Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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By 1900 there were many settlers living in the area, but still many acres of virgin land existed.

There were long hauls to the railroads either to the branch line of the c.P.R. running through Minnedosa and Neepawa or to the south running through Douglas and Brandon. Cameron and Moore had a small store on the corner of Charles Gowan''s place, but most large items had to be hauled a long way. So the talk of a branch line of the c.P.R. coming into the area caused a great deal of speculation and excitment. Where would the town be? When the surveyors decided the route it would follow the people of the district had to select a town site. It was generally agreed that it would be on the land of Barney May across the road from Charlie Swanson''s (Andrew Dodds) which was one of the stopping places on the trail west. This did not satisfy the settlers to the west, who would rather have had a town closer.

With so many people dissatisfied Adam McKenzie was persuaded to use his influence on the president of the c.P.R. (an old friend) into letting them start a town farther east at the present site of Oberon. The people farther west became so annoyed that they urged David McNaughton to approach Premier Roblin. Mr. Roblin was sympathetic and decreed that the end of the track for that year would be on David McNaughton''s land and a station would be built.

The surveyors moved in to layout a town site in May of 1902. This was on land donated by David McNaughton which he had bought from the Hudson Bay Co. The streets were named after the surveyors, Dennis, Petrel and Agate with the avenues Railway and McNaughton. It was decided to call the town Brookdale after the post office and school.

By the middle of September the town site was already a beehive of activity. Cleggs moved in and lived in a .tent while they built their butcher shop, later the first house of Angus and Ruth Lawrie was built on the corner of the lot where Jones'' lumber shed is located. Mr. Clegg was also the first cattle drover in the district, buying cattle for shipping as well as his own shop. The blacksmith shop was almost completed and a Mr. Perrin was the first blacksmith in the building later used by R.T.

Chisholm as a garage and now is in the yard that Fred Bonnett uses as a parking space for his machinery.

Cameron''s store was being built, the last occupants of this store were the Murrays; later, it was torn down and is now a vacant lot west of Bill Mitchell''s house. A boarding house was ready to open. By October the first of the rails had been laid and Brookdale was receiving freight. A "Y" was out in the field to the south for the engine to turn on, as this was the end of the line for a number of years.

The material for the construction of the station had arrived thus removing all doubt about where the station was going to be. It was the humble opinion of the people in general, and the business men in particular, that in the course of a very few years Brookdale would hold a very important place among business towns of the province.

A water tank was also built just east of the station where the trains took on water for the steam boilers. This was a large round wooden structure with a tank inside on piles for support so that the water flowed to the engines by gravity. Inside, underneath the tank was the well and pump, also a stove for heating purposes. Through the winter months it was the job of the section foreman to see that a fire was kept on so the water and pump would not freeze.

The Bell Telephone Co. was making plans to connect Wellwood and Brookdale to their long distance telephone system later on in the fall.

Contractors erected David McNaughton''s grain warehouse, this is presently being used by RW.

Jones for fertilizer, cement, etc. Mr. Moore was also erecting a large store where Fred Bonnett''s house is now. The Lake of the Woods Elevator was completed the same year, it was torn down in 1947· 1948. Mrs. Clegg and daughter Mary (Mrs. J.P.

Lawrie) boarded the men in a tent, and David McNaughton started to build a store, the former cafe and post office now an empty lot.

Problems, then, seemed to be similar to todays, farmers had trouble getting their grain to market because elevators were plugged with grain due to a shortage of box cars and irregular train service.

Then during the winter of 1902-03 there had been a great deal of snow. When it melted it flooded everything leaving Brookdale in a slough. Water levels were taken in various places in the town and in the low lying country to the west. But nothing was done about it and the same thing happened whenever there was a particularly heavy fall of snow. But in the year 1971-72 the council started a ditch system to drain the water and so far this flooding has not reoccurred.

1903 was a busy year for Brookdale with the building boom continuing. The Carberry Elevator Co. completed an elevator where the U.G.G.

Elevator now stands, with J.P. Lawrie as agent. Dr.

Toms of Wellwood opened an office and practiced two days a week. Mr. Arnott built a drug store in the present location of Don and Joyce Fraser''s house.

J. Millar built a store where the senior''s housing units are, upstairs Miss Mullen opened a dress shop. This store was destroyed by fire in January 1926. Seymore and Hyde built a bakery, later used as a harness shop and then as the Masonic Hall.

Cameron''s house was built where the old telephone office is beside Bill Jones'' house. This house was later moved over to the west side of the church for a manse but was burnt in about 1927 and the next year a new manse was built. Cameron also built the house where George Hunt now lives, Lawrie and McConnly were also building houses.

The council of North Cypress gave a grant of $100 to be spent on the main thoroughfares in Brookdale. In July of that year a picnic was held in the grove of trees at Charlie Gowan''s S.W. 22-12-16 now Donald Simpson''s. There was a keen interest in a provincial election that year so that politics as well as baseball was a centre of attraction. Fifteen hundred people attended and the ladies of the district served over one thousand meals that day.

What was a field of wheat in 1902 could boast the following buildings: two grain elevators, one warehouse, one hotel, two general stores, one hardware store, drug and book store, a harness shop, one butcher shop, two farm implement warehouses, one lumber yard, one coal shed, one livery and feed stable, one stock yard, 10 dwellings, the C.P.R station and water tank, post office and a Bell Telephone connection.

In 1904 Mr. McBurnie built a shop (Bonnett''s shop) and became the agent for Frost and Wood Implements. He also built a house that year beside Lewis Pohl''s. Later, he was the Massey Harris agent with Ham Layng as assistant. Dr. Thompson came in September of this year as the first resident doctor.

Cellars were dug for Shannon''s hardware store, the church and Si Hunter''s hotel where Ray Mitchell lives. The hotel burnt in 1913 and the stable was moved forward and used for a house. The church was completed in 1904, also a new two room school. This was a two-storey building but the upper room was used as a hall and lodge room until needed for school purposes. It was said with school, church and hotel you had education, salvation and damnation all on the one street.

A brick company started to test the quality of the Brookdale clay to find the best type of bricks which could be made from it. It was situated about where Wayne Vince lives. The Brookdale clay was excellent for brick making so R. Hales and Son, of Rapid City, built a brick factory on land east of Brookdale owned by Robert Dodds (Charlie Swanson''s). This business began operation in 1905.

The next year the c.P.R. put in a siding and branch line into the brickyard thus saving nearly all team labour.

Mr. T. McNeill, Rapid City, started a boarding house in the summer of 1905. Mr. M.E. Jones rented the McNaughton Store and used it as a furniture and implement store. Mr. Montford (Monty) Rush erected a barbershop and pool room on Railway Avenue where Bill Mitchell''s house is located. Mr. Arnott purchased a soda fountain and handled ice cream and soft drinks. Mr. J.F. Jones built a boarding house with Brookdale brick, this was later bought by Mr. Robert Barrett. The Bell Telephone in 1905 had 11 subscribers for their long distance telephone system.

Meanwhile Mr. Millen had built the Watson house, on the location where Ron Jardine now lives.

Wagstaffe built the small brick cottage on the corner of McNaughton and Petrel now torn down, and Mr. Humeston built the house where Mr. and Mrs. Bill Jones now live.

Citizens had been protesting the existing train and mail service but these protests were disregarded so in 1907 the Board of Trade was formed. David McNaughton was president and A.c. Millen was secretary, directors were: J.P. Lawrie, F.C.

Seymour, S. Hunter, J.W. Miller, G.M. McKenzie, D. Baker, Dr. Thompson and Charles Powers. The board commenced work preparing a committee to approach the proper railroad officials.

The drug store was enlarged in 1910 and a branch of the Sterling Bank was opened with Mr.

Stearns in charge and Mr. Bowen as teller. The Telephone Exchange also opened an office in the drugstore with Miss Myrtle Clegg as one of the first operators. She worked there for three years at $35 per month until she earned enough money to attend Wheat City Business College. There were about 55 subscribers.

The most popular centre for community skating in the early days was Hunter''s pond. About 1908, an open air rink was built on the site now occupied by Mr. Roy Davies. This was operated by Monty Rush.

In the summer of 1910, a rink company was formed with, D. McNaughton as president, vice-president, Charles Gowan; sec-treasurer, N.G. Swallow, directors were: W.J. Kinney, E.S. McDonald, J.W.

Miller, S. Hunter and J. McKenzie. The rink was built that fall on the east side of town on the corner of McNaughton Avenue and Cypress Street. It consisted of a sheet of skating ice and a sheet of curling ice on each side, and was lit by gasoline lamps. Unfortunately finances were depleted before it was shingled and consequently it had to be torn down some years later.

Mr. Barney May chugged into Brookdale with his 22 h.p. McLaughlin in April, 1910. Later on in May, Mr. Smith the station agent purchased an auto buggy, and in August Angus Clegg purchased an auto delivery wagon.

The Carberry Elevator Company sold their elevator to the Provincial Government in 1910, and in 1911, Mr. J.M. McKenzie left as agent of the Lake of the Woods Company, and was succeeded by Mr.

George Switzer. In April, Neil''s Store burned down on a Sunday evening while church was in session.

A young doctor of this period Dr. Baynhin met with a fatal accident when his horse ran away and his rig hit a telephone pole west of town. It was a cold morning and he lay for some time before he was found. About a week later he died with pneumonia in the Portage Hospital. Dr. Scribner became Brookdale''s next doctor.

It was in 1911 that Mr. Aif Goddard came to Brookdale from England and operated a plastering and carpentry business. Glen Walkey was managing the drug store. In 1912 M.H. Swallow sold his implement business to Baker and Hoddinott. A later owner of this business was J.B. Davidson. A petition was circulated asking for the cancellation of the licence of the Brookdale Hotel, and that year Mr. Smith proprietor of the hotel spent $383 (for which he was never paid) on sidewalks in Brookdale without authorization of the council.

The hotel burnt in 1913. Mr. Bassett was on the Sterling Bank staff. It was in this year that Brookdale had a Donkey Club. To qualify one had to stand on the Main Street and make jeering remarks about the ladies as they passed by on Saturday or Sunday evenings. School consolidation was the topic of the day and 1915 will long be remembered as the year of the big crop.

The flu epidemic hit the district in 1918·19 taking three members of the community, Messrs Jack Davidson, Bernard May, and Charlie Gowan (son of Tom Gowan). Mr. Loader started store keeping in Jim Miller''s store, Jim Hamilton started blacksmithing in 1920, on the location later occupied by Mr. Wm. Dickson in 1929, now Roy Davies'' shed.

A slaughter house for the beef ring was provided just north of town in the corner of the McNaughton section where Mac Ramsay now lives.

So the services of a butcher were reguired. The first butcher was Mr. K. Boles when the ring was organized in 1918.

A tennis court was laid out on the east side of town in 1925, but was used only a few years.

The Brookdale Pool Elevator was built in 1929 and Mr. A. Taylor was the first operator followed by Mr. Roy Charles. Some of the operators of the U.G.G. Elevator were Tom Ballantyne, Ike Bosnell and Ralph Chisholm.

In the early 1940''s, B.A. Oil opened a station on the lot where the senior housing units are built. It was operated by Cecil McQuarrie then Tom Tilley had it but also ran his paint and decorating busine~s from it. This building was moved away in the late 1950''s.

The bank services were moved to a building on the corner of Railway Avenue and Dennis Street, and the large building where the bank had been was torn down by Angus Lawrie and this is where he built a new house when he returned from overseas.

The bank did not remain long in Brookdale after this. The business was then moved to Wellwood, but because the roads were improving, most people moved their banking business to the larger centers.

Mr. Ben Caldwell opened a store in the bank building and it remained a grocery store. Bert Witherspoon bought out Mr. Caldwell. Then after Percy Chudley''s accident he started store keeping and was here for 40 years before retiring to Neepawa. Elsie and Pete Pankratz ran it for a few years until Joyce and Don Fraser bought them out.

Now Joyce and Don are building a new modern store just south of the old building with the doors facing west on Dennis Street. It will also have a coffee shop and post office.

The livery stable on Dennis Street on the location of Alvin Hart''s new house was owned by J.A. Davidson. When Mr. Davidson passed away in 1919 with the flu Mr. Alf. Kneeshaw ran it. Mr. Lou Mikkelson ran it for a few years after Mr. Kneeshaw, then came Rod and Sandy McRae. All these men also provided a dray service for the town and country. They hauled freight and mail to and from the station, and also kept a good team of drivers on hand as they were called upon many times to make trips out of town.

There also was a shed across the road from the livery stable, on the lot where Jim North''s house is located and this barn was used for the van horses in the day time but was also used as a livery barn at night. On a night when something special was on in the hall, like a dance, concert or Christmas Concert both stables would be full of horses.

Livestock was shipped out of Brookdale by the carload on the railroad, to the stockyards in Winnipeg. Drovers would buy up the stock, and have them brought to the stock yards at the railroad where there were holding pens and from there they would be loaded in special stock cars for shipping cattle. In the 1930''s with the price for cattle and pigs so low, they started collecting and shipping cattle and pigs by the carload, sending one of their members to sell them in Winnipeg, thus saving the commission paid to the broker. Later with better roads Robert Mitchell started trucking to Winnipeg, as train services were starting to deteriorate, and soon shipping by train was stopped altogether.

Trucking was also handier for the farmer as his produce was picked up right at the farm. Bill, son of Robert Mitchell, carried on this trucking business until 1978 when he retired from hauling stock and sold the business to Barry Simpson. Barry later sold it to his brother Donald who still runs it today. The station was closed in 1964 and the last train ran in 1978 and later the rail ties were taken up.

Bliss Goodwin came in about 1910 as a blacksmith starting in a small shop where Roy Davies'' house now stands but later moved to the shop of Mr. McNeevin who had been blacksmithing in a shop south of Fred Bonnett''s shop. Mr.

Goodwin also went out in harvest time as a steam engine operator. This was later R.T. Chisholm''s Garage for a number of years until he left to go grain buying. In these years Joe Ernest had a small blacksmith business in the shop at the west of town.

Jim Hamilton started it in the early 1920''s until he had a new one built, now Roy Davies'' garage. Jim Hamilton was followed by Bill Dickson in 1929.

While Billwas here he not only did blacksmithing but he also had several implement agencies as well, Massey Harris and Cockshutt, as well as Dodge cars. He sold radios and after the hydro came in 1944 sold electrical appliances of all kinds and makes. Bill Dickson and Florence lived in several houses in town after they were married but one summer lived in a tent on a vacant lot across from the elevators, housing being at a premium. When he found out the rats were coming across from the elevators to the tent he decided to build a house so he tore down the little shop and built a new house which is now Roy Davies.

Several men and their families who came to work in the shop for Bill were: Mr. and Mrs. Jack Ellard and family, Mr. and Mrs. Metcafe, Mr. and Mrs.

Mike Romanack, Mr. and Mrs. Keele and Mr. and Mrs. Dunford. Due to ill health, Bill sold out to Jim May in 1961, who later moved to Neepawa taking over the Massey Harris business there, he also moved part of the shop that had been built on the existing one.

Implement businesses played an important part in establishing the small districts in the west and Brookdale was no exception. Issac Bosnell who operated the U.G.G. elevator also sold Frost and Wood implements and after him George Switzer, who operated the Lake of the Woods elevator, sold Massey Harris machinery. Mr. J.P. Lawrie had several implement agencies through the years.

Then W.J. Kinney sold International Harvester implements selling out to A.J. Bonnet and Rex Carter in 1949, but after a few years Rex went back to farming full time and Ned Bonnett carried on in the implement business until it was phased out. He was also doing repairs and started a backhoe business digging basements and trenching for water lines, which he still operates today. Fred and his brother Arnold have expanded the sand and gravel business with large trucks and gravel loader.

Coal was brought in by the carload on the railway by local dealers. Then the farmers formed a co-op group to buy coal by the carload, and by hauling right from the car they could save themselves handling charges. With the coming of electric:ity to the district, coal heaters and furnaces were replaced with oil and electricity. Some are now going back to wood for standby heat in the case of a power failure caused by lightning or ice storms.

For many years Brookdale was without the services of a doctor until Dr. McNeill of Carberry started holding office hours one afternoon a week in the Masonic Hall from 1949·55 with Mrs. Robert Mayas nurse receptionist. This service was discontinued when Dr. Hokansson (Mrs. Jaremko) came to the district in 1955 with her husband Dr.

Jaremko who was the minister of the Brookdale charge at the time. She served the district with an office in the LO.O.F. Hall and was associated with the Carberry doctors during the time her husband remained as minister.

Barretts took over the boarding house from J.F. Jones and telephone in approximately 1921, and also started a bake shop. He baked his four one pound loaves of bread in a pan and a pan sold for 25q:. His bread was well liked and was shipped or delivered to all surrounding towns. They served meals and had over night lodging for travellers as well. In 1929 they left to work in Portage and Winnipeg, but with business failing and work hard to get they came back to Brookdale in 1934.

During the absence of Mr. Barrett, Mr. Jock Cumberland opened a bake shop in the building directly east of Barrett''s and Mrs. Brandon ran the boarding house for a time. Mr. Cumberland will be remembered for his ability to entertain on the stage.

Mr. Barrett continued in the bake shop until 1955 when failing health forced him to retire. Their house was built of the Brookdale brick, and they continued to live in it until Mrs. Barrett''s death in 1967. The foundation was not too firm and in 1971 there was a lot of flooding, it was weakened and one wall crumbled and the house had to be demolished.

A.L. Curtis came to Brookdale in about 1919 and for several years ran the lumber yard for Home Lumber Co., then started in the grocery store buying out Frank Carris, he also obtained the post office and then the telephone when Barretts left.

This was in the building west of the barber shop and pool room. This building was also a Chinese Cafe and Walter Christensen ran a cafe in it when he first came to Brookdale. When Grenville Curtis came home he took over the grocery store and moved into the next building until Mr. Babcock arrived as store keeper and he moved it back again, taking over both store and post office.

Mr. Lawrie built a small building to accommodate the offices of the telephone and two rooms at the back for the living accommodations of the chief operator. Art Becker took over the store from Babcock. Mr. and Mrs. Murray then bought out Art Becker but they didn''t get the post office. Gordon Owens opened a cafe in the building between Becker''s and Chudley''s stores. He also had the post office. Mr. and Mrs. Murray remained until the spring of 1972 when they had an auction sale and moved to Salmon Arm to manage an apartment block. This building was torn down and BillMitchell bought the lots and has them planted to grass and trees.

Mrs. Fox came in 1955 and continued in the cafe and post office but the cafe business was declining and the building was badly in need of repairs so she bought the Dodds'' house on the corner for a post office and took in boarders. She moved away in 1965 and Lila and Roland Stewart ran the post office until Roland passed away, then Winnie and Alf North took it over.

Davidson''s Hardware was purchased by J.P.

Lawrie on the death of Mr. Davidson in 1919. He had a coal, lumber, oil and fertilizer business as well as hardware, also a number of implement agencies.

Some of the men working for him in those years were: Hilliard Clegg, Steve Moffatt, Percy Chudley and his own sons Bob and Angus. When Angus came home from World War Two he went into partnership with his father. The demand for oil, gas and fertilizer had increased with more tractors and bigger implements being used. Some of the help at this time included: Bill Jones, Edward Clark, Bill Ross, Herb Link, Richard Anderson and others. Bill gradually assumed more responsibility due to Angus''s failing health and when Angus died Billtook over the business. Members of the staff in later years have been: Don Jones, Brian McMullen, and Lee Jardine. Present staff is Dale and Tracey Jones, Ray Mitchell, Isabelle Bonnett and Ruth McDonald.

The municipality built a new grader shed and Lloyd Reidle is the grader operator. The Manitoba Telephone built a new office to the east and have had dial telephones installed. We have connection to Carberry, Neepawa, Eden and Kelwood. Wayne Vince has an electrical business. Bill Jones has gas, oil, tires and fertilizer as well as hardware and tire repairs.

Simplot have established a fertilizer depot west of the Pool Elevator. A new seniors hall was built in 1979, a new rink complex is being built.

Changes come to all communities and so with the loss of the railroad, the elevators closed, the grain is hauled to Harte and Petrel on the main line of the C.N.R. The elevators have been bought and are in use, the Pool by Reg Jones and son for storage and the U.G.G. by Art Evans whose son Rick uses it for storage and Art has had a grain cleaning business. With the trucking of all our produce either in or out of the district came hardtop roads, so we have a good road out to No. 10 Highway in the west and to No.5 Highway east of Oberon commonly called the Carberry Road.

We have several new houses in town and folks take pride in keeping the homes neat and tidy.

There are about 29 residences with a population of about 76.

So this is Brookdale down through the years, from stories heard, newspaper clippings and other books that have been written.


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