This photo from 1909 shows the North American Lumberyard, which was
established in 1906, and grew from this starting point to a nation-wide
It was part of a building boom that began when word of the coming of
the Grand Trunk Pacific was confirmed.
Perhaps one of the earliest photographic views of Rivers is this taken
in 1907, facing north from the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway yards along
Main Street - a settlement of few structures but intense activity as
lumber and other commodities were freighted from Wheatland prior to the
laying of steel to this new born terminal.
The first citizens of Rivers could have taken the train to the south
side of the Little Saskatchewan River where bridge building was
underway. They forded the shallow stream, and then walked the last mile
into the bustling centre named in honor of Grand Trunk president Sir
Before that bridge was completed Second Avenue was lined with
R.S. McKenzie was one of the first on the scene, where he built a store
that became a Rivers institution.
By 1909 residences were springing up adjacent to the business district.
By 1908 R. S. McKenzie’s General Store and the first office of the
North American Lumber & Supply Company, were joined by
establishments such as the J. A. Grummett & Co. post office store,
the J. E. Thompson hardware, the Ferguson & Herbert furniture and
furnishings emporium, the W. R. Head & Co. building supplies, the
Bishop & Dennis meat market, and the the Jonason & Poston
A livery stable was essential although the automobile was already about
to take over as the primary means of transportation.
The Alexandria Hotel, another Rivers landmark, was conveniently located
across from the Grand Trunk Pacific Station.