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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Arborg and District Multicultural Heritage Village (Arborg)

Link to:
Photos & Coordinates | Sources

The Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village at Arborg highlights the multicultural history of rural life and farm communities of the Interlake region prior to 1930. Situated by the Icelandic River on 12.9 acres along Highway 68 at Arborg, the village comprises a campground and a collection of historic building, including the Vigfusson House, St. Nicholas Parish Hall, Brandson House, Saunders House, Sigvaldason House, St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church, and Poplar Heights School No. 51.

The Vigfusson House was built of logs by Trausti Vigfusson around 1898 in the village of Lundi, present-day Riverton. He lived in it with his wife Rosa and daughter Tota. In 1902 the house was dismantled and, to make re-assembly easier, he carved Roman numerals in the logs. He then moved the house by horse-drawn wagon to the Geysir area. Vigfusson is well-known for his connection to the legend of John Ramsay. In the summer of 1908, Vigfusson had an unusually vivid dream in which a tall stranger emerged from the bush and approached him from across the home field. The man shook hands and introduced himself as John Ramsay. (Ramsay had lost his wife to the 1876 smallpox epidemic and, in her memory, had brought a marble headstone to the grave site at Sandy Bar. Ramsay was dead by the time of Vigfusson’s dream and was buried beside his wife.) Ramsay knew that Vigfusson was a carpenter and, being saddened by the neglected state of Betsy’s grave, asked Vigfusson to rebuild the picket fence surrounding it. Vigfusson promised he would tend to the matter and later did so. Years later, the Vigfusson House was going to be demolished but was instead moved to this museum.

The Hykaway Grist Mill was built around 1910 by John Hykaway near Meleb. This was a cap-top mill where the top could be rotated to let its sails catch the wind. When the wind was not strong enough, a steam engine was used. Built from local materials, the millstones were chiseled out of boulders found on the Hykaway farm, the sails were made from thin spruce branches, and the gears were hand-chiseled from logs. It took two years to build. When it was in operation, people would come from miles around to grind their grain. The mill was used until 1943 then it stood on the farm for many years until being moved to the Winnipeg Beach Museum. In 2009, it was moved to this museum.

The Oddleifsson House from nearby Geysir probably dates from the late 1880s and is likely the oldest surviving log structure in New Iceland. This dwelling was built by Geysir pioneer Gestur Oddleifsson.

The Saunders log house was built in 1905 in the Clandeboye area by Ritchie Saunders, believed to the reeve of the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews at that time. The structure was moved several times prior to it being placed in the heritage village.

Photos & Coordinates

Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village

Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village (2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church at the museum

St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church at the museum (June 2015)
Source: George Penner

Interior of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church at the museum

Interior of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church at the museum (September 2017)
Source: George Penner

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Parish Hall at the museum

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Parish Hall at the museum (September 2017)
Source: George Penner

Vigfusson House at the museum

Vigfusson House at the museum (September 2017)
Source: George Penner

Brandson House at the museum

Brandson House at the museum (September 2017)
Source: George Penner

Sigvaldason House at the museum

Sigvaldason House at the museum (September 2017)
Source: George Penner

Sigvaldason House at the museum

Hykaway Grist Mill at the museum (September 2017)
Source: George Penner

The former Poplar Heights School at the museum

The former Poplar Heights School at the museum (October 2019)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Oddleifsson House at the museum

Oddleifsson House at the museum (October 2019)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Saunders House at the museum

Saunders House at the museum (October 2019)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N50.90251, W97.20897
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church / Bjarmi Cemetery (Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Betsey Ramsay Grave (Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Poplar Heights School No. 51 (RM of Woodlands)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Municipally Designated Historic Sites

Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village

A Storied Past by Kristjana Magnusson Clark
Manitoba History, Number 50, October 2005

Sources:

St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.

We thank Pat Eyolfson, George Penner, and Rose Kuzina for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 24 January 2020

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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