Updated: Feb 5
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: Montavista. 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 of Suthwyn was a well-populated community by the early 1880s and first appears on the Manitoba map in 1889 (image below). It was a farming community whose residents were of English or Scottish descent. The community was located east of Winnipeg and occupied a large district southeast of Transcona. According to our current research, the community of Suthwyn was bound by the present-day Kildare Ave. E / Corbett Rd 61N, Pineridge Rd 24E, Centre Line Rd 57N / Navin Rd., and Murdoch Rd / Redonda St. (as illustrated on the interactive map below).
The name "Suthwyn" was selected in 1887 when Donald Sutherland sought to establish a post office in his home, to be called "Sutherland". As there was a post office by that name in Saskatchewan, Post Office officials changed it to Suthwyn, made up of the first four letters of his name plus -wyn (no significance).
Suthwyn School No. 530
The Suthwyn school district was organized in 1887 and a new schoolhouse was built the following year. The new Suthwyn School was a blessing for many families in the area, as their children had previously walked across fields and swamps to the Montavista School No. 39. The one-room schoolhouse was located on the east corner of SW 35-10-4E. The first teacher appointed was Phoebe Collins and her class consisted of 9 students.
By 1920 the schoolhouse was in desperate need of repair; the building was later condemned. Arrangements were made for the students to attend Springfield School No. 1569 for two years. In 1924, the Suthwyn schoolhouse was repaired and reopened.
In 1934, a decision was made to build a new and larger schoolhouse on the original site. The new building even had a full-size basement. When it was completed, a reunion of former pupils and teachers was arranged.
Suthwyn School and property was later expropriated in 1960 for the purpose of constructing the Red River Floodway. The schoolhouse was resold twice that year. A third buyer, G. Socha, moved the building to Copeland St. in South Transcona. The Teacherage - built in 1953 next to the school - was sold and moved to Lake Winnipeg for a summer cottage.
Suthwyn Post Office
The post office opened in 1887 on Sec. 2-11-4E, property owned by Donald Sutherland. Operated out of Donald Sutherland's home, he would also serve as the postmaster for Suthwyn until his resignation in 1892. The post office was then moved to NE 34-10-4E into the home of Peter K. Dickson, where it remained until 1900. From 1906 to 1907 the post office was kept in the home of A. MacIntyre until her resignation. The Suthwyn Post Office was close officially in March 1909. No vestige of the former post office buildings remains at these sites.
Suthwyn Presbyterian Church / Transcona Cemetery
During the summer of 1900, Peter K. Dickson donated a 1-acre section of his property on the northeast corner of 34-10-4E for the future site of the Suthwyn Presbyterian Church. The church that was built on the site was a "stately building of solid brick with a sixty-foot tower over the front entrance". It was officially opened in December 1900.
By 1912 the church membership rapidly dwindled, most likely due to the establishment of the Canadian National Railway Shops and later, the Town of Transcona. Services in the church were discontinued in 1916. The once-beautiful brick building was sold to Transcona and stood empty until 1932.
In March 1914, the Town of Transcona purchased 38.9 acres of land in the SE corner of the townsite, with the exception of the 1-acre property on which the Suthwyn Presbyterian Church stood. The town council planned to use the property surrounding the church as a cemetery, and in July of that year, the Transcona Cemetery was opened.
In 1932, it was decided that the Suthwyn Presbyterian Church would be dismantled. The church's bricks were used by W.A. Girling to construct a Mortuary in the Transcona Cemetery - a structure that still stands to this day.
In 1900, Remi Claeys and his wife emigrated from Belgium and later purchased three acres on section 3-11-4E around 1907. Mr. Claeys also purchased a small milk route from his neighbour Pete Shewchuk called "Suthwyn Dairy". In time, Mr. Claeys built-up the business to 200 daily customers.
The Suthwyn Better Times Club
The Suthwyn Better Times Club was established in 1931. Every Friday night at the Suthwyn schoolhouse, the Club organized a variety of social evenings including dances, pie socials, box socials, whilst drives, and costume parties. In winter, when the country roads were blocked, attendance was at its height. An "apple box" - operated by the Peterson Brothers - was often used to deliver people to and from the social festivities (image below).
In 1934, a new Suthwyn schoolhouse was completed and the old building was purchased by the Club. The building was moved to the northeast corner of SE 35-10-4E, property owned by Perry Van Slyck. Over the next few years, the Club flourished and played a large part in developing a community spirit in Suthwyn.
An "open air" dance floor was later constructed, but attendance slowly diminished as many individuals left the community to seek more job opportunities. The clubhouse remained vacant until 1937 when Fred Van Slyck purchased the building. He moved it a 1/2 mile south where he remodelled the building several times.
Springfield Pioneer House, Historic Sites of Manitoba
Located in present-day Dugald, this two-story frame house was originally located in Suthwyn on the SE corner of 35-10-4E. It was built in 1886 by Tobias Collins, who would also help to build the Suthwyn schoolhouse and later served as a trustee. In 1900, Perry Van Slyck and his wife Edith (Valleau) purchased the house and property from Mr. Collins. The Van Slyck Family lived in the house until 1945. The house was eventually restored, donated, and moved to its present site by Fred and Wyn Van Slyck in 1984.
Very little land changed hands in the Suthwyn community until 1907 when the survey for the Grand Trunk Railway and the site for the Town of Transcona went through. Many farms located in the area were later purchased and subdivided into town lots. Some properties were bought and sold many times by speculators. Finally, when Transcona's boundaries were established the outlying lots reverted back to farmland.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the construction of both the Red River Floodway and the Perimeter Hwy cut the Suthwyn district in half, blocking every mile road with the exception of Dugald Rd. where the floodway is bridged. This completely removed some of the original homesteads, as well as the site of Suthwyn School.
Suthwyn last appears on the Manitoba map in 1909, as well as - quite curiously - a Canadian Pacific railway point called "Suthwyn". This railway point would be renamed in 1911.
Interactive Map of Suthwyn
Do you have stories and/or information on the community of Suthwyn? 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: North Transcona
Dugald Women's Institute, Springfield: 1st Rural Municipality in Manitoba, 1873-1973 (Altona: D. W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., 1974), 399-421.
George Leslie Greengrass Fonds, Transcona Museum Archives.
"Historic Sites of Manitoba: Springfield Pioneer House (Dugald, RM of Springfield)", Manitoba Historical Society, accessed 9 June 2017.
"Historic Sites of Manitoba: Springfield School No. 1569 (1110 Copeland Street, Winnipeg)", Manitoba Historical Society, accessed 9 June 2017.
Louise Page Fonds, Transcona Museum Archives.
Manitoba Geographical Names Program, Geographical Names of Manitoba (Manitoba Conservation: Winnipeg, 2000), 267.
"Map 307: George F. Cram. Manitoba. Chicago: George F. Cram, 1889?", Peel's Prairie Provinces, accessed 7 June 2017.
"Map 498: Railway Lands Branch, Department of the Interior; White, James; Young, R. E.. Map of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta: Special edition showing lands finally disposed of. Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1909", Peel's Prairie Provinces, accessed 9 June 2017.
"Post Offices and Postmasters", Library and Archives Canada, accessed 9 June 2017.
Transcona Board of Trade Historical Booklet Committee, Transcona Silver Jubilee 1911-1936: June 22-27, 1936 (Winnipeg, 1936), 78.
Winnifred Van Slyck Fonds, Transcona Museum Archives.