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

James and Ethel Brown

James Stewart Brown was born in Scotland in 1900 and immigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba with his widowed mother in 1905. He began his schooling in Winnipeg, where he found work as a delivery boy and a farm helper.

In March of 1918, James moved with the Joseph Beaumont family to a homestead nearly on the Saskatchewan border, west of Swan River. In 1919 the Beaumonts took up the NW 5-37-28, and Jim hauled logs to build a home for the family. He lived with Beaumont’s for 13 years, assisting them in developing their land, at the same time starting his district. He built a home on the SE 8-37-28. Winters were spent working for the Burrows Lumber Company.

In 1933, James married Ethel Marion Hogg. Ethel was born at Pipestone, MB. in 1911. Ethel came to the valley with her parents in 1919, took her schooling at Big Woody. Before her marriage she worked for different farm families in the area. Even in the midst of the depression, Jim and Ethel found a way to survive. One of their early investments was in an incubator and brooder. Chickens were to become a key factor in all their farming years. Again, winters were spent in the bush cutting logs which were hauled to the Vetter’s sawmill. This paid the bills which accumulated over the crop year and the extra lumber was stored for their own use a good sized barn, chicken house and other outside buildings replaced in 1947. Electricity and running water were installed in the early 1950’s. Besides the land in the Little Woody District, James and his sons leased five quarter sections of land in the new settlement at The Pas in the early 1960’s.

Jim was instrumental in the formation of the Manitoba Dairy & Poultry Co-op in 1936, and served as secretary for this area until 1960. Besides shipping hatching eggs through the Co-op Hatchery, they sold eggs locally to many of the stores, hospital, lodge, private customers, and also shipped them to The Pas. Jim and Ethel were strong supporters of the cooperative movement, Jim served on the Credit Committee of the Swan Valley Credit Union for a number of years.

In 1970, James and Ethel turned the farms over to their sons and moved into Swan River. During this period of adjustment, Jim and Ethel frequented the farm, offeringassistance wherever they could. Retirement freed up time to become involved in the social life of town, becoming active members of the United Church, the choir and UCW. Both were avid and accomplished bowlers.

Jim and Ethel had a genuine concern for neighbours and friends often saw Jim put others before himself - plowing snow, fighting fires, giving financial support. Hired help was always treated as one of the family. He would never send a man to do what he was not prepared to do himself. Jim was a man of temperance and while his personal stand was known to others, he never looked down on those who chose a different lifestyle.

Jim and Ethel were an example to all in marriage, the vows of 1933 held strong for 64 years! Through good times and bad, they worked side by side to build a strong home. Raising five children, David, Neil, Stewart, Donald who have been involved with agriculture and other interests in the valley, and Marion (Mrs. Dave Church) of Moose Jaw, SK., they modelled a unity in goals, a strong work ethic, and Christian morals. They witnessed and participated in the period of greatest innovation and progress in mankind’s history.

Submitted by: Ethel Brown


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.