Historic Sites of Manitoba: De Graaf Nature Park (Reg Wyatt Way, Winnipeg)
Born in Amsterdam, Holland on 6 February 1870, Dirk De Graaf (1870-1949) immigrated to Canada in 1893 and married Frederika De Vries (1868-1959) at Winnipeg on 13 November 1896. The couple resided and gardened on a one and a half acre property on Higgins Avenue, land later acquired by the Brown and Rutherford Company. From there, the couple moved to Henderson Highway (near the Roxy Theatre), before moving to this site in 1905 and establishing a 40-acre farm and market garden. The couple had eight children: Nathaniel “Nanna” De Graaf (1897-?), Peter De Graaf (1899-1992), John De Graff, Elizabeth de Graaf (1903-1990, wife of Peter Vander Graaf), Richard “Rennie” De Graaf (1905-1977), Gertrude “Gertie” De Graaf (1908-2003, wife of Charles Kesler), Katherine “Teenie” De Graaf (1906-1991, wife of Adrian Vander Graaf), and George de Graaf (1910-?).
Nathaniel De Graaf built an Eaton’s Imperial Windmill in 1921 (since donated, along with timber from the original barn, to the Manitoba Museum) atop their manually-dug 36 foot well. Dirk De Graaf retired from farming in 1946 and the farm was taken over by a partnership of their children. By this time, the original acreage had been augmented by additional acquisitions by the children, then totaling nearly 200 acres. Peter De Graaf withdrew from the farming in 1958 when he moved to the United States before later settling in Florida. The farm was inherited by George De Graaf, who remained single, and his brother Rennie De Graaf, who married Anne Fraser at Winnipeg in 1949. One of that couple’s sons, Rob De Graaf, later became the final owner the property and resided here until the fall of 2006. The property was purchased and the buildings were demolished in preparation for the residential development of Harbourview South. The establishment of a park was suggested by George De Graaf and that idea carried over into the neighbourhood’s development plan.
The park was named for the De Graaf family and officially unveiled on 25 July 2014, along with identical commemorating monuments at each end of the park. A path running through the park previously connected the residences of Rennie and George.
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Bird’s Hill pioneers look towards golden wedding day,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 November 1946, page 15.
“Pioneer gardiner D. de Graff dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 November 1949, page 14.
Obituary [Dirk de Graff], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 November 1949, page 21.
“Funeral Tuesday for drowning victim,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 June 1954, page 38.
Obituary [Frederika de Graaf], Winnipeg Free Press, 21 October 1959, page 25.
Obituary [Richard de Graaf], Winnipeg Free Press, 20 May 1977, page 33.
Obituary [Elizabeth Vander Graaf], Winnipeg Free Press, 26 October 1990, page 22.
Obituary [Katherine Vander Graaf], Winnipeg Free Press, 20 February 1991, page 36.
Obituary [Peter de Graaf], Winnipeg Free Press, 11 April 1992, page E53.
Obituary [Gertrude Kesler], Winnipeg Free Press, 19 April 2003, page C13.
Standing Policy Committee on Protection and Community Services, 8 March 2010, City of Winnipeg.
“Family’s legacy preserved at park,” The Herald, 25 July 2014.
We thank the staff of the Manitoba Museum for providing access to their displays featuring the De Graaf family barn.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 7 February 2015
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