Riverside Crossings

Beginning in 1885, one by one, the communities south of Brandon got their rail service, and by 1910 almost every farmer was within eight kilometres of an elevator.  Life was transformed. What had essentially been almost a subsistence existence became viable agribusiness.

At the same time it ushered in a new era in terms of lifestyle. Trips back east were easier. Shopping excursions to Brandon and Winnipeg were quite possible.

The introduction of the car brought another revolution in transportation freedom. With the development of a system of roads, the trip to Brandon became even easier.

What had once been a four or five day journey was now a day trip.

There was still that river to cross, but bridges began to replace the ferrys that had served the pioneer traveller.

The crossing at Riverside – directly between Boissevain and Brandon, was on the most well used route. By1882 both Sheppard’s Ferry and Heaslip’s Ferry were operating near where the Highway 10 Bridge was later built. Over the next century a succession of bridges and roadway upgrades made the journey faster.

This is the site of the first bridge in the Riverside area.

Here we see the two "modern" crossings at Riverside. In the centre is the bridge built in 1929. The third crossing, to the left, was built in the early 70's.

Sheppard's Ferry, and later, the first bridge, was just a short distance downstream from today’s crossings.

That bridge was damaged when Tom Nesbitt’s steam tractor broke through while crossing in 1928. As the tractor started to break through, Tom was able to jump off and watch from the abutment as his tractor sank into the stream – where it stayed. Some old-timers remember the site as a good swimming hole in the 1930 and 40’s and the tractor was still visible.

A new concrete arch bridge was completed in 1929 a bit upstream,in a spot that was no doubt a more advantageous spot for "modern" road construction.That crossing became a popular recreation spot with a dance hall, ball diamonds, a store and gas station.  Highway #10 crossed that bridge and proceed straight up the hill running parallel to the current Highway, now a mile to the west.  The highway was later re-located to its current position, likely at the same time it was paved and otherwise modernized.

The current bridge was built in the early 1970’s, leaving the old bridge and the access to it in place.

This map from 1921 shows the route. With the coming of the rail line in 1906, Heaslip and Bunclody became villages with stations,
and soon after that the road through those communities became the main highway south to Boissevain.


The original bridge was near the end of the visible part of the river in this shot.

The view from a bit upstream (west).

The bridge site from downstream (east).

 The bridge was near the site of Sheppard's Ferry the crossing place often mentioned in pioneer accounts.
The gentler riverbanks just downstream from the bridge site would be a likely spot.

An overview

A close shot of the west side of the bridge abutment.

The view from the old road bed up the south side of the river.

Another view from the west.

Looking up the old trail.

The slope on the south side of the river is a bit steep. Travellers often mentioned difficulty getting up the hill
at the Souris River crossing.

  Looking back

Very few traces remain to confirm that this trail up the valley was once a road.

View of the top of the valley

The last stretch.

A summary of the sites. The old road is quite visible, as are two other trails, one or both could have been used from the ferry that
served previous to the contsruction of the bridge.

"Old" Highway 10 used to run a mile east of the current highway.

Short Video of the Site