WOODNORTH, Manitoba, Canada

Woodnorth in 1989. (taken by Leanne Forsyth, W.A. (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. At the edge of town is 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. The Canadian National Railway (CNR) line on which the town is situated is just visible on the lower left corner of the photo. The main street of the town runs parallel to the railway track and was called Railway Avenue although the name was seldom used.

In December 2022 Sheldon Cameron shared the photo below, an aerial shot of Woodnorth taken in 1962.  Here it is obvious why the town’s main street, was named Railway Avenue as the CNR tracks are seen at the bottom of the photo. A tiny portion of the CNR station is visible at the far right. At the upper right the long building (with small porch) is the Community Hall. Moving left along the street are the blacksmith shop, with some garages attached, an open space, then the Cameron Hardware store, the Forsyth’s General Store (with living quarters on the second floor), Forsyth’s car garage and playhouse, then the home of Ian & Della Cameron and family. On the street behind, at the left is Priestley’s Garage and then the home of Cliff and Alice Priestley. The car driving along the street belonged to Ken and Ruth Cameron.

Photo of Woodnorth in 1962 is courtesy of Sheldon Cameron.
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Photo of Woodnorth in 1962 is courtesy of Sheldon Cameron.

Location and Background

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This map with Woodnorth circled on the upper left is from a larger map of Manitoba created by Manitoba Highways and Transportation, copyright by the Province of Manitoba, 1996.  Woodnorth is on a Canadian National Railways (CNR) branch line which runs between Winnipeg and Regina.

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.

The town of Woodnorth was established in about 1909 but the district of Woodnorth existed back into the early 1880s. The district is noted on a map in a Rand McNally atlas published in 1889. (available online in the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection at https://www.davidrumsey.com)

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 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 2008Published by R.M. Pipestone History Committee, Box 550 Reston, Manitoba ROM 1X0, first printing, 2009.  718 p.                  ISBN 978-1-55383-218-8.

Also of interest is a local history which covers several neighbouring districts to Woodnorth, some of whose residents also participated in community events or attended school at Woodnorth. The districts covered include Boss Hill, Springvale, Parkland, Pacific, Hargrave and Reaper. The book is titled Binding our Districts and contains 710 pages. It was published in 1989 by the Districts’ History Book Committee. ISBN 0-920436-27-7


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:





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

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

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.

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Bert and Louie (Louise) Hart in 1916 with Bert in his Canadian Army uniform.

Bert and Louie (Louise) Hart in 1916 with Bert in his Canadian Army uniform. [This is the same photo as above but as a scan rather than a photo of the photo].
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 died in the early 1920s because on 26 Dec 1923 in Winnipeg he married again, to Olive Horsnell.

In 1957, according to the Voters’ List for New Westminster, British Columbia Barnett (Bert) Hart was a retiree, aged 77, living by himself. But, he seems to have married again as, 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 (1881-1950)and his wife Mary Muir (1888-1977), 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. He was Secretary Treasurer of the School Board for a number of years. Mary Richardson also served on the School Board in the 1920s.

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) who had come to Woodnorth as a teacher in the Fall of 1916. She continued to teach there until the end of 1917, shortly before her marriage.

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).

The Richarsons retired and moved to Winnipeg in April 1949.

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.

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.)
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.


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


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.

1920s and 1930s

Version 2
This is the same elevator as above but a few years later, probably about 1927 or 1928, with a changed number and a bit more printing on the south and east sides.


Sarah Cameron (1910-1992) feeding the chickens at the farm home of the Donald and Isabella Cameron family (at 9-9-27),  about 1918-1920.

Mr. John Matthewson’s farm (at 16-9-27)  at Woodnorth, Manitoba, July 1920, named Kidlaw Farm after his family’s farm in Scotland. John and Christina Matthewson and their son Adam, age 6, came to the Woodnorth area in 1905. Two more sons were born at Woodnorth.
Written on the reverse of the above photo of the John Matthewson farm.

Three harvest Pictures – date unknown, probably 1920s:

Near Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s. The caption on the back of this photo says “Leon’s combine with Adam and Buster Kilbourn.
Near Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s. 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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Near Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s. Interesting that no rubber tires were used on this equipment.

Photos at James & Aggie (Hankin) Cruickshank Farm,Woodnorth – 1920s

A grandaughter of James & Aggie Cruickshank who farmed at Woodnorth lent the following photos of activities at their farm. Although the photos are undated and the boys names were not written on the pictures, from the apparent ages of the children in the photos it is most likely that they were taken in the early to mid-1920s. The three Cruickshank sons were born in 1909, 1912, and 1917.

The Cruickshanks farmed the SW and SE quarters of 8-9-27 near the village of Woodnorth. They owned the land from 1908 to 1946 but must have rented it out for about the last ten years of this period as the family, except for son Harvey who remained in Manitoba, moved to British Columbia in 1935. From these photos it is obvious that the Cruickshanks loved their many horses but they were also utilizing tractors and other modern farming equipment.

At the Cruickshank Farm at Woodnorth (8-9-27) 1920s. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
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Equipment at the Cruickshank Farm (8-9-27) at Woodnorth in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
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Horses and one of the Cruickshank boys at their farm near Woodnorth, Manitoba (8-9-27) in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
A team of horses at the Crickshank farm (8-9-27) near Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s. It is probably James Cruickshank on the wagon and one of his sons in the background. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
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Plowing at the Cruickshank Farm (8-9-27) near Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s. The automobile in the distance also helps to date the photo which shows that teams of horses remained an important part of farm labour at the time. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
Tilling a field at the Cruickshank Farm (8-9-27) near Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
Two binders  and two teams of horses at the Cruickshank Farm (8-9-27) near Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
Pigs were also raised at the Cruickshank Farm (8-9-27) at Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
Beautiful, shiny horses at the Cruickshank farm near Woodnorth, Manitoba (8-9-27) in the 1920s. These confident riders had no need of saddles! Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.
At the Cruickshank farm (8-9-27) near Woodnorth, Manitoba in the 1920s, probably one of the three sons – Ross, Charlie or Harvey. Google was no help to me in identifying the make or model of this fine car. Photo courtesy of Pat McBeth.


The United Farm Women’s Annual Picnic at Woodnorth in 1924.
Woodnorth School students at the Field Day in Virden June 1924. The two Woodnorth teachers, standing on either side of the school banner, are Miss Jeanette Turnbull (from Elva, Manitoba) on the left and and Mr William Stanley Lockhart (1896-1978), from Selkirk, Manitoba, on the right. Students are: Front Row: Kathleen Mooney (1908-2011), Ileen Mooney (1915-2016), Leona Dexter, Florence Birchall, Ken Cameron (1914-2005), Stewart Lockie, Edith Birchall, Donald Waterbury, Alice Barclay (1914-2014), Elmer Shoemaker (1915-1988), Edna Shoemaker (1913-1963), Ian Cameron (1912-1998), Jack Parker, Harold Cook, Sophie Primeau, Sidney Smith, Sarah Cameron (1910-1992), Arnold Leech, Mae Wilson, Phyliss Leech, Mabel Smith, Katie Campbell, Lettie Richardson, Lily Parker, Mary Shepherd (1909-1994), Alice Wilson, Elsie Leech, Florence Parker (1908-2008). Back Row: Cathie Smith, Isabel Dennson, Arlene Colter, Bill Leech, Bessie Ritchie, Harvey Cochrane (1915-2005), Eva Valliant, Edgar White, Esther Leech, Edith Campbell, Leslie Shoemaker (1914-1992), Gertie Smith, Tom White, Harvey Cruickshank, Bob Lockie, Mary Dexter, Alice Colter, Marjorie Parker, Dorothy Mooney (1912-2011), Della Shoemaker (1912-2000), John Shepherd (1910-1929), Duncan Cameron (1909-1977), Ella Smith, Bob Matthewson (1908-1991), Bertha Cook, Ann Rattray, Vera Shoemaker (1910-1997), Marjorie Holt.

New School – 1929

At the meeting of the Woodnorth Consolidated School Board on August 27, 1928 there was a motion:

“Moved by W. Wardle and Seconded by Mrs Mooney that we accept Geo Harris tender for building new school, brick veneer & maple floor throughout at $9,764.” This resulted in the opening of a fine new school building in 1929.

Woodnorth Consolidated School #1533, 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.

Teachers at Woodnorth: A list of those who taught at Woodnorth School from 1910 til 1968 (with pictures of some of them) may be found at another section of this website: Woodnorth School Board #1533 Revenue & Expenditures 1910 to 1918 & Teachers 1910 to 1968

For the founding of the School, photos and brief information about the original Trustees and minutes from 1918 to 1920 click the link below.

Founding of the Woodnorth School, Original Board members and Minutes 1918 to 1920

A complete list of the transcribed Minutes from 1918 – 1951 and Revenue and Expenditure accounts from 1910-1958 is given in the About section of this website. From there you may click through to read any section.



July 1931 – A group of young people from Woodnorth took a holiday trip to the Resort at Carlyle Lake, Saskatchewan. Click on the link below to see photos from this trip.

A Trip to Carlyle Lake, Saskatchewan, July 1931

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Winter about 1931 to 1933:  In front of Woodnorth General Store -Richardson’s General Merchants. Top – Seated on railing is Wilfred Forsyth (1904-1977), standing is Mary Shephard (1909-1994), later Mrs Bill Naughton. Seated on left is Evelyn Greenway (1906-1984), teacher at Woodnorth School from Fall 1931 to Summer 1933. [She was a granddaughter of  Thomas Greenway who was Premier of Manitoba from 1888-1900]. Seated on right is Sarah Cameron (1910-1992), store & postal clerk, later Mrs Wilfred Forsyth. The cat is one of Mrs Chester Cameron’s Persians who lived just across the street at the CN train station.
In winter sometime between late Fall of 1931 and early 1933. Mary Shepherd (married name Naughton, 1909-1994) and Evelyn Greenway, teacher at Woodnorth School, in front of the CN Train Station holding Persian cats owned by Mrs. Chester Cameron, wife of the CN Station Agent.
Sally Forsyth’s note on the back of above photo.
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In front of Woodnorth General Store 1931-33.  L-R. Art Hanley, Wilfred Forsyth.
1930. Horses owned by Frank Milburn (owner of  hardware store on right) in front of Woodnorth General Store (operated by the Richardsons). Notice that there are no saddles, all of the boys are riding bareback. L.-R. Doug Birchall, Lloyd Milburn (1919-1943), Kenneth Richardson, Vernon White.
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.
Passenger cars on The Continental.


The dry conditions of the 1930s took their toll on the local farming community and some families sold up and moved away. Here is a picture of Ken Cameron in April 1935 transporting trunks to the railway station for J.H. Stephenson and his daughter Cicely who are moving to Royal Oak, in the Saanich district, British Columbia. The Stephensons maintained ties with their friends at Woodnorth; when my parents wintered in Victoria in 1976 and 1977 they visited several times with Cicely and her husband Charlie Cruikshank.

Ken Cameron (1914-2005) and the Cameron team of horses, April 1935, taking the Stephensons’ trunks to the train station for their journey to British Columbia.
Just after the Stephensons’ sale April 1935. Left to right: Cicely Stephenson, Sally Cameron, Adam Matthewson, J.H. Stephenson, Ian Cameron, Ken Cameron driving the team. The dog belongs to Cicely.
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 (1873-1953), Mr. Grieve, Charlie Ritchie (1882-1981), John Matthewson (1874-1947), Donald Duncan Cameron (1878-1941), the final three are unknown but one of them is John Shoemaker. Middle Row: Miss Beryl McNiven (Woodnorth School Principal), unknown, Mrs James (Margaret) Niven (1868-1936) who was killed in a car accident in Nov 1936 and is buried in Woodnorth cemetery, four unknowns, Mrs Albert (Carrie) Shoemaker (1878-1962). Front Row: Mrs Murray Stewart (elevator agent’s wife), unknown, Miss Bessie Ritchie (1917-2011), unknown, Miss Mary Mitchell (1916-1996) ( Mrs. Niven’s niece from Scotland, later Mrs Tom Matthewson), unknown.

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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.
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.


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.

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


Meanwhile, in England 1943

Virden & District Reunion, Beaver Club, London, England, Sunday August 15, 1943. This photo from the Virden Pioneer Home Museum was reprinted in the Virden Empire-Advance newspaper on November 11, 2022. Several soldiers from the Woodnorth area are in the picture including Wilfred Forsyth (back row, Eighth from left, between two taller men) and Fred Ritchie (third row from front, fifth from the end).
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The complete list of names of the men in the above photo, August 15, 1943, London, England.



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.


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).

Version 3
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. The National elevator in Woodnorth is visible on the far right of the photo.
Sarah Forsyth and Pat Forsyth seated on tractor with two boys, Ken Cameron seated on binder at back.


Not sure who these two are on the Massey Harris. Possibly Della (Shoemaker) Cameron, Liz (Munro) Cameron as their husbands are both in the other photos taken that day.

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Cameron Brothers truck. The Cab would be red if this were a coloured picture.
August 12, 1944 – Cameron farm, tractors and binders.


February 8, 1947

Woodnorth store Feb 8, 1947
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.


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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. The smallest girl, in the middle, may be Sonia Senkew.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s Earl McKellar was the Station Agent at the CNR station in Woodnorth. He and his wife Lou maintained links with friends at Woodnorth after they had moved on to Eriksdale, Manitoba.

Earl McKellar (1902-1984) formerly the CNR Station Agent at Woodnorth, in 1964 at Eriksdale, Manitoba with his wife Lou (McKenzie) McKellar (1906-2001).


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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.
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.
1950 Equipment working at installation of Pipeline, near Woodnorth, at the part of the Cameron farm known as “the Burton Place”.
December 1950. Kids with their toboggan out enjoying the snow. Priestley’s garage is in the background along with several vehicles and some farm equipment that must have been in for repair. Left to right: Gordon Cameron, Gerry (Bud) Cameron, Lylia Cameron (1943-2023), Doug Naughton (1945-2019), Bill Naughton (1942-1997), Pat Forsyth, Isabel Lowdon.


In 1951 Sarah (Cameron) and Wilfred Forsyth bought the Woodnorth store and continued to operate it until the mid- 1970s. From 1966 until 1975 they also operated the Woodnorth Post Office which was re-located to the store when the previous postmaster, Clarence Wilson retired. Wilfred Forsyth was Postmaster from 1966 until he had to retire at age 65 in 1969. Then Sarah took over as Postmaster until her retirement in 1975. At that time the Woodnorth Post Office was closed and people in the area had to get their mail elsewhere, some in Virden, some in Reston. Sarah Forsyth later donated the post office wicket and mailboxes to the Pioneer Home Museum in Virden.

Wilfred Forsyth and his wife Sarah Cameron in 1940.
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 (1938-1991), Ivan Wilson, Bill Coughlan (1937-2004), Bruce McKellar (1939-2021), Johnnie McLeod, Russ McDonald. Back Row – Frances Wilson (1938-2023), 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.


Junior Room Woodnorth School June 1951. Left to right – Front row: Tena Jopko, Francis Savitzky, Lylia Cameron (1943-2023), Dixie Mitchell, Colleen Hagan (1944-2022), 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 (1942-1998), Bill Priestley. Third row: Diane Mooney (with scarf on hair), Arlene Amos, Beryl Mitchell (1941-2017), Edith Gertz, Shirley Anne Horne (1940-2018), [two boys from second row break up this row a bit] Elsie Currie, Darlene Duquette, Genevieve Duquette, Kathleen (Kay) Boreham. Back row: Teacher Miss Pat Dybish, Eddie Currie, George Lansing (1937-2022), Joan Priestley, Sonia Senkew (wearing sweater with sailboat pattern), Lyle Lansing (1935-2004), Jim Coughlan (1939-2014).


On Saturday July 5, 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.

July 6, 1952. Priestley’s garage after its roof was ripped off by a tornado.
July 6, 1952 – wreckage of the roof in front of Priestley’s garage.
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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.
July 6, 1952. Woodnorth residents out surveying the wreckage and damage to Priestley’s garage caused by a tornado the evening before. From Left to right: Don Cameron, Pat Forsyth, Doug Cameron Della Cameron holding Keith Cameron, Lylia Cameron, Pam Forsyth, Sally Forsyth, unknown girl, Jack Cameron, Gerry (Bud) Cameron, Gordon Cameron.

One of the social clubs for girls in the 1950s in Woodnorth was CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training). This photo and note was provided to a local newspaper by Myrtle (m.s. Horn) Wooldridge.



Woodnorth School Junior Room, June 16, 1953. Left to Right: Front Row: Larry Raven (abt 1946-2022), Gerry Cameron, Victor Smith, Ken McNeil, Rickey Horn, Jack Cameron. Second Row: Sharon Horn (1946-2004), Diane Savitzky (1946-1991), Adele Mitchell (1945-2017), Shirley Amos, Colleen Hagan (1944-2022), 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 (1943-2023), Isabel Lowdon, Frances Savitzky, Roger Lowdon (1942-1998), John Gray (1946-2020).
June 1953, Junior Room. This snapshot must have been taken the same day as the “official photo” above but this one is taken in front of the school and the children are in a slightly different configuration. Left to Right: Front row: Diane Savitsky, Sharon Horn, John Gray, Shirley Amos, Gerry Cameron, Sandra Shoemaker, Margaret Coughlan. Second row: Larry Raven, Kathleen Currie, Adele Mitchell, Shirley McDougall, Dixie Mitchell, Colleen Hagen, Rick Horn. Third Row: Arnold Gertz, Victor Smith, Lylia Cameron, Isabel Lowdon, Francis (Bunny) Savitsky, Jack Cameron, Kenny McNeil, Roger Lowdon. Back Row: Don Cameron, Geordie McDonald, Teena Jopko, Lynn Cochrane, Malcolm Smith, Bill Priestley. (photo courtesy of Keith and Brenda Cameron)
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 (1937-2022), 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.”



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.

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.


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 – 57 

To view the Woodnorth School Year Book for 1956 -57 click this link:

Woodnorth School Year Book 1956 – 57


October 11, 1959.  A heavy snowstorm on October 8th blocked the roads around Woodnorth. On the back of one photo of the snow Sally Forsyth has written, “Claire Scharff started for Virden but had to turn back as the roads were impassable.”


Woodnorth School – Room One Grades 1-4, 1959/60 School Year. Teacher – Miss Viola Hill.  Photo by Virden Studio 1960.

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 (1950-2021), Jimmy Rattray, Sandy Ritchie, Keith Cameron (1951-2023). Front Row: Marilyn Short, Susan Eigler, Maxine Gardiner, Judy Gray, Valerie Johnson, Linda Lyons, Ferne Cameron. Teacher – Miss Viola Hill (1900-1988). 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 1960.

Left to Right: Back Row: Murray Cameron (1948-2020), Garry Ritchie, John Gray (1946-2020), Doug Naughton (1945-2019), Rick Horn, Kerry Horn, Doug Cameron (1948-2016). Middle Row: Ian Greggor (1947-1999), Gordon Cameron, Daryl Mooney, Margaret Coughlan, Diane Savitzky (1946-1991), Elaine Fahlman, [Elaine died from a burst appendix a few years after this photo was taken] Sharon Horn (1946-2004), 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 of Monominto, Manitoba.

1960 – High School Room. Photo by Virden Studio 1960: Left to right: Back Row: Jack Cameron, Gerry (Bud) Cameron, Don Cameron, Bob Fahlman, Arnold Gertz, Keith Hagan, Larry Thornhill. Middle Row: Gloria Heenan, Colleen Hagan, Donna Shelvey (1943-1979), Teena Jopko, Rose Marie Smith, Isabel Lowdon, Margaret Kellington, Darwin White, Principal Dalton J. Burke (1892-1966). Front Row: Adele Mitchell (1945-2017), Francis (Bunny) Savitzky, Diane Foote, Dixie Mitchell, Lynn Cochrane, Donna Lyons, Lylia Cameron. Photo courtesy of Lylia (Cameron) Brown.


New Elevator:  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.

May 1960. Timber for the new elevator.
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May 1960. Moving of the old elevator office before starting construction of the new elevator.
Version 2
New Woodnorth Pool Elevator, built in the Summer of 1960. The smaller elevator built in 1915 is partly visible behind the new one. Jack Cameron (son of Ian & Della) is standing in the doorway in this photo.
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July 23, 1960. The first load of grain taken into the new elevator was delivered by Elmer (Ab) Shoemaker (1915-1988) who is driving the truck. Seated on the box is his son Grant Shoemaker and brother-in-law Ian Cameron (1912-1998). Ab’s father, Albert Shoemaker (1878-1964) shipped the first load of grain from Woodnorth when the first elevator opened.


The invitation card below invites everyone to join in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction and opening of the Woodnorth Church.


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. In earlier days the Church had a tall steeple but a few years before this photo was taken the wood of the steeple was determined to have rotted so it was removed and replaced with this small metal point.
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 – from the Fall of 1951 until the closure of the High School in June 1962. After this 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 and his family. 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.

ANNIVERSARY BOOKLET: The Booklet reproduced below was prepared for the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Wodnorth United Church. It contains a brief history of the church and other community organizations associated with the church, such as the W.A. (Women’s Association, successor to the Woodnorth Ladies Aid Society), the Woodnorth Sunday School, the C.G.I.T. (Canadian Girls in Training) as well as a little piece about the Woodnorth School. In handwritten notes in the margins and on the blank pages at the back, my mother Sarah (Cameron) Forsyth (1910-1992) has added some notes, including a little bit about the closing of the Church in 1981.











50th Anniversary of Woodnorth United Church – Sunday July 31, 1960 saw a celebration including this cake (on a table in the front yard of the church) which was cut by two long-time residents of the area, Mrs Albert Shoemaker (nee Carrie Mooney) (1878-1962) and her sister-in-law, Mrs Albert Mooney (nee MaudMcPhaden) (1884-1968). In the background are the Reverend J. Cooper (standing), Charles Ritchie, and Mrs Charlie (Cicely Stephenson) Cruikshank (1895-1986). The curling rink is in background right.

February 1961


A haystack being moved along Woodnorth’s main street. Murray Cameron notes that this stack mover was designed and built by Lionel Lowdon and Cliff Priestley. Lionel was a local farmer and Cliff operated the garage at Woodnorth. The tractor with the haystack is being driven by Stuart Lowdon to the Ken Cameron farm.

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 Section Foreman. The Coughlans moved to the CNR Train Station in the mid-1950s and the Short family moved into the Section House. The white single storey house to the left of the haystack was the residence of Will and Martha Priestley (Cliff’s parents). The two-storey house in the centre of the picture was the Pool Elevator grain-buyers house, occupied at that time by the Claire and Irene Scharff family. Next to the lead tractor is the blacksmith shop and the building beside it  (with open door) was being used as a car garage.


On the back of the above photo Sally Forsyth has written, “Feb 1961, in front of the store at Woodnorth. Stuart Lowdon moving stack of hay for Ken Cameron. On tractor – Stuart Lowdon. Raising the telephone wire is Ken Cameron. With ladder is Cliff Lowdon.”

May 1961

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

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

Left to Right: Back Row: Miss Viola Hill (1900-1988), 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 (1953-1974).

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 (1946-2020), Doug Naughton (1945-2019), Ian Greggor (1947-1999), Douglas Cameron (1948-2016), Kerry Horn. Middle Row: Linda Lyons, Sharon Horn (1946-2004), Melva Gray, Debbie Cochrane, Linda Scharff, Pamela Forsyth, Ferne Cameron, Edith Gray (1949-1997). Front Row: Darryl Mooney, Larry Eigler, Barry Horn, Murray Cameron (1948-2020), Jerry Johnson, Gordon Cameron, Keith Cameron, Jim Rattray.

This picture of the front of the school with children heading back to class was also taken on May 2, 1961, probably also by the Jacobson Studio. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the original, just a photocopy. In 1961 we were still flying the Union Jack – the Canadian maple leaf flag was a few years in the future.


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.
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.


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 (1946-2019), 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 (1892-1966). Front Row: Glen Hall, Gayle Piggott, Debra Cochrane, Margaret Coughlan, Sandra Shoemaker, Adele Mitchell (1945-2017), Diane Foote, Kerry Horn. Photo by Jacobson Studio, Souris, Man.


Woodnorth School, Room Two, Grades 5 – 8, June 5, 1962. (Photo by Jacobson Studio, Souris, Manitoba). Taken just outside the school, in front of the manse.

From left to right: Front Row: Gordon Cameron, Jerry Johnson, Jimmy Rattray, Edith Gray, Linda Lyons, Ferne Cameron, Carole Stuart, Valerie Johnson, Albert Eigler, Grant Shoemaker. Middle Row: David Scharff, Billy Gray, Linda Scharff, Sharon Horn, Melva Gray, Pam Forsyth, Murray Cameron, Sandy Ritchie, Mr. Marc Chisholm of Neepawa, teacher. Back Row: Allan Eigler, Barry Stuart, Douglas Cameron, Robert Cameron, John Gray, Daryl Mooney, Barry Horn, Keith Cameron.


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

Left to Right: Back Row: Miss Viola Hill (1900-1988), 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.


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.

Donald Munro house being readied for moving in 1967.


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


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 was originally called the Coulter House, perhaps after the first family that owned it. It was later owned by the Richardson family. J.P. Richardson was postmaster from Oct 7, 1915 til March 21, 1949. He also operated the post office out of the front porch.  The house was moved out of Woodnorth in late 1968 or early 1969.

The Clarence Wilson house being moved out of Woodnorth.
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 Elizabeth Ann (m.s. Hay) Matthewson. Bill died in 1953 and his wife in1963.  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.


At the end of  June 1968 the Woodnorth School closed, having been in operation since 1910. Photos of the last two classes are below:

Woodnorth School April 30, 1968. Grades 1-3.   Back Row: Bradley Spence, Dale Casson, Peter Janzen, Gerald MacDonald, Doug Podobni, Ernest Janzen, Wayne Stuart. Middle Row: Shirley Downing, Cathy Chambers, Brenda-lee Irwin, Carole Anne Ritchie, Donna McIntosh, Mona Kotylak, Miss Sylvia Cuthbert (teacher, from Pierson, Manitoba). Front Row: Garth Kilford, Hilton Kilford, Grant Irwin, Trent Forsyth, Murray Hammond, Ronald MacDonald, Brent Wilson, Mark Gardiner.
Woodnorth School, April 30, 1968, Grades 4 to 6.    Back Row: Johnie Janzen, Jackie MacDonald, Bruce Chambers, Donald Podobni, Murray Downing, Arnold Spence, Bruce MacDonald.  Middle Row: Linda Stuart, Debbie Irwin, Betty Hammond, Laurie Coopier, Anne Johnson, Mrs Mildred Harkness (teacher).  Front Row:  Terrance MacDonald, Rodney Kool, Brad Gardiner, Debbie Kilford, Wes Chambers, Bob Wilson.

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.

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


Ken Cameron and his truck August 1, 1968 (This photo was reproduced in the local history book, “Trails Along the Pipestone”, p.564.)


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



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 far left of the photo, then my playhouse with the striped wall and Forsyth’s garage.

Six weeks later than the photo above: 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.
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.



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.
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).
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.
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.
April 14, 1969. Ferne Cameron (daughter of Ken & Ruth) on a raft in the flooded slough just east of the Cameron house.
April 14, 1969. Flooding at Mooney’s bridge, looking west to Gardiner’s.
April 14, 1969. Flooding at Mooney’s Bridge. Norman & Ev Mooney’s farm on the left.
On August 7, 1969 the stock of the Cameron Hardware Store was sold and the store closed. Auctioneer Bob Baldwin is the man in white shirt and white hat, facing the crowd.


The Pool elevators at Woodnorth in June 1970. The larger one was built in 1960 and the shorter one 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”.
August 2, 1970 in front of Woodnorth Church for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the church. L-R Ian Cameron (1912-1998), Mary (m.s. Muir) Richardson (1888-1977), Elmer Shoemaker (1915-1988), Ruth (m.s. Kirkpatrick) Cameron (1925-2014), Kenneth Richardson (1919-?), Ken Cameron (1914-2005). Mary Richardson came to Woodnorth as a school teacher, then married J.P. Richardson. They operated the grocery store, post office and hardware store for many years but retired to Winnipeg in 1949. Kenneth Richardson is her son.


Forsyth’s store and Post Office in Woodnorth June 1975. The “Forsyth’s” store sign had been taken down for re-painting. Wilf Forsyth standing in the door of the Post Office.
June 1975: Forsyth’s garage to the left of the Post Office now bears the “Woodnorth” sign formerly on the CN Train Station. When the station was demolished Claire Scharff, Pool elevator grain buyer, salvaged the sign and gave it to Sally Forsyth.


In the Flood of 1976 – Keith and Brenda Cameron and Ian Cameron filling sandbags on Woodnorth’s main street.
Wilf Forsyth’s typed note on the back of photo above.


Road #252 near Woodnorth in June 1977


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. Front and back of the souvenir plate is shown below.
Souvenir plate showing the Woodnorth United Church, built in 1910, and the Woodnorth Consolidated School, built in 1929.
The Canadian Art China Company of Collingwood, Simcoe County, Ontario produced the souvenir plates showing the Woodnorth School and the Woodnorth United Church. This company produced similar souvenir plates for many churches, schools, and community organizations across Canada.


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.
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.


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.






WOODNORTH COMMUNITY REUNION was held in early August 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.


Program leaflet for the Woodnorth Community Reunion and Cairn Dedication, August 4, 5 & 6, 1995 :





Undated photo of Woodnorth – probably  in the 1930s

Photographs of attendees at the Reunion:

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This group is of those who attended Woodnorth School in the 1910s and 1920s. I will try to get more names but for now: Front Row:  ?, Alice (Barclay) Priestley, Harry Kilford, ?, ?, ?,  Dorothy (Mooney) Curran. Middle Row: ?, ?, ?, Gladys Mooney, ?, ? , Della (Shoemaker) Cameron. Back Row: Harvey Cochrane, ? ?, Bessie Ritchie, ? , Norman Mooney, Fred Ritchie, Ken Cameron.
1995 – Students from the 1950s and 1960s.  Left to Right: Front row – Mildred Harkness, Terrance MacDonald, Ronald MacDonald, Bev Gardiner, Linda (Lyons) Guthrie (with plaid shorts),  Pam Forsyth (yellow top), Murray Cameron, Mona (Kotylak) Spence, Brad Spence, Colin Cassidy, Grant Wedow, Ken Wilson, Murray Downing. Second row: Brad Gardiner, Murray Stuart, Francis/Bunny (Savitsky) Muir, Maxine (Gardiner) Routledge, Linda (Studer) Stein, Ferne (Cameron) Jensen, Adele (Mitchell) Priestley, Marjorie (Horn) Ivey, Dixie Mitchell, Carol Anne (Ritchie) Woods, Mark Gardiner, Bob Wilson, Brent Wilson. Third row: Trent Forsyth, Bill Naughton, Bertha (Janzen) Penner, Bill Priestley, Sandra (Shoemaker) Hall, unknown, Doug Naughton, Isabel (Lowdon) Zarn, Gary Ritchie, Gordon Cameron, Keith Cameron, Barry Stuart. Back row: Hilton Kilford, Garth Mooney, Debby (Cochrane) Martin, Keith Hagan, Grant Shoemaker, at top Rick Horn (wearing blue plaid shirt), Don Cameron, Bill Gray, Robert Cameron, Jack Cameron, John Gray. [Thanks to Ria Cameron for identifying the people in this photo.]
1995 – Full group photo of former residents and students who attended the Reunion.
Pat (Forsyth) Pilkey and Diane (Mooney) McKellar, August 1995, Woodnorth Reunion.


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



Woodnorth United Church – 90th anniversary – June 18, 2000

Cutting the 90th Anniversary Cake, June 18, 2000  on the lawn in front of the church – Fred Ritchie (1920-2008), Ken Cameron (1914-2005), Norman Mooney (1920-2012). Norman’s mother, Maud Mooney, was one of the cake cutters at the 50th anniversary in 1960 which is pictured above in the section on the 1960s. although the Church was officially closed there continues to be an annual service once a year in the Summer.
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Attendees at the 90th anniversary celebration of Woodnorth United Church, June 18, 2000.


Just about a mile south of the town is the Woodnorth Cemetery.

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.

The first person buried in the cemetery was five-year-old Gladys Cameron (1913-1918), daughter of the British American Elevator agent Fred Cameron. Gladys Mary Cameron was born in Winnipeg on 29 April 1913 to Daisy Emily Bennett and Fred Cameron. She died on 29 July 1918.  [This family was not related to the Donald (1878-1941) and Isabella (1874-1958) Cameron family who farmed at Woodnorth.]

John Matthewson (1874-1947) was one of the members at the original meeting of the Cemetery Committee. He and his wife Christine Moffat Matthewson settled at Woodnorth in 1905.
Kenneth Brownlee Cameron (1914-2005) and his wife Ruth Margaret Cameron (1925-2014). Kenneth was the son of Donald Duncan Cameron (1878-1941), one of the participants in the founding meeting of the Cemetery Committee.


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



Robert’s daughter Ruth Kirkpatrick (1925-2014) married Kenneth Cameron (1914-2005) of Woodnorth in 1946. Both are also buried in this cemetery.
Edna May Lowdon (m.s. Shoemaker) (1913-1963), an early resident of the Woodnorth area and town.
Tom Lowdon was the son of Edna and Lionel Lowdon.
Margaret Niven was a member of the Woodnorth School Board when she was killed in a car accident in November 1936.

End of Cemetery Section




I am posting a few pages here from the beginning of the School Board Minute Books, from 31 July 1918 til the end of that year. If you wish to see a larger amount of this collection, which will also include the Expense Account ledgers, they are in other sections of the website, along with the transcriptions. Check the “About” page of this website to link through to the various sections. For the founding of the School, photos and brief information about the original Trustees and minutes from 1918 to 1920 click the link below.

Founding of the Woodnorth School, Original Board members and Minutes 1918 to 1920

31 July 1918

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8 Aug 1918

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13 August 1918

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31 August 1918

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4 October 1918

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25 October 1918

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26 November 1918

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17 December 1918

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