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Chapter 8: Southern Hamlets, Villages, and Towns

8.31: Wawanesa

The location of the Village of Wawanesa in a meander loop of the Souris River 1 would seem to lend itself to something other than the standard grid pattern. Indeed some modifications do occur but the grid still dominates. The Canadian National line 2 follows a curved route along the meander neck, then crosses the Souris 3 and runs up the side of the incised valley. The route tries to avoid steep slopes, but still the construction of the line through Wawanesa was more difficult than most construction on the prairies and the line did not function for long: built in 1889, it was abandoned by 1984. Within Wawanesa are several sidings on one of which an elevator 4 is situated. An offshoot from PTH 2 5 passes through Wawanesa roughly parallel to the railway line, crossing the Souris just east of the railway bridge 6. During the spring flood of 1976 both bridges were washed out, and the railway bridge—no longer used by that date—was never replaced. The only way into town at the time was from the north by PR 340 7. Another road that defies the grid runs along the steep north bank of the Souris 8. However, this road is no longer used as part of it has disappeared due to slumping 9 and the rest is unsafe.

Other roads in the village run east/west or north/south, the main street 10 being slightly wider. Wawanesa’s chief claim to fame is that it is the headquarters of the Wawanesa Insurance Company. Established in 1896 to offer farmers protection against fire often caused by steam-driven thrashing machines, it has grown to be a worldwide organization. Officially the headquarters are still in Wawanesa, located in the large building at the south end of Main Street 11. Despite that, the village has never been large. Its population of 516 in 2001 increased to 535 in 2006 probably because it functions as a dormitory community for Brandon, 50 km (31 miles) to the north. An old-style school is located in the east 12 and a racetrack in the west 13. A weir 14 located on the Souris raises the water level for water supply, and poorly located sewage lagoons 15 can be seen above the valley wall.

Other linear features are, in the north, the Canadian Pacific line 16 and in the extreme south, PTH 2 17 that bypasses Wawanesa. The light-toned linear feature 18 crossing the southwest corner is a buried oil pipeline.

Figure 8.31: Wawanesa

Figure 8.31: Wawanesa

Figure 8.31

Vertical air photograph: A23692-6

Flight height: 13,700 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:24,400 (approx.)

Date: May 12, 1974

Location: Township 7; Range 17 WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon 

                    1:50,000 62G/12 Wawanesa