Ashdown Siding

Map from 1911 showing Elevator capacity.

Ashdown Siding - By Frank S. MacKay

Many towns and villages are celebrating Manitoba's Centennial this year. At Ashdown Siding there will be no flags flying and no children singing. This is why I wish to raise a voice in News and Views to remember a pioneer railway siding - Ashdown, which in 1979 exists only in memories.

Ashdown siding was situated on the C.N. Railway on the northeast quarter of section 5-7-16. It boasted two grain elevators. The Winnipeg Grand Company built an elevator at this point in 1890. The Manitoba Government Elevator Com- pany followed. These elevators handled grain from Ninette, Dunrea and Margaret for a period of ten years until a rail line was built through Ninette in 1898. Some of the elevator men were Frank Harris, Geo. Ingram and W. T. Hurll.

There was much talk of a store and a post office starting at Ashdown. These did not materialize and at the turn of the century the Manitoba Government elevator closed doors and sold the building. Later, about 1922, the Winnipeg Grain Company closed its business at Ashdown. It was then that Geo. M. Mooney acted as Grain Commissioner for the United Grain Growers. He ordered box cars and the farmers shipped their grain by the carload from the loading platform. This was in the farmers' favor, with no elevator charges - all weighing and grading was done in Winnipeg. These were the days of the grain scoop. It required plenty of muscle and sweat to scoop 1,500 bushels of wheat into a box car. In 1928 the last elevator building was dismantled and shipped to Saskatchewan to further serve as an elevator.

I can remember in 1916-20 the Naismaiths and MacKays bought Souris coal by the carload. It was unloaded at Ashdown, and no weigh scale was used; they just hauled equal numbers of wagon boxloads until the box car was empty.

Ashdown also served as a flagstop station. To and from Brandon, the C.N.R. served many people as a means of transportation. I well remember my first trip to Brandon Fair in 1911. The C.N.R. ran Fair Excursion rates. A ticket from Ashdown to Brandon Fair and return in the evening was 90 cents. The train would have as many as 12 passenger coaches all packed with fair goers. I can't decide which I enjoyed most, the fun on the train or the fun at the fair..

In 1912 the C.N.R. placed the station house at Ashdown. This house was built in Brandon and sent to Ashdown by rail car. The new platform in front of this station house was set too close to the tracks. It was satisfactory through summer and fall. However, winter brought snow and as the snow plow cleared the tracks, it caught the corner of the new platform and the planks flew in all directions. I can remember viewing the wreck as my brother and I waited to flag the train. So we printed SM in front of Ashdown, and thought the new name more suitable.

The C.N.R. delivered much freight to Ashdown. In early twenties Bob Shearer, farming on 9-7-16, purchased a carload of Alberta ranch calves at three cents a pound. These were shipped to Ashdown, and I remember the 30 jumping, snort- ing, bawling calves when the box door was opened. With plenty of horseback riders, he was lucky none got away. It is reported that Allan Perry received the last piece of freight unloaded at Ashdown in 1949. The only place that still carries Ashdown is the telephone directory.
I am certain that other readers will have many varied memories of the C.N. Siding.

Frank S. MacKay (From "Beneath the Long Grass")


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