This page is a text version of the Beckoning Hills History Book. This is the story of the Turtle Mountain Area of Manitoba. You can get a PDF copy of the book on our full version page. The PDF copy is an exact page by page representation of the original book. This text version has been reformated for the web and contains text recognition mistakes. These mistakes do not appear in the full version. The full version also includes each image in the original book.

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Very often they came at supper time. It invariably rained and kept them from working for two or three days, but the men didn't stop eating. You had them, with very healthy appetites, for break­ fast, dinner and supper-and they were well fed. The more ambi­ tious cooks even gave them pie for breakfast! Finally, when you felt completely worn out, the gang would finish. But who didn't get a thrill from hearing the seven o'clock whistle and laugh about the waterman being hurried up with a continuous tooting, when they needed water, and soon! We were often sorry to say good-bye to the fine young men from the East, who came out West for the harvest.

One strange phenomena that has always given us a feeling of awe, was the "will 0' the wisp," which may often be seen west of the farm buildings now. It looks like a light floating near the ground.

One night two of the hired men were about to part and go home to the Richardson home and to our home, when they heard a swishing sound and a ball of fire arose from the ground near by and floated away. There was a sulphurous odor. The men were terrified as they were quite sure it was a sign of death. They won­ dered which was to be the one to pass away. They both went to the same home to stay overnight.

You can still see the "will 0' the wisp"-a luminous ball of gas, usually on a dull night, floating along from the Richardson ravine over to the Robertson ravine.

Mrs. W. J. Armstrong


Robert Johnstone was born July 4th, 1853, in Lockerbie, Dun­ frieshire, Scotland. As both parents were dead, an older brother, John, who was married, decided to emigrate to Canada. He brought Robert, 15, and George, 7, with him in 1868. They were six weeks crossing the ocean in a sailing vessel.

They settled at Bluevale, Ontario, where Robert worked on a farm until 1879, when he came west by railroad from Minneapolis to Winnipeg, then on out to Turtle Mountain. He returned to Win­ nipeg for the winter, but came back to Turtle Mountain in the spring of 1880 where he homesteaded on the southwest quarter of 24-2-20.

This particular district was chosen because there was lots of good water and plenty of wood for fuel. He built a log house, a log stable for his oxen and a dugout. Later he had a lime kiln on the bank of the creek where he slacked lime to white wash his house and those of his neighbors. People who lived farther out on the prairies and therefore at a distance from the bush, built their homes of sod with walls two to three feet in thickness. Sod homes were fairly warm.