Off The Beaten Path - Hikes and Explorations in the Brandon Region

Strathclair Bend  (Old Strathclair (1879 - 1885)















The Bend - taken from "Strathclair, Manitoba: Our Story to 1984"

With the coming of settlers in the late 1870's another settlement known as "The Bend" was established in the valley where the river takes a wide curve to the southeast. Here Whimster and Kyle built and operated a saw and grist mill which served a rather large community. The logs, which were sawn there, were cut up river in the Riding Mountain area and each spring were driven down the Little Saskatchewan River to the mill site. The mill, of course required several men to operate it and as a good number of them were married and had families, a village soon sprang up with a church, post office, store and stopping house. This village became the centre of the surrounding community. The church was built on the hill southwest of the mill, on the farm presently owned by Tony Zdebiak. Near the church was the picnic grounds. The first picnic was held in 1879 and proved to be such a success and it became an annual event. People for miles around gathered on that gala day to visit and join in the contests and games which were the order of the day.
Mr. Kyle wasvery adapt at producing plays and skits, which he would put on from time to time, as entertainment for those at the mill and surrounding area.

His house, which was located on a rise of ground just south of the mill yard, was constructed in such a manner that part of it could be used as a stage. Here he directed
his theatrical productions to the enjoyment of all. The old house served not only as a theatre and dwelling for Mr. Kyle but it housed several families in the following years. It was finally vacated in 1949.

As this tiny village grew it was decided to give The Bend an official name. Strathclair was chosen, strath meaning valley in the language of the Scots, and clair in honor of Duncan Sinclair, the surveyor. The main part of the village nestled against the hill west of the mill. Here
Mr. Whimster built his home and Mrs. Bickford, who later became Mrs. Hunter, had a boarding house and stopping place. Also Mr. Dier's store was in close vicinity. Among those who worked at the mill was Mr. Fergusson, whose daughter married Ed. Hepworth of Menzie and Mr. Rennie who was bookkeeper.
In 1886 the mill burned and was never rebuilt and it. the ensuing year the houses were torn down or moved away. One of the buildings, the mill office, was purchased by Cecil Wilson and moved to his farm at Marney where it served as a dwelling for several years.
 
Although Whimster and Kyle did not rebuild, others used the old site for sawmills. Among these were Hank Roberts, Bill Leslie, and Alex Kippan.
In 1890 Mr. and Mrs. Sam Sinclair Sr. purchased and farmed this location and in turn it was handed down to Mr. Sinclair's son, Sam. In 1947 it was purchased by the present owners, Henry and Jean Morton. The old mill, with its accompanying services was a boon to the settlers for miles around. Lumber was needed to erect farm buildings, and to be able to get the necessities of life close by saved the homesteaders hours and miles of tedious travel. All that is left of the old mill and the village is the cellars against the hill, the boom in the river, the pit where the mill stood and one half of the huge stone used to grind wheat into flour.

Strathclair Bend Cemetery







This historic cemetery overlooks the Little Saskatchewan River at the "The Bend" near the original site of Strathclair. The village moved when the railway arrived in the mid 1880's.




Road:

50* 28' 37.09" N
100* 23' 34.30" W

Cemetery

50* 28' 49.09" N
100* 22' 37.25" W





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