Historic Sites of Manitoba: Arborg and District Multicultural Heritage Village (Arborg)
The Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village 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, 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 Geyser 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 the Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village.
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 the Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village.
Photos & Maps
St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.
We thank Pat Eyolfson and George Penner for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 7 August 2017
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