Heritage Highlights: The CPR in Winkler

Winkler Heritage Society.

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When the Canadian Pacific Railway Company started building the transcontinental railroad, Mr. Cornelius Van Horne, the engineer, promised that “he would build 500 miles of the road on the prairie” in 1882. The village of Hoffnungsfeld which was located about 11/2 miles to the south-west of the present town of Winkler, was by-passed by the construction of the C.P .R. in 1882. From 1882 to 1892 passenger and freight trains did not stop at Hoffnungsfeld Siding, as Winkler was known at that time. In 1892, a box car with the name “Winkler” was set off here. There was no agent until the station was built.
When Mr. Valentine Winkler. who in 1890 became the first reeve of Stanley Municipality, traded his quarter section for the Wiens quarter section, he had the latter surveyed into lots for a village site.
The understanding with the Canadian Pacific Railway was that Mr. Valentine Winkler was to give the Company every second block of land in the village site. In return the C.P.R. established a station there which they called “Winkler”. For a number of years it was only flag station. An old box car without an agent served the purpose. In 1898 the station was erected. The first station agent was Mr. W. J. Wells. In fact, Mr. Wells had served as the local agent even before the new building was erected. He was followed by Mr. J. M. Davis, who in turn was succeeded by Mr. Thomas S. Acheson.
For a number of years Winkler was served daily by two passenger trains. In 1929, the C. P. R. began a second passenger coach service from Winnipeg through Winkler by way of Carman and Plum Coulee. This train left Winnipeg at 6:30 p.m., and since it was a mixed train carrying freight as well as passengers, it arrived in Winkler at 11:30 p.m. However, after a few years this passenger coach service was discontinued.
However, because of increasing competition from Thiessen Transportation Bus Lines and Grey Goose Bus Lines, as well as from privately owned automobiles on highways 3, 14, and 75, the daily passenger service to and from Winnipeg was reduced to three passenger trains each way per week. Finally, on October 25, 1958, the C.P.R. almost eliminated the passenger service by providing only one mixed train on a tri-weekly basis. This consisted of adding a passenger coach to one of the regular freight trains. However, the mail was delivered to the local post office by truck even before the passenger and express trains were discontinued completely on October 25, 1959. Today, the town of Winkler is served by the C.P.R. with freight trains only.
In the 1930’s Mr. George Hiebert provided special bus service for short trips as well as for extended tours to California and Mexico. Because many members of the Old Colony Churches to the south of Winkler emigrated to Mexico in the middle of the 1920’s, there was considerable interest in these tours. Mr. Hiebert used an improvised bus that seated about twenty passengers. By 1936, he was giving daily bus service to Winnipeg. However, this bus route was discontinued when Mr. Hiebert moved to B. C. Then in August, 1946, Mr. A. J. Thiessen inaugurated a bus service from Gretna and Winkler to Winnipeg. This bus line was known as Thiessen Transportation and later amalgamated with Grey Goose Bus Lines.
Winkler has no bus service today.
Excerpts from The History of Winkler,1973 p.12-13

Heritage Highlights, supplied by the Winkler Heritage Society, introduces readers to the people, places and things that still impact us today. The Winkler Heritage Museum is located in the Southland Mall and is open Tuesday to Friday, 12 to 4 p.m., Saturdays 10 am – 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings. The Archives located in the Winkler Centennial Library are open Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m.. For appointments call archivist Ed Falk at 204-325-8929. The Stones and Stories binders are on display at both locations. Come for a visit! One way of showing support for the Winkler Heritage Society (Archives, Stones & Stories and Museum) is by becoming a member of the Society. Forms may be picked up at both the Archives and Museum.

You can support the Winkler Heritage Society by purchasing Spenst Bros. Premium Meats gift cards from April 15-30. Buy them from the museum, archives or any Winkler Heritage Society member.