Origin of Gypsumville's name:
The Post Office opened in 1905 and was so named because of the gypsum deposits in the area (Robert Douglas, Geographic Board of Canada, 1933). It was also the northern terminus of the CNR line and a School District name. The deposits of gypsum were first developed in 1890 when gypsum was shipped to Davis Point on Lake Manitoba via a small railway line, then south to Delta by barge. When the CNR arrived in 1912, residents of Davis Point moved to Gypsumville. This is probably why the places names were reversed on some early maps. One railway foreman thought that the community should be named after its chief product, gypsum, and another foreman of French origin suggested adding "ville" (French for town).
"The Kinship our ancestors developed with this land; is the grace that warms and sweetens our lives..."
The discovery of gypsum in 1888 by a Mr. J.B Tyrell led to the establishment of the first Gypsum Mill in Manitoba situated at Portage Bay, Lake Manitoba and by 1900 a quarry twelve miles away that was mined by the Manitoba Gypsum Co. Due to the swampy conditions, the rock was hauled by horse and sleigh in the winter months to the Mill for processing and was subsequently shipped by boat to Winnipeg. Between 1904 and 1905; a railroad from the quarry to the Mill was added and a locomotive, The Dinky, was employed to transport the rock year round. The settlement of personnel near the quarry became large enough to require a school and was known as Gypsumville. The destruction of the Gypum Mill by fire in 1908 initiated the decision to move the Mill to Winnipeg.
This led to the moving of Gypsumville to the end of the CNR Railway line, better known as the ‘back camp’ in 1911. The first settlement became known as Davis Point and the back camp became what is now known as Gypsumville. With the advent of the railroad, The Dinky was no longer required. The town now included the school; new company office; company store; boarding house; several private homes and also the services of the telegraph. The first local freight train brought a steam shovel for the quarry allowing the retirement of horse drawn scrapers, wheelbarrows and pick and shovel. With the prosperity the mine brought to the area, it also brought its first casualty.
The foreman, Mr. George McCallum, lost his life in an accidental dynamite explosion. The train that took Mr. McCallum’s body to Winnipeg for burial, also took the first cars of Gypsum rock to Winnipeg by railway instead of by boat. The Gypsumville Company was the heart and soul of the community with an employee count of anywhere from 40 to 80 people. Presently, the mine is owned by Georgia Pacific of the U.S.A and is non -active.
Prior to 1914, Dr. Clark (a Baptist Missionary) offered medical and spiritual services to the area. Dr. Clark left Gypsumville at the onset of W.W.I, leaving the area without any medical services until 1929. This marked the arrival of missionaries from the Woman’s Society of the United Church of Canada who set up a medical centre at a Gypsum Company’s building and the year 1934 saw the completion of the United Church. The health services have undergone a variety of changes through the years with the most recent being the opening of the Health Clinic in 1982.
The Women’s Institute organized in 1919 was responsible for a variety of services that the community enjoyed, including Christmas concerts and local fairs. This institute also established the local cemetery; doctor’s clinic; dental services; library books; aiding in the funding of the Memorial Hall; Interlake Music Festival; Red Cross Swimming lessons; a history book; defensive driving courses; Home Economic courses; Boy Scouts and made numerous donations to worthy organizations. Mrs. Pearl Dawyduk was presented with a plaque for 50 years of service since 1987.
One cannot forget those who developed the land through much physical labor namely the farmers. Many of the men worked by day at the mine, and evening at the farm. Men, women and children worked together to achieve what we witness today. Dorothy Rawluk’s father, Alex McCurdy, coined the phrase ”Tomorrow will be a better day". So it is for our generation, and generations to come.