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Wilderness loggers

William James Davidson (second from the left) emigrated to Minitonas, Manitoba, from Owen Sound, Ontario, with his father, mother, and seven siblings to start a farm. In 1899, the railway was only built as far as Dauphin, Maintoba, so the family had to travel by wagon into the Swan River Valley.

While attempting to cross a swollen river, the wagon and horses were trapped by the current and pulled downstream. Fortunately, a shallow bar stopped the horses and all were saved, including one-year-old Estelle and eleven-year-old Edna, who clung to the front seat of the cart.

Living on the froniter was no easy feat. This picture shows one of many side jobs the family members took in order to sustain themselves. William's brother John, seated third from the left, and wife Ethyl May, standing fourth from the left, helped in the logging business near Mafeking, Manitoba.

William later took more stable work as a general contractor in Winnipeg, where he poured the first reinforced concrete in the city at Point Douglas, along the Red River.

In 1912, Edna went on to marry Arthur J. Richardson, one of the operators of the Richardson Brothers Art Gallery, the largest art gallery in Western Canada at the time.

Ron Davidson is the son of William James Davidson and lives in Metcalfe, Ontario. Text by Ryan Kessler.

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