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Manitoba from the Air
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The town of Rivers is located north of the Little Saskatchewan River 1 in an area of ground moraine topography. In contrast to Hartney (figure 8.16), Rivers is a one-sided town with virtually all its buildings located north of the CN line 2 avoiding the Little Saskatchewan River Valley to the south. The CN line approaches the town from the southeast 3 and splits into several sidings 4 with spurs leading to the north 5. Within the town roads run parallel to and at right angles to the CN line. The CP line 6 is also seen on the photo running along the Little Saskatchewan River Valley before looping to the west to cross the river. In addition to the railway lines, PTH 25 7 runs along the southern edge of town, and PR 250 8 leads northwards.

Although the air photo scale is small, some of the town’s infrastructure can be identified. A series of large buildings near the southern edge of town 9 are probably stores and a hotel; schools can be seen in the north 10 and west 11; and sewage lagoons 12 and a cemetery 13 are located outside town.

In the southern part of the Little Saskatchewan Valley is an area of outwash deposits 14, identified by remnants of water channels on the surface, with a large light-toned gravel pit 15 served by the CP line. Several other gravel pits 16 are located in the valley.

The Little Saskatchewan has been dammed to produce Lake Wahtopanah 17, originally for flood control and water supply, but recently it has attracted some recreational development along its shores 18. Both the dam 19 and a spillway at its south end 20 can be identified.

Rivers has had a checkered history. During WW II a Commonwealth Air Force Training Base was located at Rivers airport,[i] just off the photo to the west. It continued as a Canadian Forces Base until the 1960s when it was closed. Various attempts have been made—none of them very successful—to locate industries in the buildings of the base. Some of the buildings that housed people serving at the base can be seen in the southwest corner 21. Atypically, they are arranged along a mixture of straight and curved roads. The closing of the base and the failure of the industries led to a 29 percent drop in population between 1961 and 1996 (from 1,574 to 1,117), but it evened out at 1,119 in 2001 and increased to 1,193 in 2006.

The buildings seen in the southwest were houses for troops at the base. Here in this relatively modern development, we finally see roads with curves, almost completely absent from settlements show in figures 8.1 to 8.16.


[i] Rivers was one of many such bases located across the prairies during World War II. The aim was to train flyers from Commonwealth countries in areas of flat land in the relative safety of Canada. A depressingly large number of these young men lost their lives: 18,039 in total including 3,000 in training (Reg Forbes, 2007).

Figure 8.17