We have attempted to relate these site to the history of the region
through a series of short articles on:
1. Historic Claims of the area
2. Analysis Critera - Where
in terms of the Community
3. Community Layout
4. Notable People (See the Argyle
Notable People Project)
The project is intended as a "Beginning" rather than a Finished
Local groups and individuals are invited to amend and add to it. New
information is always welcome and we will make every effort to add
anthing that is sent to us.
One goal is to collect as much information about Argyle's older
buildings as we can. This will be found in the Sites section, and we
would appreciate corrections, additions, comments and questions as we
complete the project.
ClaimsBaldur may claim to be one of the few
railway towns whose
location was not arbitrarily chosen by the railway company. In fact it
not slated to appear at all but prominent local farmers suceeded in
the railway company that another station was needed. After
first two locations local settler and prospective businessman Jesse
apparently carried the surveyor’s equipment himself to the
almost single handedly determining the town’s eventual location.
By the end of the settlement era two sets of tracks crossed the
the “Main” line having spawned the towns of Greenway and
Baldur in 1890,
and the, the Wakopa Branch, giving birth to Glenora and Neelin in
So, although the first towns appeared in 1890, the region itself had a
and interesting history. The wooded valley of the Pembina, and the
of lakes along it had long been a place of shelter, a gathering place
various aboriginal peoples. Ongoing archeological explorations,
along Rock Lake have documented a series of significant burial
In 1879 settlers began trickling in along the Boundary Commission Trail
from the north along the Assiniboine River corridor. Vitally important
the eventual cultural makeup of the community however was the visit,
by chance, of two traveling south from Brandon,
For the most unique settlement in Argyle, indeed one of the most unique
in the province would be the Icelandic Settlement in the Grund and Bru
In the early 1870’s a combination of economic factors and natural
such as volcanic eruptions prompted increased, and large-scale
to North America.
On the advice of a Missionary named John Taylor a large group of
arrived there on the west side of Lake Winnipeg in the late fall of
establishing a settlement that has shaped the culture of that part of
through to the present day.
A combination of bad luck and bad weather nearly put an end to that
as a smallpox epidemic, harsh winters and wet summers made life
difficult for the first years. The colony persevered and eventually
For those that preferred fishing over farming the location served them
once they adapted. But it wasn’t great farm land and that likely
some to try their luck elsewhere.
Everett Parsonage, a pioneer of the Pilot Mound district, had worked
John Taylor in Ontario and through him had contacts with some of the
settlers at Gimli. He advised them to visit Argyle. In August of 1880
Kristofferson and Kristian Jonsson set out to vist Mr. Parsonage and he
them a largely unsettled area in the rolling country in the northern
of the Municipality an area we now know as Grund.
As soon as he could Sigurdur filed on SE 10-6-14 and called his new
An Icelandic word meaning grassy plain. More soon followed with two
men taking homesteads that fall. In the spring of 1881 four families
at their new homes, by winter there were eight familys, then 17 by the
year. By 1884 they had “650 cultivated acres, 60 head of cattle,
60 sheep, 9 work horses,,,,” and more. Six schools and a church
by 1900. Before Baldur was established a strong community was in place,
although the store and post office established at Sigurdur
home didn’t evolve into a village, the name Grund has lived on.
After the visit of the surveyors in 1890, the building began in Baldur
Greenway. When the train whistle sounded for the first train Mr. A. E.
had moved his creamery from his farm to the site of the new town. It
in turn sold to G.W. Griffith as a general store in the spring of 1890,
before the town site was settled. The main street was named Elizabeth
Mr. Griffith’s wife. In the fall of 1989 Mr. G.W. Playfair had
grain buying business (which he conducted for Bawlf & Co.) to the
town site in a building he also moved from its previous location on his
Once the issue of the town site was firmly settled he moved the
to the front street and began a lumber, furniture and coal business.
Jesse Chester’s house became a sort of unofficial restaurant for
workers and he was soon persuaded to open a boarding house that became
as the Chester House.
Other businesses soon followed. Sigurdur Christophers, who had taken
role of Icelandic Immigration Officer, opened an office. William
build a carriage and blacksmith shop. Thomas E. Poole erected a
his hardware and tinsmith business. A.E. Cramer build a two-storey
used as a saddlery shop by C.W. Watson. G.W. Cramer built a blacksmith
which was operated by Harry Goodman.
Along with the P.F. Curtis family, Jesse Chester and the Cramer
several other notable early citizens have left their mark on
like Frank Schultz, and G.W. Playfair contributed to the
others like Dr. Cleghorn and Sigurdur Christophers served in other ways.
In the early years of the twentieth century Baldur consolidated its
as the primary trading centre for the region while Greenway, though a
community offered more limited commercial service. The additional rail
created the nearby smaller villages of Glenora and Neelin.
As Argyle looks forward to the next century it has taken steps to
important aspects of its past, including the expansion of the Argyle
in the Thomas E. Poole building, the designation of several other local
and the creation of the Marringhurst Heritage House and Marringhurst
When our ancestors arrived in Argyle it was obvious to them that they
not the first inhabitants of this land. Native people often passed
and evidence of past inhabitants was more visible in those days, be it
the form of burial mounds or prairie trails. Stone projectile points
in the Avery Mound (SW 14-3-13) near the northeastern corner of Rock
show that an early culture called The Lake Shore Culture occupied the
about 1500. BC. The discovery of well-made spear points in other area
is evidence that hunters seeking the now long extinct giant bison were
the region up to eight or ten thousand years ago. As years passed
and cultured people left evidence of well-crafted pottery, and more
a clear picture of burial practices in the form of the readily
mounds that dot the region. Although settlement by the Sioux,
Plains Cree and Assiniboine people was intermittent as befitted their
on the roving herds of bison, it was ongoing and substantial.
any written record is of course a challenge as we try to understand the
but thanks to archaeologists, like Argyle’s own Chris Vickers, we
region was then, as it is now, a home.
Anticipating the great settlement boom of the 1880’s a trickle of
souls lead the way into this land in the 1870’s. Perhaps the
first were a
small group of Metis from Red River who came to the western end of Rock
after the Riel resistance and backlash that occurred there against
people. They likely knew the area well as the annual buffalo hunts,
recently abandoned, took hunters right through the area. In 1879 a few
settlers followed the Boundary Commission Trail westward from Emerson
crossed the Pembina River to settle in the Marringhurst district. By
a trickle of settlers, again largely from Ontario approached the
from the north having taken river steamers up the Assiniboine to
near Cypress River and at Millford. Also in 1880 the first few
settlers claimed land in the Grund and Bru districts, followed in 1881
many more in a migration that to this day has had a large influence on
region and, indeed the whole municipality. The beginning of regular
service to Brandon brought many more in the spring of 1882, also from
- with some from the British Isles as well. The area was well settled
the time the railway arrived in 1890.
To the east of Argyle the communities of St. Alponse and Mariapolis
settled largely by French Canadians and by the beginning of the
century Argyle was home to immigrants from French Canada, France and
giving the region a multi-cultural aspect somewhat unique in Maniotba
Farming formed the economic basis of virtually all prairie settlements
many communities sought to enhance the agriculture by encouraging some
“value added” processing. In Argyle where settlement
preceded the arrival
of a rail link by a decade, necessity created viable Grist and Saw
in the early 1880’s, but with the arrival of the railway these
best be provided by well established communities to both the west and
The establishment in 1890 of the town Baldur in the midst of
and productive farmland led to an initial burst of commercial
The usual banks, general stores, drug and jewelry stores appeared. Some
these would naturally be housed in quickly erected-frame buildings, but
the first decade drew to a close a few noteworthy buildings such as the
Curtis Block and Fowler Block were erected. And although only the
Block remains in use today, several of those built near the turn of the
created the downtown streetscape, the general outline of which does
The settlement of the region began in earnest with the arrival of John
and his family who crossed the Pembina River between Glenora and Pilot
and homesteaded in the Marringhurst region in 1879. Other settlers,
Peter Strang, soon appeared in the Moropano district at the west end of
Lake, while the Cramers and Playfairs began farming at Otenaw a few
northeast of Baldur. The districts of Bru and Grund were founded by
settlers from the recently established colony at Gimli, while William
was the first to homestead at Dry River between Greenway and Glenora.
For the first ten years after farming operations commenced the
rural nature of settlement in the area was characterized by various
rural centres, often just a Post Office / General Store and perhaps a
which might double as a church. In 1890, after several unsuccessful
to secure a much-needed rail link, the Canadian Northern Pacific
(a branch of the American company, completed a line linking Morris with
and passing through the center of Argyle. The towns of Baldur and
and Belmont were quickly established. But that left quite a stretch
a station and farmers felt they deserved better service.
While the surveyors came were busy grading the line farmers in the
district lead by A.W Playfair suceeded in convincing the railway
that another station was needed. The first site chosen was three miles
of the present town and again citizens including Jesse Chester, Reeve
Strand and Sigurdur Chistopherson, rallied in support of the current
The surveyor reconsidered and chose a location a few miles further
This still wasn’t what the locals had in mind and Jesse Chester
carried the surveyor’s equipment himself to the current site. His
won out and in the spring of 1890 land was purchased from M.T. Cramer
Mr. Taggart for $7.00 per acre.
In most Manitoba communities, the “Establishment” era is
defined by the replacement
of “Pioneer” log, sod and rough lumber buildings by more
of milled lumber. With that definition in mind the towns in the
of Arygle can be said to have almost skipped the Pioneer stage and
directly to Establishment. The rural areas of course did go through
phases but it was somewhat shortened by the existence of at least two
near Rock Lake. The earliest existing structure, a dwelling built for
and Harry Strang in 1884, was sided with locally milled lumber
over a frame of squared logs) and the local history contains numerous
of the widespread use of local lumber. The Consolidation period can be
to have started in the late 1890’s with the erection of the first
three substantial churches, all of which survive today and the several
brick blocks replaced earlier dwellings. It was in that period that
fine homes, such as the Fowler House, were erected.
Community Form and Layout
The layout of the village of Baldur, as with the other villages in
was a direct response to the railway line to which it owes its
Like many prairie communities, it grew primarily on one (north) side of
tracks, with a few residences on the south side along with (typically)
railway and elevator buildings.
The railway runs west-east and the town was surveyed to conform.
Avenue, (named after the wife of the first storekeeper) runs parallel
the track and from the first days has housed the majority of retail
Of the grid of side streets running northwards, two evolved as business
with some residences.
That Baldur grew quickly and confidently is not surprising in that the
with its agricultural base well developed by the time the rail line
There was very little speculation or uncertainty about its potential
as a service centre but at the same time, very little fanfare and
It was as if it knew exactly what it was going to be. The building that
the arrival of the rail line established both the limits and a pattern
the layout which has remained relatively unchanged.
Greenway was the first town established in Argyle as the railway
westward from Morris. The nest stop was to have been Belmont (then in
about 25 km west. Had the good citizens of the Otenaw district, in
the two stops, not agitated and received a station, Greenway may have
on a larger scale. Its survey was not ambitious, just with a Main
running parallel to the tracks and a limited grid of crossing streets.
and basic businesses sprang up and its form and layout lasted for
a century before it ceased to exist as a village.
Unlike Greenway, Glenora had existed as an identifiable community for
decades before the arrival a branch of the Canadian Northern connecting
with Wakopa to the southwest in 1903. In typical fashion the new
attracted the usual businesses and both a school and church soon moved
The same branch line that created Glenora gave rise to Neelin. It owes
existence to geography in that Joseph Neelin’s farm just happened
to be right
at an ideal spot for crossing the deep valley of the Pembina River
Rock Lake and Lake Louise. The town was laid out to the south of the
in a small grid with commercial properties on the street parallel to
tracks and on two of the side streets.