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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Half-Way Trees (RM of Portage la Prairie / Municipality of North Norfolk)

A tree, located beside the Trans-Canada Highway has been used by generations of travellers between Winnipeg and Brandon to denote the half-way point along their journey. It was especially important before the advent of the provincial highway network when trails across the prairie were unmarked by signs, so natural features such as large trees were useful landmarks. The Half-Way Tree has become such a cherished local feature that plans to cut it down in the interest of highway safety have been protested vigorously.

Local opinons differ on the true identity of the Half-Way Tree. A Crack Willow tree (Salix fragilis, designated here as the North Half-Way Tree) stands along the north side of the west-bound highway lane in the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie while an Eastern Cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides, the South Half-Way Tree) is on the south side of the east-bound highway lane (about N49.97496, W98.67873) in the Municipality of North Norfolk. The two trees are about five miles (eight kilometres) apart.

North Half-Way Tree on the west-bound highway lane

North Half-Way Tree on the west-bound highway lane (2011)
Source: James Kostuchuk

South Half-Way Tree on the east-bound highway lane

South Half-Way Tree on the east-bound highway lane (2013)
Source: Google

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.97521, W98.55715
denoted by symbol on the map above

Sources:

We thank Maria Zbigniewicz for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by James Kostuchuk and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 11 August 2020

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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