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Page Index of A History of Portage la Praire
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A brewery was established by William Harris and a Mr. Cairns at the north extremity of Main Street in the 1870s.
Frank Fields, who in the early part of the '70s kept a store in Portage, came back for a visit on Aug. 22, 1895. (Weekly Review paper.) He said he visited the old log building on the slough road where he used to keep store and he could not help but smile as he thought of the day when he entertained Governor Archibald, Sir John Schultz, Capt. Howard and others in that "old log house".
The first gristmill was erected on Main Street in 1874. It was a disappoin ting ven ture as that was the year of the grasshopper plague and business was impossible. The building was not used until two years later when Kenneth McKenzie, Michael Blake, Isaiah Ma whinney, Tom Garland and others formed a joint stock company to make the mill productive. Later on, Blake bought out his partners' interest and controlled it until it was purchased from him by W. J. M. Pratt.
Samuel Packett manufactured sleighs and pumps in 1875, in shops located on Saskatchewan Avenue in the west end.
In 1876, Robert Watson erected the Marquette Mill in Portage. J. W. and Robert Ferguson operated a general store at the west end of the settlement from 1876 to 1880.
MRS. JOHN CONNOR'S CONTRIBUTION TO HISTORY In 1923, when Mrs. Connor was 84 years of age, she submitted an interesting story to a Winnipeg paper which contained facts of the early days in Manitoba and Portage la Prairie.
Mr. and Mrs. John Connor, whose address was given as Crescent Lake, Portage la Prairie, came to the Red River country three years before the Riel rebellion of 1870.
It was on the advice of an uncle, Frank Ogletree, that they left Ontario for the west instead of for Michigan, to which they had a mind to go. Mr. Ogletree, like many another eastern farmer in those days, had been fired with enthusiasm for the west by the glowing accounts he had read of the opportunities the new country offered the industrious settler.
"Why go and live among the Yankees when you can do as well if not better, by going to a land of promise in your own country? You go west and I'll follow as soon as I can dispose of my property here."
That was how he put it to the young couple, and upon his advice they made their decision.