The Name Lac du Bonnet

The Name Lac du Bonnet

Although there are several theories as to the origin of our name, the most popular one is;

Lac du Bonnet is a community rich in history dating back to the de La Verendrye era (circa 1732). Pierre Gaultier La Verendrye, having surveyed the topography of the area, decided that the lake (actually a river) reminded him of a bonnet. Appropriately, he named the area Lac du Bonnet.

Early Years – Lac du Bonnet

Early Years – Lac du Bonnet

Early Years in Lac du Bonnet

The Winnipeg River and its tributaries were used by the Indigenous peoples long before European contact, with encampments located in various locations along its banks. With the fur trade monopoly, the two rival trading companies, North West and Hudson’s Bay, paddled their canoe brigades along the Winnipeg River on their journey to the untamed lands of the West.

A voyageur by the name of Joseph Derouen travelled through the Winnipeg River area around 1760, listing the names Lac du Bonnet and Portage du Bonnet in his itinerary of the trip. Cartographer, Aaron Arrowsmith, became the first to use “Bonnet Lake” on his 1791 map.

Early Aviation History

by Gord Emberley CM (April 13, 2013)

Lac du Bonnet Town DockThe first recorded use of Lac du Bonnet as a base of operations for an aircraft is July of 1922 when the Canadian Air Force (pre RCAF 1924) was doing survey work in the area.

Western Canada Airways followed in 1926 and the RCAF in 1927. In 1924 Canadian Vickers of Montreal designed and built the Vedette flying boat for the RCAF and they operated a number of these aircraft out of Lac du Bonnet until 1933. Amoung many of its achievements it was the first designed and built aircraft in Canada. Due to the “depression of 1929”, cutbacks in  RCAF personnel resulted in layoffs and a reductions in Civil Operations.

In 1932 negotiations between the Dominion Government and the Province of Manitoba resulted in the RCAF turning over six Mk.ll Vedette flying boats for the sum of $ 1.00 each with the provision that the Manitoba Government would also employ five ex RCAF pilots who had been released from active service. Later two newer Mk.V Vedettes were added to the fleet.

Manitoba Government Air Service C-FMAU by John W. OlafsonThis was the start of the Manitoba Government Air Service and the construction of its main base of Operation and Maintenance in Lac du Bonnet.

The last Vedette aircraft, CF-MAG, was withdrawn from service in 1937. (The salvaged remains are on view at the Western Canada Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, MB.) The service history of the Vedette and the pilots and engineers who flew in them is well recorded in the annals of Canadian accomplishments. Residents of Lac du Bonnet worked for and with the air and ground crews and remember this part of their history.

Throughout the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s many other companies, such as Western Canada Airways (Canadian Airways), Starratt Airways, Wings Limited, Canadian Pacific Airlines, Central Northern Airways, Trans Air Limited, Wendigo Wings, Air Park and Whiteshell Air Service, operated out of Lac du Bonnet.

Today Provincial Helicopters and Adventure Air are the only two companies currently serving the community. As well many private operators made Lac du Bonnet their base of operations.

From our past history one can see that Aviation played a significant roll in the cultural, economic and social life of our community. The Vickers Vedette is a significantly unique aircraft to remind us of our past and will further enhance the cairn already in place that commemorates the existence of RCAF Station Lac du Bonnet.

Canadian Vickers Vedette

Monument Takes Flight

The monument is located at the town dock on Third Street in Lac du Bonnet.

Canadian Vickers Vedette Sculpture by Gordon Reeve

Canadian Vickers Vedette Sculpture by Gordon Reeve



Constructing the Vedette


Remembering the Vedette

Airplane replica to be placed at La Verendrye boat launch (Moved to the Town dock in 2023)

By Marc Zienkiewicz (Spring 2009 – Experience Lac du Bonnet)

Canadian Vickers VedetteA University of Manitoba professor and sculptor is set to begin building what could become a major tourist attraction in Lac du Bonnet. Gordon Reeve has been chosen by the Lac du Bonnet Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee (MHAC) to build a monument that will commemorate an historic aircraft that operated in the community in the early 20th century — the Vickers Vedette. Reeve is well-known in Manitoba for his sculpture Justice, which stands outside the Law Courts building in downtown Winnipeg. He also designed the public art project Agassiz Ice on the Portage Avenue side of the Assiniboine Park footbridge. He’s also dabbled in film, creating the 1992 documentary Moment of Light about ballerina Evelyn Hart. Reeve noted the site chosen for the monument — the La Verendrye boat launch along Hwy. 502 — will be turned into a green space that may include composting washroom facilities, and even a device that would use the river to generate power that would be used to power things located on the green space. The Vedette monument will contain a water pump that creates a mist to create the illusion of the plane taking off. “I want people to go there and get the feeling that they’re visiting a site that’s completely unspoiled,” Reeve said. “The Vedette was a flying canoe, and the canoe connects us to the entire history of man. Since it was created, the canoe’s basic design hasn’t really changed at all.” It was also the first aircraft built in Canada. “We want people to be able to picnic there and really enjoy the site,” MHAC chairman Gord Emberley said. Best of all, the green space will be as environmentally friendly as possible. “We want to emphasize the ‘green’ aspect of it,” he added. The project has been in the works for five years, and the MHAC recently began a campaign to solicit donations to help fund the project’s $37,000 first phase. There’s no shortage of people in the community who either have been or are currently involved in aviation. Emberley said project organizers found 80 people in the Eastern Manitoba phone directory who fit that description. “We’ll be approaching all of them to ask for help in funding this,” he said. If enough funding comes through, construction of the Vickers Vedette replica could begin as early as July or August. Seeing as 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the first flight in Manitoba, it seems all the more appropriate, Emberley noted.


Reeve was drawn to the project because it involves more than just a steel replica of an airplane, he said. “When it comes to my art, my goal is to not only give people something to look at, but to give them an actual experience,” he said. “My work is always site-specific. This will be a place where people will come to learn how they can better care for the environment.” With thousands of cottagers flocking to the region each summer, Reeve envisions the site becoming an educational one for those who choose to make the region their summertime playground. “No matter what we do as human beings, we have an impact on our environment,” he said. “I want to show people that as a society we have to start seriously thinking about that.” Emberley feels the Vedette itself is a good metaphor for environmental stewardship. “The Vedette was a green aircraft — it discharged its cargo from the water and left no footprint,” he said. For information on the project or to donate, Emberley can be reached at 345-8916 or e-mail


Jim Uhlman – Pilot

Jim Uhlman – Pilot

Making Aviation History

First Arctic Coast flight made by Lac du Bonnet man

Provided By Marc Zienkiewicz (Spring 2009 – Experience Lac du Bonnet)

Lac du Bonnet certainly has a colourful history when it comes to aviation, being the site of the first airmail delivery flight in Canada, not to mention many other things. But not many know that one of Lac du Bonnet’s very own residents helmed the first Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) flight to the Arctic coast.

According to air force documents provided by area historian Gord Emberley, the late Jim Uhlman of Lac du Bonnet made the flight in 1930 at the request of Canada’s Civil Government Air Operations (CGAO), a civil service division of the RCAF. “This has never before been printed,” Emberley said. “It really is a fascinating piece of Lac du Bonnet history, in light of 2009 being the 100th anniversary of aviation.” Indeed, this year does represent a century of Canadian aviation.

Paul Piel Dow – Inventor

Paul Piel Dow – Inventor

Paul Piel Dow was born and educated in Gibson, New Brunswick. He became a highly skilled telegrapher though he had no formal training in the electrical or radio field.

In 1928-29, while working with the late James A Richardson of Winnipeg, he pioneered the use of short-wave radio for intercity communication to provide up-to-date grain and stock market reports. At the same time Dow pioneered and organized the first cross-Canada commercial radio communications network, first integratingthe broadcasting facilities of short-wave radio stations CJRW of Fleming, Saskatchewan, with CJRX of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He further established a powerful commercial radio station in south Winnipeg where, by connected telephone land lines, American programs were relayed to CJRX for world-wide redistribution.

Dow also pioneered the installation of his radios in the aircraft of Wings Ltd., a commercial airline in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba.

During the early 1940’s Dow manufactured telegraph speed keys in his Winnipeg home and by 1945 had invented and patented the “Dow Universal” (rotary model) key and co-axial relay. This relay came to be used in radio and electronic equipment and was distributed worldwide.

Ylitalo Log House

Ylitalo Log House

Note: The Ylitalo house was dismantled  to preserve the building but decay to the logs was to extensive to save the structure.

The location of the house was across the road from the Riverland School.

Ylatala Log HouseThe building came to the attention of the Lac du Bonnet Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee in 2006 when one of our members recognized the possible historic importance of its construction. On further investigation by the Restoration Grants Technologist of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism it was recommended that “due to its unique log construction — the building was worthy of preservation”. On this recommendation MHAC purchased the building on December 7th, 2007 from the landowner on whose land it was located. Prior to any work being done on the building all logs were numbered and appropriate drawings prepared. This will assist in the re assembly at a later date. It was in the fall of 2009 that volunteers disassembled the structure and had the logs stored. There is little information on Mr. Ylitalo or his family other than that he emigrated from Finland to the Riverland area and the building was built in the 1920’s. If any readers can provide further information the MHAC would be most appreciative.

Riverland School

Riverland School

The Riverland School, located on Riverland road, was built in 1924, to meet the educational needs of the children in the expanding Riverland district. School age children, mostly from Swedish families, had attended a one room school at School Point. This small log structure had met the educational needs since 1910 but, after fourteen years, had out grown its student enrolment.

Riverland SchoolThe Riverland School, a new and larger one-room school of lumber construction, was built on land donated by Gus Anderson. He had arrived four years earlier from Sweden to take up an 80 acre “Homestead” in the Riverland District.

Over the years enrolment was as high as 64 students from grades one to eight. As most of the children spoke Swedish they were required to learn English in school. Grade nine was by Provincial Dept. of Education Correspondence and the students had to attend the school to take the course. If a student wanted to receive higher education he or she had to attend the school in Lac du Bonnet.

The local Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee has recommended that the Riverland School be declared a Municipal Heritage Site and the RM of Lac du Bonnet Council is in the process of finalizing an agreement with Terri Veroneau, the present owner. With the passage of the necessary by-law, steps will be taken this summer to stabilize any further deterioration. Future plans will consider the full restoration of the building.

It is Terri’s wish that the Riverland School building will be declared a Heritage Site. With her cooperation and generosity, this school, the last of its kind in the RM, will not disappear from our memory. It will remain her legacy to the Riverland community and a reminder to future generations what an important roll the Riverland School played in the early education of our children.

First Registered Homestead

First Registered Homestead

Haliday CairnCairn Erected in Honour of W. D. HALLIDAY

Lac du Bonnet’s first registered homestead.
Mr. W. D. Halliday in 1900, at the age of 26, canoed down the Whitemouth and Winnipeg rivers and claimed the land upon which this cairn is situated. He filed the first homestead in Lac du Bonnet. This land he passed on to his son J. H. Halliday and to this date it remainsthe property of the Halliday Family.

First erected by the Lac du Bonnet Boy Scout Troop July 18, 1970, as their Manitoba Centennial Project.

Inside this cairn is a container with the names of all the boys in the 1970 Scout Troop and Cub Pack.

Restored in 1995 by the Rural Municipality of
Lac du Bonnet.

The W. D. Haliday cairn is located north of Lac du Bonnet on PTH 502.

Hans Erickson Log Cabin / Lac du Bonnet Historical Museum

Hans Erickson Log Cabin / LdBonnet Historical Museum

The cabin was built by Hans Erickson of Pinawa for his daughter Linnea and her family. It was built in the early 1930’s and was modeled after the log houses at the Old Pinawa Generating Station on the Pinawa Channel. The cement foundation, covered with local granite was the work of Karl Haugen. This building was situated across the road from the northern boundary of the Pinawa Heritage Park.

The cabin was moved in 2007 and is now the home of the Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society Museum.


Hans Erickson Cabin Lac du Bonnet Museum

RCAF Station Lac du Bonnet / Lac du Bonnet Airport

RCAF Station / Lac du Bonnet Airport

Canadian Vickers VedetteThe Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was founded on April 1, 1924, partially to meet the increased demand for civil air services, particularly forest fire patrols, in western Canada. In 1926, #1 Wing of the RCAF in Winnipeg moved its main operations from Victoria Beach to Lac du Bonnet. One building was moved onto the site where grounds and a slipway were being prepared. That year AVRO 504 seaplanes, Vickers Vikings and two Vickers Vedette flying boats conducted aerial photography, forest mapping, treaty and medical flights. As wireless telephone transmitters had been installed in aircraft in 1925, the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals established a ground station on the site. New buildings were added – including a pigeon rookery, as pigeons were carried on board the aircraft as backup communications.

In 1927, 90% of all forestry patrol work in Canada was carried out from the Winnipeg Air Station sub bases at Lac du Bonnet, Norway House, Cormorant Lake, Winnipegossis and Ladder Lake, Saskatchewan. Of these bases, Lac du Bonnet was the most active, having flown 371.20 hours on patrol. The combined extent of all these patrol areas was 23,371,533 hectares (57,752,085 acres) and 106 fires were detected during 1,344.25 hours of flying.

Airport CairnBy 1930 “Civil Government Air Operations” reached its peak of activity only to cease to exist in 1931 due to financial constraints and the transfer of natural resources to the provinces. Consequently, in 1932, Lac du Bonnet Air Station was placed on “care and maintenance” and designated a General Purpose Flight with only one Vickers Vedette flying boat.

During 1933, miscellaneous services were provided from Lac du Bonnet for various government departments including flights to the Territories and an inspection by the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of its northern detachment.

RCAF operations ceased in 1937 and the Department of Transport assumed responsibility for the site.

The facilities were used for a short time by the Manitoba Government Air Service in 1932 and subsequently through the years by local air service operators. Following World War II (1939 – 1945) the facility was assigned to Crown Assets Disposal Corporation for its final disposition. With its purchase by the Manitoba Government in the 1970’s, the airport has been upgraded to its present standard, and is now owned by the Rural Municipality of Lac du Bonnet and operated by the Regional Airport Authority.



Note: The LeCoy House is privately owned and the property is not accessible to the public.

Family History:
Father: Isadore Lecaille Sr. and wife Charlotte Parreau.( Father of Isadore Lecaille JR.)
Born: Likely immigrated with his family from Brittney region of France to Montreal, Canada. Moved to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, USA, where he worked for the Minnesota Fur Co. Occupation: Voyager.

Isadore Lecaille Jr. (LeCoy)
Born: 17 September, 1851. Place: Sault Ste. Marie, USA
Baptized: 28 September, 1851, St, Mary’s Catholic Church, Sault Ste. Marie. Michigan, USA.
Moved to Ft. Alexander Fur Trade Post, Manitoba located at the mouth of the Winnipeg River where he lived for many years before marrying Isabel Sipi (Ojibway).

Isadore Lecoy moved to the Lac du Bonnet area around the turn of the century. He was involved with clearing bush for the brickworks and sawmill.

The Lecoy HouseIn July 1907, he built a house in the present Riverland North area on NW 26-15-11E. He made an application for a homestead on November 27, 1907. He had constructed a house, stable, grainery and fence by that time. He was also farming full time.

Lecoy continued to clear a few acres each year. In 1920 on his application for a patent for homestead, Lecoy who was then 76 years old, said “Am old man and had no means to work on.”

The homestead inspector stated, “This is bushland, hard to clear and break. One acre of breaking is equivalent to five acres prairie land. He should be favoured with his patent.”

He received title under the Real Property Act in 1924.

In 1929, the property was sold to Dr. Henry Bruce Chown. At that time, the house was on bare prairie in order to minimize the danger of fire.

Under the Chown’s, the house consisted of a master bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. The beams in the ceiling were hand-cut with an adze and are still intact. The ceiling shows three different chimney holes. Mrs. Chown said that as the Lecoy sons married, they brought in their own stoves.

Why we are here? Winnipeg Hydro

Why we are here? Winnipeg Hydro

Pinawa Generating Station - circa 1926 (Old Pinawa)The Pinawa Generating Station was opened and started transmitting electrical power to the city of Winnipeg in 1906. It was Manitoba’s first year-round Hydro generating plant and marked the beginning of hydro-electric development on the Winnipeg River.

Construction of the plant began in April 1903 after the Winnipeg General Power Company obtained a perpetual lease on the Pinawa Site. On July 26 1904, the Winnipeg General Power Company officially amalgamated with the Winnipeg Electric Street Railway Co. This new company became known as the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company (WERCo.). The plant was officially opened on May 31, 1906 and completed in 1907 at a cost of $3,055,000. Power was distributed to the cities of Winnipeg and St. Boniface, the towns of Transcona, Stony Mountain and Stonewall, and the rural municipalities of Fort Garry, Assiniboia, East and West Kildonan, St. Andrews, St. Vital, St. Paul and Rockwood, serving over 25,000 people.

On October 25, 1951 the Pinawa Generating Station was retired from service so the full flow of the Winnipeg River could be restored to the main channel for use by the newly expanded Seven Sisters Dam (which had been opened in 1931 by WERCo.)

St. Mary Polish Church Cemetary – Circa 1912

St. Mary Polish Church Cemetary – Circa 1912

St. Mary Polish Church CairnIn the year 2000 the Lac du Bonnet Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee was made aware of a lone grave located one half mile north of PTH 317 on Sikora Road. Investigations revealed the possibility that more graves were in the area. The Lac du Bonnet Municipal council placed a caveat on the property and a crew from the R.M. Maintenance Department brushed the area, did the necessary improvement work and built a cairn. The MHAC hired a company to conduct an electronic survey of the area and successfully located six graves that have been marked by cedar crosses. No identification has been possible to date. The cemetery has been landscaped and a plaque placed on the cairn which was erected alongside of the road to mark the cemetery’s location.

The graves are circa 1912 and are of parishoners of the St. Mary Polish Church from the Brightstone area. The church was eventually located one half mile further north and one mile west at the north-west corner of Sytnick Road and Holyk Road (LS1, SE Sec.30/Twp.15/Rge.9EPM)

Sgt. R. H. Nicholson – R.C.M.P.

Sgt. R. H. Nicholson – R.C.M.P.

IN MEMORY OF SGT. R. H. NICHOLSON (RCMP)R.C.M.P. Annual Report, 1928 (excerpt) “On December 31, 1928, Sgt. R. H. Nicholson, in charge of the Lac du Bonnet detachment, was shot and mortally wounded while raiding an illicit still, thereby adding one more to the list of members of the Force who have fallen in the discharge of duty.

In the company of the Manitoba Provincial Police, he visited the farm of the suspect and came upon a still in the bush, about a mile and a half from the house. The two approached it from different sides, Sgt. Nicholson arriving first and found the still in full operation. A rifle was nearby, standing against a tree and both the suspect and Nicholson seem to have rushed for it simultaneously.

JOHN DUNCAN McARTHUR July 25, 1854 – January 10, 1927

JOHN DUNCAN McARTHUR July 25, 1854 – January 10, 1927

Entrepreneur: John Duncan McArthur was born on the family farm in Lancaster, Glengarry County, Canada West,(Ontario after 1867), where he grew up, was educated and married Mary McIntosh. At age 25 he came west and around 1880 was cutting logs in, what is today, the Riding Mountain National Park for his sawmill near Birtle, Manitoba, on the Birdtail River. He worked repairing the rail line of the Pembina branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and gained further experience working on other railways in western Canada. By 1889 he received his own contract to build the Red River Valley Railway from Emerson to Winnipeg.

On February 24, 1898, The Lac du Bonnet Mining, Developing and Manufacturing Co. was incorporated and had commenced harvesting the local resources. In 1901 McArthur purchased the company and its holdings of 810 hectares (2,000 acres) of land and a brick manufacturing plant. He built a sawmill just north of what is now the Town of Lac du Bonnet and, in the following year, opened a logging camp near Old Pinawa.

WALTER WARDROP SR. April 12, 1854 – 1942

WALTER WARDROP SR. April 12, 1854 – 1942

Entrepreneur: Walter Wardrop Sr. was born on August 27, 1854 in Paris, Ontario, the son of John Wardrop, a Cotton (hand loom) weaver and wife Janet Barr. His mother died when he was three weeks old and he was raised by his grandmother, Mary Wardrop, in Port Elgin, Ontario. On March 3rd, 1877, he married Sarah Jane McCleod. Walter came west to Manitoba between 1882 – 83 and later was followed by his wife and their children. First employed by the Dan Mann Tie Company of Whitemouth, he later joined the D.A. Ross Company staff as a “Bush Foreman”. This involved “stream driving”, when the cut logs were floated down the Winnipeg River in the spring log drive to the sawmill. As a show of confidence to other company workers, Walter was the first to volunteer to be vaccinated by Dr. Charlotte Ross (the first woman doctor in Manitoba) with the newly developed Small Pox Vaccine.

ALEX McINTOSH September 04, 1889 – February 18, 1982

ALEX McINTOSH September 04, 1889 – February 18, 1982

Entrepreneur: Alex McIntosh was born on a farm in Lancaster Township, Glengarry County, Ontario, the son of Scottish immigrants who had arrived in Canada in 1832. He was raised on the family farm and at 18 years of age came to western Canada on the “Harvest Excursion” of 1907-08 and, for that winter, worked in Transcona, Manitoba. For the next four years McIntosh worked in the Caribou District of British Columbia for a lumber and navigation company and for three more years for the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway where his uncle, J.D.McArthur, had contracts to build the railways. He then joined the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP), was stationed in the Peace River country and, during WWI, served overseas with the RNWMP. On his return to Canada he homesteaded at Rio Grand in the Grand Prairie region of Alberta .

Lac du Bonnet Brick Plant 1901 – 1920

Lac du Bonnet Brick Plant 1901 – 1920

In the spring of 1898 a small mining boom took place in the area surrounding Lac du Bonnet and the Winnipeg River system that would impact on the region for years to come. In the same year a group of men from Winnipeg and the Lac du Bonnet area had a vision for the future development of the natural resources. They formed the Lac du Bonnet Mining, Developing and Manufacturing Company, and as part of their enterprise, to extract clay from the banks of the Winnipeg River to manufacture bricks. A few acres of bush had been cleared away, clay samples taken and sent to the USA to be tested for suitability.

If the reader looks carefully you will see that some of the bricks facing outwards on this monument display the company initials "LBC".

If the reader looks carefully you will see that some of the bricks facing outwards on this monument display the company initials “LBC”.

On receiving a favourable report, the company immediately ordered the necessary machinery from a USA manufacturer. A winter sled road was built along the old Manitoba-Ontario boundary from Lac du Bonnet to Shelly on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) line on which to bring in the new equipment. Saw logs were also cut and hauled on this road for the construction of new buildings. When the machinery arrived, a crew from eastern Canada was hired to assemble the plant. With the building of the branch line from Molson, on the CPR line, to Lac du Bonnet (1898-1901), the necessary direct access to the outside market was available.

In 1901 J.D.McArthur bought the entire holdings of the Lac du Bonnet Mining, Developing and Manufacturing Company which consisted of 810 hectares (2,000 acres) of prime timber land and the brick manufacturing plant. From the time the plant went into operation, it played a major roll in the economy of the area and by 1919 employed upwards of 50 men.

The company produced bricks until 1920 when it was decided the venture was no longer viable. For years following, left-over bricks were given away, free for the taking, to residents of the area for the construction of local chimneys, etc.

When visiting this Cairn  below you will see that some of the bricks facing outwards on this monument display the company initials “LBC”.

Inter-West Fuel and Peat Co. 1907 – 1908

Inter-West Fuel and Peat Co. 1907 – 1908

INTER-WEST FUEL and PEAT Co. CairnIn 1907 a group of “local capitalists” built a peat processing plant 4.83 kilometers (3 miles) south west of Lac du Bonnet on the previously operated Canadian Pacific Railway Branch Line that connected Lac du Bonnet to the main line at Molson, Manitoba. At this location the Inter-West Peat and Fuel Company had been operating for only a few days, having loaded five railway cars of peat ready for shipment, when the factory part of the plant was destroyed by fire. It was scheduled to be reconstructed in the spring of 1908 and expected to be in operation by July of that year. INTER-WEST FUEL and PEAT Co. 1907 - 1908The estimated cost of the plant was $25,000 and would be capable of producing 100 tons of peat daily. The factory, 40’x50′, was constructed of concrete and corrugated iron. The machine for compressing the peat was reported to have an average pressure of 40 tons per square inch. (There is no evidence that the new plant ever came in to production.) Peat, dug from the bog, artificially dried and compressed into 3 and 1/2 inch cubes, had the same weight and density as Anthracite coal and gave intense heat when burned. It was used for household fuel and in the manufacture and refinement of iron and steel. The company had reserves on 1,036.03 hectares (2,560 acres) of peat land south of Lac du Bonnet. At that time the factory was the only one operating in Western Canada.


Lac du Bonnet Sawmill 1901 – 1918

LAC DU BONNET SAWMILL - painted by  A. Hamber 1912The railway arrived in Lac du Bonnet in June 1901, bringing with it the entrepreneurial talents of John Duncan McArthur who developed a sawmill located on land that became part of the Lac du Bonnet townsite. The Canadian Pacific Railway connection with Winnipeg made the development of these industries possible and McArthur was able to connect the eastern Manitoba resources directly to his lumberyard in Winnipeg, located on Higgins Avenue near the CPR tracks. In 1902 McArthur opened a logging camp near old Pinawa and set up his mill on the Winnipeg River just north of the present townsite of Lac du Bonnet. He shipped the lumber, as well as cordwood to Winnipeg. The mill was closed in 1918, but he continued to search for a more suitable market for the small-sized woods available from eastern Manitoba’s forests. By 1924 his pursuits resulted in the development of the Manitoba Pulp and Paper Co. mill in Pine Falls, Manitoba.

School Point – Riverland

School Point – Riverland

Locomotive #2 – Pointe du Bois Tramway

Train #2 In Winnipeg River - June 14, 2014Railroads have played a major part in the history of Lac du Bonnet since the turn of the twentieth century and one of particular interest is the line that was constructed between Lac du Bonnet and the hydro electric site at Pointe du Bois, located on the Winnipeg River. Competition between the many companies offering or supplying electrical services finally amalgamated in 1904 with the City of Winnipeg to form the Winnipeg Electric Railway. For the next five years the city council remained in a state of indecision over the issue of constructing a hydro electric generating station. It wasn’t until 1909 that construction of the “tramway” was finally started. Train #2 In Winnipeg River – June 14, 2014Much of the ensuing history seems to centre on the various steam locomotives that operated between Lac du Bonnet and “the Point”, their successes and their failures. Train #2 In Winnipeg River - June 14, 2014One such incident was with Engine #2, known as the “Star” or “White Star” and its encounter with the Winnipeg River Bridge. The bridge, designed to carry a gross weight of 177,000 pounds encountered engine #2 and its tender which weighed in at 246,500 pounds. On June 30, 1914 the inevitable occurred when the bridge collapsed under the weight of the “Star”. It and its tender ended up in the river along with the first boxcar securely nosed into the tender but still partly on the bridge. It was to join the wreckage in the river before all was salvaged by a Canadian Pacific Railway wrecking crew. The engine was presumably rebuilt at the CPR shops in Winnipeg. The following year the Greater Winnipeg Water District tendered for a locomotive in January of 1915 and the Star” was finally sold to them the following year.

Train #2 In Winnipeg River - June 14, 2014Train #2 In Winnipeg River – June 14, 2014On other occasions, when the train arrived at the bridge, all got off the train. The Fireman walked across the bridge to the other side. . The Engineer started the train in motion and the Fireman stopped it at the other end while the passengers and Engineer walked across the bridge to resume the ride to their destination. On one occasion the Engineer had to chase his escaping train. (Source: Tramway to the Point)

For more interesting reading pick up a copy of “Tramway to the Point, The Winnipeg Hydro Tramway 1907 to 1996”, by Peter Lacey available at the local Lac du Bonnet Museum.