History Book

Pages 1 to 4 of the Crandall History Book, 2000.

For some of us we have watched Crandall go from a boomtown to a ghost town, but for those of us remaining we call it home.

The Railroad
The North West Central Railway laid a line to the future site of Crandall in 1899. This railway company was purchased by the C.P.R. in 1900. With the laying of the railroad, Crandall was born. Originally the town was named Crandell, for Dr. Crandell who provided care to the railway workers. Later, the town's name was changed to Crandall. The railroad provided the community with travel to Miniota, Brandon and eventually Winnipeg as well as mail and freight. In the winter when the weather was bad the Presbyterian minister from Miniota would come on a "Jigger" for the church services. The telegraph service was opened on February 20, 1900 and dismantled in 1963. The first elevator was built even before Crandall was much of a town. This elevator was owned by the Winnipeg Elevator Company, however it burned down in 1914. There were also a number of elevators owned by such companies as Ogilvies, Western Canada Flour Company, Northern Elevator Company, Maple Leaf Milling Company as well as the McHugh and Company. The Manitoba Wheat Pool was formed in 1928. In 1970 the elevator was modernized, however it was torn down in 1980 when the railroad was taken out of the area. The Canadian National Rail also ran two miles south of Crandall providing work as well as travel to Winnipeg. This railway continues to run, now only providing the service of freight and grain.

Medical Care and Justice
Although there was no hospital there were two doctors who provided their services out of their home. Dr. Crandell ready to retire, came a few years before the town was settled, but when he discovered he was needed he continued to practice. In 1935 Mrs. Goddard opened a nursing home in the late Dr. Crandell' s house. Dr. Fraser came to Crandall in 1903 and stayed until he retired in 1950. In 1950 a hospital was built in Hamiota through the efforts of Dr. Ed Hudson. Today the facility in Hamiota is still operating with a full staff. A new separate medical clinic was opened in August 1968. The hospital houses the dental clinic and also an attached senior's residence and nursing home.
Crandall had a few police magistrates, but now all police duties are performed by the R.C.M.P. Although Crandall had a jail it never had any occupants. In 1949 it was moved to the Ivan Lawrence farm.

The Telephone and Hydro
The telephone line came through Crandall in 1908. Private homes paid $20.00 a year to have a phone and a business paid $24.00, plus long distance calls. Mr. Burwick was the repairman for the area and he would provide his services by car and truck in the summer and by a horse sleigh in the winter. If it were storming too bad he would rent the Ellerington snowmobile. Talk about dedication! In 1951 an automatic system was put in by the Manitoba Telephone System.
Hydro service was provided in 1930 from Virden. This service changed the way of life for a lot of farmers and homes making life a little easier.

The Post Office
Crandall has had postal service since 1884. This was in the log home of Thomas Hamilton in the town of Carlingville, 1 mile south of the current town of Crandall. In 1899 Mr. Hamilton moved the post office into Crandall. The mail came by train 6 days a week and the postmaster would meet the train, carrying it to the post office from the station slung over his back and by sleigh in the winter. The post office was eventually moved to the back of Jack Clarke's store and later to the east side. In 1930 the daily service of the train stopped and the mail had to be picked up in Pope, Manitoba. In 1956 the post office was moved to the back of Robert Kitz hardware store. In 1967 Mrs. Daisy Page took over, moving the post office into the grocery store and later to the front of her house south of the C.P.R. tracks. Darlene Long took over in 1974, moving it to their store in 1975 and then back to the house south of the railroad tracks when the store closed. In 1984 Crandall celebrated 100 years of Postal Service. In 1999 Darlene moved the post office 1 lot south and continues to provide service.

Around the years of 1906-1908 the Northern Crown Bank opened in Crandall. When the bank opened Crandall had a population of approximately 300 people, with two stores, five elevators, machine agents and many others. The bank enjoyed a prosperous business until closing its doors in 1932. The people now had to move their business to Hamiota or Miniota.

Stores and Business
Crandall had a variety of stores and businesses. The first store in Crandall was opened in 1899. In 1903 this store was enlarged and the upper story was used for community purposes. Many nights there was an old time dance or the glee club entertaining. Years later an addition was added which housed the pool room and ice cream parlor. This first store in town was destroyed by fire on November 22, 1959. As well as this store, there were also 2 general stores although one burnt down after only 3 or 4 years of operation. Mr. Bing built a cafe in the 1920s. He also bought the bank building and opened another general store. He added on to make his living quarters upstairs, and an ice cream parlor, lunchroom, lean to and flour shed. After various owners and modernization, a coffee bar, butcher and a crib table were added. These owners all traded butter for the necessities of life and carried many people's debts over through the depression years.
Crandall had a hardware store started in 1900 called Brown and Company. The hardware store also went through many owners and changes through 65 years of serving the community. There were also 2 tin smithing businesses and a bakery. Like the general stores and hardware store, the town bakery also experienced many changes and owners. Mr. Billy Matthews was hired to drive his delivery wagon with 100-120 loaves of bread to Decker and Isabella on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Saturday he would take 100 loaves to Pope. The bakeshop also provided bread daily to Bradwardine, Harding, Kenton and Lenore. Each morning the empty boxes would be collected from the train with a slip of paper saying how much bread each town required. The baker moved to Hamiota and continued his baking there for a number of years.
The first butcher shop was opened in 1900. After many owners and changes it went out of business in 1952. The barbershop and poolroom were a common gathering place for men folk in town. The barbershop was moved from business to business before closing the doors in the 1970' s.The poolroom was closed in 1969 when the tables were sold to other communities. There were 5 boarding houses in town when it was booming. Like many of the businesses in the community these rooms for rent went through many owners. The main boarding house served the community until 1953.
Many members of the community opened cafes, both before and after the War, only to go out of business after some years.
With the railroad going through town it was possible for a lumber yard and coal yard to be opened. The lumberyard provided many citizens with enough wood to build a house or a barn until 1949 when it too went out of business.
In 1902 there was a harness shop, expanding to harness repairs as well as shoe repairs in 1903. In the 1920's handmade harnesses decreased, being replaced by factory made. The harness business closed but the shoe repair shop continued for a few years before this service also dwindled away. There were other shoe repair shops operated in Crandall; the last one was operated by Frank Skorka, who was from Czechoslovakia, from 1938-1947.
There were 5 blacksmiths' shops in Crandall, one specializing in acetylene welding. (This was a new way of mending iron). The blacksmiths in town operated until the late 50' s when they were also closed. Mr. Charles Cartwright was one of the few to own a grinder so many farmers would bring their grain to be chopped up for feed. This was the first grinding mill. He also sold coal oil and White Rose gasoline.
The first garage was started in 1916. Soon followed by others although these too were closed over time and in the 1970's Bob Schoch's was the only garage in town. This too closed in 1980. Bob Schoch died in 1981. There were a variety of implement dealers selling such brands as John Deere, Massey Harris Implements, Fairbanks-Morse Rumley threshers as well as Cockshutt Implements, the J.I. Case Company, which also sold cars. There was also an agent for the Oliver farm equipment, Robin cultivators and Willis Jeeps. These implement dealers started before 1902 and some were in business in Crandall until the late 1970' s, when the last dealership owned by Delymer Johnston went out of business.
There wasn't much need for a fuel dealer at the beginning of the century but eventually a bulk fuel business was started leading to a variety of independent fuel dealers. These changed hands and became a part of bigger businesses like the Gulf Oil Company. Fuel bowsers were installed in town for everyone to use. These were taken out in later years.
The first livery barn was built in 1899 and operated until 1956 or 1957. The owners of these barns were basically the "Pioneer taxi drivers" as they could be hired to drive anyone wherever the needed to go.
The first trucking service was started in 1935. However, today most farmers haul their own livestock and grain. A variety of farmers supplied milk to the town until the Public Health Commission stated that milk needed to be delivered by certain standards. Milk was then delivered to the community by accredited dairies. Farmers also supplied the town with eggs, delivering them privately..or trading with the local shopkeepers for groceries and butter. Eventually local farmers couldn't meet the demand and the cost of the eggs. Herald and Helen Hall were the only farmers left to service this industry. They had a flock of 800 hens and sold eggs to the local residents as well as neighbouring towns, even Virden and Thompson.
Crandall had a laundromat opened in 1910 by two Chinese men, but they didn't stay in business long. There were a large number of dressmakers, carpenters, stone masons, insurance agents, diggers and men to do odd jobs.
All these businesses dwindled away through the years and now Crandall is left to rely on the services that Miniota and Hamiota as well as Virden and Brandon provide.

Social Activities
Crandall had a variety of social activities. The first rink was built in 1901, containing a small hockey rink and two sheets of curling ice. In 1916 it was condemned. A new rink was built this being an open air-type. Because this rink was so close to the school the children used it for skating at noon hour and recesses. It was even said that the teachers would allow the children to wear their skates during class so that they would have all of the time for skating. In 1932 a new balloon type rink was built with curling sheets on each side. This rink was destroyed by heavy snow in 1938. Only one curling sheet remained. In 1946 another rink was built housing a curling and skating rink. On June 3, 1949, fire destroyed this building. It was replaced on the same site and enjoyed by many until 1975 when it collapsed.
Football (soccer) was a favourite sport in town, although there was no team or league, many liked to play at summer picnics and school. Baseball was also popular. This became a league affair in 1910 until 1917 and again in 1940 until the 1970's.
The local sports ground was used as a racetrack for local horse enthusiasts in the 1930' s.
Hockey and curling were both popular sports. Many players and their rocks travelled to play in bonspiels. Tennis was also popular from 1912 to 1940. Eventually the dwindling population caused many people to lose interest in these sports and those still wanting to play now had to travel to larger areas to join a team.
Also included in the social activities of the town were the 4-H programs and Boys and Girls Clubs. The girls were taught sewing, table setting and service. The boys were taught how to raise poultry, pigs, cattle and to grow corn as well as any project that would aid in the enhancement of the child. 4-H continued to be a large part of the community. Teachers helped the children prepare for fairs and exhibits. Entries such as penmanship, essay, drawings, paintings and maps were a few of the schools influence on the children. Also in the fair were sewing, bread making, canning and preserving, samples of cream for churning, butter, granules, calves, colts, gardening, poultry and swine entries.
Also included in the community were a variety of women's organizations. The Women's Institute was started in 1915. These ladies were actively involved in the community hosting teas, bridal showers, funeral lunches and smorgasbords until disbanding.
Townspeople were in the drama society, the book club, music clubs, the glee club, the Crandall Loyal Orange Lodge and the Canadian Order of Foresters.
Crandall also had a paper called the Enterprise started in 1910. The paper was published every Thursday. In 1919 the paper changed its name as well as editor to the New Prairie Dawn until it closed, selling the equipment to Hamiota.
The Church has been a large part of the community since roughly 1880. Even though there was no official building many members attended the services. The church has had many members in its Sunday school, choirs, the Women's Missionary society, The Women's Auxiliary, The United Church Women, The Young Peoples Society, the C.G.I.T., The TYROS (Try Your Reach Out Society), The Explorers, The Mission Band (Later called the Messengers). Although many of these groups no longer exist, they were a large part of the community and helped it grow to the size and population that it was.
Today Crandall has only a post office, The Birdtail River School Division office, a community hall (which was the Foresters hall and theatre), a church and a small population.

Small Town
Craig E. Sathoff

There's something about a small town
That's friendship at its best,
For each and every warm "hello"
Has extra special zest.

The soda fountain is a place
Not just for ice cream drinks,
But to compare one's thoughts and views
With what a neighbour thinks.

The bench outside the barbershop
Is the town directory,
And oldsters sitting neath the sun
Guide strangers cheerfully.

No one needs to feel alone
When trouble comes his way,
'Cause all the town will pitch right in
To brighten up his day.

They'll plant his crops or shelter him,
And hope and strength provide.
They'll let him know beyond a doubt
That they are on his side.

The pace of life moves slowly,
But no one can deny
That life if lived in fullest
As days and years pass by.