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Settlement Guide Everett Parsonage



Everett Parsonage was born in 1855 in England, the son of Abraham Parsonage; a butcher by profession and his second wife, Mary Anne Filewood.

Everett Parsonage came to Canada with his parents when he was eight years old. He grew up in the backwoods of Ontario along with his brother Fred. They became excellent woodsmen, canoe paddlers and fishermen, which prepared them well for their exploits on the western frontier in later years. 

A group of about 500 Icelanders had arrived at Port Hope, Ont., on their way to settle around the Gimli area of Manitoba. The Icelandic agent, John Taylor, was looking for a guide with wilderness experience to help them on their trip westward. He heard of young Everett Parsonage and commissioned him for 10 months, at $10.00 a month, to be their guide.

It was 1875 when they left Port Hope. They went by boat to Duluth. From there they came by Northern Pacific to Fisher's Landing. Here they commenced their long journey on the Red River, in flat bottom boats, to the mouth of the Red River. Here they were met by a Hudson Bay steamer and towed to Willow Island, where they disembarked after a very long and tedious journey.

It was on this trip that Everett became close friends with Sigurdur Christopherson, Skafti Arason. Kristian Jonsson, John Taylor and many more of the Icelanders.

Five years later, in 1880, when Everett was established on his homestead in Pilot Mound, he was instrumental persuading the Icelanders to explore the possibilities of starting another settlement in the Tiger Hlls area, now the Municipality of Argyle.

Two letters written by John Taylor to Everett Parsonage have been found in an old trunk of Everett's. The first, dated "Gimli 8th October 1880", speaks of a drove of 26 head of cattle which John Taylor was sending out to Everett to winter over for him at Pilot Mound. The second letter is dated "Gimli Jan. 23, 1881" and is apparently in response to a letter sent by Everett on Jan. 11, 1881. The cattle seem 10 have arrived at Pilot Mound in a very run-down condition (not surprising after their long trek from Gimli). Everett must have written to John Taylor explaining the condition of the cattle and enquiring of him what expense and what action he thought advisable. To quote the first paragraph of the 1881 letter...

"Dear Everett

Yours of the 11’th is received. 1 am sorry to hear such bad news about the cows. It is no use going to expenses to send a man to look at them. Surely you and your father
know what is best to be done. If 1 had not all confidence in your honour and judgement I should not have sent the cattle to you."

The letter goes on with advice as to which cows a special effort be made to save, some feeding advice, and which animals might just as well be killed. Towards the end of the letter, one paragraph is of special interest to the Argyle municipal history and is quoted: "Several families from this quarter start talk of starting middle of March to their prairie lots. I shall either remain here or at Selkirk until they settle in one way or other." The letter is signed

Yours truly,
John Taylor
Icelandic Agent

The prairie lots of which John Taylor speaks in this paragraph are in the Grund district in Argyle municipality. The first group of five settlers and their families arrived on April 1. They were followed that summer by three more families and the following year there were 17 families. By 1890, there were 700 Icelanders in the Argyle district.

Adapted from Come into our Heritage, page 595.

The Henry Parsonage Family

The Henry Josiah Parsonage family arrived at Pilot Mound in 1879. They had been lured by brother Everett's glowing reports of the fine soil and future prospects of the area. Henry remained at Pilot Mound for a year or so, where it is reported he preached the first church service held in the Pilot Mound district. In 1881, Henry filed on SW 30-6-13, in what the next year became the municipality of Argyle. Herein began the six- generation history of Parsonages in the R.M. of Argyle. 

In 1882, Henry Josiah married Elizabeth Hurtt of Hoople, North Dakota. This union produced six children: Walter Raymond, 1884; May Trafinia, 1887; Edith Emmeline, 1889; Frances Gertrude, 1891; George, 1894; Jeaneua Margaret (Nettie), 1897.

In 1901, Henry and Elizabeth sold their farm along the Glenboro marsh and bought three quarters of land north of Greenway. Henry was killed in a Model T Ford car accident in 1915. His widow Elizabeth and family continued running the farm until 1922.

In 1922, Walter Raymond Parsonage married Lilian Lodge and Elizabeth and unmarried children moved to Baldur. Walter and Lilian had six children: Jessica Elizabeth, 1923; Frank Llewellyn, 1924; Harry Rowland, 1925; Jack Oswald, 1927; Walter Siegrave, 1931; Minnie Mainwaring, 1932.

Adapted from Come into our Heritage, page 595

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