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River Lot Settlement/Gunn's Mill/The Gunn Family

Three plaques in one! This mill stone surrounded by plaques stands next to the Half Moon Drive In near Lockport, Manitoba. Here is the transcription of the plaques, from left to right:


Aboriginal people camped near the rapids above this site for at least 30 centuries before European settlers arrived, following the 1821 amalgamation of the two big fur-trade companies. The redundant fur-trade employees moved to the Red River Settlement, where they either purchased or were granted two-mile-long plots, ranging from 188-330 feet in width. This river lot system, adapted from Eastern Canada, provided equitable distribution of hay and wood resources while the river provided transportation.

Many English-speaking retired fur traders brought their native families to settle in St. Andrews Parish, where an Anglican mission was established in 1830. The 1835 census showed about 70 families living along the stretch of the river. Most settlers had only a few acres under cultivation, supplementing their incomes with fishing, buffalo hunting and HBC contract work. Under the terms of the Manitoba Act, 1870, most of these families were able to successfully establish title to their river lot farms.



This mill stone, found discarded on this property in 2003, was part of a water-powered grist mill, established here in 1854 by the Gunn family. The Gunn mill was one of nine water-powered and 18 wind-driven grist mills in the Red River Settlement. The two-storey mill structure depended upon a water wheel to turn the two mill stones. A dam was used to create a mill pond, but variations in water levels meant the mill could only operate intermittently. Steam power began replacing water and wind mills in Red River in 1856. Gunn's mill ceased operations in the early 1870s, replaced by a steam-operated flour mill built at St. Andrews in 1864. In the 1880s, new roller process mills replaced grist mills. By 1900, there were nearly 100 flour mills in Manitoba.

St. Clement's Heritage Advisory Committee



Donald Gunn (1797-1878) arrived from Scotland in 1813 to serve with the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1823 he established a farm on Lot 163, St. Andrews. Gunn taught at St. Andrews Parish School and served as local magistrate. From 1871 to 1876 he was a member of the Legislative Council of Manitoba. Gunn's interest in natural history led to a long-standing connection with the Smithsonian Institution. An eyewitness to the events that led to the creation of Manitoba, Gunn wrote a "History of Manitoba", published posthumously in 1880. Gunn and his wife, Margaret Swain, had twelve children, whose descendants contributed to the development of this area. Their son John represented the area in legislature for several terms.

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