Origin of St. Martin's name:
St. Martin Named as a Canadian National railway point in 1911, while the St. Martin Station Post Office (on 4-32-9W) was first listed in the 1914 Postal Guide. Both are named after Lake St. Martin seven miles to the east. The school district of Karpaty was on 5-32-9W. Lake St. Martin was first noted on a Pond map (1785). Although an old name, the source and origin were not determined.
The name is, or was, applied to several other features in the region. The earliest reference was to the St. Martin Islands in Lake Winnipeg that Robert Douglas of the Geographic Board of Canada (1933) identified as the "le iles St. Martin" in Derouen's itinerary of 1760. The present form was first shown on a Department of Interior Map (1905).
The name(s) possible originated with the islands that may have been named by early French explorers or fur traders. St. Martin was a French prelate and Bishop of Tours. The name St. Martin was applied to Sturgeon Bay, Fairford River, Flathead Point and to a point on the northeast side of Sturgeon Bay (possibly Saskatchewan Point). Lake St. Martin was an important link in the canoe route from Lake Winnipegosis and Lake Manitoba to Lake Winnipeg, via the Fairford River.
ST. MARTIN CIRCA 1920
”Our ancestors have entrusted us with a legacy to maintain and uphold. Let’s bind our hearts in unison with the desire to hold to the past with its lessons and look to the future with its challenges."
The swampland was impossible to homestead. There was no drainage; the thick jungle like vegetation prevented the wind from drying the surface. The ground was covered with dead grass, with fresh green growth coming through. Every quarter mile or so, there would be a beaver dam keeping everything flooded. In dry years, the settlers were able to cut the hay, but in wet years it was impossible. This account in the history book ”North West Interlake Heritage" gives a brief glimpse into the past with its challenges. The Ukrainians of St. Martin had an indomitable spirit and work ethic, which allowed them to eke out a living from this untamed wilderness and build the base of what we see today.
The arrival of the Canadian National Railroad in 1911 brought more settlers to the area and provided the only mode of transportation to Winnipeg. Local transportation was via the ‘dinky track’ (a gypsum transport line from the quarry to the mill), and cordroy roads that led through the swamps. ”The horses sunk to their bellies and the wagon box occasionally got wet" (quote from the North West Interlake History book).
With the influx of settlers, Karpaty School was opened in 1916 and remained in operation until 1977. During the 1920’s, the school was overflowing with students, and an overflow school was opened in a vacant farmhouse. It was opened close to the C.N.R water tank, and the farmhouse became known as ”the Tank School."
The main sources of livelihood were farming; fishing; cutting cordwood and mink ranching. Coupled with a general feeling of goodwill toward your neighbour, one of the endearing traits of the settler was that no one was ever turned away from their door. The main sources of entertainment were weekend dance parties; the Christmas concerts and the annual picnic. St. Martin boasted a baseball team that would challenge teams from Gypsumville and Fairford.
Dan Obsniuk, age 87, is always very thankful that his parents immigrated to Canada at the time they did. They were booked to travel via the infamous Titanic, but were delayed by circumstance and cancelled the trip until later. Dan’s advice to the generations of today and tomorrow is, ”Learn how to make a living and how to take care of yourself."
The Ukrainian farmstead was chosen as the focus of the St. Martin painting as farming was the main industry of the area. It remains as such today.
Please click here for a full list of those buried in the St. Martin Community Cemetery. Last updated May 24, 2016.