Family Histories
of the Swan River Valley
Manitoba, Canada
Pioneer Centennial
History Book
100 Years in the
Swan River Valley
1898 - 1998

Elmo and Helen Burton

Elmo Arthur Burton was born in Scugog Township in Ontario to William Burton and Phoebe Stevens on December 6, 1893. He was the fourteenth child in a family of fifteen. The family moved to Portage Plains, Man in 1901-02. When Elmo was in his seventh year he had the misfortune of breaking an ankle when a water wagon overturned where he had been employed as a water boy for the steam-threshing outfit.

Elmo along with four of his brothers, joined the army in 1914 and all were sent overseas the same year. One brother was killed and shrapnel injured the other two. Elmo was exposed to mustard gas at Vimy Ridge. After being hospitalized in England for several months, he returned to Canada.

Elmo, nicknamed Clarence, procured a farmstead near the Magnet-Rorkton area of Manitoba. In winter he freighted with three pinto bronchos from Magnet to Thicket Portage. In 1923 Elmo came Northwest to the Swan River-Bowsman area and worked at Burrows Lumber mill. On November 9, 1927, he married Helen Greta Chambers. The Chambers family had immigrated to Canada from England in 1912, to settle in the Lake Million areas.

In 1928, the couple returned to Swan River and for two years resided in the Floradale area where Elmo’s brother Charles was living. Work again was secured at the Burrow’s mill and in late 1929 they moved to Bowsman. In December 1930 they returned to Swan River where their eldest daughter Stella was born Jan. 12, 1931.
With no work, in 1932 they moved to Charles Jackson’s homestead, north of Bowsman, where they rented a house and land. The hay for winter cattle feed was cut and coiled in sloughs. A scythe was the main equipment and wood was plentiful. George Arthur, first born son, made his arrival on November 7, 1932. Phoebe May, was born on the farm June 11, 1934. Clarence Sidney was born on September 2, 1938 at the Birch River maternity Home.

In November of 1938, the Alex Kennedy farm was purchased, just east of Lenswood Store and three quarters of a mile from Lens school. A frame house was built during the summer of 1938 and nearly twenty acres The Lenswood farm was sold to the Zelinski family. Elmo purchased the Matte Lovenza farm near Renwer and a house was built over the fall and winter of 1949-50.

In 1967, after many years of farming and raising their children, Elmo and Helen retired to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Elmo passed away May 28, 1968 in Winnipeg’s Deerlodge hospital, suffering from pneumonia. Helen worked at the Portage Personal Care Home until she retired at age 65. She spent much time traveling, visiting Germany, England, the Holy Land, and her many children dispersed across Canada. For many years Helen spent the summer months in Portage la Prairie, and resided with Pearl over the winters. On June 30, 1997, Helen celebrated her 90th birthday in Calgary and Leduc. All her children and the majority of her grandchildren and great grandghildren attended the joyous family reunion.

Stella continues to reside in Swan River, having maintained a farm for many years. She has one son, a stepson, and stepdaughter, residing in Alberta and Manitoba,
George resides in Leduc, Alberta, where he owns a bowling alley. He has one son and two daughters, married and living in Leduc.

Phoebie resides in Vernon, British Columbia, where she is a nurse in a senior citizens home. She has three sons and three daughters, living in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia.

Clarence resides in Penticton, British Columbia where he is employed by a trucking firm.

Mary resides in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, where she is an accountant with the city. She has three sons and a daughter, living in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia.

Fred resides in Winnipeg after spending several years in Thompson in the trucking business. He has one son and one daughter living in Manitoba and Alberta.
Charles resides in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Garnet resides in Kelowna, British Columbia. He recently retired after many years with Interprovincial Pipeline. He has three sons who reside in British Columbia.
Pearl resides in Calgary. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Manitoba. She chose a career as a homemaker and cares for her mother. She has three sons and one daughter who all reside in Alberta.

We the Burton children appreciate that we lived in the Swan River Valley when country schools and no television were the era.

Submitted by: The Burton Children


Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. These family histories were a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication. We offer publication free of charge and also provide the option for making your history book available on CD.