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

Henry and Emily Brown

In 1902 Henry & Emily Brown with their family of 9 boys and 1 girl came to the Durban Area from Ontario. They settled in the Davidson District where they farmed. Most of the boys farmed in the Davidson and Ruby Areas for a while and gradually left the area except for Rueben and Samuel who continued to farm in the valley. Samuel married Mary Navanagh and raised two sons Stan & Bert. Stan and wife Emily (Burnett) still live on his Dad’s farm where they raised four daughters: Florence, Muriel, Helen & Shirley.

Bert married Selma Ellingson and farmed at Alpine, later moving to Swan River and now he lives in Flin Flon, MB. Their children were Delbert, Debbie, Theresa, Vernon and Charlene. Charlene married Gary Wowchuk, has a son Nathanial and continues to live in Swan River. Vernon recently moved back to the valley and now works at Powell Farm Supply.

Rueben married Lillie May Franklin at Veregin, SK in 1916. They lived in Pretty Valley, Shaw, Square Plains Area moving back to Pretty Valley in 1932. They raised a family of six. Thelma who married Len Lambert of Shaw District and spent many years in Flin Flon retiring to Lethbridge, Alberta. They had 7 children: Evelyn, Shirley, Lyle, Ralph, Donna, Darlene and Harvey.

Clarence married Margaret Hawkins at the United Manse Kenville in 1945, and farmed near his parents in the Pretty Valley Area. Margaret had gone to work in Vancouver and she received her engagement ring in the mail. Their children were: Joey who married Cliff Bear and farmed in the Whitebeech Area for many years before retiring to Salmon Arm, BC in 1989. They have a daughter Donna-Lee.

Bonnie married Arnold Cowan and together they operate a grain farm which includes land fomerly owned by both her parents and grandparents. They have two sons: Kelly married to Koreen living in Calgary with their two children William and McKenzie. Rob married Susan Szackac and they live in Swan River. Rob is a Heavy Duty Mechanic at Powell Farm Supply and Susan teaches at Bowsman.

Lynda is married to Byron McCullough and they continue to farm and operate a logging business. Son Corey works with them and he has a daughter Brooke. Daughter Rhonda works in Swan River.

Monty spent his school years at the School for the Deaf in Saskatoon and Winnipeg. He is now working as a welder in Winnipeg and is married to Heather with 4 children Amanda, Kristie, Brad and Dana. Gordan lives in Minitonas.

Mabel worked as a housekeeper in Beardmore, ON for a short while before she married a Pretty Valley boy, Carl Cober. During WWII Carl was stationed in St. John’s Newfoundland where she joined him and this is where their eldest daughter, Arlene was born. They returned to farm in Pretty Valley and operate a sawmill in the Duck Mountains until they retired on the farm until Carl’s death in 1985. Arlene married and lived in Winnipeg for 14 years where she had two daughters. In 1977, she returned to Kenville with Brenda (living and working in Winnipeg) and Rosanne now in Calgary, Alberta. Arlene remains near Kenville farming with Tom Barker and operating Arvista Tours.

Sharon married Herb Bresky. They farm, including the Carl Cober farm and operate a logging business along with their sons, Dwayne, married to Shannon Spencer from Durban, and Rick. Daughter Karen is married to Colin Lucan from Swan River and she is a registered nurse at the Swan Valley Hospital. She and Colin have three children, Caitlyn, Jonathan and Amanda. Delores married Robert Bresky and they farmed, also in the Pretty Valley District. Bob also worked at logging until his death in 1988. Delores continued to farm and work at the Met store until its closing. She now works as a security guard at LP. She has two children, Kevin in Red Deer, Alberta and Kathy (Doug Schweder) and grandson Christopher in Thompson. On August 25, 1990 she married Jerry Strasser and they live east of Swan River. She has two step-sons Chris & Mike.

Joanne moved to Flin Flon after high school and has worked for HBM&S for 20 years. She was recently widowed with the passing of her husband Bruce Waddell.
Kenneth (Ted) married Alice Verrall of Kenville at the United Church Manse in 1942, and spent most of his working life in mines in NW Ontario before retiring to Sorrento, BC. He passed away in 1996. Their children Pat, Walter and Kathy-Anne all live in BC. They farmed on the Westaway land across the road from her parents at Pretty Valley. They raised two girls, Denise who married Herb Ginter from Swan River and they lived in Alberta for several years before moving to their current residence at Burlinton, ON. They have two girls, Jana and Jolene. Gloria married Glen Toderash at the family farm in May 1979. They lived in Edmonton until Myrtle became ill in 1992, at which time they returned to take over the family farm where they still live with their two sons, Aaron and Devin. Norman lived in the family home until retiring to Swan River in 1995.

It is hard to imagine not growing up with extended family and all the stories the older members had to tell. One I recall was of Grandma (Lillie Brown) chasing sheep in her wedding dress on returning from the ceremony. Lillie served as a mid-wife when many area children were born.

Submitted by: Arlene (Cober) Koch


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.