Updated: Nov 27, 2020
The community of Transcona has not been around forever - only 105 years in fact. Before Transcona was even a dot on the map, other communities and villages existed in the Springfield area with their own histories and identities. You may even know some of them by name. Time and circumstance are not always kind to these settler communities, and only small vestiges of them remain today - if you know where to look. Join us as we remember the communities that time forgot.
The settlement that was Montavista was established sometime in the 1870s, and first appears on the Manitoba map in 1889 (image below). It was located east of Winnipeg in what is now-North Transcona. The hub of the community seems to have been centred around Sec. 9-11-4E - the area that is bound by the present-day Gunn Rd., Redonda St., Kildare Ave. E., and Day St. The name would appear to be from the Latin meaning mountain view. The settlement was perhaps so named because Birds Hill was visible to the northwest.
There were two structures that defined the settlement: the Montavista School No. 39 and the Montavista Post Office.
Montavista School No. 39
Montavista School was so-called because of its closeness to the post office, although it was registered as the "South Springfield School" in 1879 at the first public school meeting. The original schoolhouse was located near Robert Gunn's home on SW 9-11-4E and was privately owned. The building was rented to the South Springfield School District by Mr. Gunn. In January 1880, there was an enrollment of 17 boys and 8 girls.
In 1882, the school building was purchased from Robert Gunn and moved to the northwest corner of NE 9-11-4E on property owned by Jeremiah Gunn, near where the Beach track crosses Gunn Rd. A new school was built in 1893 by McCormick Bros. on the northeast corner of NE 8-11-4E (near the junction of Gunn Rd. and Day St.) and the old building was sold. By 1910 the school was incorporated into the newly formed Transcona School District.
The first teacher appointed was Maggie Patterson, an Ontario native, in 1879. The last teacher to have charge was Miss M. Hammond, who together with some 30 students were transferred to Central School in January 1935.
No vestige of the former school building remains here today. The Transcona Museum does have a model of Montavista School No. 39 in its collections (pictured above).
Montavista Post Office
The post office opened in 1888 on SW 9-11-4E, property owned by Robert Gunn as early as 1878. Operated out of Robert Gunn's home, he would also serve as the postmaster for Montavista until his resignation in 1897. The post office was close officially in April 1898.
No vestige of the former post office building remains at the site.
Montavista Football Team
In the 16 March 1896 edition of the former Daily Nor'Wester, an article appears detailing the successful match wins of the Montavista football team against the North Springfield and Dugald teams. Members of the team included:
Harry and A.H. Matheson
Frank and Harold Patterson
John and Billy Colbert
P.H. Harris (teacher)
According to the article, the "young men of Montavista are preparing to organize a football team and when organized will be open to play all comers." No other mention of the football team could be found.
In another edition of the Daily Nor'Wester (3 February 1898), an advertisement for an evening concert to be held in Montavista was annouced. The article stated: "Messrs. John Wylie, Jackson Hanby and other well known Winnipeg vocalists will give a concert in the Montavista school house at Springfield". This event was held under the auspices of the United Order of Scotchmen.
The settlement of Montavista disappears from the historical records around 1900. It last appears on the Manitoba map in 1903 (image below). By 1907 the survey for Transcona was complete and in the following year, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway broke ground at the Transcona Shops. What remained of Montavista would later be absorbed into the new community of Transcona.
Interactive Map of Montavista
Do you have stories and/or information on the community of Montavista? If so, please leave a comment or contact the Transcona Museum, as we would love to hear them!
Next time on Communities that Time Forgot: Suthwyn
"Daily Nor'Wester -- February 3, 1898", Manitobia: Digital Resources on Manitoba History, accessed 7 June 2017.
"Daily Nor'Wester, 1896-03-16 (Page 4)", University of Manitoba Digital Collections, accessed 7 June 2017.
Dugald Women's Institute, Springfield: 1st Rural Municipality in Manitoba, 1873-1973 (Altona: D. W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., 1974), 265-66.
"Canadian Post Office Publications", Library and Archives Canada, accessed 7 June 2017.
Manitoba Geographical Names Program, Geographical Names of Manitoba (Manitoba Conservation: Winnipeg, 2000), 180.
"Map 306: George F. Cram. Manitoba. Chicago: George F. Cram, 1903", Peel's Prairie Provinces, accessed 7 June 2017.
"Map 307: George F. Cram. Manitoba. Chicago: George F. Cram, 1889?", Peel's Prairie Provinces, accessed 7 June 2017.
Nan Shipley, From Slate to Computer in the Transcona-Springfield Area 1873-1983 (Winnipeg: Premier Printing Ltd., 1983), 21-24.
"Post Offices and Postmasters", Library and Archives Canada, accessed 7 June 2017.
Transcona Museum Collections.