Memories of Dominion City, Manitoba

It has been said that “once you’ve lived in Dominion City, you will never be truly content living elsewhere.” Former resident Kathleen Harris reflects on what made this historic border town the perfect place to grow up in.

My hometown is Dominion City, Manitoba, close to Emerson, a customs-office community on Highway 75, about 12 miles north of the U.S.-Canada border. It was originally called Roseau Crossing, which was similar to other names in the area and so was changed to Dominion City in 1880. I grew up on a farm three miles from town and lived there until 1963.

Dominion City Manitoba - Solnes CafeCourtesy Kathleen Harris
A wintry view of Solnes Cafe in Dominion City, Manitoba.

It has been said that “once you’ve lived in Dominion City, you will never be truly content living elsewhere.” And as the years passed, school reunions were always well attended. We were a variety of nationalities, and we all got along fine. Some of the businesses then included a McCleods store, Sokolyk’s Grocery, a shoe repair shop, Pete’s and Solnes Cafés, a Bank of Commerce, a pharmacy, Mrs. Jones Bakery, Ballasts Garage and The Queen’s Hotel. The RM of Franklin customs office was built in 1945, the Franklin Manor in 1967. There was an elementary school and a high school, and there has always been an arena for as long as I can remember.

Dominion City has always been a very sports-minded community. Sports popular in those days included various kinds of baseball, curling and hockey. They have a golf course, now, as well as an Olympic-sized, heated swimming pool, where many children take swimming lessons every summer.

In 1950, there was a very serious flood; water completely inundated the town and isolated the community from the outside world.

The Red Cross dropped off parcels of food and clothing by plane. My parents, Arthur and Kathleen Knutson, were married in 1949. I remember Mom telling me that the only things not under water were the house and the long driveway. They’d have to leave Dad’s new truck parked on the road and walk to the house together without stopping until they got to the door because the muck and mire seemed determined to suck the boots right off their feet. What a preparation for marriage!

Dominion City Manitoba - High SchoolCourtesy Kathleen Harris
Dominion City High School.

I remember one Halloween some of the high school guys put an outhouse at the top of the front entrance to the high school, then backed a truck up to the other entrance, and let loose a load of chickens and turkeys into the basement. It took them most of the morning to clean it all up!

4H was always an important activity throughout the year. On “Field Day,” they usually had a booth and gave presentations on different topics. One year, we had an actual soldier teach us the proper way to march!

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Originally Published in Our Canada