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
3. Community Layout
The project is intended as a "Beginning" rather than a Finished
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.
ClaimsThe R.M. of Daly was settled beginning in 1879
and communities such as Tarbolton,
Roseville, and Ancrum evolved around the local church and regional
Post Office were established, but no towns were surveyed or built.
centres, first Rapid City, then Brandon served as both markets for
and outlets for supplies. For over twenty years, surely a record in
Manitoba, no railway crossed the municipality. Across the province in
early 1880’s speculative or “paper” town were
promoted based on supposed
assurances that railways would soon appear. In Daly, perhaps such
would have been overshadowed by the surprising growth of Brandon, right
its southern border. Perhaps having that excellent source of both
and markets, available by the second real harvest, allowed for a
level of contentment. Progressive municipal government as well as
local communities and school district boards, provided the
and service that settlers needed.
By the end of the settlement era two sets of tracks crossed the
In 1902 a C.P.R. branch line connected the municipality with Brandon
spawned the towns of Wheatland and Bradwardine as well as the hamlets
Carnegie and Pendennis and it was no doubt much appreciated. The
establishment of both retail services and elevators made life easier
everyone. It was progress, but perhaps not a big readjustment in social
or economic life.
The decision of the Grand Trunk Pacific to build a line across the
a decision made far away and likely with no thought or concern about
impact, would bring about substantive and lasting change to the R.M. of
The line proceeded parallel to the C.P.R. main line in an almost
line from Portage La Prairie westward, so close to the competition that
new town were required until it passed McGregor where the CP line
slightly southwards. It then sprouted town and villages in regular
beginning with Firdale and following the alphabet through to Levine.
it was decades after the first settlement rush, there was no real need
any these villages to progress commercially beyond an elevator or two
a few other retail outlets. But at the crossing of the Little
there was a need for a significant service centre with roundhouse,
and other services. A town was required and almost overnight Rivers,
after a director of the Grand Trunk Railway, went from being farmland
a carefully planed and substantial town.
The implications for the entire municipality were far-reaching. With
establishment of rail service and retail establishments, trips to
replaced trips to Brandon. The nearby settlement of Wheatland on the
C.P.R. branch line was eclipsed. The railway jobs attracted people from
wide variety of places, broadening the social and cultural makeup of
The next important change occurred with the establishment of the Air
Base. The impact of the base can not be overstated. The role of
railway as the economic stimulus and the very identity of Rivers was
by the role of the base, as people from all over Canada were
into the municipality.
When the first settlers arrived in Daly it was obvious to them that
were not the first inhabitants of this land. Native people often passed
and evidence of past inhabitants was more visible in those days, be it
the form of camp sites prairie trails. Settlers often encountered and
with the Sioux people form the reserve just south of Daly.
Anticipating the great settlement boom of the 1880’s a trickle of
souls lead the way into this land in the late 1870’s. The
valley of the The Little Saskatchewan River was attractive in that it
ample water as well logs for building and fuel. Until 1879 settlement
on the new town of Rapids City and the settlement of Odannah
By 1880 a trickle of settlers approached the district taking the
river steamers up the Assiniboine to Grand Valley or Hall’s
where Hall’s Bridge stands today – north of Oak Lake. Local
that most of these early settlers came from British Isles, with
particularly well represented. The arrival of the railway to Brandon in
1881 brought increased settlement, including many from Ontario.
The establishment of the Town of Rivers, by the Grand Trunk Pacific in
transformed the predominantly Anglo-Saxon settlement into a much more
The Municpality of Daly, in its early years developed in much the same
as other rural regions of Manitoba. After nearly 30 years that
was given a substantially new direction when the Grand Trunk Pacific
the site of Rivers as a stop on their new trans-continental line. The
town quickly became the commercial centre of the region.
A second important change happened with the establishment of an Air
Training Base in 1940, once again completely transforming the
and social character of the town Rivers and to a lesser extent, the
Farming formed the economic basis of virtually all prairie settlements
many communities have succeed in establishing relatively small-scale
significant economic engines, generally related to agriculture and
resource development. The economy of Rivers received two somewhat
and important stimuli through the importance of the Railway and the
The establishment in 1908 of the town Rivers in the midst of
and productive farmland led to an initial burst of commercial
The usual banks, general stores, drug and jewelry stores appeared. Some
these would naturally be housed in quickly erected-frame buildings, but
the economic importance of the town seemed quite secure many
commercial and residential building appeared in those first years. Some
those, like the original Grand Trunk Station and the Alexandra Hotel
been lost, but other such as the Imperial Bank of Commerce, Knox
Church, and the fine house beside remain in use today.
In the summer of 1800 the settlement of the region began in earnest
the arrival of settlers in all parts of the municipality.
For the first twenty years after farming operations commenced the
rural nature of settlement in the area was characterized by various
rural centres. Schools and post offices were the first
to appear, while a few churches and followed. Roseville and Tarbolton
well known communities without becoming villages. Other communities
known only by their schools, with Harrow and Hunter being early
The centres of Wheatland and Bradwardine were simply Post offices in
In most Manitoba communities, the
“Establishment” era is
defined by the replacement
of “Pioneer” log, sod and rough lumber buildings by more
of milled lumber. With that definition in mind the towns in the
of Daly can be said to have had a relatively short Pioneer stage. Some
came with reasonable financial resources, this the proximity to markets
Brandon and Rapid City mean all manner of building materials were
In addition to that the land was relatively good and brought return to
fairly soon. Although the first homes were generally of log frame
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
rail line through the Municipality which sparked the communities of
Pendennis, Wheatland and Bradwardine, with Bradwardine and Wheatland
the larger commercial centres. In 1908 the creation of a second line
paralleling the first brought further important and lasting changes.
the first line was C.P.R branch connecting to Brandon, the second
was a new transcontinental railway built by the Grand Trunk Pacific and
established Rivers as the important centre of the region and leading to
demise of nearby Wheatland. The creation of an Air Force Base near that
hamlet came much to late to save it and further boosted the importance
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.
many prairie communities, it grew primarily on one (north) side of the
with a large rail yard on the south side along with (typically) the
and elevator buildings.
The railway runs west-east and the town was surveyed to conform. First
runs parallel to the tracks and Main Street away from the
Those streets along with Second Avenue soon housed a wide variety
retail and service outlets. Four more avenues spread northwards to
a rising need for residences.
That Rivers grew quickly and confidently is not surprising in that the
with its agricultural base well developed by the time the rail line
There was very little speculation or uncertainty about its potential
as a service centre but at the same time, very little fanfare and
It was as if it knew exactly what it was going to be. The building that
the arrival of the rail line established both the limits and a pattern
the layout which has remained relatively unchanged.
Bradwardine and Wheatland pre-date Rivers, being on the earlier (1902)
branch. Both reached their apex early and have been in decline since
1920’s. Bradwardine retained its form, a few services and a
identity until recent decades.
Wheatland continued to exist in the shadow of the Air Force Base, but
proximity to Rivers caused most businesses to move to that community
Carnegie and Pendennis were rail stops with basic services such a post
and store, perhaps a rink and a blacksmith shop. Buildings were quickly
with the closure of the branch line on the early 1960’s.