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BOISSEVAIN

The land that was to become Southern Manitoba had lain for changeless ages beneath the summer suns and winter snows. Explorers reported it to be wonderful buffalo country, but paid it scant heed as potential farming land. The prairie fires that swept it periodically revealed an endless plain, rolled up in places into low laying wooded hills; covered with the bleached bones of buffalo and pock marked with badger holes. Wild geese and ducks clamoured around every water hole. Prairie chicken drummed on every knoll and over it all the wandering red man reigned supreme.

Prior to the eighties a few hardy souls had drifted West by Red River cart or covered wagon and had begun to turn the prairie sod. Their reports fired the imagination of the folk back home. This, coupled with a vigorous immigration drive overseas started the great trek westward in the early eighties. The greater movement was from the barren and rocky farms of old Ontario. The C.P.R. received their charter in 1881, amid bitter controversy, to build a transcontinental rail line, the famous "two streaks of rust that would never pay for the axle grease." The steel reached the tent town of Brandon in '82, which then became our nearest market. In '85 a branch line from Winnipeg was put through Southern Mani­ toba and a work train reached the Cherry Creek vicinity on November 23rd. The late Mrs. W. H. Latimer who came West in '82 recalled that the first train reached Cherry Creek (later Boissevain) on Christmas day in '85. Her eldest daughter was born the same day. In July '86, Sir John A. and Lady McDonald made an inspection trip over the new line and Mrs. Latimer with her seven months old daughter in her arms was on hand to greet them. She even recalled that Lady McDonald wore a plain print dress. It might be men­ tioned here that the town of Boissevain was named after a Dutch financier whose firm loaned money to the C.P.R. Incidentally, Mr. Boissevain's grandson, who bears the same. family name, dropped in to look the town over in '55 while touring Canada.

Business and professional men flocked in on the heels of the railroad and a village rapidly sprang up. The present townsite is located On the homesteads of Robert Cook and Tom Johnson, who sold lots to the newcomers.

Among the first to locate in Boissevain were the following:

Alf. Ashdown (of Winnipeg Ashdowns) had the first hardware store. A second hardware followed operated by Mr. Butchart, who also had a hardware in Deloraine. Incidentally, he was a brother to the man who originated the famous Butchart Gardens so familiar to west coast visitors.

The first general store was owned bv Mr. and Mrs. E. Nichol and was used until recently as a billiard hall on the West end of

Main St. .

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