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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Harry Duncan arrived at his homestead, section 12-4-21, in what was later known as the Abigail district, on the 19th day of April in the year 1882. He and his brother, Dave, had left their home town of Simcoe, Ontario, almost a month before and headed for Manitoba by rail via Chicago, Fargo and the port town of Emerson.

A characteristic March storm had dumped from two to three feet of wet snow over the Red River Valley prior to their arrival in Emerson and under the influence of a warm sun was building up a flood around the town that, to the oldtimers at least, will never be equalled. Transportation was practically at a standstill though the trains were still getting in from Fargo and out to Winnipeg, and the housing facilities of the town were taxed to the utmost by the numerous prospective settlers that arrived every day.

The fourth day of their stay in Emerson the water was touching the door knobs of the International Hotel, where they were staying, so they decided it was time to move on, which decision was hastened when father observed the hotel cook scooping up the breakfast coffee water from the murky flood, in which a dead oxen floated a few doors away. Accordingly they moved on to Winnipeg, where they spent a few days gathering information about land, and then on to Brandon, which was almost the end of steel and the jumping­ off place for the majority of homesteaders who settled north of Whitewater Lake.

Several days were spent in Brandon gathering up a yoke of oxen, a wagon, seed grain and all the other essentials for the venture out into a new and unchartered life. While in Brandon they were joined by Charlie Hicks, whom they had known in Ontario, and Raymond Asbury both of whom had also been lured west by the call of adventure and the prospect of cheap land.

By the time they had gathered together their outfits the ground had dried up somewhat from the spring run-off so without further delay they set out for the southwest corner of the province. Travel­ ling was difficult but after crossing the Souris River they pushed on until the sweeping stretch of Whitewater Lake, with the Turtle Mountains for a backdrop, was just ahead of them. As far as they could see in any direction there wasn't any sign of habitation of any kind; just the waving, winter-browned grass that was showing green around the slough edges. But the soil looked good, the lake offered plenty of water-fowl for meat and it wasn't too far to the Mountain's wood supply so they unanimously decided that they would stake their claims right there.

Father and his brother selected the north half of section twelve and later built a shack on the dividing line with half on each side so they could live together while doing their homesteading duties. Charlie Hicks, who later owned and operated the Ryan House Hotel

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