Matheson Grist Mill & Mennonite Settlers of Winnipeg

It was a pretty cold November day and I was stupidly underdressed, and therefore a pretty whiny companion for Andrew, as he endeavoured to show me some historical sites in Winnipeg. This explains my displeased, hunched countenance in the photo.

I’m not sure if this spot has an actual name, but it’s on Henderson Highway by Edison. Just a tiny little parkish-area with two markers at the site. The first is the cairn/plaque on the feature photo, which says, “1928-1978 In commemoration of the 50th jubilee of the Mennonite settlers in North Kildoanan. WE CAME. WE TOILED. GOD BLESSED. The anniversary committee June 1978.”

I’ve seen versions of that plaque around. For example, there’s one at the fountain at Bethesda Hospital in Steinbach.

It’s been 42 years since that plaque was created, and I find it pretty cringe-inducing; this notion of proclaiming God to be in the business of blessing the toil of folks who have settled on land that was taken from another people group. Also, not everyone enjoyed such a “blessed” existence either. I find it all to be more than a little problematic.

That having been said, I’m clearly quite content to live ’round here. Because I’m clearly not moving away. (Though I really had nothing to do with the Kildoanan Mennos per se.)

In the same tiny park-like spot, you’ll find these commemorative stones:

“These millstones were originally used in the Matheson Grist Mill built after 1850 on McLeod Creek. The millstones were powered by the creek and were used to grind grain into flour with the intricate patterns located on the underside of the granite stones. The Matheson Grist Mill was originally located on McLeod Creek (also known as Water Mill Creek) just south of what later became McLeod Avenue on the east side of Henderson Highway. The facility served farmers in the region for many years including the Red River settlers and their descendants.”

Someone once told me that many of Winnipeg’s thoroughfares had once been brooks and creeks and whatnot. I don’t really understand how the city managed to transform waterways into streets, but anyhow, I suspect this is not the only historical watermill site in Winnipeg. I will find more.