The Lansdowne Story :
"Grain, Gravel & Growth" / by A. F. (Dick) McKenzie: Lansdowne
Centennial Committee, 1967
How did Arden get its name? Nothing of a
definite nature has been advanced, but three suggestions have been made:
First, that M. E. Boughton, one of the
earliest inhabitants of the area,
named it after a small town near his original home to the United
Second, that an early surveyor, a native of
the Ardennes, or the vicinity
of the Forest of Ardennes, in Europe, gave it its name because it
back nostalgic memories of his native land. But the Ardennes is a
plateau (1600-2300 ft.) partly in northern France, but mostly in SE
and in the Grand Duchy of
Luxembourg. Its highest point is 2283 feet. It
is heavily dissected by entrenched
rivers, is pastoral, and has been the scene of bitter fighting in both
Third, that it might have been named after a
cook named Arden, on a construction
gang working in the vicinity. He may have been an efficient cook, but
meals he had the habit of hiding himself to snatch 'forty winks.' It
common for the foreman to demand, "Where's Arden?" Possibly a bit
but a theory, nevertheless!
The following is taken from an issue of THE
COLONIST, a Winnipeg publication dated September, 1896.
The town of Arden of which mention is made in
our general description of
the county of Beautiful Plains, is situated on the M.& N. W. Ry.
10 miles east of Neepawa, and 50 west of Portage la Prairie. It is the
town of the rural municipality of Lansdowne, and occupies a very
and healthful site upon the top of the ridge that is a conspicuous
of this part of the country.
This high, dry ridge runs in a north-westerly
direction from Arden all the
way to the Dauphin country, and there is a road from thither
by the municipality. A great many people contend that Arden was the
terminus of the railway; and there is no doubt that from an engineering
of view, if from no other, a great many difficulties of construction
have been avoided, if the railway had started from this point. Although
railway has taken another route, this must always remain the natural
into this fertile district, and there is no doubt that there will
be a good deal of intercourse between Arden and the Dauphin country on
of this advantage. Even as it is, part of the new Dauphin railway
the northern part of the municipality. The old primitive, depot that is
in our illustration was built in 1872, as a base of supplies for survey
and subsequently was occupied for a time by the mounted police. Exactly
this old log building stood, now stands the thriving village of Arden,
the present post office is built on the same lot.
As an indication of progress during
the earlv years of the village of Arden,
the following is taken from HENDERSON'S DIRECTORY —
ARDEN — A village on the M. and
N. W. Ry., on Sec. 13, Tp. 15, Rg. 14, in
the Municipality of Lansdowne, Central Judicial district. Mails three
a week each wav on every train; telegraph and express offices,
has 2 grain
warehouses; 135 bbl. roller flour mill. Most direct route to Lake
Methodist church and public school. Pop. 130. Anderson, T. G., gen.
Boughton. M. E., postmaster; Boughton, M. E. & Co., gen. store;
J. C., contractor; Clarke, W. T., grain buyer; Davidson, M.D.; Earngey,
blacksmith; Jackson, Geo., butcher; Lamb, Robt., stone mason; McCamis,
D., of M. E. Boughton & Co.; McClung, J., school teacher; McLean
Armstrong, blacksmiths; McRae, Duncan, livery; Manitoba & N. W. Ry.
of Can., J. W. Graham, Agent; Methodist Church, Rev. R. Halsall,
Moore & McFarlane, millers; Presbyterian Church, Rev. Jas. Lang;
Wm., hardware; Roe, J. W., cattle dealer; Snelgrove, Mrs. M., gen.
Van Blaricom, B., implements; Wade, George, butcher.
In addition to the information gleaned from
THE COLONIST, Mrs. Adam Thompson
reminisces about those early days and supplies some interesting bits.
the Northern Bank was the first financial institution to serve Arden.
is not certain how long this bank operated; but later, not long after
turn of the century, the old Union Bank, later to be absorbed by the
also had a branch in Arden.
It is quite evident that Arden was a
prosperous trading centre with an enterprising
group of business men. This was particularly the case for many years;
fact, until the coming of the motor car and the building of better
A hotel served the village for many years but was torn down. Arden was
seat of municipal government and remains so. Schools, churches,
societies filled a vital need. Young men and women answered the call in
world wars. The many who served as members of council and on school
over the years worked diligently and contributed much. To name them all
beyond the scope of this book.
Many are mentioned, all too briefly, in later
pages. Unfortunately, too many
have been missed due to lack of information. The purpose of the book,
the main, was to record those early years, the trials and the triumphs
the early settlers who laid the foundation for the R. M. of Lansdowne.
much of such history is lost over the years, particularly those
sketches which form an integral part of the overall picture.
Life in the village of Arden continues
at an orderly pace. Keyes, Tenby,
Helston and other places which served the early settlers are, in the
merely memories, but pleasant memories to the few remaining citizens
experienced those earlier days.
The Arden Cemetery was established as a public
cemetery by a By-law of Council on March 14th, 1888.
The Cemetery was to be self-supporting, and
under the regulation of the council
who set aside fifty dollars for a detailed survey dividing the cemetery
5-10 lot blocks.
The cemetery was given to council by Hector
Mclean who retained Block 39
for his own use. Mr. McLean died in 1917 at the age of 80 years, and is
in lot 1 of Block 39; his wife Margaret McLean died in 192(i and is
beside him in lot 2.
ARDEN FLOUR MILL
Over seventy years ago Arden had a flour mill.
Here is a quote from the records
of M. R. Boughtnn, long-time secretary-treasurer of Lansdowne: ''We
emphasize the fact that our new roller flour mill is to be ready by
1, 1890." And from the Provincial Archives a (1894): "Arden — 135
"Moore & McFarlane Millers."
It has not been established who built the
mill, but an article in "THE COLONIST",
Sept., 1896, records: "The Arden roller mills with a daily capacity of
barrels, belonging to Wilson and Co., has been described in the article
the County of Beautiful Plains, but we may add here that their special
Choice Strong Bakery, Star, Second Bakers,
XXXX and Superfine — are favorably
known over a wide area far beyond the limits of Manitoba. Besides its
business the mill docs a large local trade in flour, bran shorts and
feed, and altogether is of immense value to local farmers. The mill is
by steam power, but has also a water power in connection on the White
This river water was conveyed by means of a
rope belt arrangement to the
mill. The rope was suspended on poles to clear traffic "along the
with the mill engine creating the power to work the pump at the river.
Graham seems to have been the firstengineer at the mill.
The mill was ccrnpletely destroyed by fire in
July, 1908. Robert Younger,
Sr., father of Clifford, still of the Keyes district, had the
of delivering the last load of grain to the mill before the fire.
ORANGE RIDGE CHEESE FACTORY
At one time Lanssdowne did have a cheese
factory. From the Provincial Archives, "The Colonist" of September,
"A cheese factory is now in operation at
Orange Ridge. It is fully equipped
with modern machinery and is capable of producing 900 pounds of cheese
day. Orange Ridge is about fifteen miles northeast of Neepawa and
favorably situated for any kind of agricultural enterprise. The cheese
is much appreciated by the farmers of district find its success is a
Other sources of information indicate that the
factory was situated on NE
32-17-14 on the farm of David Wilson. He homesteaded there in 1888.
the land belonged to Sam Alexander. Members of the company included:
Wilson, Billie George, Billie Col tarn, Thomas Bailey, Sam Alexander,
Gilroy and Frank Donaldson.
The company eventually went out of the cheese
business and made butter. Frank
Harper was the cheese-maker and Chester Walker turned out the butter.
is reported that Dave Wilson sold one lot of butter for eight cents a
By 1905 the factory had ceased operations.
A LUMBER MILL
Two lumber mills operated in the Mekiwin
district at two dif-ferent periods.
William Bryce owned the first one which was built by James Milne on the
east of the J. R. Stewart place.
Apparently much difficulty was experienced in
getting this first mill into
operation. All parts and equipment were shipped by rail from Galt, Ont.
Portage la Prairie. From here to the mill location proved to be a task
no mean proportion. It had to come from Portage to Bryce's by ox-cart
wagon, necessitating a great deal
of manual labor and loss of time. Then nature
turned against them. A flash
flood carried away what bridges there were, and so, ferrying had to be
out at Woodside and Westbourne. A 1,200-lb. wheel presented the
difficulty. In attempting to ferry it across the White Mud, the boat
in rather deep water. This, of course, meant more delay and more hard
journey was completed, all the parts
assembled, and the new mill went into
operation under the supervision of James Milne, Sr., a millwright by
Much was accomplished that winter and the men were kept busy sawing
into lumber. These logs were brought to the mill by settlers and the
was taken away by them to be used for houses and shelters for the
The mill served
a definite need during the time it was in
Again disaster struck. The mill, which had
almost been doomed to failure
before it was even built, was definitely doomed the following spring. A
run-off caused the White Mud to flood and the mill was carried away.
Some time later, another mill was put into
operation at Bjurlings and gave
much-needed service to the settlers. It was operated for a time by
Hunter, one of the early pioneers of the Union district, east of
There was still another mill on the Adam McKenzie land south of the
in the hills. Duncan McLaren and his son, John, operated this one,
filed on homesteads in the area.
ARDEN SCHOOL DISTRICT 341
The School District of Arden was formed in
1884 and confirmed by the Board
of Education on October 6 of that year. But it was not until June,
that the first school was opened in Arden, with the Nova Scotia-born H
McCamis as its first teacher.
Thirteen names appeared on the first school
register, and in the first year
of operation the school was kept open for 157 days. This was a one-room
and, according to information supplied by some of the earliest
it stood on the property later occupied by the home of Peter McKinnon.
school was destroyed by fire several years later. Among the first names
appear on the roll were Hockin, Stewart, McKenzie, Boyce, Van Blaricom,
A new 2-room school was built in 1900. This
included a senior and a primary
room; and it is believed that Grades 8, 9 and 10 were taught by the
J. W. Gordon. The primary teacher was Miss Kate Crawford. At that time
principal received $600 per annum, while Miss Crawford was paid $470.
total enrolment was 78 pupils. Among he trustees of that time were B.
Blaricom, hardware merchant; M. E. Boughton, secretary-treasurer of the
John McMurchy, lumber merchant; H. D. McCamis, merchant; and George
Some of the records pertaining to Arden School
have been lost or misplaced.
Consequently, there is a lack of definite information.
In 1906 there was
still a 2-room school with Mr. George Ruttan as principal. Mrs. Jos. (.
of Arden, after considerable research, has supplied seme additional
"After two years,'' she says, "Mr. Ruttan left
Arden to join the staff of
Brandon College. The next year he returned to marry a former pupil.
Eva McCamis. The former Anna Drysdale, also a former pupil and now a
of Neepawa, tells of the wedding which took place in the Presbyterian
Arden pupils stood on the school steps to watch the bridal party drive
the reception at the home of the bride. They rode in a democrat drawn
a spanking team of horses, likely belonging to Duncan McRae, the owner
i livery barn. This was in 1908."