MHS Resources: Manitoba Bricks and Blocks: Pioneer Brick Yard

A directory of brick-making in Manitoba

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People involved in brick and block-making in Manitoba

A glossary of terms relating to bricks and blocks

The Pioneer Brick Yard was establish by James Ruston in 1896 at Cypress River. The yard site was located a short distance south of the town, near the river from which it drew its water. Ruston had a steam-driven brick-making machine that produced seven bricks at one time and employed eleven men. James B. Gowanlock, a local realtor and financial agent, was a local investor in the brick yard in 1898.

By early July 1896, he had produced 70,000 bricks from the local clay that contained enough sand to qualify it as a perfect mixture for making bricks. Later that summer, he burned a kiln of 165,000 bricks that were marked for immediate delivery; the location of the delivery is unknown. By October 1898, he had 300,000 bricks for sale for $8 to $10 per thousand bricks and had advertisements in the local newspapers that a builder could erect a house with $150 worth of his brick. He also offered specially made bricks for cribbing wells and cisterns for $10 per thousand bricks.

Young and Company bought 75,000 bricks from the Pioneer Yard for the construction of a new brick store. J. H. Smith of Cypress River bought 20,000 bricks for his new house on Main Street in 1898 and Ruston himself used his own brick to veneer his house that autumn as well. The residence of R. Owens in Cypress River was constructed using Pioneer bricks. Four train carloads of Pioneer bricks were sold to an unknown party at Treherne.

In 1898, Ruston removed his brick-making machine to a location south of the town, where the clay for better quality brick could be obtained easily. He was still making bricks in September of 1901; however, by 1904 his yard was no longer advertised in the local directories.


Manitoba Brick Yards by Randy Rostecki, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch Report, May 2010.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 May 2020

Leary Brickworks

Manitoba Bricks and Blocks

A history of the manufacture of bricks and concrete blocks in Manitoba, based on research by Randy Rostecki for the Manitoba Historic Resources Branch and supplemented by information compiled by Gordon Goldsborough of the Manitoba Historical Society. .

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We thank Hugh Arklie, Gordon McDiarmid, and Heather Bertnick for their help in the development of this online guide. Financial support of the Thomas Sill Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. Additional information was provided by Ina Bramadat, David Butterfield, Neil Christoffersen, Frank Korvemaker, Ed Ledohowski, Ken Storie, Lynette Stow, and Tracey Winthrop-Meyers.

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Randy Rostecki, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch, Gordon Goldsborough, and Manitoba Historical Society.
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