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History Of Emerson, Manitoba


Norma Finney

So many Canadian cities and towns had their beginningsfrom an early fort. Emerson is one of the many towns that had such a beginning.

In the year 1850, a trading post was built just over theCanadian border by the Hudson Bay Company. The trading post was named NorthFort Pembina. It was named after a fort that was built on the North bankof the Pembina River at its junction with the Red River. The fort was originallybuilt by the North West Trading Company in 1800. In 182l, the North WestCompany and the Hudson Bay Company became one.

In 1870, Captain Cook and the Red River Rebellion, No.1 Company of the Ontario Rifles were stationed. at the border. They arrivedon the "International" a stern wheeler that was built by the HudsonBay Company for freight and passenger service. They landed in Canadian Territoryat the site where Fort Dufferin was later built. The troops camped therefrom September until November when they moved to North Fort Pembina. Mr.Wm. Nash organized a local militia in the late 1870's. The company was dischargedin the spring of 1871.

During the fall of 1871, Fenians attacked the Hudson BayCompany. They imprisoned the factor and his clerk and scattered the contentsof the store. Col.Wheaton of Fort Pembina, Dakota was notified of the Feniansand they were intercepted. They were taken prisoners to Fort Pembina andthe stores were replaced. This raid caused much fear so once more the troopsoccupied North Fort Pembina. The company stayed until the Boundary Commissionparty, under Captain Cameron, arrived in the spring of 1872. Fort Dufferinwas built as the headquarters for the Commission. Because of Indian trouble,the boundary survey parties were protected by the United States infantryand cavalry. Mr.Cotton Almon was sent by the government to raise feed forthe stock. Everything was successful until the grasshopper plague of 1875.The Northwest Mounted Police, who were stationed in Fort Dufferin, beganto move westward to Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan in 1874.

In about the year l874, the first settlers arrived. Theywere the Carney-Fairbanks party. The Manitoba Government gave these settlersa grant of 640 acres of land. The first customs house was built in 1873.Mr.Bradley was the chief officer. By 1875, the population was 100, 1871-1879it grow to 2,500. A school was built which employed three teachers. Onehundred eighty three students attended.

Harper McKechnie and J. N. Noble started a petition foran incorporation of a town. The petition was followed by 117 names. Legalwork to obtain the charter cost $75.

The town plan covered 840 acres. In the same year, a townsite was planned for West Lynne. In 1882, they were granted a charter. Thuswere the beginnings of West Lynne and Emerson.

West Lynne's first council was elected in 1802. Mayor J.F. Tennant, Councillors: Ward 1, E. Depensier and Mr. Lewis; Ward 2, W.B. Robinson, J. E. Tetu; Ward 3, Wm. Mills and Harry Wexellbaum. The townwas twenty-four blocks long and three and one half blocks wide.

The Henderson directory, which was published in February,1882, listed 160 names. It also said that there were many fine stores, aweekly newspaper, and a post office.

Some of the names that were listed in West Lynne's Hendersondirectory included H. Abbott, dairyman; W. F. Crosby, agent; John Hooper,tailor; George Pocock, miller; Edward Vance, horse trader; and Dr. JamesBedford.

West Lynne also had four general stores, six hotels; theWindsor, McDougall House Golden Hotel, West Lynne Hotel, Riverside Hoteland Farmers Home, a brewery, pop factory, cheese factory, several grainwarehouses, five implement shops, a weekly newspaper, two churches and aschool.

A school was needed in West Lynne. In 1880 the citizensraised one thousand dollars for the construction of a school building. Theschool was opened in October. Mr. H.P. Hill was the first teacher. Afterhis departure Mr. Ambrose Stock was appointed. Mr. Ambrose loved music andsinging. He established a singing group with the young people.

The West Lynne school closed in 1939. The old Hudson Baypost was torn down in 1880. In 1895, the neighboring Fort Pembina, NorthDakota was abandoned. So many people missed the familiar sound of the cannonthat was always fired at sunrise and sunset. Thus, three historical sitesof West Lynne are now gone.

Mr. Thomas Carney and Mr. W. N. Fairbanks, both from RedWing, Minnesota, were credited as the founders of the town of Emerson. Itwas Mr. Fairbanks who gave Emerson its name. His favorite author, was RalphWaldo Emerson. He decided to honor Mr.Emerson in this way.

Mr. Carney established many businesses in Emerson. Whilehe was still living in Emerson, he invented the cash register. In thosedays, much gold and silver were used. He felt there was a need for a machinethat would assist in handling coins and making change. In 1884, Mr. Carneyleft Emerson and pooled his interests in the National Cash Register Company.

The first hotel was built by W. P. Hutchinson. He had broughtthe materials with him. The roof was made of a tent. Mr. Hutchinson hadquite a business. It was later enlarged and in 1878, it became the EmersonHouse.

Mr. Wiltsie owned the first store. It was built on thepresent site of the post office.

In 1874, Theodore Jasper opened a small store and a tailorshop. Mr. Evans and Mr. Mortimer also established a tailor shop. Mr. Evanswas a Welshman who loved music. Under his leadership, Emerson had its firstbrass band. Mr. C. Flexon and Mr. J. Carman were the proprietors of Emerson'stwo drug stores. Mr. Broder was the first baker. In April of 1879, the firstbakery delivery wagons appeared on Emerson's streets. Mrs. Traynor owneda millinery store. Jewelry shops were owned by J. Fraser and G. D. Northgrave.

In the early years of Emerson, the people felt no needfor a jail. But as the years went by, the people wanted more protectionfrom criminals. In 1879, the first jail was built. The jail was called "Hotelde Bell" because Jack Bell was the police officer at the time.

Emerson's first private bank was opened by R. Hepburn andG. L. Irwin. The Merchants Bank was opened in 1881.

In 1880, a bridge was built at Park Street. this bridgecost $30,000. On opening day, 875 pedestrians and 858 teams crossed thebridge.

Mr. James J. Hill, in 1877, built a line from Breckenridgeto St. Vincent. In 1878, the C.P.R. built a line from Emerson to St. Boniface.The first train arrived in December. In 1878, a depot and customs housewas built. Mr. John Clancy of Ottawa was the first agent.

No town can live long without a church. In 1875, the AnglicanChurch was organized by Canon O'Moara of Winnipeg. The Rev. Mark Jukes wasthe first minister.

The Baptist Church was founded in 1876. Rev. Daniel McCaulwas pastor. the church was shared with the Presbyterians until 1878.

The Presbyterian Church was formed in 1877. Rev. JamesScott was the first pastor. Church services were held at the Baptist Churchuntil 1878 when a new church was built.

Rev. Daniel Pomeroy organized the Episcopal Methodist Churchin 1875. The church building was built in 1876 but a new one was built in1879 because of an over-abundance of members.

The Episcopal and Wesleyan Methodists united in 1884. Theybecame the Methodist Church of Canada. The Salvation Army was using theirchurch building but in 1885 they once more occupied it.

Emerson has been plagued by many floods. In the flood of1882, their first traffic bridge was destroyed. The flood of '93 wasn'tas bad as '82. It was approximately 8 inches lower.

The flood water in 1904 made it up to Main Street. Mr.C.. A. Whitman was reported as saying that it just reached the floor ofhis store which was located on Dominion Street.

The worst two floods were in 1948 and 1950. In 1948, thewater rose so that water reached Third Street. In 1950, the town was floodedwith water that measured 6 ft. 6 in. deep.

No town can be without a newspaper. Emerson's first was"The Emerson International" Mr. Douglas was its first journalist.The first issue was sold December 25, 1878.

The first copy of the "Western Journa1" was printedin 1879 by George Baldwin. The same year his shop was destroyed by fire.The same year A. D. Paterson established "The Emerson News."

The "International" was sold in 1889 and the"Southern Manitoba Times" appeared. It was followed by "TheEmerson Journal." Following the depression, the "Journal"absorbed the "Dominion Star." In 1947, the "Journal"was sold to W. E. Carlson. The "Journal" was later sold to a newspaperin Steinbach.

In 1839, West Lynne and Emerson became one. In 1939, theWest Lynne school closed down, and its remaining teachers went to the Emersonschool. West Lynne and Emerson are now one. Because of their union Emersonprospered through the hard times. It then became a successful town thatis dear to many hearts. Emerson and West Lynne lived through hard timesso that they could leave something that would be worthwhile to its ancestors.


The History of Emerson, by Wm. Carlson and Mrs. Masterson,1950

hwhile to its ancestors.


The History of Emerson, by Wm. Carlson and Mrs. Masterson,1950