JFA, born in Ontario in 1850 followed his father to Clearwater, Manitoba in 1881. The following year he came to this property with his wife. Here they raised a family of 8.
It is said that JFA was the first settler to build a home in this township and range. He built a home of logs for his large family.
The homestead remained in the family and eventually, JFA’s grandson took over the farm where he lived with his wife. BA lived here with his wife Mary but they never had a family of their own.
I wonder if this is the original structure, refinished or if this is a new build all together. There was a garage on this site not far from the house with an old Ford truck parked in front of it. Not far off the drive was an old combine up against some trees. The grass was very tall and think and I wasn’t going to chance it.
I think this is a pretty big house for its time. I would love to see the inside. I would love to see what it looked like in its glory.
When I photographed this house, I never expected to find anything interesting about it. In fact, I wasn’t even going to look but I thought what the heck. Well, the first registered homesteader was James Fraser! Of course I instantly thought of Outlander. James Fraser was recorded in the history books as taking ownership in 1895. Of course, I could find nothing about him. The second owner, purchased in 1901 was from Ivernesshire, Scotland!!
Albert and Ada married in 1903 and this was their land. Together they had 5 children. History says that Albert came to Manitoba in 1889 and worked for the local implement dealer. He became quite successful and retired in 1892. Upon his retirement Albert and Ada bought a fruit farm in Victoria, B.C.
After a few years in B.C. Albert heard of the hard times on the prairies of Manitoba and decided to head back and and “get his farms on a paying basis”. Things were going well until the 30’s and many of their groups were deemed worthless. On top of that, Albert sustained an injury wherein he was gored by one of his bull from his large herd of Hereford cattle. Albert was very proud of his herd but the injury would lead to his death. Albert lived a couple months after his injury but his lungs were so badly crushed that he eventually developed pneumonia and passed away in April, 1932.
Three years later Albert’s land produced good crops from the rains the prairies were receiving. One of Albert’s sons went on to work at the elevator in Elva.
Upon our arrival at this property, we weren’t sure what we were going to see. It was a long walk up the drive and I kind of had a feeling there would not be much to see. There were a gazillion grasshoppers along our route and these were the only two photos I took. I’m happy we stopped and I’m happy that I took the time to find a little bit of history on this place.
This stone church, formerly known as St. George’s Anglican Church was fifty-six feet long, twenty wide and twenty tall is located approximately 5 miles from the Saskatchewan border and 2 miles from North Dakota. The organization and fundraising efforts to build this church were headed by Goddard Gale and construction of same began in 1890 by Mr. William Cornwallis. Two years later in September 4th, 1892 the church was consecrated by Bishop Robert Machray.
Goddard Gale was an artist from London and the son of a well-known barrister and a cricket player. Goddard is also rumored to be the first “white man” to set eyes on Lake Louise. Mr. Gale was a surveyor and engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway and a staunch Anglican. When he took up residence is what was once known as Butterfield, he became a community leader and a council member for the RM of Arthur. Arthur is what this area of the province was before it was split into three smaller municipalities. In 2015 it was then reunified into one large RM known now as Two Borders.
When Mr. Gale started fundraising for the church on this 4.6 acres of land, stones were gathered as he wrote letters back home to his friends where he told them this would be the first Anglican church west of the Souris River.
As settlement started dwindling, church attendance also waned. In June, 1913 the church was deconsecrated. Some of the contents of the church were taken to a new building in Pierson but the organ and photos were taken to Eunola School.
Locals from the area told stories about Prohibition and how given the location close to the American border and the very isolated location of the now vacant church, it became an attractive hideout to bootleggers. I certainly didn’t get any Al Capone vibes while here.
Upon our arrival at the church, the sun was blaring, there were no clouds in the sky. I was a tad bit disappointed. Back at the start of Covid, Cade, Makenna and I drove out this way with the intention of visiting this location. We ended up heading North after a stop in Elva and I didn’t think I would ever make my way down here again. Yesterday a fellow bando hunter took me down here to do some touring. I’m glad he did. And I’m glad the sunset improved. Within fifteen or so minutes after our arrival, the infamous “golden hour” revealed itself.
After years of abandonment and vandalism, in 1932 the windows and doors of the church were boarded up in an effort to save the building. Inside the structure are obvious signs of a fire. I would have loved to have seen this place before Mother Nature and vandalism took hold.
In 1967 it was recorded that the building was still intact.
Driving around this area, there are very few cars and people. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, it is said that the government did all they could to entice people to this area. It is said that people from Britain and Northern Europe were heavily recruited. During the recruiting process no one took into consideration the climate these people would endure here on the wide open prairies nor did they consider if farming on this land would prove successful before they made their way to Canada from abroad.
And then there is this old truck. I will admit, at first I was a bit more excited about this old truck than I was the old church. What role this old truck plays to this historical site is beyond anyone’s knowledge. I googled it, but not to thoroughly, so I’m just going to pretend that a bootlegger parked his truck here to hide out in the church and then had to escape by foot and never came back for it. Its perfect right where it is and has been subject to many photographs in its time, as this old field stone church as its backdrop.
After a ratepayers meeting in 1901 and the assurance to two East Coast landowners that their land would only be used for a school, the sum of $700 was raised to build Peninsula School. Miss Anges Moore, with a second class professional certificate was hired for the year for an annual salary of $420. She resigned within one month.
The school was heated with coal and wood. In 1927 the school was equipped with flat bowl coal oil lamps and then in 1950, oil burners were installed. The school had a well stocked library with two sets of encylopedia, the World Book and Book of Knowledge, and wall maps. The students were active in sports and 4H as well as community centered activities such as Christmas Concerts, picnics and dances. It even hosted a funeral.
In 1934-35, it was reported that teachers at Peninsula School were paid $30 per month plus board. The family boarding the teacher would receive a $15 per month credit to be applied to their taxes.
The Belfry School District was established in January 1891 on land donated by local farmer, Warren Belfry from whom the school name was derived.
Five years later, the building was moved to its present location where it remains somehwat stable. The floor is caving in so I did not attempt to enter beyond the front step.
Due to low numbers, the school was closed between June 1940 and January 1945. The school closed permanently in June 1962 and the remaining students were bused to Elva School, Pierson School, or Melita School.
Some of the teachers who worked at Belfry School included: Miss Hope (1907), Miss Wheeler, Miss Rodgers, Miss Carson, Miss Fizzell, Miss Pheonix, Miss Archibald, Miss Strong, Miss Wells, Miss Shands, Olive House, Ruby Fletcher Reddaway (1939-1940), Miss Munro, Melba Dobbyn, Miss Cooper, Miss Stamper, Hazel McLintock, Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Roblin, and Mrs. Betty Pederson (1961-1962).