The Rural Municipality of Cartier is named after Sir George Etienne Cartier. Sir George was born in 1814. He played a leading role in the union of the British North America provinces prior to 1867. Because of his efforts, Quebec was persuaded to join the Canadian federation. Sir George Cartier was born in St. Antoine, Lower Canada. As a young man he took part in the Papineau Rebellion, fled to the U.S.A., was later pardoned and consequently was elected to the Lower Canadian Legislature in 1848, where he became the leader to the (Conservatives) French Canadian "Bleus". From 1858-1862, Cartier served as joint Prime Minister of Canada with John A Macdonald.
After Confederation in 1867, Cartier served as Minister of Militia in the first federal government of the Dominion from 1867 to 1872. He was knighted for his efforts toward confederation. He died in 1873.
The Beginning of the Cartier Municipality
The Cartier municipality was once a part of the R.M. of St. Francois Xavier. In August of 1913, a motion was passed by the Council of St. Francois Xavier to divide the municipality along the lines of the Assiniboine River and create two separate municipalities. Cartier was incorporated as a Rural Municipality on February 21, 1914.
In 1914, the Municipality established six wards, an office in Elie and Mr. F. R. LaFleche as Reeve. In the 100 years since its inception, there has only been 13 different Reeves. At present the Municipality has five wards and still maintains an office in Elie.
How Elie Began
Elie began in 1890 as a flag stop for the C.N. Railway. Originally known as "De Tank" because of the large water tank used to fill the steam engines, the area did not receive its’ official name until August 1, 1898 when the first post office was established. In the meantime the area was called a variety of names including "De Tank”, "Patenaude" (after a Hudson’s Bay Land Agent), as well as "Dufresne” after Elie Dufresne who developed the town’s first church, convent, and school. Because there was a location East of Winnipeg already known as Dufresne, this caused some confusion so Elie was chosen as the town’s official name.
The town remains as one of the central hubs of the Municipality today. Besides the municipal office, there is a school, church, recreation facilities, financial institute, businesses and a strong residential base in the town.
Fun fact: Some records attribute the town’s name to Elie Chamberlain, a merchant of the times, but most attribute the name to Elie Dufresne whose ancestors still live in Elie today.
Right Side: Elie Dufresne
Earl (Bud) Fossay
Clarence Brown Franklin
J. Ludger Picard
Lido Plage Whitehorse
Gideon Des Lauriers
Charles A. Fossay
Charles H. Jarvis
Clarence B. Franklin
Ward 3 - Discontinued 1997
St. Eustache Poplar Point
Christa Vann Mitchell
How St. Eustache Began
The settlement/parish now known as St. Eustache began in the early 1800’s on the North side of the Assiniboine River in the Baie St. Paul area where Highways 26 and 248 meet. Early flooding conditions justified the move to the south side of the river in 1852/53 where the town stands today.
The Catholic Church was the centre of the community in those early days, so much so, that after the community moved south, the church was moved piece by piece across the river, through marsh land, and mud bogs, to be reassembled in the new town site. By 1904 that original church was replaced by the one that remains today. The church also received bells from France in 1924 which have been designated a historical monument.
Early settlers were of French and Metis descent although today the population is very diverse. The community hosts a Catholic Church, French Immersion School, year round recreation facility, businesses, and senior housing.
Fun fact: St. Eustache is the patron saint of hunters and this name was chosen as a tribute to the Metis families that made up a large part of the community.
Right Side: St. Eustache Church with Bells
St. Eustache Church Manitoba Historical Society
How Springstein Began
In 1898, Alonzo Springstein, an American immigrant of Dutch descent, purchased 1,950 acres of virgin prairie land which included the area which became the town of Springstein. He was instrumental in developing the community, breaking and planting the land, initiating the C.P.R. siding and establishing a post office. After Mr. Springstein’s sudden & untimely death in 1902 the land remained in limbo until 1911 when F.A. Bean Properties of Minneapolis purchased it and contracted 10 Mennonite immigrant families from Russia to work the farmland in 1924. Through the hard work of the Mennonite pioneers, low lying swamp land was turned into fertile farmland. Mennonite pioneer John Martens, was instrumental in establishing the school and church, as well as planting trees along what would later become streets.
Today the church still stands but the school and post office have disappeared. The town is still surrounded by farmland and, although many Mennonite families remain in the area, the community is made up of people with diverse ethnic heritages.
Fun fact: The land in the Springstein area used to be so low and swampy that people were able to canoe all the way from Headingly to Starbuck!
Right Side: Springstein School in 1926
Lido Plage in the Beginning
Nestled alongside the Assiniboine River west of Headingley and south of the TransCanada highway, the area now known as Lido Plage has undergone many transformations over the last 100 years. It began as a race track in the early 1900’s featuring sulky races. From 1906-1931 the area was used as a gated horse pasture that doubled as picnic grounds (for a 25 cent fee to open the gate!).
In 1931 the area was developed into a resort area with beautiful beach, trees, small store and gas pump. It was at this time the official name of Lido Plage was bestowed; Lido for a town in France and Plage meaning beach. The area proved to be incredibly popular and a dance hall with live music, restaurant, picnic areas, outdoor entertainment venues, and cabins were developed and enjoyed until the early 70’s. In the 80’s the area was developed into a rural residential community.
Today Lido Plage remains a tranquil residential community where a rural lifestyle can be enjoyed in close proximity to the city.
Fun fact: Lido Plage held an annual "Old Timers & Pioneers Picnic” that raised money in support of the Canadian Red Cross (beginning in 1939) for almost 30 years. Some of the favorite contests were Red River Jigging, Old Time Fiddling and Square Dancing!
Right Side: Lido Plage Beach 1932
Like many of the communities in the R.M. of Cartier, Dacotah was settled by hard-working pioneers determined to carve out a life for themselves from the wide-open prairie. And like many of those communities, the first pioneers settled in Dacotah many years before the R.M. of Cartier was incorporated. The Winslow Family settled in the yet-to-be-named area in 1899, and donated land to the railroad for the rail siding which was built in 1904. Because the Winslow’s had donated the land, C.N. bestowed the honor of its naming to Mrs. Winslow. She named it after the Dacotah Tribe of Native Americans from her home state of North Dakota. Over the twelve years that the Winslow Family was in Dacotah, Mr. Winslow was instrumental in developing drainage, roads, a school district, bringing in telephones, and a grocery store.The Qually Family and Broten Family also emigrated from the United States to Dacotah in 1899. These pioneers of Norwegian descent founded a large Company Farm, helped to found the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and start a Baseball Club. In the 114 years since their arrival, many descendants of the Qually and Broten Families have remained in the area and contributed to the vibrancy of their community.
This small railway siding community named Dacotah once had its own school, hardware store, grocery store, post office and grain elevator. Today this small settlement just south of the TransCanada Highway, midway between Elie and St. Francois Xavier, is a residential hamlet surrounded by fertile farmland and beautiful prairie skies.
Fun fact: The Dacotah hardware store has been partially restored as a museum and is designated a historical building.
Right Side: Qually Brothers Store - Historic Site
Colonies in Cartier
The Hutterian Brethren communities have their origins way back in Europe in the 1500's and follow the basic tenets of Hutterian beliefs including a belief in the separation of church and state, communal living, communal ownership of property, nonviolence and opposition to war, and adult baptism. Also, Hutterites have retained the dress, customs, language, and simple unadorned lifestyle of their ancestors. During the 1870's this communal group of people immigrated to the United States to escape military conscription, loss of their own schools and religious persecution.
They faced these same challenges at the beginning of World War I and in 1918 the Brethren decided to migrate from the Dakotas to Manitoba and Alberta where the Canadian government granted Hutterites freedom of worship and freedom from military service in exchange for developing the land. James Valley, Milltown, Rosedale, Maxwell, and Huron Colonies are these oldest colonies, established in 1918. Iberville Colony (1919) and Barickman Colony (1920) were soon to follow, with Waldheim Colony (1934), Poplar Point Colony (1938), and Lakeside Colony (1946) being established later. Starlite Colony was the last to be established in the Municipality in 1991. The RM of Cartier is now home to 11 colonies, and while the colonies are still predominately agriculturally based, some have also diversified their economics in such areas as metal-working, granite works, homebuilding, and cabinetry.
Fun fact: Approximately half of those first colonies that came to Canada settled right here in the RM of Cartier!
Right Side: Maxwell Colony Boys - John Wipf, Mike Hofer, Sam Wipf - 1935
A Railway Tale
In the beginning, the railway was a vital artery for the development of rural areas in Manitoba. It was the only certain means of transportation of goods and people to and from Winnipeg.
The first railway through Cartier was the Northern Pacific and it offered the first passenger service September 1, 1889. The stop was a flag stop where a water tank was built on the east bank of the LaSalle River. The stop was nicknamed "de Tank”, but became known as Patenaude, and eventually the community of Elie grew around it.
By 1901 the government took over the rail line of the Northern Pacific Railway and transferred these lines to the Canadian Northern Railway. The Grand Trunk Pacific rail line was opened for service through Cartier in 1909 and ran a ½ mile north of the Northern Pacific line. The increased competition and number of rail lines caused numerous failures of rail companies and so around 1918 the government took over the many lines and in 1919 an Act was passed creating a new railway company owned by the people of Canada, thus creating the Canadian National (CN) Railway.
The CN Rail service continues to operate through the Cartier area today. The Grand Trunk Pacific line was abandoned after WW II and part of this line eventually became the base section of the Trans-Canada Highway when it became a divided highway.
Very recently, CN presented the village of Elie a grant in their Ecoconnexions program. With this money, the municipality was able to plant new, healthy trees that will help with noise abatement and beautify the area close to the rail lines in the future. Thanks CN!
Right Side: First Railway Station in Elie on south side of track
Is there a Doctor in the House? Make that the Municipality!
Where there is a community there is always a need for medical services. Providing care for each resident has sometimes been challenging in the past but always a priority. Throughout the history of the RM of Cartier, medical services have been available in some form or another. Here is a brief summary of how our area has tried to provide the medical services required.
Starting back in 1893, the first doctor for the area was hired for $500 per year and spoke up for the community about the requirement for clean water after he noted that much of the illness in the area was related to the small river that ran through the area and its use as the primary drinking water source.
In 1915, just after the incorporation and the creation of the Municipality, Dr. G. L. Marsolais was hired to be the area’s medical health officer. He was instrumental in making sure that the population was vaccinated and during his time, he dealt with a severe scarlet fever outbreak. At the end of WW1 in 1918, Canada was struck with an influenza epidemic that claimed many lives. Schools in the RM of Cartier were closed, and the municipal office had to appoint people to take over and maintain services to the population. Dr. Marsolais’ case load was noted as being "unthinkable”. There were numerous letters of condolence sent out to grieving families from the municipal office. Dr. Marsolais worked within the municipality until 1936.
Council arranged for the care of the tuberculosis patients in the area to go to the Ninette Sanatorium in 1925. During the 1930s the polio epidemic had the Council going on record as being responsible for any extended medical attention required. The local government also hired a Public Health Care nurse in 1942 for the area.
Jumping onward in history, in 1981 Dr. Uma Viswalingam became the resident doctor and set up practice in the old Credit Union building on Main Street in Elie. By 1982, through the joint effort of the then Fire Chief Roger Gillis, the Public Information Officer Murray Lewis and the Health Services Commission of the Province, a group of first responder volunteers was trained and gained certification. An Emergency Response Rescue Van was also purchased with the help of funding by the community clubs, businesses and Hutterite colonies. 1985 saw the opening of a dental office also in the then Medical building.
Dr. L. Johns became the resident doctor in the mid 80’s and helped to institute pharmaceutical services at the clinic. He left in 1988 and the medical practice for the area was taken over by Dr. G.R. Maharaj.
The construction of the present Cartier Medical Centre was completed in 1991. The idea for a new Health Centre was launched in 1989, after it was determined that the space of the existing building was too small and the doctor and dentist occupying the building had to use it on alternate days to accommodate the growing patient population. The present facility is 3551 square feet and was designed space to house a doctor, dentist, and a public health nurse, and was capable of accommodating another health professional. As well, there was a multi use room available for public health related meetings. The official opening took place December 7, 1991.
In 1992 Drs. Lawson and Pass set up dental space in the new building and Manitoba Family Services leased space for their needs. Dr. D. Sokolowski began an agreement as a resident physician through the Medical Internship program offered by the Province and approved by Council.
In 2000 a contracted physician services agreement was made between the Regional Health Authority of Central Manitoba Inc and the Municipality. Dr. J. Malmstrom began practice in 2002 and continued to provide care until 2013. Dr. Girgis opened a practice and walk-in clinic in 2011.
A new dental practice, Elie Dental has opened in the Postal Building in 2013 and a full service pharmacy is located in the Cartier Clinic for all residents to use.
With the closure of both doctors’ practices, a new arrangement made through the Southern Regional Health Authority involves doctors coming to the Elie Cartier Centre from the Portage Clinic. The six doctors maintain their practices in Portage but designate one day of each week to come out to the Cartier Clinic site to provide walk-in and family care. Any resident who wants to maintain their medical relationship with a doctor can now easily do so as the records are available electronically at both the Cartier Medical Centre and the Portage Clinic site.
Cartier’s Hundred Acre Woods
Most Winnie-the-Pooh fans will be familiar with the 100 Aker Wood that is the backdrop for the adventures of Pooh-bear and his friends. BUT, did you realize that The RM of Cartier has its very own Hundred Acre Woods?!
Nestled in a bend of the Assiniboine River just north of the TransCanada Highway, a beautiful treed property, about 100 acres, appeared to be full of potential recreational activity and was developed by a group of Air Canada Pilots in the late 1950's. With three cement-bottom pools, a concession stand, change rooms, an office and ample parking, it became known as Bison Park. Many young children from Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and surrounding area got their start with swimming lessons here. Older teens had an opportunity to acquire a part-time job working and perhaps even a few romances had their start at this fun spot.
After an economic recession, the property fell into bankruptcy. Some of the original owners, along with a few new partners revived the property under the name of Jellystone Park. A large Yogi Bear statue was erected near the new miniature golf area and this new attraction became the backdrop for many a family picture!
In the following years, the lands were expanded to include camping facilities with tents, trailers and motor home sites in the back acres and bicycle trails connecting everything together. Some of the owners at that time were in conjunction with the White Horse Village Trailer Park and the property was named White Horse Campgrounds.
Once again hard economic times, high maintenance costs, short seasons and health and environmental standards caused the closure of the park and a First Nations Band purchased the property. The lands now took on the name of Tansi Resort, a Cree word meaning welcome. Management of the recreational area was undertaken by Walter Adams and his family. The place was quite active once more with swimming and camping but in a reduced capacity. The Park Lodge opened a family dining area, soon becoming well known for its weekend dances and Sunday brunches. In winter The Lodge hosted Christmas office parties and family get-togethers, as well as serving as a popular rest stop for snowmobilers along the Assiniboine River. The basement of the Lodge building was also used by Aerofax who printed an Aboriginal phone directory.
In 1996, the property was purchased by Marquette Homes with the hope of creating a gated 55+ modular home community. Unfortunately, existing regulations did not allow for this housing development to occur and so the lands remain vacant, quietly resting in their majestic beauty awaiting the next piece of history to revive life in the area.
In June 2012 Premier Greg Selinger and representatives of the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Legion were present for the unveiling of Manitoba’s Highway of Heroes. This 180 km of Trans-Canada Highway between Winnipeg and Canadian Forces Base Shiloh is dedicated to those who have served in the Canadian Forces.\
The first Highway of Heroes was designated in 2007 in Ontario between Trenton and Toronto, where large groups of civilians lined up to show support for their troops whenever a killed soldier was returned home to Canadian Forces Base Trenton. Manitoba joins Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia in dedicating such a highway.
Source: Canadian Press