown up with sage brush, and an inhospitable climate where vegetable growth is impossible. These misguided unfortunates were warmly welcomed here and provided with necessary relief for their wants and will be given employment. They tell sad tales of destitution and suffering.”

As with businesswoman Elizabeth Lindsay from Almonte, women appeared to be a lot tougher out west than east. Here’s an advertisement which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen of October 21, 1882.

Newspaper Advertisement for a Spouse in North Dakota in 1882



Migrants to North Dakota from Eastern Ontario

Files from The Perth Courier and Bytown.net


The Lanark Era
Lanark, Ontario, Canada
16 Aug 1911, Wed • Page 1