Friday, 5 October 2018

The Manitoba Trails of The Milnes

As a follow up to my last Milne blog post, this one follows my great grandparents' footsteps around the Hargrave/Virden area.  This tour was a highlight for many during the Reunion of the Milnes in the summer of 2018 at Hargrave.  Alex's great grandson Rea Kinnaird capably led the tour of the former farm homes of Alexander and Jeannie.  The numbered red dots on the map below are these locations.  (The stars indicate homes of the next generation of Milnes.) 
  1. In 1904,  Alexander, a 28 year old husband and father of 3 young boys, came alone to Canada from Scotland.  The southwest quarter of 23-10-36 W1  was the first home where he was employed by Mr. Steven. This location is on the service road along the Trans Canada highway just east of Virden.  Alex’s youngest daughter Nan ended up living with her husband Stewart and raising her family very near this spot from 1949 until 1992 when the highway was double laned and their farm yard was needed to make room for the service road.

2.    SW  4-11-27 was the next location where Alex lived for the winter of 1904, looking after cattle belonging to T. A. ( Art) Carscadden.  This secluded spot southwest of Hargrave has an amazing stone house built into the hill. The bedroom loft is accessed by outside stairs up behind the house. Of course, we are not sure that Alex would have lived in that house but it was an incredible thing to find up the hill hidden in the bush!  Rea said this house was built by a man named Bilton in 1904.  Barkley’s were later inhabitants.

The barn pictured below is built into a hill as well to allow grain and feed to be driven into the loft. Being up on that hill reminded Aunt Marjorie about riding her horse Darby up a hill to watch the brightly coloured circus train cars go by on the railway.  Darby is carrying Violet Gardiner and Margaret Kinnaird in the picture below. 

3. The property at red dot #3 is just west of Virden on #257. SW 20-10-26 was home for a five year period from 1905-1910. Jeannie and the boys joined him here from Scotland and Frances and Margaret were born during this time.

4.  NW  26-11-27 was home from 1910 until the family left to take up ranching in BC about 1914. Charlie and Jim were born here. There is no sign of a house or yard there today but we guessed that the knoll or bluff of trees might have been the former house yard. 

5.  The south half of  17-11-26 was their next farm when they returned from the west in 1917.  The picture below was taken at this home at this home.  Notice the plant in the south window of the house and Jeannie in her apron with a basket in her hand.  Alex with the team and dressed up  is ready to go somewhere when they posed for the picture.  Although the lane is north and south now, at one time  there was an east approach to the house that connected the children to the Montgomery school and the family to their community in that direction. It was later the home of Charlie and Bella Gardner and now their great grandson Lyle Kinnaird and his wife Shannon.

6.  The east half of 14-11-27 was purchased in 1924 and was Alex and Jeannie’s final move.  It was farmed by Milne’s until 1959.  The lane up to the house from the main road was east of where it is now. When they lived there, Number One highway was 1 mile north of its present location.  The barn was built in 1947 by their son Alex.  This farm is remembered for its hollyhocks and productive garden.   

Thanks to Rea and Aunt Marge for the encore guided tour for Karen and I later in the summer after the Reunion.  It is easier to imagine what Alex and Jeannie saw in the beautiful Manitoba countryside and why they made it their home. We feel so lucky that they did and that we could walk in their footsteps together. 💓