Origin of Fairford's name:
The Post Office opened in 1895 on Township 30-8W (listed on 29-30-9W in 1946) and closed in 1969. Its was also a Canadian National Railway point and School District on NW 19-30-9W. It is located just outside the Indian Reserve and was originally established as a church mission and Hudson's Bay Company post.
It was formerly known as Partridge Crop missionary station (since it was on this river) but was changed to Fairford in 1851 by Bishop Anderson of Rupertsland. Fairford in Gloucestershire, England was the birthplace of Reverend Abraham Cowley, a Church of England missionary stationed at the mission.
The name was probably a transplant from the original Fairford House, a small Hudson's Bay Company post in Saskatchewan on the Churchill River near the mouth of the Reindeer River. Peter Fidler (who wrote "Report on the Mannetoba District", 1820) mentioned that one of three posts in the Mannetoba District was established here in 1819 on the left bank of Partridge Crop River (now Fairford River). It was originally called Partridge Crop River Post or House, and was established by McNab for winter trade.
It was renamed by the Bishop and was operated by the Hudson's Bay Company until 1912.
FAIRFORD CIRCA 1912
We are all sisters and brothers lets unite our hearts and spirits toward a better tomorrow.
Today is the history of tomorrow.
Before the settlement of the Europeans, the Saulteaux were the keepers of this beautiful land. They were a branch of the Ojibway from the Sault St. Marie area and were known for their peaceful existence with other tribes in what is now known as Manitoba. According to Mr. Dobbs, a Saulteaux native missionary the peace was abruptly disturbed when the Sissetones from the Dakotas attacked the settlement and exterminated most of the Saulteauz with the exception of a small band led by Wooden Tent. He led his men to Berens River from where they organized their retaliation over three years. This carefully orchestrated reprisal resulted in the complete massacre of the Sissetones which allowed the Saulteaux to flourish again. Wooden Tent stands as a hero in Saulteaux history. His descendents, the Woodhouses live in Fairford today.
Fairford’s original name was Pinaymootang, meaning partridge crop. The name Fairford was adopted in honor of Rev. Abraham Cowley who established the first mission for the church of England in 1842 and was instrumental in helping the natives adapt to the white man’s ways of farming and religion. He was from Fairford, England. The Northwest Company set up a post in 1795 The Hudson’s Bay Company, in 1819.
In 1821, the companies amalgamated and ran the post under The Hudson’s bay name until 1912. The arrival of the railway in 1911 foreshadowed many changes for the Natives and the European alike. Time has brought both good and bad for both cultures a challenge for today and the future.
I spoke to Louis Letandre, aged 80. He fondly recalls the childhood activities of his time which included jumping the train as it arrived in Fairford, to ride it to the water tower north of town. Louis is part Ojibway and French and speaks Saulteaux. Jenny Watt, aged seventy six, was a warbride from Holland who recalls the dense brush and the kindness shown by neighbours.
She says she has never regretted her move to Canada. Gladys Moar, aged eighty five, recalls life in a residential school which has left an indelible mark on her life. She believes that time hasn’t necessarily produced happier people, as people then had taken more time for each other. It is with this mix of heritages that Fairford retains its color and uniqueness today.
I chose to do the trestle bridge north of town as the focus of my painting as it includes the north bank of the river that was a Metis village in 1912, and and before that a Native settlement. The Grist Mill in the middle left of the canvas and the Hudson’s Bay post in the far upper right no longer exist except in the annals of history. St. Helen’s Anglican church; Topnick’s store and the trestle bridge still stand today as landmarks of Fairford’s colourful past. You will notice that the activities depicted represent a wonderful blend of both cultures.