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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 as we can. 
Community Historical Claims

The R.M. of Daly was settled beginning in 1879 and communities such as Tarbolton, Roseville, and Ancrum evolved around the local church and regional school. Post Office were established, but no towns were surveyed or built. Nearby centres, first Rapid City, then Brandon served as both markets for produce and outlets for supplies. For over twenty years, surely a record in southwestern Manitoba, no railway crossed the municipality. Across the province in the early 1880’s speculative or “paper” town were promoted based on supposed assurances that railways would soon appear. In Daly, perhaps such effort would have been overshadowed by the surprising growth of Brandon, right on its southern border. Perhaps having that excellent source of both supplies and markets, available by the second real harvest, allowed for a certain level of contentment. Progressive municipal government as well as active local communities and school district boards, provided the infrastructure and service that settlers needed.

By the end of the settlement era two sets of tracks crossed the Municipality. In 1902 a C.P.R. branch line connected the municipality with Brandon and spawned the towns of Wheatland and Bradwardine as well as the hamlets of Carnegie and Pendennis and it was no doubt much appreciated. The accompanying establishment of both retail services and elevators made life easier for everyone. It was progress, but perhaps not a big readjustment in social cultural or economic life.

The decision of the Grand Trunk Pacific to build a line across the prairies, a decision made far away and likely with no thought or concern about local impact, would bring about substantive and lasting change to the R.M. of Daly.  The line proceeded parallel to the C.P.R. main line in an almost straight line from Portage La Prairie westward, so close to the competition that no new town were required until it passed McGregor where the CP line angles slightly southwards. It then sprouted town and villages in regular steps beginning with Firdale and following the alphabet through to Levine. Because it was decades after the first settlement rush, there was no real need for any these villages to progress commercially beyond an elevator or two with a few other retail outlets. But at the crossing of the Little Saskatchewan there was a need for a significant service centre with roundhouse, yards, and other services. A town was required and almost overnight Rivers, named after a director of the Grand Trunk Railway, went from being farmland to a carefully planed and substantial town.

The implications for the entire municipality were far-reaching. With the establishment of rail service and retail establishments, trips to Rivers replaced trips to Brandon. The nearby settlement of Wheatland on the rival C.P.R. branch line was eclipsed. The railway jobs attracted people from a wide variety of places, broadening the social and cultural makeup of the region.

The next important change occurred with the establishment of the Air Force Base.  The impact of the base can not be overstated. The role of the railway as the economic stimulus and the very identity of Rivers was replaced by the role of the base, as people from all over Canada were transplanted into the municipality.

Analysis Criteria

Aboriginal Peoples

When the first settlers arrived in Daly it was obvious to them that they were not the first inhabitants of this land. Native people often passed through and evidence of past inhabitants was more visible in those days, be it in the form of camp sites prairie trails. Settlers often encountered and interacted with the Sioux people form the reserve just south of Daly.

Settlers and Defining Culture

Anticipating the great settlement boom of the 1880’s a trickle of adventurous souls lead the way into this land in the late 1870’s.  The deep wooded valley of the The Little Saskatchewan River was attractive in that it provided ample water as well logs for building and fuel. Until 1879 settlement focused on the new town of Rapids City and the settlement of Odannah (Minnedosa. By 1880 a trickle of settlers approached the district taking the Assiniboine river steamers up the Assiniboine to Grand Valley or Hall’s Landing, near where Hall’s Bridge stands today – north of Oak Lake. Local Histories indicate that most of these early settlers came from British Isles, with Scotland particularly well represented. The arrival of the railway to Brandon in late 1881 brought increased settlement, including many from Ontario.

Other Settlement/Ethnic Groups

The establishment of the Town of Rivers, by the Grand Trunk Pacific in 1908 transformed the predominantly Anglo-Saxon settlement into a much more multi-cultural region.

Seminal Events

The Municpality of Daly, in its early years developed in much the same way as other rural regions of Manitoba. After nearly 30 years that development was given a substantially new direction when the Grand Trunk Pacific selected the site of Rivers as a stop on their new trans-continental line. The new town quickly became the commercial centre of the region.

A second important change happened with the establishment of an Air Forces Training Base in 1940, once again completely transforming the commercial and social character of the town Rivers and to a lesser extent, the Municipality.

Economic Engines

Farming formed the economic basis of virtually all prairie settlements but many communities have succeed in establishing relatively small-scale but significant economic engines, generally related to agriculture and local resource development. The economy of Rivers received two somewhat unexpected and important stimuli through the importance of the Railway and the Forces Base.

Commercial Growth

The establishment in 1908 of the town Rivers in the midst of well-populated and productive farmland led to an initial burst of commercial enterprises. The usual banks, general stores, drug and jewelry stores appeared. Some of these would naturally be housed in quickly erected-frame buildings, but because the economic importance of the town seemed quite secure many substantial commercial and residential building appeared in those first years. Some of those, like the original Grand Trunk Station and the Alexandra Hotel have been lost, but other such as the Imperial Bank of Commerce, Knox Presbyterian Church, and the fine house beside remain in use today.

Social & Cultural Development

In the summer of 1800 the settlement of the region began in earnest with the arrival of settlers in all parts of the municipality.

For the first twenty years after farming operations commenced the scattered rural nature of settlement in the area was characterized by various small rural centres. Schools and post offices were the first “community” buildings to appear, while a few churches and followed. Roseville and Tarbolton became well known communities without becoming villages. Other communities were known only by their schools, with Harrow and Hunter being early examples.  
The centres of Wheatland and Bradwardine were simply Post offices in their early days.

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 towns in the municipality of Daly can be said to have had a relatively short Pioneer stage. Some settlers came with reasonable financial resources, this the proximity to markets at Brandon and Rapid City mean all manner of building materials were available. In addition to that the land was relatively good and brought return to farmers fairly soon. Although the first homes were generally of log frame houses became common quickly. By the late1890’s these modest homes began to be replaced, often with larger two story buildings.

The Consolidation period can be said to have started in 1902 with the first rail line through the Municipality which sparked the communities of Carnegie, Pendennis, Wheatland and Bradwardine, with Bradwardine and Wheatland being the larger commercial centres. In 1908 the creation of a second line almost paralleling the first brought further important and lasting changes. Whereas the first line was  C.P.R branch connecting to Brandon, the second line was a new transcontinental railway built by the Grand Trunk Pacific and it established Rivers as the important centre of the region and leading to the demise of nearby Wheatland. The creation of an Air Force Base near that liile hamlet came much to late to save it and further boosted the importance or Rivers.

Community Form and Layout

The layout of the town of Rivers, as with the other villages in Daly, was a direct response to the railway line to which it owes its existence. Like many prairie communities, it grew primarily on one (north) side of the tracks, with a large rail yard on the south side along with (typically) the railway and elevator buildings. 

The railway runs west-east and the town was surveyed to conform. First Avenue runs parallel to the tracks and  Main Street away from the station. Those streets along with  Second Avenue soon housed a wide variety of retail and service outlets. Four more avenues spread northwards to accommodate a rising need for residences.

That Rivers grew quickly and confidently is not surprising in that the community with its agricultural base well developed by the time the rail line arrived. There was very little speculation or uncertainty about its potential importance as a service centre but at the same time, very little fanfare and boosting. It was as if it knew exactly what it was going to be. The building that followed the arrival of the rail line established both the limits and a pattern of the layout which has remained relatively unchanged.

Other Villages

Bradwardine and Wheatland pre-date Rivers, being on the earlier (1902) CPR branch. Both reached their apex early and have been in decline since the 1920’s. Bradwardine retained its form, a few services and a strong community identity until recent decades.
Wheatland continued to exist in the shadow of the Air Force Base, but its proximity to Rivers caused most businesses to move to that community around 1910

Carnegie and Pendennis were rail stops with basic services such a post office and store, perhaps a rink and a blacksmith shop. Buildings were quickly removed with the closure of the branch line on the early 1960’s.


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