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.