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Overview

We have attempted to relate these site to the history of the region through a series of short articles on:

1. Historic Claims of the area
2. Analysis Critera - Where sites fit in terms of the Community Heritage
3. Community Layout

The project is intended as a "Beginning" rather than a Finished Product. Local groups and individuals are invited to amend and add to it. New information is always welcome and we will make every effort to add anthing that is sent to us.

One goal is to collect as much information about Cameron's older buildings as we can. This will be found in the Sites section, and we would appreciate corrections, additions, comments and questions as we complete the project.

 
Community Historical Claims

Although the municipality saw its first agricultural settlers in 1880, the region itself had a long and interesting history. The wooded valley of the Souris has long been a place of shelter, a gathering place for various aboriginal peoples. Ongoing archeological explorations, especially those in the sand hills to the west continue to uncover the buried secrets of these first people. 

As early as 1785, fur trade companies and independent operators were building small temporary posts in the region in an effort to keep trade from going south. Between present day Mentieth and Lauder nine posts have been identified and three of those have well documented locations and histories. Fort Desjarlais (1836), Fort Grant (1828), and Ash House (1790’s) are mentioned in many early account of the fur trade.

In early of 1881 Samuel Long and John Fee came from Ontario to Manitoba, and traveling south from Brandon, left the established trail and proceeded westward into what was then unsurveyed territory. They chose land, later identified as 32-5-23 when it was surveyed the next summer, in the district soon known as Meglund, a few kilometres southwest of present-day Hartney.

 

Melgund School

After the visit of the surveyors in 1889, the building of a railway began. When the train whistle sounded at Hartney for the first train on Christmas Day 1890, The Lake of the Woods Milling Company had a grain elevator ready, as had David Leckie and H. Hammond.


 

St. John’s Catholic Church, Grande Clairiere

In the early years of the twentieth century Hartney consolidated its position as a trading centre for the region while additional rail lines created the nearby smaller villages of Underhill and Lauder.  The rail lines and the automobile enabled increasing contact with outside populations and Hartney’s proximity to Grand Clairiere, which was established before the railway lines by Francophones, some of whom came from Quebec, and some of whom were descendants of Metis traders and hunters, soon added an additional cultural element. 



 
Analysis Criteria

History

Aboriginal Peoples

Early explorers David Thompson, in 1797 and Alexander Henry in 1805, travelling from the Souris Mouth Forts to the Mandan country along the Missouri River in the Dakotas and Montana, user a well-used trading rout that followed the course of the Souris River from present day Souris through Hartney and the sand hill to the west. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century the area was home to several fur trade posts set up by the Hudson’s Bay Company and its competitors in an effort to prevent trade going south into the U.S.

Settlers and Defining Culture

The settlement of the Hartney area began in 1881 with the arrival of a few settlers from Ontario. The beginning of regular railway service to Brandon brought many more in the spring of 1882, also from Ontario - with some from the British Isles as well. The area was well settled by the time the railway arrived in 1890 and Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist congregations quickly built churches in new town.



Other Settlement/Ethnic Groups

The nearby community of Grand Clariere was settled by colonists from Quebec and included some of French-Metis descent who had remained in the area after the closing of the last fur trade posts in 1858. Although the communities were quite separate there was soon some French-Catholic presence in Hartney

 

Economic Engines

Farming formed the economic basis of virtually all prairie settlements but many communities sought to enhance the agriculture by encouraging some local “value added” processing. Most towns would encourage the establishment of a flour mill, often by offering cash “bonuses”. These were important as an outlet for locally grown grain when shipping capacity lagged behind production, but most of these ventures were short-lived as improved transportation rendered them irrelevant. In Hartney the mill established in the late 1890’s served this typical purpose for over a decade.

 

Commercial Growth

The establishment in 1890 of the towns of Hartney and Lauder in the midst of well-populated and productive farmland led to an initial burst of commercial enterprises.

Social & Cultural Development

The first settlers in the Hartney area were of Sam Long and John Fee in the Melgund area. By 1882 many families had taken homesteads, including James Hartney who soon had a post office and general store on his farm site, about two kilometers south of present-day Hartney. For the first eight years after farming operations commenced the scattered rural nature of settlement in the area was characterized by various small rural centres, often just a Post Office / General Store and perhaps a school which might double as a church. The names of communities like Meglund, Webb, Whitewater and Swaffham appear in early correspondence.



In most Manitoba communities, the “Establishment” era is defined by the replacement of “Pioneer” log, sod and rough lumber buildings by more ambitious constructions of milled lumber. In the “Consolidation” era, villages and towns are well established along rail lnks and some years of good crops have enabled farmers to build comfortable homes and attractive “modern” farm buildings.

 



Community Form and Layout

The R.M. of Cameron was created in 1897. Prior to that it had been part of other municipalities. Some communities had found their way on to a map by virtue of having a post office, often as a result of some enterprising settler making the application. Others began as schools were built and became social centres, then attracting interest in perhaps a country store or a church, maybe even a hall. These communities, such as Melgund, West Hall, Whitewater, Millerway, Sawffham and Barber were never villages in that they had no grid of streets housing a residential district. Hartney existed as a post office and store – on the Hartney farm, not in the town which was created over six years after the name first appeared.

The railway arrived, prompting the creation of a village or town plans, seldom in the same spot people had already selected as “communities”. These quickly attracted a variety of commercial ventures in a spurt of growth.

 

The region in 1918

Thus Melgund is marked by a cemetery and a cairn, where once stood a church, school and post, office / store.  Nearby, Lauder, though sparsely populated today, still retains its grid of streets dotted with many abandoned homes and a few public buildings. Grande Clairiere, which had an identity as a community dating back to 1888 and which did have a post office and at least one store – located on rural properties, became a village only with the arrival of the C.N. line in 1905. Underhill, created close to Barber School, on about 1900, never did become more than a frontage road with a store and elevator.


By 1910 three rail lines crossed the municipality. The first in 1890 created Hartney and Lauder on a C.P.R. line that connected Brandon with Melita. The Canadian Northern approached the district from the east in 1890, creating the hamlet of Underhill, a siding and elevator at Argue before reaching Hartney. This helped solidify Hartneys position in the area. This same line was extended five years later to Virden and Grande Clairiere saw its first railway service.

The in 1910 the C.P.R. built a brand from Boissevain to Lauder, giving that community its second line.

The layout of each town and village was a direct response to the railway line to which it owed its existence and to the commercial needs of the nearby residents. Hartney, perhaps partially because it was established first in a well-settled region, became the largest centre. Lauder, in its early days may have rivaled Hartney, with a full range of services and a fully developed “Main Street” or commercial district , but as transportation improved and population declined, its services were no longer required.

Grand Clariere never did serve as large a population and offered only the most necessary services on its two intersecting streets.

The creation of villages and town as commercial centres, while offering convenience to local farmers, did not, at first, affect social, cultural and recreational life of the communities that were here first. Dances, cultural and sporting events continued at local schools. Churches at Millerway, Melgund, Chain Lakes remained active. It was only when the full extent of rural depopulation was felt that the schools and churches closed and people made their way to the nearest village or town for dances, bonspiels and other events.






 


Overview

We have attempted to relate these site to the history of the region through a series of short articles on:

1. Historic Claims of the area
2. Analysis Critera - Where sites fit in terms of the Community Heritage
3. Community Layout
4. Notable People (See the Hartney Notable People Project)

The project is intended as a "Beginning" rather than a Finished Product. Local groups and individuals are invited to amend and add to it. New information is always welcome and we will make every effort to add anthing that is sent to us.

One goal is to collect as much information about Hartney''s older buildings as we can. This will be found in the Sites section, and we would appreciate corrections, additions, comments and questions as we complete the project.

 
Community Historical Claims

Hartney may claim to be one of the few settlement-era railway towns whose location was not arbitrarily chosen by the railway company. Sometime in 1889 it became apparent that the long-anticipated Souris Branch, that eventually was to connect Brandon with Melita and beyond, was to become a reality. Word circulated that a town was planned on a site somewhat northeast of present-day Hartney (35-6-23) but settlers protested and petitioned the C.P.R., insisting that the new town should be near where James Hartney had established a post office and store on his farm in 1882. He had thus established a recognized centre for the surrounding district. When the surveyors did appear they selected a spot within a mile of the Hartney farm and, the settlers, seeing this as, no doubt close enough, were satisfied.  Upon learning that the C.P.R had chosen the name Airdrie for the new station settlers made an additional request that the name Hartney, already applied to the post office serving the community, be the name of the new town.  Once again the C.P.R made the change.

So, although the town was new in 1890, the region itself had a long and interesting history. The wooded valley of the Souris has long been a place of shelter, a gathering place for various aboriginal peoples. Ongoing archeological explorations, especially those in the sand hills to the west continue to uncover the buried secrets of these first people.

As early as 1785, fur trade companies and independent operators were building small temporary posts in the region in an effort to keep trade from going south. Between present day Mentieth and Lauder nine posts have been identified and three of those have well documented locations and histories. Fort Desjarlais (1836), Fort Grant (1828), and Ash House (1790’s) are mentioned in many early account of the fur trade.

In early of 1881 Samuel Long and John Fee came from Ontario to Manitoba, and traveling south from Brandon, left the established trail and proceeded westward into what was then unsurveyed territory. They chose land, later identified as 32-5-23 when it was surveyed the next summer, in the district soon known as Meglund, a few kilometres southwest of present-day Hartney. The sod shack they erected that first season, soon known as “The Shanty” or “The Orphan’s Home”, was to serve as a stopping place and temporary home to a succession of newcomers in the next two years and the nucleus of a prosperous agricultural settlement. It was the first crucial step in the establishment of the farming economy and social/cultural network for a district that waited patiently for a rail link that would trigger the almost overnight appearance of the town of Hartney.

After the visit of the surveyors in 1889, the building began. When the train whistle sounded for the first train on Christmas Day 1890, The Lake of the Woods Milling Company had a grain elevator ready, as had David Leckie and H. Hammond. A boarding house erected by W.H. Hotham was in place. James Hartney and his brother-in-law S.H. Dickenson had erected store and post office, and Dr. Frank McEown had set up a practice and started work on a drug store.
William Hopkins had built his three-story brick building housing his store, a residence, and a meeting hall. Seemingly overnight all the services and goods one would expect in a thriving town were available to settlers who had waited for the better part of a decade.

As the town grew two brickyards, a flour mill and s sash & door factory contributed to the economy as the consolidation era was signaled by renewed and more permanent building, often in brick and with sometimes a more pretentious aspect. In 1902 A.E. Hill build the two-story brick block that still stands on the corner of Poplar and East Railway

Along with the A.E. Hill family and James Hartney several other notable early citizens have left their mark on Hartney.  Some, like Festus Chapin and William Callendar contributed to the commercial growth, others like Irene Hill, Dr. Frank McEown, and Walpole Murdoch served in other ways.

In the early years of the twentieth century Hartney consolidated its position as a trading centre for the region while additional rail lines created the nearby smaller villages of Underhill and Lauder.  The rail lines and the automobile enabled increasing contact with outside populations and Hartney’s proximity to Grand Clairiere, which was established before the railway lines by Francophones, some of whom came from Quebec, and some of whom were descendants of Metis traders and hunters, soon added an additional cultural element. The presence today of several Mansard-roofed homes is a likely legacy of that cultural interaction.

As Hartney looks forward to the next century it has taken steps to preserved important aspects of its past, including the expansion of the Museum in the A.E. Hill Building.  When that building and several others recently figured prominently as sets in two movies; “The Lookout” and “The Stone Angel” the accompanying publicity could only help in their efforts.


 
Analysis Criteria

 
Aboriginal Peoples

Early explorers David Thompson, in 1797 and Alexander Henry in 1805, travelling from the Souris Mouth Forts to the Mandan country along the Missouri River in the Dakotas and Montana, user a well-used trading rout that followed the course of the Souris River from present day Souris through Hartney and the sand hill to the west. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century the area was home to several fur trade posts set up by the Hudson’s Bay Company and its competitors in an effort to prevent trade going south into the U.S.

Settlers and Defining Culture

The settlement of the Hartney area began in 1881 with the arrival of a few settlers from Ontario. The beginning of regular railway service to Brandon brought many more in the spring of 1882, also from Ontario - with some from the British Isles as well. The area was well settled by the time the railway arrived in 1890 and Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist congregations quickly built churches in new town.

Other Settlement/Ethnic Groups

The nearby community of Grand Clariere was settled by colonists from Quebec and included some of French-Metis descent who had remained in the area after the closing of the last fur trade posts in 1858. Although the communities were quite separate there was soon some French-Catholic presence in Hartney


Economic Engines

Farming formed the economic basis of virtually all prairie settlements but many communities sought to enhance the agriculture by encouraging some local “value added” processing. Most towns would encourage the establishment of a flour mill, often by offering cash “bonuses”. These were important as an outlet for locally grown grain when shipping capacity lagged behind production, but most of these ventures were short-lived as improved transportation rendered them irrelevant. In Hartney the mill established in the late 1890’s served this typical purpose for over a decade.

Commercial Growth

The establishment in 1890 of the town of Hartney in the midst of well-populated and productive farmland led to an initial burst of commercial enterprises. The usual banks, general stores, drug and jHartney ewelry stores appeared. Some of these would naturally be housed in quickly erected-frame buildings, but a few noteworthy buildings such as the three-story brick James Hopkins Store, were built in those first few years. And although none of the earliest survives, several of those built near the turn of the century created the downtown streetscape, the general outline of which does still exist today.

Social & Cultural Development

The first settlers in the Hartney area were of Sam Long and John Fee in the Meglund area. By 1882 many families had taken homesteads, including James Hartney who soon had a post office and general store on his farm site, about two kilometers south of present-day Hartney. For the first eight years after farming operations commenced the scattered rural nature of settlement in the area was characterized by various small rural centres, often just a Post Office / General Store and perhaps a school which might double as a church. The names of communities like Meglund, Webb, Whitewater and Swaffham appear in early correspondence. In 1890 the long-promised extension of the Souris Branch of the C.P.R. approached the area and announced that they would erect a station and survey a town on property owned by W.J. Spencer. A town site appeared almost literally overnight.

In most Manitoba communities, the “Establishment” era is defined by the replacement of “Pioneer” log, sod and rough lumber buildings by more ambitious constructions of milled lumber. With that definition in mind the town Hartney can be said to have almost skipped the Pioneer stage and proceeded directly to Establishment. The Consolidation period can be said to have started in 1892 with the erection of the first of the three substantial churches, two of which survive today. Around the turn of the century several of the “downtown” brick blocks we see today replaced earlier dwellings, many of which had been lost to fire. It was in that period that many fine homes, often in local brick, were erected both in the core area and in what would then be the outskirts. Owned by community leaders with names like Cha

Community Form and Layout

The layout of the town of Hartney was a direct response to the railway line to which it owes its existence. Unlike many prairie communities, it grew, from its very inception, on both sides of the tracks, with residences on each side.  While the main business section grew along East Railway Avenue which evolved into the “Main” street, some public and commercial buildings were erected on West Railway Avenue, and to this date, it is not completely residential.

The railway runs south-east and the town was surveyed to conform. A second railway entered Hartney from the southwest but this was after the town was well-established.

That Hartney grew quickly and confidently on each side of the track is not surprising in that its security was almost a given, in that the vital rail link was in place and that it was at the centre of an already well-established agricultural base. There was no speculation or uncertainty about its importance as a service centre.






 



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