Where Were Your Ancestors 98 Years Ago?

Indexing Cummin’s Maps

Some time ago a friend introduced me to the Cummin’s Rural Directory Map of Manitoba, The Manitoba Railway Guide. I believe it is from 1923.  All the railways operating in Manitoba, at that time, are shown on the map each with a different trackage design.  They include the following:
– Canadian Pacific
– Grand Trunk Pacific
– Canadian Northern
– Great Northern
– Greater Winnipeg Water District

Back then everything and everyone traveled by rail; there was no highway system, just a few roads to a local town which was on a railway line. The railway lines radiated from Winnipeg and Portage La Prairie.  The map is divided into 98 districts which were serviced by the railways listed above.   85 districts are mapped; some areas were noted but may not have had a population (i.e., Riding Mountain National. Park). Each district contained 8 – 12 townships.

Each district map shows who owned each quarter. In many cases adjacent quarters had been purchased as the previous owners moved or passed away.  It appears that the only women listed were widows as, in the day, the title was in the husband’s name.  In my family my great grandmother is listed, as her husband died in 1920.

It is interesting that when the system originated, sections 11 and 29 were set aside as School sections, as were sections 8 and 26 as Hudson’s Bay Co’s land, as part of the land settlement.  The schools were usually on the corner of someone’s quarter.

These lands were put up for sale and bought by nearby settlers, their children or in some cases by new settlers. Each owner’s name also had a number indicating the post office where they picked up their mail. There was no local delivery in those days.  If you are interested in where your rural ancestors lived and who lived near them, please consider helping us index the map.

I showed the map to a volunteer the other day and after they had completed their duties, they searched to find their ancestors since they had an idea of where they lived.  As they were leaving, they told me they knew what they would be doing that evening.  The other side of the family needed to be found. They have since advised me that when
they showed their father the map it was a 3-hour trip down memory lane with all the neighbours he remembered.

I am preparing instructions and a spreadsheet to make the indexing (listing) as easy as possible.  All you need on those cold winter nights, is time, a cup of coffee and a computer with internet.  This can be done by an individual, or a group; you can do a township or a district.  Spring is a long away. We will provide a spreadsheet requiring entry of the Quarter, Section, Township and Range E or W and the last name and initial as it appears in each quarter.  If you are not familiar with Excel spreadsheets, I am preparing a set of tricks to make it easy.

If you are interested, please contact Rick Brown at projects@mbgenealogy.com

Rick Brown #1815
MGS Projects Chair
Originally published in the December, 2021 issue of Generations



Our indexers have completed 22 of the 85 areas so far.  The goal is to have it complete for the Railway Guide’s 100th anniversary in 2023.  To reserve an area for Fall and Winter indexing please send me a note with your preferred location and I will be able to tell you if the area is still available so I can reserve it for you.

Contact Projects Here

This Spring and Summer we are concentrating on transcribing Cemeteries.

Contact Cemetery Transcriptions Here


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