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Page Index of Forest to Field Volume One
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When the "postage stamp" province of Manitoba was established in 1870 it was indeed a mere square in the limitless expanse of the west. Our area wasn't even a part of it, but was in the North-West Territories. In 1877 the northern boundary was set at the line separating Townships 17 and 18 which later marked the centre of this municipality. The western line lay between Ranges 12 and 13. In 1881 and 1884 the province was expanded to
its present southern boundaries, but it retained its postage stamp design, reaching to the line separating Townships 44 and 45 to the north. It wasn't until 1912 that Manitoba was extended to its present size and thereby became the only prairie province with a sea port.
Our story begins on the gentle slope of the Riding Mountain in Townships 17 and 18, Ranges 17 and 18, west of the first Meridian, which is the Rural Municipality of Clanwilliam. Originally included were two more townships to the south, T 16, R17, and Tl6, R 18, also including the village of Clanwilliam. This name is believed to have been chosen because there was at that time an Admiral Clanwilliam of the British Navy serving in Canada.
At one time this was the hunting and trapping grounds of the Assiniboine and Cree Indians and grazing land of the occasional bison herd. Indian artifacts such as stone hammers and arrowheads as well as bison skeletons have been found in various places in the area. This district is not a foothills area as the altitude of 2200 ft. would indicate but is a series of wooded hills and lake regions. Its highest elevation towards the eastern boundary gradually slopes to the south and west to a height of about 1800 ft. A birdseye view of the municipality gives a scenic panorama of hills and valleys, flat lands and lowlands interspersed with numerous lakes and ponds (sloughs). The Rolling River (whoever chose this name must have had the soul of a poet) crosses it from nor theast to southwest with various creeks draining into it as it carries the water flow off the Riding Mountain on its first journey to the sea. In years of excessive moisture the lakes fill to an overflow level and certain areas experience extensive flooding. Some of the lakes do not do much more than add to the scenic beauty of the countryside whereas others like Otter Lake, Peacey Lake, Ditch Lake and "18" Lake have been popular family resort and picnic areas since the early days.
In June, 1885, the Hon. Sir David McPherson granted the choice of these four townships for the exclusive development of a Scandinavian settlement (sometimes known as the Scandinavian Reserve). During July, the first settlers began to arrive under the direction of an employee of the Manitoba and Northwest Railroad Co. who also acted as an Immigration agent. The centre of this new settlement was on the edge of Otter Lake and was named "Scandinavia", commonly called "New Sweden" those first years. Here plans were made for a future village and an Immigration House and Sawmill were at once established. When the expectation that the railroad would pass through the area to Dauphin failed to become a reality, a country post office and store were the extent of the hoped-for village. It was, however, the hub of the community for many years. The Immigration House served as a home for the families of the early settlers until such a time as they could move to their own holdings. It was also a "stopping house" for teamsters and settlers travelling north and west. With the church and school nearby all roads led to this central point along the "Townline". Early records show that in 1886 as many as sixty-eight homestead entries had been made. The rural population in 1983 now stands at five hundred and seventy-two persons.