The History
of the Swan River Valley
Manitoba, Canada

Water Works


The water and sewer lines for Swan River were started in 1954. The designer was Mr. Scott from Winnipeg. The contractor was Borger Brother’s. Mr. W. E. Roberts was the town engineer and supervised all the work and had to report everything as it progressed to Mr. Scott. The streets had to be dug up twice to install the pipes. The sewer pipes are laid in the center of street and the water pipes are about 8 feet from the property line. Taking the pipes across the river was an interesting operation but cold as all the work was done in the winter. This was the winter of 1954 - spring of 1955. The progress of the year was sent to Mr. Scott by meanings of snapshots. The water had to be diverted to one side of the river and then the other. On the one side is No. One lift, sewer station. They put another one in at this time over by Heyes’ house. Main Street was worked on in the summer of 1955. The water pumps and wells were south of town. The sewer lines had to run a point four degree grade. It is 16 feet deep at 9th Avenue. This was measured at all times as it had to be just right. The water was turned on the 1st day on August 1956. After this part was completed Mr. Roberts was Superintendent of water works for nine years. Mr. Ohryn was Town Engineer. Since that time there have been many extensions, relaying and storm sewers, life stations instated. New wells were dug and the sewer plant was developed north east of town.


While excavating to put in sewer and water which had to be dug into every home, they discovered a man’s body in front of J. C. Herman. The information was secured from Winnipeg that it was a trapper, Frank Luce. He had drown near Mafeking and interred here, it being outside of town at the time. Later on when Kelsey Heights were being added on Morris Anderson lost his life in a trench.


On 5th Avenue when they were relaying and putting storm sewers in they dug out the big stone that was beside the town office for many years. It is the same as found in the Kettle Hills. This was an exciting day for the men working!


Having water and sewer helped the development of Swan River into a growing town.


(Notes from a talk with W.E. Roberts)
Submitted by: Lois (Roberts) Shaw

Digging in the Swan River south of Duncan Cresent when putting in the water works 1955.

Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. This material was 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.