Land holdings in most of southern Manitoba have been determined using one of two systems. The older long-lot system, derived from the St. Lawrence lowlands in Quebec, is found along the Red River, along the Assiniboine River west to Portage la Prairie, as well as in several other isolated areas. Lots were laid out at right angles to the river, resulting in a distinctive pattern easily observed on remotely sensed images. The DSL system, which divided land into one square mile sections, was applied to virtually all other areas. The resulting squared pattern is a prominent feature on remotely sensed images. Interesting situations occur where the two systems come into contact. The DLS system was amended several times, but in Manitoba there is evidence of only the first and third systems. Careful interpretation of air photos can reveal the differences between the two systems.
Although the scale is small and not much detail can be seen, the long lots characteristic of the Red River Plain are obvious 2. “The first lots surveyed were on the west side of the Forks [between the Red and Assiniboine Rivers], north of Point Douglas…. Similar lots were laid out along other sections of the Red and later along the Assiniboine River. By 1870 river lots extended along the Red from about 11 miles (17.7 km) south of the Forks to north of Selkirk. Long strip lots also lined the Assiniboine as far west as Portage la Prairie.”[i] As far as possible they were oriented at right angles to the riverfront 3, but with a meandering river this was not always possible 4.
Most of the land has been cleared for agriculture, but some woodland—dark-toned—remains 5. The francophone village of St. Adolphe 6 is located in the south and in the north is St. Norbert 7, now a part of metropolitan Winnipeg.[ii] Also in the north is the south end of the Red River Floodway 8 (without water at this date) designed to carry water around Winnipeg at times of potential flood. PTH 75 9, the main road from the United States to Winnipeg, is located west of the river. Also in the west—paralleling PTH 75 in places—is the CN Railway line 10. East of the river PR 200 11 runs between St. Adolphe and Winnipeg.
Figure 7.1: Long Lots Along the Red River Plain South of Winnipeg
Vertical air photograph: A21666-134
Flight height: 22,420 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 85.611 mm
Scale: 1:79,000 (approx.)
Date: July 21, 1970
Location of the mouth of the Red River Floodway: 49º 45 N, 97º 07' W
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg
1:50,000 62H/11 St. Adolphe
[i] Kaye, B. “The Historical Development of the Cultural Landscape of Manitoba to 1870” in The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People eds. J. Welsted, J. Everitt and C. Stadel. Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press, 1996, 83.
[ii] There is a cluster of francophone settlements along, and immediately adjacent to, the Red River plain; for a map showing their distribution see Lehr, J. C. “Settlement: The Making of a Landscape” in Welsted, Everitt and Stadel op. cit., 1996, figure 7.3, 99.