Whitemouth River Valley Heritage Driving Tour

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Welcome to the Whitemouth River Valley Heritage Driving Tour

Abandoned Home on Juno Road

This scenic winding driving tour takes you through the vibrant communities of Elma, River  Hills, Seven Sisters Falls and Whitemouth. It’s easy to explore, easy on your budget and you’re sure to discover fun at every turn. 

Listen to audio by click the audio icon on the left. 

The Whitemouth River Valley is situated midway between the city of Winnipeg and the town of Kenora. The area stretches over a district of fertile field, winding streams and a hill and dale. The Valley is named after the river which runs through it from south to north, called Whitemouth. The area is a diversified geological beauty mixed with a friendly and courteous community spirit. From the Seven Sisters Hydro Dam, through the rolling valleys of the various falls along the Whitemouth River, prairie grasslands blend with Canadian Shield and forest. It is this location that drew settlers from Europe in the 1800s to the Town of Whitemouth, as the railway building era began making the town into a staging and supply center. One of the first families was that of Dr. Charlotte Whitehead Ross – Manitoba’s first women physician.

After the railway era had quietened, farming such as dairy, grain, hog and poultry became the mainstay of the region. There are over 17 centennial farms in the area, with several still in operation. These farms are a proud lineage and indeed a testament to the hard-working people in the region.  

Manitoba's celebrated history has primarily been told in mainstream media from a settler perspective. We would like to acknowledge that the Whitemouth River Valley Heritage Driving Tour is located on traditional territory of Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene and Metis people. The RM of Whitemouth is located on Treaty 1 and Treaty 3 Territory and the homeland of the Métis Nation. We respect the treaties made on these territories.

Now, let's plan your trip! Visit the How-to information in the drop down box below to learn how to prepare for your driving tour. We recommend you read this information before heading out on your trip. In the drop down menu you will find interactive maps, physical maps, important notes and our audio recording - which you can download before heading out on the road.

A friendly reminder that travels on gravel roads will be required to visit some locations. Please use caution when parking or leaving your vehicle to visit historic sites. To access some sites, you will need to cross roads, highways or train tracks by foot. Please use caution and cross at your own risk. The RM of Whitemouth will not be held liable for any incidents or mis-use. We also ask that you please respect private property and do not trespass on any private property. We hope you enjoy the tour and learn about the history of our community.

How Does the Driving Tour Work?

1) First plan out your route



2) Choose the map that meets your route needs

Physical Map - print off at home and bring with you on the tour. 

Google Map - you can follow along while you drive. This map will lead you from location to location. Simply click to on of the locations on the map to be guided to that location. 

* Printed materials for the driving tour can also be requested from the RM of Whitemouth. Please email us to request a printed copy.


3) Utilize the Driving Tour Audio

Audio recordings for each stop along the tour has been created for you to enjoy while you visit the sites. On each sign, located at all tour sites, you will see a symbol that looks like that located to the right. This symbol is called a QR Code. You can scan the code by opening the camera app on you smartphone or tablet. Simply hold your camera up to the symbol and wait for a link to pop up. Do not take a photo of it, simply just hover over the symbol. Once the link pops up, follow the link and play the recording. One important note is that you will need data (internet) to scan these codes while on the road. You can watch the videos below for assistance on how to scan a QR Code.

How to scan a QR Code with IPhone, IPad, IPod or How to scan a QR Code with an Android Device. 

However, during the tour you will visit various remote locations within the area, where cellphone reception and data can be minimal or non-existent. You may want to download the driving tour audio before leaving home so that you have an optimal listening experience. You can download the full


Playlist


You can also choose to print off all the tour stop information from home, by clicking here

No access to a printer? Printed materials for the driving tour can also be requested from the RM of Whitemouth. Please email us to request a print copy.


4) Fuel up your vehicle and start driving

A friendly reminder that travels on gravel roads will be required to visit some locations and that some locations may not be visible or easily accessible during winter months. 

Should you need fuel while on your trip, the is a fuel station in Seven Sisters Falls 

Please use caution when parking or leaving your vehicle to visit historic sites. To access some sites, you will need to cross roads, highways or train tracks by foot. Please use caution and cross at your own risk. The RM of Whitemouth will not be held liable for any incidents or mis-use. We also ask that you please respect private property and do not trespass on any private property.


5) After the tour, review and share you experience with us


The Whitemouth Municipal Museum

Listen to recorded audio by clicking the audio button on the left.

The Dominion Land Survey refers to Whitemouth as early as 1877, at which time the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) right of way was being surveyed through the area from Winnipeg to Rat Portage (which in 1905 was renamed Kenora). The line was in operation by 1880, with passenger service. The first station was built in 1886, and a second, larger one built in 1923. The CP Railway plays a large role in Whitemouth’s beginnings. 

After the development of the railway, other establishments started to rise in the area. The first post office opened in 1880. The first hotel was built by G.D. Stinson in 1880. The first store or trading post was built by Howard Corregan on the south-east corner of Front Avenue and Main Street in the early 1880s. It became known as “Fort Howard”. (We will learn more about Fort Howard later in the tour). The first school was built in 1881 on Main Street. The first church, which was Presbyterian was built the same year on Front Street. Both were built by David Ross, on land and with materials donated by him. The Rural Municipality of Whitemouth was incorporated in 1905.

The idea of a museum was conceived in 1973 by a group of civic minded people. The museum was opened in August 1974 with one log building donated by Manitoba Natural Resources. The museum's motto was, and still is "Preserve the past for future generations". Numerous buildings have been added over the years. Currently on site, resides a 110-year-old house and a Canadian Pacific Railway caboose, built in 1929. A large steel machinery storage shed was erected in 1979 and a wood artifacts/office building added in 1989. A clay bake oven was built in 1984, where bread and buns are baked each year during the Museum’s annual Heritage Day. The first Heritage Day was held in 1977, and still takes place each second Sunday in September. The event pays tribute to framings early beginnings from threshing to breadmaking. This event makes a fun outing for all.

The Whitemouth Municipal Museum published a very successful history book called "Trails to Rails to Highways" in 1979. The Trails to Rails to Highways book is still available for purchase. The book is $40.00 plus shipping, and you can contact the Museum via email for your very own copy. 

In 1981, the museum was instrumental in the clean-up of the old municipal cemetery, and in 1982 dedicated a cenotaph commemorating those that fought in the war. 

The Whitemouth Museum also has a dedicated memorial cairn honoring Dr. Charlotte Whitehead Ross (1843-1916). Dr. Charlotte Whitehead Ross belonged to the first generation of women to practice medicine in Canada and was Manitoba’s first qualified woman doctor. Dr. Charlotte Whitehead Ross practiced medicine in Whitemouth from 1881 to 1912. Her father, Mr. Whitehead and her husband, David Ross, helped build railways in the west and through lumbering and other industries, aided the opening up of the country. After marrying Ross, Charlotte took responsibility for caring for her chronically ill sister Mary Anne, an experience that apparently stimulated her interest in medicine. She was encouraged to study medicine by her family physician, whom she borrowed several medical books from, despite the disapproval of her father. With the understanding that her husband's work on the railway out west would mean that her family would have little access to medical care, she decided to enroll at the Women's Medical College of Philadelphia in 1870, as no Canadian medical college was open to women at that time.

Charlotte came to Whitemouth in the summer of 1881 with her children, and treated her first patient the night after she arrived. Although qualified, she was not legally allowed to practice medicine. She defied the so-called establishment and got on with her work. Charlotte's early patients were mostly men, unusual for a female doctor at the time, which was mainly due to the logging industry around Whitemouth and the results of logging accidents that would occur.  Many of these initial procedures involved Charlotte using her surgeon's skills, amputating legs, stitching wounds and setting broken bones due to the many lumber or axe related injuries to the legs or feet. Her strength, will and dedication helped forge a heritage which is alive and well in the region. Fred Edge wrote a book titled “The Iron Rose: The Extraordinary Life of Charlotte Ross, MD ”. The book highlights the life of the doctor and was published in 1992, with the University of Manitoba Press.

In 2001 Whitemouth's historic Christ Anglican Church, was moved to the Museum grounds. This church, originally located on Elevator Road was built in 1904-1905. The first service was held on August 22, 1905. It was hand built by local parishioners on donated land, from local lumber on a Tyndall limestone foundation. The original bell tower was destroyed in a windstorm in 1922 and was not replaced. The church was active from 1905 to 1923. No services were held until 1930, when the congregation was revived. The church saw continuous service until Christmas 1995, when the congregation became too small to sustain itself. The owners, the Diocese of Keewatin donated the building to the Whitemouth Museum Society, and it was moved on site and refurbished. 

Today, the museum boasts a 1929 train caboose that families can explore, a large antique farm machinery collection, a pioneer house dating to 1909, a large artifact building, a blacksmith shop and a log trapper's cabin. All except the caboose are wheelchair accessible.  We encourage you to plan a trip and visit this special museum. To learn more and confirm hours, please check out their website.

North of the Museum you will also see the Whitemouth & District Lions Club Campground & Park. This is a popular location by tourist and locals alike and includes a playground, washrooms, picnic shelter, fire pits, and more. Camping is free, although donations are greatly appreciated. We encourage you to visit the Park and check out the beautiful mural on the Picnic Hut, hand painted by local artists and community members. The Lion’s Campground also connects to the Co-op Community Trail. Along the trail you can find many mosaic art pieces and resting spots to sit and enjoy the view of the community grounds. The creation of this trail was done in partnership with many local business and organizations, with local artists and community members assisting with the artwork along the trail. 


Additional Details

Civic Number: 62 Henderson Ave., Whitemouth

Amenities on Site: Wheelchair Accessible; Indoor & Outdoor Museum Artifacts; Washroom Facilities (At Lion's Park)

Building on Site: Yes 


Cooks Falls Tourist Park

Listen to recorded audio by clicking the audio button on the left.

The Cooks Falls Tourist Park was originally called Webb’s Falls and was built around 1930, when the Trans-Canada highway went through the area. The original site was located east of the current highway, closer to the water bank. There were several cottages, boats, an open area dance floor and a concession stand. Next to it was a golf course built by William Webb in 1929. It remained in use until the mid 1940s.

The water that flows through this area is referred to as Cooks Falls. These falls are a drop-pool style of rapid, created by narrowing effect of shoreline rocks, outcroppings and several river wide ledges.


Additional Details

Civic Number: N/A; Driving Tour Signage located on Cooks Falls Road

Amenities on Site: N/A   Building on Site: No

Entrance of Cooks Falls Tourist Park, 1930

Winnipeg Falls School  (S.D. #1346)

Listen to recorded audio by clicking the audio button on the left.

The Winnipeg Falls School District was established in June 1905. It was a one-room schoolhouse operated at a site along highway 408 (about N50.08931, W96.02913) for those in Grades 1 to 8. One teacher had as many as 75 pupils at a time.  Construction of the Seven Sisters hydroelectric power dam commenced in 1929 and a new one-room schoolhouse was built closer the dam. It became known as the Winnipeg Falls North School. At the same time, a two-room Winnipeg Falls South School opened in the community of River Hills.

In the early 1930s, the Winnipeg Falls North School was replaced by the present structure (located in the Seven Sister Falls Town Site) and the original school building was moved during the winter to the junction of highways 44 and 408. This building was used as a granary for many years, but now stands empty. The second school (Winnipeg Falls South School) operated until 1962 when it closed and the building was renovated into a private residence.

Among the teachers who worked at Winnipeg Falls North School through the years were William Gevers (1912), Ernest Lexow (1916), John Gfeller (1920), James Oswald (1925-1928), Mary Mroze (1938), Esther Anne Brandt (1944), Nonnie Panchuk (1948, wife of M. W. Peleshok), Hilma Clara May Solar (1950-1957), Frances Gochowich (1961-1962), and Darlene Elizabeth Lackman (1965-1966).


Additional Details

Civic Number: N/A  l   Amenities on Site: N/A  l  Building on Site: Yes

Winnipeg Falls North School

Winnipeg Falls South School

Teacherage for the Winnipeg Falls North School

Oldenburg School  (S.D. #968)

Listen to recorded audio by clicking the audio button on the left.

The Oldenburg School District was established in June 1898 and a one-room schoolhouse was built in 1899 by local people from local materials on land donated by a farmer. First classes were held in September 1899, with one teacher and 36 pupils from grades 1 to 8. By 1914 there were 75 pupils, and the old log school was replaced by the present building in 1920. A second room was added in the basement in 1943. Grades 1 to 11 were taught (grade 12 had to go to Whitemouth). As many as 80 students attended classes some years. The school was closed in 1962 due to amalgamation with Whitemouth school. The former school building was renovated into a private residence which is still present at the site.

Among the teachers of Oldenburg School through the years were Harland Chester Whitewarsh (1906-1907), M. B. Forster (1908), Gustave Pfaff (1909-1910, 1915-1916), Charles Van der Panl? (1911), John S. F. Hart (1911), Florence E. Long (1911), Mary M. Johnston (1912-1914), Helena Zado (1915-1915, 1918-1919), Eva. J. Bell (1917), M. Hausfield (1918), F. Sutherland (1919), Winifred Dobie (1920), Charles D. Smith (1920-1922), Mary M. A. Ruccius (1922-1924), Rosina Perick [Perich] (1924-1925), Edith Aylwin (1925), Eleanor Zaslow (1926), Martha L. Ruccius (1926), Elsie H. Handel (1926-1927), Lydia P. Milbrandt (1927-1928), Lyall MacDonald Robertson (1928-1929), Eleanor Massey (1930), Elizabeth Anne Drewry (1930-1931), Mary Agnes Bremner (1931-1932), Laura Feltham (1932-1935), Mary Harper (1935-1938), Charlotte Isabelle Lynch (1938), Gwennie Olwen “Gwen” McWhirter (1938-1939), Lois Mabel West (1939-1940), Mildred Enns (1940), Mrs. J. L. Cousins (1941, substitute), Mrs. H. W. Stacey (1941), William Schultz (1941-1942), Alice Gietz (grades 1-3, 1942-1943), William Schultz (grades 4-9, 1942-1943; grades 4-10, 1943-1944; grades 4-9, 1944-1945; grades 5-10, 1945-1946; grades 5-9, 1946-1947; grades 5-10, 1947-1948; grades 7-11, 1948-1949), Helena Braun (grades 1-3, 1943-1944), Evelyn Arnold (grades 1-3, 1944-1945; grades 1-4, 1945-1946; grades 1-4, 1946-1947), A. John Howk (grades 1-4, 1947-1948), Hilma C. M. Solar (grades 1-6, 1948-1949), Ruth Thelma Wier (1949-1950), Oscar Andrew Wurster (1950-1954), and Peter Jacob Williams (1954-1961), and Veronica Theresa Toker (1961-1966).


Additional Details

Civic Number: N/A  l   Amenities on Site: N/A   l   Building on Site: Yes-Private Residence 

Oldenburg School (1920)Oldenburg School (1947)The former Oldenburg School building (1986)Oldenburg School building (2013)

South St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church & Cemetery

Listen to recorded audio by clicking the audio button on the left.

The South St. Paul's South Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation was formed in 1902, when the first church was built on donated land, and dedicated, along with the adjacent cemetery. The parsonage was built to house their pastors and families around 1923, and still exists as a private dwelling just north of Oldenburg Road. Due to the large number of parishioners, a larger building was erected beside the old one, and dedicated on November 16, 1953. The church was closed in 1970, and moved to Oakbank, MB. All that remains of the Church is the concrete front steps and granite monument. The cemetery is found at this site.


Additional Details

Civic Number: N/A  l   Amenities on Site: N/A   l   Building on Site: No church, cemetery on site. 


Whitemouth (Whiteshell) Baptist Church 

Listen to recorded audio by clicking the audio button on the left.

In 1897 a group of German Baptist families came from Vohylnia, Russia to Winnipeg. From there they moved to Whitemouth, where they took up farming, bringing with them their customs and religion. The government at the time, gave homesteads a very reasonable price, if one wanted to work. All that sounds easy now, but all they had then was a horse or ox, an axe and a whole lot of muscle. The need for fellowship and worship arouse as more moved to the area. The first services were held in private homes as early as 1897. Soon their homes were not large enough, so they decided to build a church. The church was built between Whitemouth and River Hills. The first Baptist church was built here in 1906 on donated land from Gottlieb Knopf. The project was spearheaded by the church's first pastor, with 57 church members. Stables were built to shelter the horses, and a well was dug. In 1904, the church was finished and dedicated. The original bible cost $6.00. The church cemetery was located one mile to the south, near Oldenburg. The church parsonage was built in River Hills in 1952 at this site.

A new, much larger church was erected in 1961 in Seven Sisters, at the junction of highways 307 and 408. Since it was now in the Whiteshell area, they changed the name to Whiteshell Baptist Church (formally called Whitemouth Baptist Church). The church was badly damaged in a fire on July 4, 2010. Shortly after a new church was built. The old church building was sold to the neighboring Hutterite colony for use as their church. The year 2006 marked their 100-year celebration!

The Whiteshell Baptist Church’s Cemetery is located just down the road from this driving tour site. You can head south approximately 1 mile from this site to view the cemetery.


Additional Details

Civic Number: N/A  l   Amenities on Site: N/A   l   Building on Site: No; cemetery located to the South of site.


Whiteshell Hutterite Colony

Listen to recorded audio by clicking the audio button on the left.

Whiteshell Colony’s Roots, Written by Mark E. Gross

Whiteshell Colony was a branch from the Iberville Colony near Elie, MB. When the farm was bought in 1960, it was bare expect for one house, which was used by the colony boss at the time. The farm came with about 1000 acres, which was made up of several small farms located locally and families were spread out on those farms until enough money was raised to move all houses and buildings on to the one site. There were no new houses built, rather pulled in. Most barns were constructed in the first couple of years such as cow, chicken, and pig barns.

In 1968 once everything was in place the two colonies physically split apart sharing everything to give each colony an equal amount, including the people. Each colony was then made up of about 40 people.

In 1981 Whiteshell Colony had grown to be considered big enough to create their own sister colony. So land was bought near Elm Creek Manitoba, which would now be called Clearview Colony. The two colonies branched apart in 1983 by the same process however everything was practically built new if not at the time shortly after. Much support was still needed from the mother colony till all things were in place. All things owned by Whiteshell Colony were equally split with Clearview Colony. After about 5 years a sister colony would become independent (from financial support) from the mother colony.

Whiteshell Colony’s current revenues are generated mostly from farming large hog operations, 10, 000 layers and over 5500 acres of land. It has become very modernized with technology, farm equipment, buildings, and vehicles. It has very skilled people in the areas of field management, carpentry, mechanics, welding, electrical and livestock management. We offer custom support and manufacturing in most of these areas. Once the supervisor running the business is ready to retire, a well trained on-site employee would take over his position. The colony leaders would appoint that person. The male congregation elect’s colony Leaders such as farm boss, secretary, and minister. It is considered to be a very progressive colony. Education today is more valued with offering grade 12 diplomas and also education our own teachers by sending them to university.

As Hutterites, our main reason for our customs and our social activities is our religion. Our religion is greatly tied into our history. Hutterites originated in Tyrol (te roll) in the 1500s. Their leader was Jacob Hutter, hence the name Hutterites. But the religion goes back to the time of Jesus’ disciples and is based on the whole New Testament that tells of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Hutterite was not easy, for in 1535 they were heavily persecuted, but remained strong in their faith and beliefs. While some were imprisoned they wrote great books, beautiful hymns ad sermons, which we still read and sing today. Our sermons are still the same ones that our forefathers wrote in prison.

Today, the Whiteshell Colony is well known as a custom furniture manufacturer (Whiteshell Chairs).


Additional Details

Civic Number: N/A  l   Amenities on Site: N/A   l   Building on Site: Private residence.