Lac du Bonnet is a community rich in history dating back to the De La Verendrye era. La Verendrye, having surveyed the topography of the area, decided that the lake (actually a river) reminded him of a bonnet. Appropriately, he named the area Lac du Bonnet. In tribute to the great explorations and tireless efforts of La Verendrye, the La Verendrye Monument was unveiled at Fort Alexander at the mouth of the Winnipeg River.
Over one hundred years later, Scotsman John Duncan McArthur, drawn by the areas magnificent lakes, rivers, and forests, and their potential as natural resources, came to the area. McArthur was born in Lancaster Glengarry County, Ontario on June 25th, 1854 and he came west 25 years later. He built a sawmill near Birtle, Manitoba and was subsequently attracted to railroading. He was contracted by The Canadian National Railway (CNR) to build branch lines in Manitoba. He enlarged his operations by building the main line for The Canadian Northern (now the CNR) from Winnipeg to Edmonton.
Lac du Bonnet's first settlement was called Eureka. The Lac du Bonnet development Company formed in 1896 to prospect for possible mineral rights and timber limits. The company owned land up to Seven Sisters and north to Bird River where they had mining claims. Partners in the company were W.J. Kirby, Walter Vivran, Walter Wardrop Sr., Henry Wardrop, and Dr. Good.
Walter Wardrop Sr. came to Whitemouth in 1883. His wife was the first woman doctor in Manitoba. She worked tirelessly, never refusing a trip. Walter Wardrop Sr. was the general manager of the Lac du Bonnet Company. He built a brick yard in Lac du Bonnet with all the machinery being hauled from Shelly by horses and sleighs in the winter. As well, he built two boarding houses and a store where the Ramsay MacIntosh house and buildings are located. Lumber came from Whitemouth in 1899 to build the structures.
In 1901, the J.D. McArthur Company purchased the entire holdings of the Lac du Bonnet Timber Mining and Manufacturing Company consisting of a townsite of over 2000 acres of land an the brick manufacturing plant. In the same year, the CPR line was built to Lac du Bonnet making possibble the shipping of fuel wood to the J.D. McArthur Co. lumber and fuel yard in Winnipeg. As well, a sawmill was operating in the Lac du Bonnet area in 1901 and lumber was also being shipped to Winnipeg. The sawmill operated until 1918 and the brick plant until 1920. During the Depression, the company maintained operations at regular pay to provide employment.
The population of Lac du Bonnet was comprised of French from Quebec and Metis with French and Scottish names. With increased immigration from Europe, the population of Lac du Bonnet and district became more heterogeneous. There came the Ukrainians, Poles, Swedes, Norwegians, the Finns and Latvians from Russia in search of cheap land.
In 1905, J.D. McArthur was awarded the largest and most difficult contract in Canada at that time to build the Transcontinental Railway Line 250 miles east from Winnipeg. When the major work was completed, he sent the equipment to Edmonton to build a railway in the Peace River country. He spent a number of years pursuing ventures in Alberta. In 1920, Mr. McArthur thought it would be smart to have a paper mill instead of exporting raw materials to Ontario and the U.S.A. He eventually secured Pulpwood Berth No. 1 and a permit for the Pine Falls power site on the Winnipeg River. In the spring of 1922, he obtained a 99 year lease for the mill site.
In 1924, the CNR line was completed from Winnipeg to Pine Falls. He succeeded in buying the land now occupied by the paper mill. He was the first president of The Manitoba Pulp and Paper Company. John Duncan McArthur died on January 10, 1925 at the age of 74, never having the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his labour, but leaving half a century of achievements for others to enjoy. Mr. McArthur sold his farm and timber limits around Lac du Bonnet to his nephew, Alexander McIntosh, who in turn, turned it over to his son, Ramsay McIntosh.The information on this page has been provided by The Eastman Freenet
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