Langruth History 1950 -1984
Stephen Leacock, the renowned Canadian author and humorist, once said, "I never realized that there was history too, close at hand, beside my very own home. I did not realize that the old grave that stood among the brambles at the foot of our farm was history." But so it is.
font sizeIn many ways, the history of Langruth Iies right before our eyes. All we have to do is take the time to look.
A quick glance down Langruth streets in 1984 reveals a town not all that much changed in appearance since the early 1950s. The major landmarks are still there, albeit with fresh coats of paint or new sidings. Langruth is still "a little town in the West" and its origins are not so far ago in the past that they cannot still be seen in many of the town's buildings.
Nevertheless, the past 34 years have brought some changes. If many of the buildings are unchanged, the same cannot be said for the town's residents. Faces come and go in history. Nothing stays exactly the same forever.
Entering the town from the south of P.T.H. 50, the viewer first sees to his right the Langruth elementary school. Completed in 1960, the building was or iginally used as the town's high school. It boasted three classrooms and a fourth room which did triple service as a classroom, science lab and library. Students attended from both the town itself and the surrounding countryside. The high school was closed in 1971, at which time Langruth and area high school students were bussed to William Morton Collegiate in Gladstone.
Any discussion of the Langruth Collegiate must include a reference to Mrs. V. Olive Hall, principal of the school for many years until her retirement in 1970. Her contribution to education in the area is commemorated by the V. Olive Hall Memorial Award donated annually by the Rural Municipality of Lakeview to the student graduating from William Morton Collegiate with the highest standing in mathematics.
The building was then used for elementary school students in the lower grades. Following extensive renovations to the building, including the addition of a fully-equipped gymnasium, the entire Langruth elementary school moved to its new location in 1982.
Teachers for the 1983-84 term are Randy Penner (Principal), Elizabeth (Mrs. Ari) Johnson, Barbara (Mrs. Alan) Jackson and Iona (Mrs. Louis) Lasson. Leeann (Mrs. Doug) Thompson is employed as a teachers' aide.
Langruth and area joined the Pine Creek School Division in 1959 and has one elected representative on the school board. In December, 1983, a replacement had not yet been found for trustee Robert Cochrane who moved away from the district several months earlier.
Driving north along Main Street, the viewer next sees the bulk fertilizer storage units now owned by Arnold Symesko. At one time, this was the site of the Lye and Son lumber yard, managed by S.P. Einarson. Mr. Einarson work ed for C.W. Lye and Son for 26 years, retiring in 1965. The business was managed by Thor Kjartanson for a time before Lye and Son closed it down and moved the stock to MacGregor where the parent company operated. The lot was first sold to George and Leonard Hanneson and, in 1974, to Arnold and Paulette Symesko.
The white stucco building now coming into view is the home of the Langruth post office. Originally the R.M. of Lakeview office, the building is still owned by the municipality. The post office began operation at this location in the fall of 1967, moving from its previous location on Williams Avenue. Mail service is provided on a six days-aweek basis with early closing on Wednesday and Saturday. Postmistress is Thura (Mrs. Wilf) Boivin.
Some time after the post office moved into the building, it was decided to partition off the building to make room for a local health unit. At the present time, a public health nurse attends at the office every Tuesday. The office is also used on Mondays and Thursdays for meetings and message pick-ups.
The Rural Municipality of Lakeview is a memher of the Seven Regions Health Centre, which also includes the L.G.D. of Alonsa, the R.M. of Westbourne, the R.M. of Glenella, eastern portions of the R.M. of Lansdowne, northern portions of the R.M. of North Norfolk, the Sandy Bay Indian Reserve and the towns of Alonsa, Amaranth, Gladstone, Plumas and Glenella. According to the constitution of the organization, the R.M. of Lakeview has two appoint ed representatives on the board: one a council member, the other a representative of the general public. In 1984, the representatives serving one year terms are Henriette (Mrs. Emil) Kleemola and Margaret (Mrs. Byron) Arksey.
At one time, Langruth was represented by the Neepawa Health Unit. In 1972, however, the R.M.s of Lansdowne, Lakeview, Westbourne and Glenella were moved to Portage la Prairie jurisdiction.
On January 10, 1972, a meeting was held in Langruth to discuss the forma tion of a community health and social development centre for the area. An interim board was set up with local members Jessie (Mrs. Tom) Yungkurt and Joseph Soos. In May, 1973, the municipal council supported by resolution the formation of such a centre and Seven Regions began official operations in the fall of that year. The health centre was incorporated under the District Health and Social Services Act in 1977 and approved by provincial government Order-inCouncil in October, 1983. At that time, the Gladstone Hospital District #17, of which Langruth had been a member, was officially dissolved.
Although it was not possible to obtain a list of all the public health nurses who have worked in this area, the following names will be remembered: Mary Berg, Marie Salway, Sharon Hamm, Diane Cassels, Jennifer Wilson, Janice Shemeliuk and Debbie Stovin. The present public health nurse is Ann Hockin. Mary Berg continues to serve the area in her role as nurse practitioner. Seven Regions Health Centre also provides community health workers, menta! health counsellors and health education instructors as part of its program.
The post office building also provides space for the law firm of Anderson and Beaulieu, a Portage la Prairie firm which has held office hours in the building every Wednesday since March, 1982.
An empty lot marks the site of the old telephone office, used as a private residence since dial telephones were instailed in the community on April 3, 1975. The building was destroyed by fire in 1983.
Next in line is Ernbcrly's Esso Service, owned and operated by L10yd and Robert Emberly. This same business was once own ed by Clarence Emberly and Alfred DeMiiI, who operated it as a Massey Harris dealership. In the early or mid-1950s, the business was taken over by Jess Crosby. The business was purchased by Frank Arksey in the fall of 1963. Frank was joined by his brother Leslie in April, 1964, and the two worked in partnership for approximately eight months.
Frank sold out in about 1972 or 1973 to Tom Thompson and Anthony Tychynski of Amaranth, who operated as Thompson and Tychynski Ltd. The Emberly brothers purchased the business in 1979. They have just recently completed the construction of a garage and storage shed adjoining the east si de of the building.
In 1950, the Ridge Hotel was owned by Mike Chernichan. It was later run for a brief time by William "Monty" Montgomery, who left the community in 1959. The hotel was taken over by L10yd Orsted in July of that year. Subsequent owners were William Zasitko, Mike Mospanchuk and Frank and Alan Hoehn. At the present time, the hotel is owned and operated by Alan and Mavis Hoehn.
Mr. and Mrs. Hoehn also operate the Ridge Cafe as part of the hote! operation. Others who have operated this cafe since 1950 include Monty Montgomery, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Choy, Mrs. Jim (Florence) Jackson, Harry and Evelyn Bergson, Frank and Judy Hoehn and Anna White.
The Ridge Hotel also serves as the local bus depot. Langruth has daily bus service from Winnipeg, in a route that also includes Poplar Point, Portage la Prairie, Amaranth and Alonsa. The bus depot was for many years located at Johnny's Kwik Lunch cafe, then at the hotel, at Rick's Gulf Service and now at the hotel once again.
The Langruth Hardware remained in the Hanneson family until 1974 when George and Leonard Hanneson retired and the business was purchased by Arnold and Paulette Symesko of Amaranth. In addition to the hardware, the Symeskos had a bulk fertilizer agency, as well as the local liquor vendor located in the store. The hardware and vendor were sold to Tom and Judy Breckman of Westbourne in the fall of 1983. Arnold Symesko continues to operate the fertilizer business. The Langruth Trading Company, also known as the local Solo store, has been owned and operated by Gordon and Verla Reed, formerly of Amaranth, since 1975. The Reeds purchased the business from Leslie and Svava Arksey who had purchased it in 1965 from Bjorn Bjarnarson. For approximately one year, Leslie operated the store in partnership with Harold Rhodes.
What is now Rick's Gulf Service was once the Langruth Garage owned by Arnold Dell, Joseph Dell and A. Heibert. In the sumrner of 1965, the garage was taken over by Elvern Sorenson who had taken over the Gulf ail dealership the previous year. Elvern operated the garage until 1975, although he continued to deliver fuel until 1979 . The business was taken over by J.W.c. (Bud) Carriere in 1975 and remained in his hands until Gulf ail sold the business to Richard Schmidt and Frank Richard in 1977.
The Style Shoppe was owned and operated by Laura Finnbogason until 1964, when it was sold to Margaret (Mrs. Byron) Arksey. Margaret operated the business for close to 20 years before selling to Rose Donaldson of Amaranth in the fall of 1983. It was in this building that much of the research and writing for the Langruth news was done, for Margaret Arksey was the local correspondent for the Portage Leader in the 1970s and again starting in 1983. Others to accept the job have included Jean (Mrs. Gordon) Thordarson and Lynne (Mrs. T ed) Jonasson, following in the tradition of Lena Thorleifson whose association with the community newspaper lasted 46 years, involving more than 2 400 articles. Mrs. Thorleiíson's final column appeared in the Christmas, 1963 issue of the Leader at which time she was honored by Vopni Press r~presentatives. Management paid tribute to her dedication and to the quality of her work which had a "letter from home" quality which endeared her to her readers.
In 1950, the Red and White grocery and dry goods store at the north end of town was owned by Bjarni Johanson. The store was purchased In 1965 by William and Elsie Kuhn of Westbourne, who operated the business for the next 10 years. Sometime during the last couple of years of their ownership, the stor c's name was changed from the Red and White to the M & M.
In 1975, the store was bought by Walter McIvor of Marius, and then, in 1977, by Ralph and Emily Thompson, the present owners.
The offices of the Rural Municipality of Lakeview now come into view. This building was purchased in 1967 and includes the council chambers, secretary-treasurer's office, fire hall and machine operator's garage. Following the 1983 municipal election, the present council members are Reeve Einar Sigurdson and Councillors Ron Jackson (Ward One), Joe So os (Ward Two), Henriette Kleemola (Ward Three) and Ian Foster (Ward Four). Secretary-treasurer is Viola Wild and the machine operators are Robert Moffat and Barry Arksey.
Reference should be made at this time to the municipal contributions of O.S. Eiriksson, who was reeve of this municipality from 1954 to 1975. When he retired in 1975, Mr. Eiríksson was honored for his 51 years of municipal service both in this community and in the R.M. of Siglunes in earlier years.
The municipal office is also the local office for the Motor Vehicle Branch, as well as an Autopac insurance agency. Mrs. Wild is also a Justice of the Peace, with police services provided by the RCMP detachment at Amaranth.
To the north of the municipallot can be seen the old elementary school grounds, where both the original school built in 1912 and its successor built in 1952 still stand. Although the 1912 structure is empty, the second building is now being used by the Extension Services Department of Assiniboine Community College for adult upgrading classes.
In connection with the Langruth elementary school, note should be made of the contributions of R.J. McNeill, who was principal of the school from 1958 till his retirement in 1976.
Across from the municipal hall, on the west side of Main Street, is the Langruth Community Hall. Numerous renovations have been completed since the early 1950s and the hall continues to be used for social activities in the community. For several years starting in 1976, the hall was used for provincial judges' court, handling offences occurring in the Langruth, Amaranth and Sandy Bay districts. Until the completion of the new school gymnasium, the hall was also used for physical education instruction.
Next to the hall is the Langruth United Church, now served by Rev. Phyllis (Mrs. Philip) Thordarson.
John and Beatrice Hyndman owned and operated Johnny's Kwik Lunch from 1949 until their retirement in 1976. At that time, it was purchased by Harry and Evelyn Bergson who continue to operate it under the title Langruth Cafe.
What was the Russell Garage in 1950 is now Paul's Service. Francis Russell closed the garage in 1960 and it remained vacant until the following year when Paul Oswald purchased the business from Shell Canada.
Although nothing remains but the foundation, oldtimers will remember the barber and beauty shop located immediately south of Paul's Service on Main Street. The building was own ed by Magnus Johnson and his wife Ingibjorg (Emma). After the Johnsons, a succession of barbers used the buiJding. As late as 1960, it was reported that a certain John Hajavick of Dryden. Ontario, took over the business for part of the year. After his departure, Albert Unger of Amaranth was coming every Thursday to do barbering. Business slowed and the building was eventually torn down.
The Royal Bank of Canada will celebrate its 65th birthday in Langruth in 1984. Present staff members are Doug Jago, manager; Rosemarie Carriere, branch administration officer; Helga Lasson, DDA clerk; T eri Soos, teller; and Sharron Arksey, part-time steno.
The Langruth Meat Market, operated by Frank and Janet Collinson, once stood at the corner of Main and Broadway. In 1959, the building was gutted by fire and the shop was never re opened. From 1964 to 1969, the Collinsons operated a North Star dealership out of the same location.
The lot is now the site of the Westlake Co-op building, constructed in 1976. This building houses the local library, which was opened in 1977 on a strictly voluntary basis. About 400 books were donated to the library by private residents in the first year of operation. In 1978, the municipality entered into an agreement with the Parkland Regional Library out of Dauphin. Atthe'present time, the library boasts more than 6,000 of its own books, as well as some 3,000 loaned from Parkland on a three month rota tion basis. The library is open two days a week - Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Westlake building also houscs a second hand shop and the offices of Betty Thorsteinson of Westbourne, a real estate agent and agent for Thomas Scott Travel of Gladstone. The abandoncd lot next to Westlake Co-op on Main Street was once the International Harvester Dealership owned by John Finnbogason. Following Mr. Finnboqason's death, the business was eventually taken over by Frank Collinson who operated it from 1959 to 1964. At that time, International Harvesterdecided to close down its Langruth operation. The lot remaincd vacant until Albert Schmidt bought it in 1971 and opened up a Texaco service station. Mr. Schmidt closed the service station in the mid-Zíls.
Grace Lutheran Church, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1980, is now served by Pastor David Schumacher who also serves the congregation at Christ Lutheran Church in Waldersee.
Back at the south end of town, we take a drive east down Helgason Avenue, around a few curves and further east to the community sports grounds. Crossing the railway tracks, we become aware of the absence of once-familiar grain elevators scraping the skyline.
In 1950, there were two grain elevators in Langruth: the Federal and the Manitoba Pool Elevator. The Federal agent was Victor Johnson, who held this post until 1969 when he was transferred to Selkirk. He was replaced by Reg Rutherford who was the Federal agent until 1972, after which the eleva tor was closed and moved from town.
Herman Brown was the Manitoba Pool Elevator agent in 1950, a job he was to hold for the next 20 or so years. When he retired, he was replaced by Brian Dilk who worked in Langruth for seven years before his transfer to Gilbert Plains in 1983. At the present time, the agent is Terry Bradco.
As long ago as 1976, when meetings were first held on the subject of grain handling and transportation, it became evident that the future of the rail line to Langruth was in danger. Despite several extensions, the axe finally fell in the fall of 1982 with the announcement that the line would be abandoned effective August, 1984. With this in mind, Manitoba Pool Elevators made the decision to move the Langruth elevator to a site at the junetion of highways 50 and 16. The move was made December 6, 1983.
The community sports grounds are the site of Langruth's annual July 1 Sports Day, an event that dates back to the town's beginnings. Baseball tournaments, horse races and other activities make the grounds a busy place every Canada Day. Also scheduled is the an nu al Langruth-Lakeland 4-H Beef Club achievement program, which draws a constant audience. Achievement day programs were also held for the Ridge Riders 4-H Horse Club prior to its demise in the mid-to-Iate 1970s. As well, the sports grounds were the site of the B.P.O.E. sponsored Langruth Rodeo held annually for five years in the early 1970s.
The Langruth curling rink originally located west of what is now the Langruth Cafe, was moved to the sports grounds in the winter of 1967-68. With two sheets of natural ice, the rink is now in the middle of extensive renovations to the kitchen and waiting room areas.
An indoor skating rink was completed on the grounds in 1977 under the auspices of the Langruth Development Corporation. The ice carnival, held annually in late February or early March, is one of the big events scheduled at the rink. Several hockey teams, both juvenile and adult, are set up each winter and many youngsters also take figure skating lessons at the rink.
Heading back towards town, we cross Main Street and drive west on Haney Avenue, passing the former site of the Ridge Lumber Company, once rnanaqed by Gordon Matthews and no longer in operation.
On Broadway Avenue, west of Main Street, we come to what was at one time the home of the Langruth Transfer. In 1950, the transferwasowned by William and Roy Kinley. It was purchased in 1955 by Raymond Arksey who owned it for the next 10 years. It was owned by a Mr. Green for a short time and was then returned to Ray Arksey for a time until it was sold to William C. Smith. Mr. Smith operated the business until 1970 when he sold it to Howard Stanley and sons of Amaranth. The business continued to operate until the mid-1970s when Kjartanson Hauling of Amaranth took over the transport licence. Parsons Transfer, also of Amaranth, also provides freight service for the area at the present time.
Crossing Broadway and Main, we come to the Langruth Legion Branch #162, with its adjoining Auxiliary rooms. Formed in 1945, the Legion continues to be a thriving organization in the community. Peter and Betty Skoropata manage the day-to-day operation of the building. The auxiliary rooms are used once every three weeks for driver testing.
Across the street is the site of the former Langruth skating rink, an uncovered structure constructed in 1960, a joint project of the community club, the Legion and the Elks. The structure was torn down at the time of construction of the new covered rink.
The site is now taken up by two senior citizen housing units, each containing two separate apartments. The first of these units was brought into town in 1981, with the second arriving late in 1983. The units, sponsored by the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, provide subsidized housing for senior citizens in the area.
At the east end of Williams Avenue, we find the local Elks lodge, completed in December, 1957. The local B.P.o.E. organization was formed in 1952 with a specia! 25th anniversary celebration held in 1977. It's sister organization, the Order of the Royal Purple, was founded in 1953. Both use the club rooms for regular meetings.
The lodge is also used for regular meetings of the Langruth Happy Gang, a senior citizens' organization founded in the late 1970s.
At the east end of Alberta Avenue, we see the Manitoba Telephone System building, constructed in 1975 when dial telephones were introduced into the district.
Mention should also be made of the Heritage museum located just west of town on P.R. 265. The museum, which is owned by Tom and Jessie Yungkurt, was officially opened on July 15, 1977 and continues to attract both local and distant visitors.
This has been a brief and sketchy tour of Langruth andapologies are extended for all errors and omissions. There are bound to be many. Some local organizations and clubs have been omitted, with the hope that they will be covered elsewhere in this book.
It is also believed that many of the businesses will themselves be covered in more detail in other chapters. The purpose of this little tour was simply to illustrate the changes that 35 years have brought to "our little town" and to show that history does indeed live very close to home.