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Brief History of Herb Lake Landing 1993

by Margaret Spencer ( - 2013)
This article was written after Manitoba Hydro installed power to the community and was originally published in the Snow Lake News on 23 December 1993.

The community of Herb Lake Landing is situated on the south-east shore of Wekusko Lake in central Manitoba.  Over the years it has been known by different names: Hales’ Landing, South End and The Portage. It was established as a community by Northern Affairs in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  An official name was required and the majority of the residents agreed on the name “Herb Lake Landing”

With the discovery of gold on the north east end of Wekusko Lake in the early 1900s, the nearest access to haul in equipment and freight was to portage it from the C.N.R. rail at Wekusko (Mile 81) on the Hudson Bay line to the south end of Wekusko Lake, a distance of approximately 20 km.  In the summer, freight was transferred onto boats to carry it another 15 km to the new settlement of Herb Lake, near the mining site.  In the winter, freighting was done with teams of horses, tractor and sleighs, and in later years by large snow vehicles, known as Bombardiers.

A few families settled along the south shore and set up small freighting and boarding operations for passengers travelling to and from the village of Herb Lake.  Some stayed a short while and moved on, but two couples built permanent homes on the south shore.  Bill and Mary Hale resided in the area from the late 20s to the mid 50s and moved to Calgary for their retirement years.  Wilfred and Bertha Cote resided here from the late 20s until the 70s when Wilfred passed away. Bertha moved to Winnipeg, then later The Pas, but still maintained a summer home at the lake until she passed away in 1987.

Emily Crosby bought the “Hale” place in 1960 and spent holidays there from her home on Salt Spring Island, B.C. until the mid 70s when she made it her permanent home.  Emily still lives at Herb Lake Landing. Other long time residents were Albert and Ethel Corman.  They moved to the south end from the village of Herb Lake, when the last grocery store and post office closed. Teddy Taylor also had a home here for a number of years.  Albert, Ethel and Teddy have all passed away in recent years.

Of the five permanent homes now maintained at Herb Lake Landing and South End, at least one member of each household was born or raised at Herb Lake or South End.  This also holds true for some of the cottage owners, and others have family ties.

What makes the people who live here stay?  Well, it can’t be the North wind that sweeps down the lake all winter. Nor the easy living, because everyone is responsible for their own garbage and sewage disposal as well as winter wood supplies and water. It’s only been a few short years since telephones were installed, and a matter of days that there has been hydro.  Maybe the answer is in what used to be said at St. Anthony’s Hospital in The Pas.  Nurses said they always knew when a person waking up from an operation came from Herb Lake, because their first words were :  Oh, if I could just have a drink of good Herb Lake water.”

And now we still have our good Herb Lake water and thank you Manitoba Telephone System, for the telephones and thank you Manitoba Hydro for electricity, and thank you Northern Affairs for making it all possible.

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© 2013 Community of Herb Lake Landing
c/o Linda C Butler
PO Box 92, Chilliwack BC Canada V2P 6H7

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