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

Joe and Edith Bezanson

Pioneers of the valley we were not, but products of the “Dirty Thirties” we were.

Joe and Edith Bezanson arrived in the Swan River Valley in September 1934, complete with six children, a future son-in-law; and all their worldly possessions. These included a few cattle, horses, run down machinery, and mighty little else of material worth. But we were a family, rich in many other ways, ready to start anew in a new environment. Lots of love, togetherness, a work ethic, and dreams for a future kept us focused, for we were survivors- even though we did not know it at the time. Barriers confronted us as we struggled to reorganize- the terrible sleet storm in September 1934, bone-chilling temperatures, unending drifts of snow-so early in the fall, and no shelter ready for the animals or humans.

Times were truly hard, but with much assistance from great neighbors- the Lockharts, the Andersons’, the Shaws’, the already established pioneers of the Valley and our district (Shaw), and our family’s never-ending hard work, eventually we got our feet on the ground.

Years passed, children grew, the war of 1939-45 came and went- and although my personal stay in the Valley was not long, I still consider it my original home. Memories of the Shaw, Lidstone, Square Plains and Pretty Valley school districts remain vivid in my mind.

The ball games, dances and other social events... what exceptional opportunities we had in our growing years.

There are only three family originals remaining. Father and Mother, my eldest brother (Bud), my sisters, Violet and Eva, have passed to their great reward. My eldest sister, Eileen Leggatt, still lives in Swan River, as do some of her off-spring. Brother (Wellington) resides in Calgary, Alberta along with his family. My sister-in-law, Emma Bezanson, and her sons, Tom and David, are still residents of Swan Valley. Myself, Helen, author of this short saga, still resides in Brandon, Manitoba, where I have been since leaving the Valley in 1945.

“-How dear to my heart
are the scenes of my childhood-”
Samuel Woodworth

Submitted by: Helen (Bezanson) Bell


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.