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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Medicine Rock Cafe (St. Francois Xavier, RM of St. Francois Xavier)

Link to:
Photos & Coordinates | Sources

An attractive log building along highway #26, in the village of St. Francois Xavier overlooking an oxbow of the Assiniboine River, was the former Medicine Rock Café, once an upscale restaurant. It occupies an historic spot believed to have been the administrative headquarters for Metis leader Cuthbert Grant in the early 1800s. Excavation for the building foundation turned up pottery and other artifacts that delayed completion until their historical significance could be assessed. Described as “charmingly rustic,” the 3,000-square foot building was made of old-growth cedar logs brought from British Columbia.

The restaurant’s name recognized the fact that Cuthbert Grant has trained as a physician during his education in Scotland. A decorative element inside the restaurant, known for its “cozy cluttered” décor, was a re-creation of Grant’s medicine chest. As for the rock part of the name, the owner found a large boulder in a nearby field and hired local men to move it near the new building. When it opened in 1991, the restaurant featured a broad menu in no particular genre, including standard breakfast items, a Sunday brunch buffet, lunch fare such as burgers, pizza, and sandwiches, and dinners of beef, fish, and vegetarian options, occasionally with such exotic items as bison and ostrich. It was fully licensed with a bar called “The Buffalo Wallow” and later the “Ghost Horse Saloon.”

The original proprietor sold the business within a year of opening and the second owner operated for about 12 years. Closed around mid-2005, it reopened briefly in the latter part of 2007. In 2011, plans by the second owner to build a 60-unit condominium on the site met local opposition and were abandoned. The building was sold to a third owner who reneged on a condition to remove it from the site. Consequently, the vacant building was present at the time of a 2018 site visit.

Photos & Coordinates

The former Medicine Rock Cafe building

The former Medicine Rock Cafe building (September 2018)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

The former Medicine Rock Cafe building

The former Medicine Rock Cafe building (September 2018)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Location (lat/long): N49.90950, W97.53733
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Medicine Rock Heritage Park (St. Francois Xavier, RM of St. Francois Xavier)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Abandoned Manitoba

Memorable Manitobans: Cuthbert James Grant (1793-1854)

Memorable Manitobans: Margaret Jane “Marg” Kentner (?-2019)


[Advertisement], Winnipeg Free Press, 21 June 1991, page 47.

“Medicine Rock Café charming” by Marion Warhaft, Winnipeg Free Press, 13 March 1992, page 39.

Obituary [Lorilyn Van Elslander (1967-2005)], Winnipeg Free Press, 16 December 2005.

“Rustic repasts” by Marion Warhaft, Winnipeg Free Press, 1 September 2007, page 78.

Condo development draws wrath of community,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 April 2012.

We thank Marg Kentner for providing information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 1 October 2019

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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