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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William John McKinney was born in Bluevale, Huron County, Ontario, and left there in 1880 for Manitoba. He and his brother Tom, who was killed bya falling tree the same year while cutting logs for lumber on the Alex McNeil farm, purchased from the C.P.R. E 31-2-20 - 350 acres in all. They built a sod shanty and returned to Ontario in the fall of 1881.

On May 24, 1882he married Miss Mary Ann Robb and returned to Manitoba with his wife and some household effects. He sent his wife and two boys, Fred, two and a half and Harvey, one year, back to Ontario in 1885 until the Indian uprising was settled.

The land was broken with a walking plow and oxen and the seed was first sown broadcast and then with a Gatling Gun. William John cut the grain with a hand cradle and Mrs. McKinney bound it into sheaves. Later a binder was purchased and Mrs. McKinney helped William John by driving it in the harvest time. Mrs. McKinney used to build a S01:'to£ play pen walled by- sheaves and put her children in it. She took a pail of water, a towel and some eats to the field and put them in the enclosure and very often took the bread out too .. At the end of a round with the binder she would mix down the bread, nurse the baby and make the necessary changes. In order to run the binder she used to tie a string around her floorlength skirt to keep the skirt from getting caught in the canvass and chains.

Threshing was always done with a machine and stack threshing was done for many years as threshing machines were scarce and stacks could be threshed in the winter. The women used to help

stack the sheaves in the fall. .

The first three years oxen were used and the bit of grain threshed was hauled to Brandon. The Souris River had to be forded coming and going and this was no easy task with grail', and supplies to be handled.

In 1889 William John built the first frame house, 16 by 22 feet, a storey and a half, with poplar lumber from Morton's sawmill. Poplar joists were laid on the ground over a small dugout for a cellar. This house was nearly blown down on August 1, 1890 when a cyclone, accompanied by hail, swept the district. During the storm William John took Fred and Harvey, the only ones home at the time, down the cellar and they could see out first one side and then the other as the house rocked from side to side. William John held quilts over the window to protect it from being broken and to stop the water from running in the barrel of flour sitting under the window. The crop was completely hailed out that year and money for livelihood had to come from selling eggs. Another year the grain was frozen and had to be spread out on quilts to dry.