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Chapter 13: Mining and Oil Extraction

13.4: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Assiniboine Valley

On this photo of the extreme west of Manitoba are two major landform regions: the Assiniboine glacial spillway, containing the south-flowing Assiniboine River 1 and an area of ground moraine topography with north/south lineations and hollows occupied by lakes 2. The second area is partly dissected by a shallow north/south trending valley 3.

A large pit (light-toned) 4 is located on the north side of a west bank tributary of the Assiniboine. It is large enough that a CP railway line 5 with several spurs runs into it. This railway line joins up with the main CP line 6 near the northern edge of the photo 7. The main line crosses the Assiniboine 8 and a cutoff 9 near the eastern edge of the photo and angles its way up 10 the steep west wall of the Assiniboine Spillway.

Other features to note on this photo are a) the meandering Assiniboine River with clearly defined scroll bars 11 and cutoffs 12; b) the west wall of the spillway, heavily wooded 13, with the drier east wall mainly grass-covered 14 with occasional patches of trees 15; c) a road out of the Assiniboine Valley (PR 579) with a hairpin bend 16—unusual in southern Manitoba; d) the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border near the western edge of the photo marked by a dashed line, but there is no ground expression of its existence; and e) a small cluster of buildings 17, all that remains of Millwood. In the past Millwood had a sawmill, a gristmill, and an elevator with 40,000-bushel capacity: “Farmers from as far away as 80 km [50 miles] hauled their grain to the flour mill.”[i] Another local industry was ice cut from the river and used in iceboxes before refrigerators became the norm. “In 1915, 600 railway cars were loaded with ice shortly after though the company’s [Arctic Ice Company of Winnipeg] dam on the Assiniboine River required extensive repairs and modifications. Rather than incur the expense the company went out of business…. A gravel business which supplied some one million yards of gravel for local roads, bridges and similar projects survived for some time but it eventually closed”.[ii]

Figure 13.4: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Assiniboine Valley

Figure 13.4: Sand/Gravel Pits in the Assiniboine Valley

Figure 13.4

Vertical air photograph: A15532-53

Flight height: 20,000 feet; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:35,200 (approx.)

Date: October 9, 1956

Location: Township 19 and 20; Ranges 29 and 30WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62K Riding Mountain

                    1:50,000 62K/11 Binscarth


[i] Mulligan, H. and Ryder, W. Ghost Towns of Manitoba. Surrey BC: Heritage House Publishing Company, 1985, 97.

[ii] Mulligan, H. and Ryder, W. op. cit. 1985, 97.