Icelandic Newspaper Lögberg 24 June, 1897, page 1
translated by Kormákur Högnason
Swan River Valley
On 27. May we left from Winnipeg in order
to survey land in the northern part of Dauphin county and in the Swan
River valley, which lies from north east to south west between Duck
Mountain and the Porcupine Mountain.
From the town of Dauphin we
drove (by buckboard) north through Dauphin county to Sifton, but from
there we rode (by horse) north to Pine River and west into the Swan
In Dauphin county we
didn't see any unsettled land, that we really liked, the land generally
lies low and is also in many areas sandy and rocky and forested. We
don´t mean to imply that there is no good land in Dauphin county,
but to state that the good land is almost all claimed and we wish that
Icelanders had gotten their share of it.
The Swan River valley is
completely unsettled at present, and the main reason, first and
foremost is that the land has not been surveyed and furthermore it has
until now been located very far from a railroad; but now neither
element is a deterrant and it can be taken for granted that, the entire
valley will be settled within a short time.
When we arrived two miles west
of the northern corner of Duck Mountain the land began to look
prettier, there we walked on beautiful prairies surrounded by forest.
Four miles from the mountain we arrived at very beautiful prairies,
they are so well shaped for field cultivation (agriculture) that we had
no complaint to make. There are also the finest fields and pastures and
beautiful forested tracks along rivers and streams. What we surveyed
the most were township 36 and 37, R.26 and 28, and there, where we
traveled, the thickest forest was on the south-east side of the river
(Swan River). That river is about 200 feet wide, where we travelled
along side it and the river banks are close to 100 feet high. We
arrived at three other rivers, whose names we didn’t know but
there are beautiful forested tracts growing along side them. There is
therefore plenty of good wood in the valley for building houses, for
firewood, fence making, etc. The soil is good everywhere, black soil, 7
to 18 inches deep and below there is brown clay.
There is a lake in the
northern part of the valley called Swan Lake and we were told that it
is full of fish, and that is true, because there is fish in every
river. There is plenty of good water everywhere, the water is clear in
the rivers and we also found spring water in a few places.
There is a large number of elk and moose in the mountains on both sides of the valley.
This valley lies 35 miles to
the west of Lake Winnipegosis and 70 miles from the end of the Dauphin
railroad; but there is little doubt that this railroad will be
lengthened in the near future, and then it will reach across the valley.
Presently there is no
driveable road north to the Swan River valley, but the government
has determined the road location and we hope that this road will be
constructed this summer.
We expect a more detailed
assessment of this area to appear in Lögberg within a month; but
this brief survey should nevertheless be sufficient to show Icelanders
that this is a good opportunity – perhaps the best opportunity
ever to present itself in the future of this country – to obtain
a good farm in a good community.
Finally we want to repeat
again, and we hope that men take notice, that this valley will be
densely built within a few months after the land has been surveyed.
Icelanders will therefore not obtain this land unless they react right
Located in Winnipeg 23. June 1897.
From the Icelandic Newspaper Lögberg, 29 July, 1897, page 8
Swan River Valley
As was mentioned in the issue of Lögberg,
published on the 1st of this month, we left Winnipeg on 26. June to
survey land in Swan River valley. We travelled on the Manitoba &
North Western railroad west to Yorkton and from there we drove (by
buckboard) north east to the valley. The road from Yorkton to Fort
Pelly, nearly 50 miles, is especially good, but it is in many places
difficult to travel the nearly 75 miles from Fort Pelly northeast to
Swan Lake. Not even minor road repair has been performed in that region
(the Pelly Trail) and yet there has been a considerable traffic over
many years, both by Indians and the white men (Fur traders) who have
conducted trade with them. We had small horses (Indian ponies) during
the journey, and when we arrived in the north we rode through the
valley. This valley lies southwest from a fairly large and attractive
fishing lake, called Swan Lake (Álptavatn), it is about 30 to 40
miles wide and approximately the same length. Two separate mountains
lie on either side of the valley, Duck Mountain (Andafjall) on the
southeast side and Porcupine Mountain (Broddgaltafjall) on the
northwest side, the former is 2500 feet and the latter is 2400 feet
above sea level. The bottom of the valley forms a 1900 feet high
plateau, called Thunder Hill (Ţrumuhćđ). All of these
mountains are covered by a forest, that in many places has very tall
trees. Two large and attractive rivers run along the entire valley and
into Swan Lake, the one in the west is Woody River and the one in the
east is Swan River. Many creeks and brooks run down the mountains and
into the two main rivers.
We soon realized that we would not be able to
travel across the entire valley at this time and since it did not
escape our notice that the south-eastern part lends itself better to
developing a community we decided to pay less attention to the
north-west part. We carefully surveyed the land area between Woody
River and Swan River, from Thunder Hill all the way down to the lake
and a large part of the land that lies between Swan River and Duck
Mountain; all in all we covered 17 townships.
Between Woody River and Swan River are many
exceptional grassy sloughs, in particular toward the north and near the
lake. These sloughs were in many places wet, partly due to the
fact that the grass plexus is so dense that the water can’t
escape, nor can the sun dry it, furthermore there was nearly constant
rain during the time we were traveling there. Our guide said, that all
these fields are usually dry during the latter part of the summer. The
grass was everywhere superb in both growth and quality.
The land along the north-western side of Swan
River is very attractive for field tilling, it lies high and is dry,
and the soil is good – the soil is in general good everywhere we
went with the exception of two or three patches that were sandy. In
some places the sides of the rivers are covered in forest but in most
places this is just new growth, that requires little effort to remove,
and some places are completely devoid of forest. There is however
plenty of good woodland further away from the river, so nobody needs to
fear a lack of sufficient and good wood. We were especially pleased
with this land for field tilling and for livestock (mixed farming),
because those who will be fortunate enough to acquire the land along
the river will be able to use the fields that lie further away for many
years. In township 35, range 29 a large creek, called Thunder Hill
Creek; runs into Swan River, along side this creek is a very attractive
and good land suitable for any purpose, the pastures there are
The most attractive place that
we saw during our journey was undoubtedly between Rolling River (Roaring River) and
Duck Mountain. There is a hill just west of the mountain, called
Minitonas Hill, it lies 1500 feet above sea level, and Rolling River (Roaring River)
runs along the west side of the hill and Favel River runs along the
east side of it. The land around this hill and down along the rivers is
of good quality and particularly attractive. The entire area has
obviously been covered by forest until recently, but the wood has been
completely destroyed by fire over a large region. This region may be
described as a single savanna, high and dry, with small but attractive
forest belts along the rivers. In our opinion the pastures in this
region are scarcely sufficient should the land be used exclusively for
livestock, however they are well suited for field tilling or both
together (mixed farming). We met land surveyors at Minitonas Hill. The
man in charge stated that he had never in his life surveyed a more
attractive land, and quite honestly we don’t doubt that he was
telling the truth.
There is plenty of wood in the entire valley and
in some places the saw wood is so good that a sawmill would be well
viable. The most common trees are poplar and spruce. But we did see
tamarack and birch in a few places and along Swan River there was a
considerable number of maple trees.
There is plenty of good water
everywhere. All the rivers and creeks have a sand bottom and the water
is therefore clean and clear. We found many ice cold and silver clear
Fishing is in all the rivers
and abundant whitefish catch in the lake, as would be expected since a
navigable river runs out of it north to Lake Winnipegosis. That river
is called Shoal River and it is only 14 miles long.
At present it is costly and
difficult to move west to Swan River valley, however it is not nearly
as difficult as some would think. As we already stated there is an
excellent road from Yorkton to Fort Pelly and from there it’s
only an additional 30 to 40 miles to the location that we liked the
best, and the road is quite useable during this time of year. The
Government of Manitoba has decided to clear a roadway, this Fall, west
of Dauphin and into the valley, all the difficulties involved in
getting there will therefore disappear by next summer. However, if
Icelanders are to acquire these land areas, they cannot wait for this
roadway, they must react immediately and secure the land. Hon. Thos.
Greenway has made attempts to have a few townships in the Swan River
valley set aside for Icelanders, but that will apparently not go
through. The most that Hon. Clifford Sifton has done, in this matter,
is to permit those Icelanders who wish to be absent from their land
longer than the law stipulates in order to earn money, this prerequisite
may turn out to be of considerable value.
In conclusion we want to
stress that we liked the land so much that we don’t hesitate to
urge Icelanders to react immediately and acquire land there. If a few band
together and go as a group, then the Government of Manitoba will
undoubtedly provide them with a guide and offer them a subsidized fare
on the Manitoba & North Western railroad.
The undersigned are willing to answer letters and supply all relevant information.
Winnipeg 26. July 1897.
M. Paulson, S. Christopherson,
618 Elgin ave, Grund