"Bringing Scientific Agriculture to Manitoba"

by George Siamandas


On June 8, 1871, the Lynch Party, a group of 56 Scottish Settlers arrived in Manitoba to begin the practise scientific agriculture on new homesteads north of Portage La Prairie.

The supply of farm land in Ontario was running short. Manitoba was seen as the province of hope and opportunity. Hundreds of returning soldiers brought back news of Manitoba of a land were the soil was three to four feet deep, great summers for bumper crops, and an "invigorating" winter climate. The federal govt offered a land grant of 160 acres and help for new settlers to travel and loans to get them started in agriculture in Manitoba. They came from places like Adelaide, East Williams and Middlesex County in Ontario. They were the friends and relatives of a man named Walter Lynch.

Walter Lynch, who was born in 1835 had been a private in Colonel Garnet Wolsely's Red River Expedition. He was a bachelor from Lobo Ontario. Lynch talked up the idea with friends and neighbours and in 1871 recruited 55 other Ontario Britishers to come with him. Their names included Stewart, Morrisson, McKenzie, Cory, Clark and Lynch's brother and his family.

Lynch kept a diary of their trip to Manitoba in which he details their journey to Manitoba and how they selected their new homesteads.

His party came in 1871, well before the railway served Manitoba and they took the long route through the United States and eventually came down the Red River using a combination of the steamboat and carts.

It was not an easy journey. The oldest of the group, a Mrs Cory died en route. At this time all country west of the Red was Indian country. On several occasions they had to drive off people they suspected to be horse thieves. They brought with them forty horses, four cattle and equipment and boarded the Selkirk steamboat. Their freight was so heavy the men had to get off the boat and cart it to Winnipeg. The ships' carpenter drowned after being thrown overboard and struck by a barge. As they passed by Pembina the US garrison of troops turned out to see the new arrivals.

At this time one could travel to the Rocky mountains without seeing a fence or cabin Lynch wrote in his diary. They settled around Portage La Prairie and the area north to the shores of Lake Manitoba near Rat Creek and the Whitemud River near Westbourne. Lynch Point on the south-west point of Lake Manitoba is named after Lynch. There a group of 20 mounted Indians asked them to move on but after an offer of presents and food, the Natives left them alone.

Donald Stewart a member of the party introduced the province's first pure bred stock Leicester sheep. In 1873 he brought in the first registered Shorthorn cattle. Their early contributions were recognized in the years to come. In 1906 Walter Lynch was named to the Board of Governors of the Manitoba Agricultural College. He died in 1908.

In 1936 twelve surviving members of the Lynch Party and their 200 descendants and friends met at Westbourne to celebrate their 65 anniversary.


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