Whitewater Store, Lake and Concert

The distance from La Riviere’s to the Land Office is about thirty-five miles, but a good stopping place is kept about eight miles east of the office by Tregent & Beck, proprietors of the

Whitewater Store.i

It was our intention to have gone through to the Land Office that day, but the clouds began to lower, threatening a storm, and at the suggestion of Mr. O’Brien, we turned off for the stopping place a little to the north of the trail. However, before reaching the store we were caught in the thunderstorm and received a thorough soaking before gaining its friendly shelter. However, once we got under the roof of Beck’s hospitable “mansion”, a change came over our dampened spirits for it took but a short time to discover we had struck first rate quarters.ii In a short time a good meal was placed before us and we did it ample justice, our host rallying us once in a while on the delicacy of our appetites!

After lunch the storm cleared off enabling us to take a stroll around. From the store there is a splendid view of

Whitewater Lake,iii

a body of water about thirteen miles in length and from three to five miles in width. The land around it is a beautiful rolling prairie entirely destitute of timber except for a few scattered groves of oak trees growing here and there on some point or bend of the numerous coulees. Springs in the Mountain feed the streams, which flow clear and bright down these coulees to the lake.

If choice of locality were left to our individual preference, of all the land so far visited, this district would be our choice. Distant some three or four miles from the thick growth of timber on the Turtle, there would never be a scarcity of fuel or a want of logs for building purposes. Besides this, the Turtle Mountain district boasts of the best of water. Here, with almost every acre on a farm ready for cultivation, what more could a settler desire that could not be given to him in the district surrounding this beautiful lake?

In the center of the lake is an island covered with timber, primarily poplar and maple according to Mr. Beck. He also informs us that the lake, in contrast to all the lakes found in the Turtle Mountain district, was entirely without fish. This, he believes, is due to the fact that the lake is so shallow that it freezes solid in every unusually severe winter, killing the fish ……………. found their way into it from the numerous mountain streams and lakes.

The store, which seems to be the general rendezvous for the settlers around, is owned by Mr. L. O. Armstrong of Emerson, Messrs. Tregent & Beck occupying it at present until their own store close by, and currently under construction, is finished. Goods are sold at the Whitewater Store at nothing but the bare price of freight added to the cost of the articles. Farm implements are also kept on hand. The store is doing a good general business with one of the proprietors, Mr. Tregent, being constantly employed freighting on the road. In this establishment old smokers can here get their Myrtle Navy Cut tobacco for 25 cents a plug, the same as in West Lynne. Flour is $4.50 per sack; plows $5.00 more than in West Lynne and other articles sell at comparative prices.

In the evening a pleasant time was spent after our company was joined by the Messrs. Sankey, two young men farming on the land adjoining.iv For the sake of more sociability they were boarding with the freedom of bachelors together at the store with Messrs. Tregent & Beck, and they do things well together. Hardworking fellows all four, they still endeavour, and succeed, in knocking out considerable fun from their pioneer life. We earnestly hope and believe that their efforts will be crowned with success.

An impromptu

Concert at Whitewater,

not an uncommon occurrence, was begun. Beck with a cullender covered with the tanned skin of some animal tightly braced down, in regular kettle drum style, was immensely entertaining. With two carved sticks of his own whittling, he showed himself to perfection in giving us the “roll”. R. Sankey, with the cornet, showed himself familiar with the instrument and the well-known strains of the march of the “Queen’s Own” of Toronto was well rendered. However, it was his brother, H. Sankey, who carried off the honours as a vocalist. Song after song was rendered in fine style as he kept time on an instrument new to the musical fraternity but well known to mechanics as the “square”, (the triangle was nowhere to be seen.) The most popular song of the evening was given by friend Beck, in a comical manner particularly his own, and was an original production called

“The Rambling Rake of Saskatchewan”.

Not want of space, but copyright prevents us from giving it here in full, however, if we can we will produce it on some future occasion.

i

. (40). WHITEWATER 4-3-21w, Morton Municipality. In July 1880 Rev. Armstrong secured land along the BOILER TRAIL and built a house. The following year he put up a store and stopping house at the ford of this trail through Waubeesh Creek and surveyed the adjoining property for the townsite of Whitewater. In 1882 the TURTLE MOUNTAIN CITY post office opened in this townsite. A rival townsite by the name of WAUBEESH, just a half mile to the north, was the property of Mr. John A. Brondgeest.

The Turtle Mountain district is still progressing, settlers still coming in and stores being started. The last store is by Messrs. Tregent and Beck, two enterprising business men who have come with a large stock of well selected goods. The settlers are taking advantage of the number of stores here and are buying goods very cheap. If they keep on starting stores at this rate there will soon be one for every settler, or, at least, the settlers here will be well supplied with goods at very low price. The prospects seem very fair in this part of the country.

– A Settler, Whitewater Lake,

Section 33-2-21, 11 February 1881

The Emerson International, 7 April 1881

An article in the Manitoba Free Press of 22 June 1881 shares the following information:

There are now five stores in the Turtle Mountain District so settlers are provided with goods at reasonable prices and nearly all who have come to locate are satisfied to buy all of their goods here rather than return to the city for them. Tregent & Beck of the embryo town seem to be doing the largest business and they deserve support for they have started on business principles and are now keeping for sale all classes of goods, even to implements, furniture and many other goods foreign to an ordinary country store. They also have a herd of cows and oxen for sale.

Many of your readers may not know just where the new village of Whitewater is, so I will endeavour to picture its position. It is situated on a height of land in Range 21, Township 3, nearly two and a half miles south of the woods on Turtle Mountain and about the same distance north of the lake from which it takes its name. Whitewater Lake is a shallow sheet of water 12 miles long by 7 miles wide running in a N.E. to S.W. direction from here and having a beautiful well wooded island in the middle of it. The view from this embryo town is consequently charming, especially on a fine summer’s day when, it is said by some, the Souris, 35 miles distant, may be seen. The country immediately surrounding is rolling prairie with plenty of coulees and streams. Game of all kind from moose, elk and other large animals to the smallest birds are plentiful as yet.

The above paragraphs, introduced by “Since my arrival here I feel that great improvements have been made during my short absence of about three weeks”, may have been penned by Mr. L. O. Armstrong, the owner of the townsite. The store occupied by Tregent and Beck may have been the “house overlooking Whitewater Lake” which Rev. Armstrong had erected the previous fall.

The Sankey brothers, Edward M.C., And Charles A., were members of another party of English settlers that Rev. Armstrong brought to the Turtle Mountain Country. Their entries for land in this district were in January 1881. In this district they are recalled as prominent members of the “the British Settlement” which centered around the Lovell homestead on 32-2-21. In View of Turtle Hill notes that it included 3 couples with families, 3 couples without families and 15 bachelors.

Mr. Luke Sharp, in an article in the 25 August 1881 edition of the Manitoba Free Press, notes the recent change of the name of this location from Whitewater to Turtle Mountain City. “I noticed one decided improvement as regards to the trails here, which have been straightened, picketed and bridges built on coulees between Milford and the Land Office, most of this work being done by the enterprizing settlers of Turtle Mountain. It seems late in the day to rechristen this place from Whitewater to the above name, but it has been done with the consideration and due consideration and careful argument.”

TURTLE MOUNTAIN CITY

Whitewater Lake

This is the banner town of the far famed Turtle Mountain Country, and is the business centre of the best settlement in the Great North-West

Being on the lines of the Manitoba Southwestern Railroad and the Syndicate Southwestern Branch, it will be a competing point for these railroads, and merchants and investors should secure lots there as soon as they are placed upon the market.

Sec. 3, Tp. 3, Range 21 W.

Sec. 32, ” 2, ” “

Turtle Mountain City is most favourably situated, having to the south the only lumbering district in Southern Manitoba, and to the east and west, immense stretches of the most magnificent prairie in the world.

Turtle Mountain City lots will shortly be placed upon the market for the first time.

Intending purchasers should apply to

A.W. Tregent & Bro.’s, General Store

C.L. Hanson & Co’s, ” “

Turtle Mountain City

or the Winnipeg Agents

J.F. RUTTAN & CO.

Real Estate Agents

Main Street, 3 doors south of the Post Office, Winnipeg

Manitoba Free Press, 24 December 1881

ii

. Mr. Beck apparently did not file for a homestead or purchase any land in the district and his first name is unknown. His partner, Alexander N. Tregent, was the original claimant for se 4-3-21, the land on which the Whitewater store was located.

iii

. The name “Whitewater Lake” is believed to be a translation of its original Indian name. On some of the original township survey maps, its name appears as “White Lake.” Its main feeder, Turtle Head Creek, is also known as Whitewater Coulee. According to local tradition this stream receiving its name not from the lake, but rather from the brand name of the wagons used by the Boundary Commission. These were said to have been constructed in Whitewater, Walworth County, Minnesota, and therefore called Whitewater wagons.

iv

. In Norman E. Wright’s 1951 publication In View of Turtle Hill: A Survey of the History of Southern Manitoba to 1900, Chapter 6, page 41, mention is made of Charles and E.M.C. Sankey. In footnote no. 57, reference is made to an unpublished manuscript in the legislative library entitled – The British Settlement by Mr. Charles Sankey. Unfortunately this manuscript is no longer to be found in this collection.

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