Woodnorth, Manitoba, Canada

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Woodnorth in 1989. (taken by Leanne Forsyth, Budd Forsyth flying). Many of Woodnorth’s buildings had been moved out or demolished by this date but this picture sets the village in its prairie location with some of its early buildings intact – the three room school, the United Church and Manse, the skating rink, the Community Hall, Priestley’s garage and house, the former Lionel & Edna Lowdon home, the former Pool elevator house (Murray & Ria Cameron’s at this time), the blacksmith shop, the old butcher shop , the Forsyth’s store building, and then the Ken & Ruth Cameron farm with its house, red barn, machine shed, graneries and other outbuildings. The original Donald Cameron farm house was located just north of the town in the area that is cropland in this picture

 

Location and Background

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This map with Woodnorth circled on the upper left is from a larger map of Manitoba provided with the courtesy of Manitoba Highways and Transportation, copyright by the Province of Manitoba, 1996.

The village of Woodnorth is located in the southwest corner of the Province of Manitoba, about nineteen miles from the border with the Province of Saskatchewan  and about fifty miles from the border of North Dakota in the United States.  Like many other small towns  across the prairies, Woodnorth was founded in the early twentieth century by settlers who were hopeful that the plains of Western Canada would become a prosperous agricultural area. Gradually, people realized that small farms were not economically viable, farms became larger, but fewer, and the population in rural areas declined. The population of Woodnorth was two persons in 1909, Bert and Victor Hart, rose to ninety by 1930, and by late August 2017 was back to two persons, Doug and Vickie Naughton.

The photos are, for the most part, filed in chronological order. A section on the Woodnorth Cemetery, which is located just outside the town, is posted at the end.

My mother, Sarah Cameron, was born on the family farm at Woodnorth in 1910 to Donald and Isabella Cameron. She lived most of her life in the area. She and my father Wilfred Forsyth (raised on a farm in the Boss Hill district, a few miles away) managed and later purchased the grocery store in Woodnorth after Dad returned from serving in the Canadian Army in World War II. Although I was born in Virden, the location of the nearest hospital, I was raised at Woodnorth and lived there until I went off to university in 1966.

As a tribute to the village and the people who have called Woodnorth “home” for at least part of their lives, I am posting an assortment of photographs, most of which belonged to my parents, plus brief information about the community from early days to more recent times. The dates for some photos have had to be guessed at since they are unlabeled but are included as they illustrate town buildings and activities. There are also a number of photos from the Cameron farm which is immediately adjacent to the town. The land for the town was purchased from my grandfather Cameron’s farm. A brief  history of Woodnorth and its families may be found in local histories such as:

Trails Along the Pipestone. Published by the R.M. of Pipestone History Project, Box 99, Reston, Manitoba R0M 1X0, Canada, first printing, 1981, 855p.  ISBN 0-888925-147-9.

The Sequel to Trails Along the Pipestone 2008. Published by RM Pipestone History Committee, Box 550 Reston, Manitoba ROM 1X0, first printing, 2009.  718 p.                  ISBN 978-1-55383-218-8.

EARLY DAYS

There is a brief section on Woodnorth, written by my father Wilfred Forsyth, in Ida Clingan’s book, The Virden Story. [1882-1957] 264 p, printed in 1957 on the occasion of Virden’s 75th anniversary by The Empire Publishing Co. Ltd., Virden, Manitoba, bound by D.W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., Altona, Manitoba.   I have copied that section below:

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SOME EARLY RESIDENTS of WOODNORTH and district:

Farmer, Mail Carrier, and Member of the Legislative Assembly – Bob Mooney

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Robert Henry (Bob) Mooney (1873-1953) and his wife Margaret Kirk (1879-1952), taken at the Davidson Bros. photo studio in Brandon, Manitoba. This photo is not dated but may have been taken around the time they were married in 1901. The photo studio operated from 1892-1912. Bob Mooney farmed for many decades in the Woodnorth district and was its first mail carrier. He was also the MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for the area from 1922 until his death in 1953.

 

First Grocery Store Owner – Bert Hart

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Barnett Moss (Bert) Hart (1880-1981) and his beautiful wife Marie Louise. 

In 1909 Bert Hart opened the first store to operate in Woodnorth. He was born in London, England on August 5, 1880. His father, in the 1891 census was a widower, whose occupation was  “retired victualler”, so Bert’s family had some experience in the grocery business. He decided to come to Canada, arriving in Halifax on Feb 14, 1909, bound for Pipestone municipality where he immediately set up his business at Woodnorth. According to the ship’s manifest he was married but he seemed to be  travelling by himself so Louise must have joined him later. He and Victor Hart (who was either a brother or a cousin) were partners in the store. In 1915 Bert decided to join the Canadian Army (known as the CEF or the Canadian Expeditionary Force) which was engaged in the fierce fighting of World War I in France. His attestation paper is dated August 7, 1915. He was 35 years old, five feet, nine inches tall, with grey eyes, dark brown hair, and a 38-inch chest. His religion was Church of England. His next of kin was his wife Marie Louise Hart of Woodnorth. After Bert joined the Army his store business was sold to J.P. Richardson, a farmer living in the district.

I was curious about what Bert Hart did after his time in Woodnorth so did a little research. After World War One he returned to Canada and by 1921 was living at Togo, Saskatchewan near the Manitoba border. His wife Louise must have pre-deceased him as he was a retiree, aged 77, living by himself in New Westminster, British Columbia in 1957 (according to the Voters’ List). But, he seems to have married again. At his death in Richmond on April 19, 1981, at the age of 100, he was survived by his widow, Nellie Rosalind Hart. She was born  April 5, 1897 in London, England and died January 16, 1982 in Victoria, B. C.

Second Owner of the Grocery Store at Woodnorth – from 1916-1945 – J.P. Richardson

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Joseph Pattinson (J.P.) Richardson (1881-19??)and his wife Mary Muir (1888-19??), taken by the Rembrandt Studio in Winnipeg.

“J.P.”, as he was always known, seems to have been a larger-than-life character who, as well as farming in the district, owning the general store, and acting as Post Master, played a big part in many of the community groups and activities in Woodnorth for more than thirty years.

It was only in researching to find out what his initials stood for that I discovered he had been married twice. Joseph Pattinson Richardson came to Canada from his native Scotland in 1904. He married Letitia (or Lettishea) Milburn on October 28, 1908 in the R.M. of Pipestone. She was born in the R.M. of Pipestone on Nov 15, 1886, daughter of Charles Milburn and Mary Catherine Lewis. Sadly, she died at the age of 22 on July 30, 1909, seemingly in childbirth. There is a record of the death of an unnamed baby Richardson on the same day, both in the R.M. of Wallace, and their death registration numbers are sequential. The Milburns were early settlers in the Woodnorth area and lived in the community for many decades. Letitia’s brother, Frank Milburn (1884-1970), opened the first hardware store in Woodnorth in 1913. In 1918 he married Sobina Shoemaker (1887-1937). One of J.P.’s daughters with his second wife was named Letitia in memory of the young Letitia Milburn Richardson.

On April 10, 1918, J.P. Richardson married Mary Muir (born at Deloraine on 23 Mar 1888). Although my mother identified the picture only as “Mr and Mrs J.P. Richardson” and guessed it was taken about 1917, she would not have known the first Mrs Richardson so I am sure that the above photo must be Mary, not Letitia. The photo was taken in Winnipeg, where the wedding took place but, according to the information on the Manitoba Historical Society website listing Manitoba photographers, the Rembrandt Studio only had a business listing in Winnipeg for 1909/1910. However, the photographer who operated the studio, Frederick W. Parkin, lived until 1953 and may have worked elsewhere but continued to use the photo card stock from the Rembrandt Studio.

My mother worked in the Richardson’s store in the late 1920s and 1930s. A letter to her from J.P. Richardson, on the occasion of her father’s death in 1941 will be included elsewhere in this website in the section on Donald Duncan Cameron (1878-1941).

A couple of souvenirs from the old store have remained in the Forsyth family. They were part of the store’s furnishings when my parents bought it – both belonged to the Richardsons and possibly to the Harts as well.

 

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The clock that hung  next to the front entrance inside  the Woodnorth General Store for many decades. (Made by the Ingraham Company of Bristol, Connecticut.)

 

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The Globe-Wernicke roll-top desk used by the owner-managers of the Woodnorth General Store. Above is a copy of a map of the Woodnorth/Virden area from 1921.

 

1915

The Grain Growers Grain Company Limited No.6 at Woodnorth 1915

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This picture shows Woodnorth district members of the Grain Growers Grain Company with their new elevator, #6. The GGG was an early co-operative venture in Western Canada (formed in 1906) as farmers attempted to get fairer prices for their grain than the large private grain companies would pay.

My mother, Sarah (Cameron) Forsyth identified a number of the people in the picture when she brought it out for display at Woodnorth’s 70th anniversary celebrations. It is worthwhile to enlarge it on screen to have a closer look at the individuals. Who took the picture remains a mystery. Perhaps the co-operative arranged for photographs of new elevators.

On right:

  • Billy McDiarmid (grey team)
  • D.D. Cameron with team. Frank Milburn sitting on side of wagon
  • Bert Hart (store keeper) with white shirt and tie
  • Billy Cameron (on white horse) (Butcher Shop)
  • R. A. (Bob) Leslie (station agent)
  • Clark Thompson- holding bag of Rolled Oats (grain buyer)
  • John Mattheweson (standing out in front)
  • Joe Williams with team and buggy
  • Ed Williams (Pompie/Pumpie) with sleigh
  • Tom Dexter (arms folded)
  • Neil Forsyth – in gang way, wearing a coon coat
  • J.H. Stephenson and Charlie Steele (up from J. Matthewson)
  • Jim Cochrane in gangway, leaning on shovel
  • George Robertson near the telephone pole. Billy Hill in same wagon
  • Mrs R.A. Leslie & Mrs Thompson on side of gangway
  • William Leech & Clint Leech on edge of gangway
  • David Smith, Senior, Mary Smith, Mrs Bert Hart & Lizzie Smith up on high seat on wagon.

 

1927

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This is the same elevator but a few years later, probably about 1927or 1928, with a changed number and a bit more printing on the south and east sides.

 

1920s and 1930s

There are no dates on several of these photos but they were probably all taken in the 1920s or 1930s.

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The United Farm Women’s Annual Picnic at Woodnorth in 1924.
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Woodnorth Consolidated School #1533, possibly soon after its construction as the sign has not yet been added and there is no grass in the yard at the front.  In Trails along the Pipestone (p.725) it states that this three-room school was built in 1929. On the back of the photo it says “Woodnorth School, from Leonard”. Is Leonard the the man on the front step? the Principal? a member of the School Board? Pictures from the late 1950s or early 1960s will show fire escape doors added in place of the windows on far left and far right. The cupola on top was also removed later.

 

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In front of Woodnorth General Store -Richardson’s General Merchants – about 1929 or 1930. Top – Seated on railing is Wilfred Forsyth, standing is Mary Shephard, seated on left is Evelyn Greenway, teacher at Woodnorth School, seated on right Sarah Cameron, store & postal clerk.

 

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In front of Woodnorth General Store 1929 or 1930. L-R. Art Hanley, Wilfred Forsyth.

 

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1930. Horses owned by Frank Milburn (owner of  hardware store on left) in front of Woodnorth General Store. L.-R. Doug Birchall, Lloyd Milburn, Kenneth Richardson, Vernon White.

 

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CNR “Continental” passenger train passing Woodnorth – probably in the 1930s.

 

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A close-up of Canadian National steam engine # 1380 pulling “The Continental”. I am not a train buff but a quick look at Wikipedia and other sources on Google indicated that these locomotives were the ones generally used in the early 20th century in the West for passenger service but most were scrapped by the late 1930s.
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Passenger cars on The Continental.

 

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Members of the United Farm Men (UFM) and United Farm Women (UFW) who attended a meeting of the groups in Woodnorth in summer 1936.

Left to right – Back Row: R.H.Mooney, Mr. Grieve, Charlie Ritchie, John Matthewson, Donald Duncan Cameron, the final three are unknown but one of them is John Shoemaker. Middle Row: Miss Beryl McNiven(Woodnorth School Principal), unknown, Mrs Niven (who was killed in a car accident in Nov 1936 and is buried in Woodnorth cemetery) four unknowns, Mrs Albert (Carrie) Shoemaker. Front Row: Mrs Murray Stewart (elevator agent’s wife), unknown, Miss Bessie Ritchie, unknown, Miss Mary Mitchell ( Mrs Nevin’s niece from Scotland, later Mrs Tom Matthewson), unknown.

 

Three harvest Pictures – date unknown, probably 1920s:

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The caption on the back of this photo says “Leon’s [or possibly Len’s] combine with Adam and Buster Kilbourn.
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Even with what must have been state-of-the-art equipment for harvesting at the time there is still a team of horses in the background.
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Interesting that no rubber tires were used on this equipment, unlike the tractors in use in the pictures (below) from harvest time in 1944 at the Cameron farm.

 

 

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Woodnorth Elevators and CNR Train Station, looking northeast.  From left is Joe Burton’s Coal Shed, then the CNR Train Station (which is on the north side of the CNR tracks), the Pool elevator which is now labelled the “Woodnorth Cooperative Elevator Association Limited Pool No. 135, Service at Cost”.  The dark coloured elevator with no visible sign is the B.A. Elevator, later called the National, which was struck by lightning and burned down in the early morning of Monday June 12, 1950.

 

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Gas Bowser in front of the Woodnorth Hardware Store. The photo is undated. This bowser is visible in another photo I have which is dated February 1947. In a 1959 photo it has been replaced by something about half as tall. The little black dog is nameless but he could be the one “helping” with the harvest in pictures below from 1944.  Photo courtesy of Ria Cameron.

 

1943

Cameron Farm in Winter:  Pictures of snow were often taken as proof of tough winter weather in Manitoba. The three snapshots below which were supplied by Ria Cameron (from the collection of Ken and Ruth Cameron, probably taken by Sarah (m.s, Cameron) Forsyth) are labelled March 17, 1943 and were taken after a three day blizzard.

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March 17, 1943 – Barn at the Cameron farm, Woodnorth, after the blizzard.

 

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March 17, 1943 – Ken Cameron gets a start at digging out the barn after a three day blizzard.

 

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March 17, 1943 – After a lot of digging, Ken Cameron, whose head is just visible on the far right, gets the team of horses, Farmer & Scott, out of the barn.

 

 

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The Cameron farm house and back yard with sleighs and wagons. This photo was not taken at the same time as the three above but the two horses have white faces like those identified as Farmer & Scott in the preceding picture. It may have been taken earlier in the winter or even a few years before as the condition of the photo indicates that it is older.

 

1944

CAMERON FARM at WOODNORTH – HARVEST TIME 1944

The six photos below were taken on August 12, 1944. My mother, Sarah Forsyth (m.s. Cameron) notes that this wheat went 40 bushels to the acre. She also says “Patsy was so bad she turned her back and buried her head down in all the pictures we took. These were some of Gowanlock’s photography.” Gowanlock, later shortened to “Gowan” was the nickname given to Ian Cameron (1912-1998) after he won the curling bonspiel at Woodnorth in the late 1930s or early 1940s, thus comparing him to the Manitoba champion curler Abe Gowanlock who won the MacDonald Brier in 1938.

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Lunch was usually brought out to the field at harvest time, probably in this case by my mother Sarah Forsyth, who had returned to her parents’ farm for the duration of the War after her husband’s regiment was shipped to England in August/September of 1942.  Not sure who everyone is here but Patricia Forsyth is the blond child with her back to the camera. The man standing is Donald Munro (born about 1884, father of Elizabeth Munro who married Len Cameron in 1941). I think the man on the left (just behind the boy in striped shirt) is Ken Cameron (1914-2005). Mum may have taken this one as I think Ian Cameron is the man on the right with a wide brimmed hat while the man in the centre with a peaked cap looks like Len Cameron (1917-1997).

 

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Len Cameron driving the John Deere tractor, Donald Munro behind him on the binder, don’t know who is on the Massey Harris tractor, Ken Cameron seated on the second binder, far left.
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Sarah Forsyth and Pat Forsyth seated on tractor with two boys, Ken Cameron seated on binder at back.

 

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Not sure who these two are on the Massey Harris. I think it is Aunt Liz (Munro) Cameron at the wheel and?

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Cameron Brothers truck. The Cab would be red if this were a coloured picture.

 

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August 12, 1944 – Cameron farm, tractors and binders.

 

1947

February 8, 1947

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Woodnorth Consolidated Co-op store on February 8, 1947 after another big Manitoba blizzard. At this time Wilf and Sarah Forsyth were managing the Co-op store and living in the suite above with their young daughter Patricia.
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February 8, 1947. A view of the Co-op Store from the back with a huge snowdrift filling the road between the store and Priestley’s garage. The top of the National elevator is visible above the left side of the store, while the Pool elevator is on the right. The house on the far right was later the Ian Cameron house.

 

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Another photo on February 8, 1947, directly behind the Co-op store. The snowdrift reaches almost to the suite on the second floor of the store. Atop the drift are Ian (grain buyer at the National elevator) and Della Cameron with sons Don and Jack.

 

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February 8, 1947. The home of William and Margaret Rattray was almost buried in snow. Neighbours had to dig out their main entrance. This home was located just north of the Clifford and Alice Priestley home.

1948

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April 1948. These two horse-drawn wagons are bringing children from west and north of Woodnorth to school in spite of the flooding. Motorized vehicles were not up to the job! First wagon driven by Howard Wilson

 

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April 1948 – A close up of one of the wagons with children being transported to school despite the flooding. 

 

1950

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May 7, 1950 Woodnorth CNR Station Platform with National Elevator. The National Elevator was struck by lightning just about a month after this picture was taken. On the morning of Monday June 12, 1950. It was burning at 5:15 am and beyond control. The elevator was completely destroyed. Ian Cameron, the elevator agent at the time had to move to a new job in Sidney, MB. The children in picture include Pat & Pam Forsyth, Don & Jack Cameron.

 

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After the National Elevator burned down in 1950, and the decision was made not to rebuild it, the owners sold the Elevator Agent’s house. It was moved out of Woodnorth and re-located to a site on King Street in Virden. This is the first of a number of scenes which illustrate buildings being moved away, gradually shrinking the village. The snow-fencing which used to be popular on the prairies is seen here between the main street and the train station. It was designed to catch drifting snow to keep it from building up on roads and railways.

 

1951

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Woodnorth School Room 2,  June 1951. At top left is Teacher Mrs Jm. Johnson. Left to Right: Front Row – Loretta Mitchell, Shirley Mitchell, Elaine Cochrane, Norma Priestley, Bernice (Bunny) Cochrane (1935-2007), Myrtle Horn, Maureen Hagan. Middle Row Jackie Forsyth, Donnie Horn, Ivan Wilson, Bill Coughlan (1937-2004), Bruce McKellar, Johnnie McLeod, Russ McDonald. Back Row – Frances Wilson, Marie Savitzky, Nancy Lowdon (1938-2007), Audrey Currie, Doris Senkew, Georgina Forsyth, Doreen Allan. At Back next to banner: Left, Morris Senkew, Right, Ken Duquette.

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Junior Room Woodnorth School June 1951. Left to right – Front row: Tena Jopko, Francis Savitzky, Lylia Cameron, Dixie Mitchell, Colleen Hagan, Sharon Duquette, Isabel Lowdon, Lynn Cochrane, Pat Forsyth. Second Row: Gerry (Bud) Cameron, George Mac Donald, Don Cameron, Arnold Gertz, Fred Gertz, Keith Hagan, Roger Lowdon, Bill Priestley. Third row: Diane Mooney (with scarf on hair), Arlene Amos, Beryl Mitchell, Edith Gertz, Shirley Anne Horne, [two boys from second row break up this row a bit] Elsie Currie, Darlene Duquette, Genevieve Duquette, Kathleen Boreham. Back row: Teacher Miss Pat Dybish, Eddie Currie, George Lansing, Joan Priestley, Sonia Senkew, Lyle Lansing, Jim Coughlan.

1952

On Saturday July 6, 1952, at about 8:30 pm a heavy windstorm, probably a tornado, passed through Woodnorth, tearing the roof off Priestley’s garage. The photos below were taken the following morning.

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Priestley’s garage July 6, 1952, morning after tornado.
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July 6, 1952, in front of Priestley’s garage, after tornado, with the remains of the roof in pieces on the ground.

 

1953

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Woodnorth School Junior Room, June 16, 1953. Left to Right: Front Row: Larry Raven, Gerry Cameron, Victor Smith, Ken McNeil, Rickey Horn, Jack Cameron. Second Row: Sharon Horn (1946-2004), Diane Savitzky, Adele Mitchell (1945-2017), Shirley Amos, Colleen Hagan, Sandra Shoemaker, Margaret Coughlan. Third Row: George McDonald, Don Cameron, Arnold Gertz, Malcolm Smith, Tena Jopko, Lynn Cochrane, Billy Priestley, Back: Shirley McDougall, Kathleen Currie, Dixie Mitchell, Lylia Cameron, Isabel Lowdon, Frances Savitzky, Roger Lowdon (1942-1998), John Gray.

 

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Woodnorth School Room 2,  June 16, 1953. Left to Right. Front Row: Arlene Amos, Beryl Mitchell (1941-2017), Elsie Currie, Shirley Ann Horn (1940-2018), Diane Mooney, Patsy Forsyth. Middle Row: Teacher Miss Loiselle, Kay Boreham, Edith Gertz, Nancy Lowdon (1938-2007), Sonia Senkew, Joan Priestley. Back Row: Eddie Currie, George Lansing, Bill Coughlan (1937-2004), Jim Coughlan (1939-2014), Fred Gertz, Keith Hagan.

 

R.H. Mooney Obit
from the Winnipeg Free Press, Jan 31, 1953.

 

From The Winnipeg Free Press, Saturday January 31, 1953.

“Virden, Man., (Special) – Robert H. Mooney, government member of the Manitoba legislature for Virden, died Friday night on the way to Virden hospital after he was stricken with a heart attack.

He was 80 years of age and the oldest member in the house. At the time of the attack, Mr. Mooney was riding in an auto with his brother-in-law, A. Shoemaker.

Known as one of the quietest men in the house, he was one of the originals of 1922 who joined forces to draft John Bracken as premier of Manitoba.

Of Irish descent, Mr. Mooney was born at Wingham, Ont. in 1873 and came to Manitoba as a boy. After attending school at Virden he taught school for three years, and for close to 50 years had been operating his farm in the constituency.

One of the early supporters of the farm movement in western politics, Mr. Mooney contested his first election as a Progressive, and believed Mr. Bracken, the party leader, best suited to defend the interests of farmers.

Mr. Mooney served as a councillor at Pipestone from 1911 to 1922. Committees he had headed in the legislature included the select standing committee on private bills.”

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In the Manitoba General Election on June 8, 1953, R.H. Mooney’s nephew, Gordon Mooney, who also farmed at Woodnorth,  ran for the seat as a Liberal but lost to John Thompson, lawyer and Mayor of Elkhorn, who represented the Progressive Conservative Party.

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1953 Election leaflet for Gordon Mooney (1905-1987)

This election card reminds voters that for many residents of rural Manitoba there was no electricity until after World War II. Electricity came to Woodnorth in 1950.

1956

In 1956 a skating rink was built to replace the open-air skating rink which had served the community for many years. A working group of local residents did the construction work.

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1956 – A haystack being moved along Woodnorth’s  main street (by whom?). On the far right of the picture is the CNR Section House, lived in for many years by the John and Helen Coughlan family while John was the CNR Section Foreman.  The Coughlans moved to the CN Train Station in the mid-1950s and the Short family moved into the Section House. The single storey house to the left of the haystack was the residence of Will and Martha Priestley. The two-storey house  in the centre of the picture was the home of the Claire & Irene Scarff family (the Pool elevator grain-buyer’s house). Next to the lead tractor is the blacksmith shop and the building beside it (with open door) which was being used as a car garage.

 

1960

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Woodnorth School – Room One Grades 1-4, 1959/60 School Year. Teacher – Miss Viola Hill. Photo by Virden Studio

From Left to right: Back Row-Albert Eigler, Dennis Casson, Billy Gray, Garth Mooney, Lorne Gardiner, Allan Eigler. Middle Row – Ricky Savitzky, David Scharff, Grant Shoemaker, Gerry Johnson, Jimmy Rattray, Sandy Ritchie, Keith Cameron. Front Row: Marilyn Short, Susan Eigler, Maxine Gardiner, Judy Gray, Valerie Johnson, Linda Lyons, Ferne Cameron. Teacher – Miss Viola Hill. Taken by Virden Studio 1960.

The Room One teacher, Miss Viola Hill (1900-1988), was born in the Lenore district, daughter of Bessie Tiffin and George Angus Hill. She taught at several Manitoba schools and was at Woodnorth for ten years, from the Fall of 1953 through June 1963. While in Woodnorth she boarded with Donald and Susan Munro who had retired into the village from their farm. Miss Hill was noted for having been the “May Queen” in Virden in the late teens or early 1920s. She always dressed beautifully and retained a lovely complexion into old age. Her handwriting was a very elegant “backhand” and many students who learned to write under her tutelage retained this distinctive style.

 

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Woodnorth School – Room Two (Grades 5 to 8): 1959/60 school year. Teacher Joan Wyllie. Photo by Virden Studio.

Left to Right: Back Row: Murray Cameron, Garry Ritchie, John Gray, Doug Naughton, Rick Horn, Kerry Horn, Doug Cameron (1948-2016). Middle Row: Ian Gregor, Gordon Cameron, Daryl Mooney, Margaret Coughlan, Diane Savitsky, Elaine Fahlman, Sharon Horn, Larry Eigler, Barry Horn, Joan Wylie (teacher). Front Row: Pam Forsyth, Edith Gray (1949-1997), Linda Scharff, Melva Gray, Sandra Shoemaker, Debbie Cochrane. Teacher – Miss Joan Wyllie.

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In the Summer of 1960 – between May 23 and July 23rd a new Pool Elevator and office were built at Woodnorth. Claire Scharff was the grain buyer for the Pool Elevator at this time. Jack Cameron (son of Ian & Della) is standing in the doorway in this photo.

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New Woodnorth Pool Elevator, built in the Summer of 1960. The smaller elevator built in 1915 is partly visible behind the new one.

 

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Woodnorth United Church July 31, 1960, just before the celebration for the Church’s 50th anniversary. The house on the left of the picture belonged to the Lionel & Edna Lowden family. The small house immediately to the right of the Church belonged to Clifford Priestly, Senior, known as “Uncle Cliff” to many, to differentiate him from his nephew Clifford Priestly who operated the Garage in Woodnorth.

 

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The Manse, Woodnorth, Manitoba, July 31, 1960. It was built in 1917. After the Church no longer had a resident minister it was used to house the Principal of Woodnorth School. After the High School closed the house was sold to Mrs Jim (Margaret) Shepherd who retired there from the farm. Later, her daughter Mrs. Mary (nee Shepherd) Naughton lived in it and then it passed to her son Douglas Naughton. As a child I was fascinated by the fact that the house had a laundry chute through which items to be washed could be slid down to the basement from the second floor.The wooden pocket doors between living room and dining room also seemed to me to be a lovely feature of the house.

 

1961

Staff from the Jacobson Photo Studio of  Souris, Manitoba were in Woodnorth on May 2, 1961 to take group photos for the School.

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Woodnorth School Grades 1-4, May 2, 1961. Jacobson Photo.

Left to Right: Back Row: Miss Viola Hill, teacher (from Lenore, Manitoba), Allan Eigler, Grant Shoemaker, David Scharff, Barry Stuart, Bill Gray, Garth Mooney, Dennis Casson. Middle Row: Albert Eigler, Susan Eigler, Judy Gray, Maxine Gardiner, Carol Stuart, Valerie Johnson, Lorne Gardiner, Murray Stuart. Front Row: Kenny Stuart, Jackie Mac Donald, Marilyn Short, Shawne Hagan, Debbie Hammermeister, Arthur Gertz, Marjorie Horn, Donald Mooney.

 

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Woodnorth School Grades 5-8, May 2, 1961. Jacobson Photo.

Left to right: Back Row: Miss Bertha Kramer, teacher (from Rokeby, Sask.) Sandy Ritchie, Robert Cameron, Garry Ritchie, John Gray, Doug Naughton, Ian Greggor, Douglas Cameron, Kerry Horn. Middle Row: Linda Lyons, Sharon Horn, Melva Gray, Debbie Cochrane, Linda Scharff, Pamela Forsyth, Ferne Cameron, Edith Gray. Front Row: Darryl Mooney, Larry Eigler, Barry Horn, Murray Cameron, Jerry Johnson, Gordon Cameron, Keith Cameron, Jim Rattray.

 

1962

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A snowstorm on Wednesday February 14, 1962 resulted in roads being blocked and school cancelled for Thursday & Friday. This permitted Doug Cameron (centre) and his brother Keith (on right) to help out here at the rink on Friday February 16th. Bud Cameron and Claire Scharff are on the sleigh with barrels of water that are being hauled in with Len Cameron’s team of horses. The water was needed at the Woodnorth Community Curling Rink, seen behind the horses, with its two sheets of curling ice, where the annual bonspiel was scheduled to begin on Monday February 19, 1962. The skating rink is partially visible on the right of the photo, with its curved roof.

 

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Friday February 16, 1962 – another view of the curling and skating rinks with Len Cameron’s team of horses. Doug Cameron at centre, Keith Cameron on right.

 

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Woodnorth School, Room Three, Grades 9-11 on June 5, 1962.  Taken just outside the School, next to the Manse. Left to Right: Back Row – Bud (Gerry) Cameron, Doug Naughton, Daryl Barclay, Rick Horn, Gordon Scott, Terry Wright, Delwyn Smith, Keith Smeltz, Middle Row: Barry Morgan, Barry Foote, Gary Ritchie, Ian Gregor, Darwin White, Jim Hall, Teacher & Principal Dalton J. Burke. Front Row: Glen Hall, Gayle Piggott, Debra Cochrane, Margaret Coughlan, Sandra Shoemaker, Adele Mitchell, Diane Foote, Kerry Horn. Photo by Jacobson Studio, Souris, Man.

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Woodnorth School June 5, 1962, Room One, Grades 1-4

Left to Right: Back Row: Miss Viola Hill, Shawne Hagan, Lorne Gardiner, Dennis Casson, Garth Mooney, Arty Gertz, Ken Stuart. Middle Row: Murray Stuart, Marjorie Horn, Judy Gray, Susan Eigler, Maxine Gardiner, Brenda Casson, Jacky McDonald. Front Row: Diane Stuart, Debbie Hammermeister, Colin or Carson Cassidy, Lorraine Copier, Carson or Colin Cassidy, Beverly Gardiner, Grant Wedow.   Photo by Jacobson Studio, Souris, Man.

 

1967

Another house on the way out of Woodnorth – this time it is the home of Donald Munro which is being moved about a mile out of town to the farm of his daughter and son-in-law Elizabeth and Len Cameron.

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Donald Munro house being readied for moving in 1967.

 

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View of the front of the Donald Munro house in 1967 as it is being moved out of Woodnorth.

 

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1967 – Next to the Munro house is the former home of Clarence Wilson who served as Woodnorth’s Post Master from April 23, 1949  until July 7, 1966. He operated the Post Office out of the front porch seen here. This house was moved out of Woodnorth in late 1968 or early 1969.

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The Clarence Wilson house being moved out of Woodnorth.
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The third and last house on this street (the street furthest west in Woodnorth) was next to the Wilson house pictured above. It was also moved out of Woodnorth in 1967, just a few days after this photo was taken. It had been the home of William (Bill) and his wife Alice Anita or Elizabeth Ann (m.s. Hay) Matthewson who both died in 1963.  As children we always knew it as “Mrs Bill’s house”. Both Matthewsons and their daughter, Alice Hay Matthewson (1917-1933) are buried in Woodnorth Cemetery. The derelict tractor in the foreground had probably been left at the nearby Priestley’s Garage. Pat Forsyth on the left.

 

1968

On August 1, 1968, a CNR freight train jumped the track at the western edge of Woodnorth wrecking twenty-nine cars and dumping piles of grain on the tracks and surrounding field. Luckily, no one was hurt. The line of cars in the photo below shows how many people came to take a look at the wreck.

On the back of one photo Sarah Forsyth notes that it happened at about 3:10 p.m. “while the U.C.W. [United Church Women] were preparing a wedding supper for Linda Scharff & Morris Debaar” who were married that day.

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August 1, 1968, CNR tracks & train wreck at West end of Woodnorth.
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Woodnorth Pool Elevator and CNR Train Station in the distance.

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This is on August 2, 1968 after some of the wreck had been cleared away.

 

1969

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Snow on the main street – February 27, 1969 – in front of Forsyth’s store and the Cameron Hardware. Ian & Della Cameron’s house at the left of the photo, then my playhouse with the striped wall and Forsyth’s garage.

 

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The flooded main street, showing Forsyth’s store and the Cameron hardware with gas pump.  On the back of this photo Sarah Forsyth wrote, “Sunday morning April 13, 1969, at 11 o’clock, at Woodnorth, flood rushing in. Camerons arrived from Virden rescued things from floor. Also we had to move the drinks from cellar & potatoes.” On the raft Ken Cameron & Robert Cameron. At far left with flat cap is Wilf Forsyth. (Behind him Doug and Keith Cameron ?) On front step – left to right Sarah Forsyth, Lynn Cameron, Della Cameron, and Doug Naughton by car. Don Cameron probably took the photo.

 

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Forsyth’s store at the time of the flood in April 1969. Wilf Forsyth standing (dark jacket, hat) and Alice Priestley, also standing, both leaning on the railing of the front step.

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In April 1969  the village was flooded. Murray Cameron (son of Ken & Ruth) and Doug Cameron (son of Ian & Della) seen boating up the main street.

Alice (Mrs Clifford) Priestly and Teenie (Mrs Eddie) Hagan coming ashore to the east of the Community Hall which is on the right of the photo. Woodnorth still had a train station and two elevators at this time -1969. The two storey house in the centre had  been the residence of the Pool elevator agent but became the home of Murray and Ria Cameron after a new house was built for the elevator agent.

 

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April 1969 flood. Looking West down the main street (officially named Railway Avenue). On the left, with a brown roof is the train station. On the near right  (white building with a front porch) is the building that was the original school in the village. It later became a couple of apartments – the front one inhabited by Will and Martha Priestley whose son Clifford Priestley operated the garage in Woodnorth from the mid 1940s. Past that is the green two-storey house that was once the home of the Pool elevator agent, then the home of Ria and Murray Cameron. Beyond that is the old blacksmith shop (green front) and then the Forsyth’s store and post office (two storeys with flat roof).

 

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The Community Hall was completely flooded in April 1969 and the lovely hardwood floor, installed in 1949, was ruined and had to be replaced with plywood flooring. Off to the left is the new house that had been built for the Pool elevator agent. It escaped the flooding.

 

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April 1969. This photo was sent in to the Red River Valley Flood Board by Wilf Forsyth, Secretary of the Woodnorth Community Club. It was a deciding factor regarding the money the Club received to use to repair the flood damage.
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April 14, 1969. Ferne Cameron (daughter of Ken & Ruth) on a raft in the flooded slough just east of the Cameron house.
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April 14, 1969. Flooding at Mooney’s bridge, looking west to Gardiner’s.
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April 14, 1969. Flooding at Mooney’s Bridge. Norman & Ev Mooney’s farm on the left.

 

1970

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The Pool elevators at Woodnorth in June 1970. The larger one was built in 1960 and the shorter one was the village’s first elevator, built in 1915. Part of the train station is seen on the left. The Len Cameron farm is just visible in the distance, across the field to the south. The circular road way next to the station was always referred to as “the Station turn”.

 

1978

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This photo of the United Church (built in 1910) was taken in 1978 by Tena Jopko whose parents  farmed just west of the town. She was visiting from her home in Victoria, B.C. The photo was used for the souvenir plates that were made showing both the Church and the School.

 

1980s

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Woodnorth Pool Elevator (built in 1960) in August 1980. The older elevator, built in 1915 is just visible behind it. The CNR Train Station has been removed. The small building on the right edge of the picture houses the railway telegraph and telephone, available to railway workers for occasional or emergency use.

 

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November 9, 1981. Movers arrived at 7 a.m. to start the task of moving Woodnorth’s elevator (built in 1960) to Cromer.  This view is looking south, just before the turn is to be made at Ritchie’s corner to head west. In the book, “The Sequel to Trails Along the Pipestone” (c.2009) there is a picture, on page 6, of this elevator arriving in Cromer. It is noted in that book that Woodnorth’s remaining older elevator (built in 1915) was demolished in 1982. The Pool elevator agent’s house in Woodnorth was also moved to Cromer in August 1982.

 

1989

Aerial views of Woodnorth

W.A. (Budd) Forsyth flew over Woodnorth in the summer of 1989 with his daughter Leanne who took the two photos below. The CNR railroad tracks are visible on the lower left, just south of the main road (Railway Avenue) through the village.

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1995

A community reunion was held at Woodnorth in the Summer 1995. Below is an aerial view showing some of the campers and RVs parked in the Schoolyard. Another building, the Lowdon house to the left of the church, has disappeared in the six years since the aerial view in 1989.

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1999

The former Woodnorth grocery store was demolished on November 26, 1999. The building had been vacant since the Fall of 1977.

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WOODNORTH CEMETERY

Just about a mile from what was the centre of the town is the Woodnorth Cemetery.

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The Woodnorth Cemetery in July 2014.

 

The Cemetery got its start only a few years after the village was established thanks to the action of a group of local residents which is summarized in the  item below, published in The Reston Recorder, Reston, Manitoba, Nov 4, 1976:

“Woodnorth Cemetery 1913
While searching ownership of plots and location of graves in the Woodnorth cemetery, it is interesting to read the minutes of the founding meeting held in Frank Milburn’s hardware store on the 9th of August 1913.

Moved by Mr. John Matthewson and seconded by Mr. Jos Burton, that Mr. Robert Mooney be chairman. Carried.

Moved by Mr. Jos Burton, and seconded by John Matthewson that J.P. Richardson be Secretary-Treasurer. Carried.

Moved by Mr. William Leech and seconded by William Cochrane that it is the opinion of this meeting that the time has come to have a cemetery for Woodnorth. Carried.

Moved by Mr. Wilson Smith and seconded by Mr. D.D. Cameron that we respectfully ask the Council to purchase the plot selected by the meeting. Carried.

Moved by Mr. Jos Burton and seconded by Mr. J.P. Richardson that Mr. J.H. Stephenson, Mr. A. Mooney, Mr. William Cochrane, Mr. William Leech and Mr. William Hill be appointed a committee to select a site for the cemetery and take such steps as may be necessary to procure. Carried.

Moved by Mr. Donald Cameron and Mr. Jos Matthewson that Fred Milburn be appointed to the committeee in place of Mr. Cochrane, at Mr. Cochrane’s request. Carried.

Moved by Mr. J.H. Stephenson and seconded by Mr. K. Cameron that the size of the cemetery be two acres more or less. Carried.

The next meeting took place the following year on the 28th March 1914. Mr. J.H. Stephenson chairman of the site committee reported that they would recommend the purchase of two acres in the NE corner of the NE quarter 4-9-27.

Moved by B.M. Hart seconded by J.P. Richardson that we secure the site. Carried.

This they did. The burial ground is still being maintained and used.”

 

Some graves in the Woodnorth Cemetery:

Pictures taken in 2014 show that some of those involved in the meeting reported above were themselves buried in the cemetery they established.

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The first person buried in the cemetery was five-year-old Gladys Cameron (1913-1918), daughter of the British American Elevator agent Fred Cameron. [This family was not related to the Donald (1878-1941) and Isabella (1874-1958) Cameron family who farmed at Woodnorth.]
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John Matthewson (1874-1947) was one of the members at the original meeting of the Cemetery Committee. He and his wife Christine were early settlers at Woodnorth.

 

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Kenneth B. Cameron (1914-2005) and his wife Ruth (1925-2014). Kenneth was the son of Donald Duncan Cameron, one of the participants in the founding meeting of the Cemetery Committee.

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William Cochrane (1881-1958) was another of the original members of the Cemetery Committee in 1913 when he was a young man, aged 32..

 

 

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Edna May Lowdon (m.s. Shoemaker), an early resident of the Woodnorth area and town.