Crow Wing Trail Connections: Mennonite Landing and Hespeler Park

This past fall, we were fortunate that Ernest Braun and Glen Klassen (authors of the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve) agreed to spend a Saturday driving around to different historic sites with us.

We stopped at the Mennonite Landing. Here you can see there is a sign behind Andrew and Glen:

You need to see what’s on the other side of the sign!

It’s a pretty detailed historical map, illustrating where the Crow Wing Trail had been, the ridge line (which, in the spring, was the only path that could be followed as it was last to covered by water), and the history of the area. It’s fascinating, and well worth spending some time reading it carefully.

I’ve written before about the Crow Wing Trail, after having visited its location at the St. Pierre Museum.

On still a different day, on a different outing, we noticed another sign for the Crow Wing Trail… this time in Niverville, at Hespeler Park:

There are all kinds of things on this sign! Here’s what it says:

Discover the Crow Wing Trail

Typical immigration sheds, c. 1880

Visitors are welcomed to the original landing site

First landing site memorial

Immigration Sheds

When the Mennonite families arrived from Russia in 1874 they had travelled halfway across the world to their new home. It was a long and difficult journey, particularly hard on the children. The last leg of the journey was down the Red River by steamboat. They landed at the junction of the Rat and Red rivers and walked east across the virgin land set aside for them on the East Reserve.

Barracks called immigration sheds wold become common in Manitoba. They were used to accommodate the masses of people coming to the Prairies. One of the first immigration sheds built was for the Mennonites arriving at the East Reserve. Just a few kilometres southeast of here was the location of those sheds, in the middle of a farm field today. The following year immigration sheds were established at Fort Dufferin, which you pass on the Trans Canada Trail. Fort Dufferin was the landing site for the Mennonites on their way to the West Reserve.

I found the above sign a little confusing because it’s mostly about Mennonites. You’ll notice the write-up for the Crow Wing Trail in St. Pierre is not. I was under the impression the Crow Wing Trail was created by and used by Metis and their Red River Ox Carts. But I’m having some trouble finding sites that talk about that.

I notice on the official Crow Wing Trail website, there is mention of a heritage guide. However, clicking the link yields nothing at the moment. I shall return! To both the trail, and the website, another time!