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Manitoba from the Air
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The small hamlet of Coulter in the southwestern corner of Manitoba illustrates the classic T-shape of many prairie settlements in its simplest form. The southwest/northeast trending CP line 1 is paralleled by a road 2 with another at right angles to it 3. A large elevator 4—identified by the shape of its shadow—is located beside the railway line, but even at this early date (1958) before rural depopulation had really set in, Coulter contained few services and the population was under 50.

The Souris River 5 flows northward on the flat floor of a steep-sided spillway 6. The large southward loop by the railway line 7 seems anomalous, but it exists so that the railway can run obliquely down/up the spillway sides 8 avoiding steep gradients. The road—PR 251 9—is more tolerant of steep slopes, but even so it runs obliquely across the west bank of the spillway 10 before passing north of Coulter.

Other features of note in this flat, semi-arid area open to strong winds are: the scarcity of trees except in draws in the spillway banks—especially the west side 11 that faces north of west and therefore has a wetter microclimate than the opposite side; several dugouts 12; four small dams 13 designed to retain water in ephemeral creeks; and barriers along the railway line 14 to retain drifting snow.


Figure 8.1