Vantage Points Flashback - The Mrs At Dand
Please scroll to the bottom of this story to hear the audio recording, voiced by local historian, David Neufeld.
Welcome to another Vantage Points Flashback where we highlight personalities, places and opportunities in history – the substance that shapes us as a region. Thank-you - municipal councils of Southwest Manitoba and Manitoba Heritage for supporting our work.
The Mrs. At Dand
It's no longer acceptable, I hear, to ask a stranger – “So where do you come from?” With Mrs. Weightman, it was hard to resist.
You see, she packed her china and three teenagers and left the mountains of Scotland - back in 1882 - and landed up on a quarter section of prairie near Dand – between Deloraine and Hartney. They were quite a sight creaking and bumping along the Yellow Quill Trail south of Brandon, with everything they might need to set up out there someplace; horses, plow, stove, a cow, tent.
I was going southwesterly, so I sidled up alongside, and asked the question.”Edinburgh” she started. But went on, describing their entire journey – crowded, sickening, ocean voyage, overland to Lake Huron, by steamer to Duluth and by rail to Brandon.
They were looking frazzled - but keen to talk. Scotland has a few wealthy owners, they offered, and far too many folks looking for work. Small farmers had been forced off the land in favour of large-scale sheep farms. They had seen a poster promising land in Manitoba.
‘Only gentlemen and widows with dependents need apply,’ it said. Well, that worked out just fine, they thought.
So, they took what Mr. Weightman (rest his soul) had squirreled away and set out. Yep. Seemed crazy to me too.
I told them to boot it to the Land Titles Office south of Deloraine. Folks were streaming in from Ontario and the northern states. Land was going fast.
The boys took off on their surprised but eager horses.
Mrs. Weightman? She kept on as fast as the cow and swollen creeks would let her. I doubt she had done much roughing in her day, but, she proved a capable adventurer. I kept close to offer help now and again. She likely would have managed without me. But it was a thrill to see them all together a few days later.
Relieved, bedazzled really. They unpacked the teacups and celebrated their grass and star covered home.
I passed by again a few years later. The boys had become good farmers - and adequate builders. Apparently that first year their temporary sod home was just barely closed when an early blizzard blew in. That sobered their enthusiasm!
And the Mrs? How was she doing? Well, she got her wood framed house. And, being so close to the trail, she had turned it into a Stopping House - what you'd call a bed and breakfast, with dinner and keep for the horses thrown in. Every evening she served up home grown food and lively conversation.
Every stranger has a story, and in those heady days, every local loved to ask - “So what brought you to this stretch of God's creation?”
I adapted ‘The Mrs at Dand’ from a story written for Vantage Points 4.
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See ya’ later!
Turtle Mountain-Souris Plains Heritage Association