Thanks to James Emerson Brydon, great grandson of Robert Brydon, who generously provided this digital copy.

~ oral history ~

Walter Brydon

Neepawa, Manitoba


The Robert Brydon family, parents of the late George and Walter Brydon, sailed from Roxburghshire, Scotland, in the year 1842, and settled on a little farm near Galt, Ontario. The father died while the children were quite young and the boys with their Mother's help worked the farm, which was not very productive, until they decided a change must be made. Having heard of the opportunities in the "Golden West" Frank, the eldest son, left and travelling by boat, canoe and stage for six weeks reached what is now the City of Winnipeg. Continuing by boat up the Assiniboine River to Portage, about one mile west of Portage and north of the present No. 1 highway, he filed on a homestead.

The following spring two other brothers, John and James, travelling as the older brother had, reached Portage and filed on land near Frank, two miles West of Portage. With oxen they started their homesteading duties, married and raised families, and now grandsons are on these farms.

Robert, another brother, after a few years around Portage, went to California to live, and his descendants are still there; while William returned to Galt early in 1880 and lived there until his death in 1922.

In the spring of 1877 the two younger sons, leaving their Mother and sister in Galt, decided to join their brothers at Portage, but all the land was taken where their elder brothers had settled. They proceeded West on foot finally applying for land which turned out to be this our present home (25-14-15.) three miles east of the present town of Neepawa. They were accompanied by Jack and Duncan McLaren, also Walter and John Hunter, former neighbors at Galt, and all filed on homesteads in this area. After putting up shanties as shelters for the winter they returned to Portage to help with the harvest in order to earn a little money for the year ahead.

The following Spring 1878, their Mother accompanied by the only daughter Ellen, her husband and three children, that was Mr. John Hunter, came from their home in Galt. The Hunter's stayed with George and Walter in their shanty until one was put up on their homestead (36-14-15) which is now farmed by Bob Hunter. Granny Brydon made her home with Walter, while George built on the east side of the same section. George sold this land about 1900 moving to Calgary with his wife and family, and James McLaren now owns and lives on that farm.


Walter had pre—empted the North East of (26-14-15.) This quarter was very heavily wooded, and he sold it in 1882 to J. A. Davidson and J. J. Hamilton. They had a sawmill where the present dam is located, now Riverbend Park, and it is supposed for that reason they bought the heavily wooded land. Walter then bought the quarter of land south of his homestead. With oxen and later horses, which he raised as colts from a team of mares he had bought from a carload shipped from Ontario, he yearly got land cleared, broken and seeded.

The best of the logs taken from this land were used to build a house in 1886, and for stables to shelter the live stock. A mixture of sand and lime was used to plaster between the logs in the building, then brushed over with a clear white lime wash. A frame addition was added to this structure for Granny Brydon's use, where she lived until her death in 1889. Logs were taken to Robert Newton's mill north of the present Union School and sawn into rough lumber for the outer walls of Granny's house.

In 1887 Walter Brydon and Elizabeth Campbell were married. Her parents had come from Molesworth Ontario in 1881, and homesteaded the north half of (20-14-14.) one mile south of Union School. She was the eldest of ten children, seven girls and three boys. Their father died in 1893. His sons carried on farming for a few years, but gradually the family went to Alberta. Mrs. Campbell spent her last years with daughters in Edmonton. She died at the age of 74 in 1916, and was buried from the Presbyterian Church in Neepawa.

Mr. & Mrs. Walter Brydon settled down to married life in their new log house. From this marriage six children were born; Albert Victor, Alfred Ernest, Margaret Vera, Jean Mabel, Ella Isabel, Walter Campbell. (see the family picture on opposite page.)

The children attended Union School and worked with their parents until ready to make homes of their own, except Jean who attended. High School in Neepawa and later Normal in Portage. She taught at the nearby schools for a time, then went to Winnipeg where she taught until her marriage to Howard Green. They lived in Vancouver. She passed away suddenly in 1964.


Bert and Ern took over the farm work early in life, attending school when the busy season was over. Their father tended the garden and yard and helped with household chores. The spruce trees on the farm were planted by him in the late 1890's. He also had one of the first Crab-apple trees in the country. Mr. & Mrs. Brydon raised chickens and milked cows. The eggs and butter from this effort went to the local store as merchants were willing to exchange farm produce for groceries in those days. Mrs. Brydon also had private customers willing to pay cash for her homemade butter, fresh eggs and dressed poultry. In those days butter brought about .15c a pound, eggs .10c a dozen, and nicely dressed chickens .50c each.

Plans were made and a fine modern home of cement blocks was erected in 1912. Gravel had been drawn by teams from the Arden Ridge for two falls prior to the beginning of construction, and blocks were made from this material and cement, and put to dry during the summer of 1910 and 1911 by Mr. Brydon and his sons.

Early in 1912, after the crop Was seeded, Bert and Ern each using a team of horses and two handled scrapers dug the basement of the house. Then with the help of neighbors, William Black overseeing the job, the cement was run in for the basement and the blocks went up for the sides of the house -- a block and tackle was used to elevate the blocks which were pulled up by a horse. On the 12th day of July 1912 Mr. M. Halman, with four men put the roof on and they carried on with the carpentry work. The lathers finished their job of lathing the inside of the entire house in four days, by records from a book of Mr. Brydon's. Two men built the chimney on August 1st, while Bill Dalton installed the furnace; William Batters and his six men completed the plastering in three and one half days. Finally the job of carpentry was finished by the end of September, and William Priestly varnished the wood work and completed the decorating by December 1st. This fine home was constructed at a cost of $1,609.30. The following year the screened in verandah was built, adding much to the appearance of the home.

Margaret, the oldest daughter married Wilbur Hall in February 1913 and went to live in Hallboro. She died during the Flu epidemic in 1919, leaving three children. Grandma and Grandpa Brydon took little Jean into their home until her father re-married three years later. Jean now lives in Calgary, also her brother Jack - the third child died in infancy.


Ella and Jim Harper married in 1919. Their son Kenneth and his family live in the Union district.

Ernest farmed for many years three miles South of the Arden Ridge. He married Joan Vinnell in 1922, and they raised a family of two boys and three girls - Robert a Grain Buyer at Hargrave, Allan on the home farm as his parents retired to Franklin, near where Margaret and her husband Ernie Freeman and family of two children live. By the way, Allan and Shirley Cathcart married and have two little boys. Doris, her husband Murray Meadows and four children are in Kenora Ontario, while Norma, the youngest and her husband Fred Watson and family are on his parents' farm at Plumes.

Mr. Brydon passed away in 1926 in this his 70th year after a brief illness. The funeral was from the family residence to Riverside Cemetery. The district had lost another of its earliest pioneers -- an ideal citizen. He had served for many years both as Councillor for Langford Municipality, and Secretary Treasurer of Union School. He was also a Director of the Agricultural Society since its organization; and often assessed the Municipality in the winter time, driving by team and cutter for many miles. He was a staunch Conservative, as are his sons.

Mrs. Brydon and Cam continued on the farm until 1934 when Cam and Tone Stonehouse married. Mrs. Brydon moved to Neepawa, where she and her sister Mary lived in retirement until her death in 1952 -- "A quiet little lady gone to rest."

Cam and Ione continued on the farm for a few years, but favoring a warmer climate left with their four children to make their home at Haney B.C. The Brydon homestead was rented to a neighbor and the house occupied by different families until Bert's return to the home of his childhood.

Bert had married the former Nora Graham of Rosedale Municipality in January 1923. They farmed at Birtle Manitoba for many years returning to Neepawa in 1944, after buying the original homestead. Happy to be back at the home farm Bert worked the land until 1962. Since than it has been rented to Lloyd Briese, who has a full line of equipment to meet the farming needs of to-day, and a son to help.

Bert's son Don joined the Air-force upon completion of his grade 12, at the age of eighteen. He served five yeas in the Air-force and now lives in Winnipeg, is married and the father of two children.


At our lane end stands the sign, "The Brydon farm since 1877". -- 90 years! Great changes have taken place since Mr. Brydon came as a young man to break the land, and help build a new country. Tractors have replaced the horses and oxen of earlier days. Wood was used for the heating of the home. Trees were cut down with the axe, sawn into stove lengths with crosscut saws handled by two men, and split for the cook stove in the kitchen; while the large box heater in the "parlour" took big blocks, and often roots that had been dug from the ground, trimmed and dried. We now enjoy oil heating for the furnace and gas in the kitchen range.

Candles, then coal oil lamps lit the home, and later the gas lamp. Now since 1949 when Hydro came into our area we have enjoyed electric lighting, and the many conveniences that electricity has provided - even the clock on the wall doesn't have to be wound!

The oxen yoke, a wooden curling rock, and upright wood heater, a home-made table and cupboard in the basement, a lamp and lanterns are evidence of days gone by. What does the future hold in store are questions we might ask?

The original was compiled and finished by Nora and Bert Brydon in January 1967.