Historic Sites of Manitoba: Nelson / Nelsonville Town Site (Nelsonville, RM of Thompson)

In 1878, Adam Nelson built a grist and saw mill on Shannon Creek marking the beginning of Nelson. The year 1882 saw Nelson an incorporated town of over 1,000 people. It was the judicial county seat for Dufferin County, and it had a land titles office, saw mill, grist mill, and cheese factory. Its weekly newspaper, The Mountaineer, was published from 1880 to 1884.

Nelson was on a regular stagecoach route to Miami, Lintrathen, Campbellville, Carman, Salterville, Warrington, Lowestoft (Roland), and Opawaka. It had Anglican, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, and supported lodges of the Masons, Orange Order, IOOF, and Royal Templars of Temperance.

The Canadian Pacific Railway bypassed Nelson in 1883 and the people gradually moved their business places and homes to other locations, the majority going the Morden. One of the buildings abandoned at the site was the courthouse which, being a substantial brick structure, could not be moved. The last building was moved away in 1905. The community was later named Dunston.

On 29 June 1958, a commemorative plaque at the former site of Nelson was unveiled at a ceremony attended by Rev. A. G. Johnson, A. Ross Boulton, Judge John Milton George, Miss Zella Collins, Bert Boulton, Miss Elizabeth Duncan, Rev. George R. Cook, Miss Joanne Duncan, and former residents of Nelson and district.

Nelson commemorative monument

Nelson commemorative monument (July 2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Nelson commemorative monument

Nelson commemorative monument (June 2023)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.26665, W98.18175
denoted by symbol on the map above

Nelson Residents (1884)

This list of Nelson residents is drawn from the 1884 Henderson’s Directory and Gazetteer.



James Aitkens


Alan Joseph Adamson (1857-1928)


E. M. Allen

Blacksmith (Allen & McIntyre)

Edward A. Bailey (1837-1918)


George Beasley

Plasterer (Brunsden & Beasley)

Walter Blanchard


J. T. Blowey


James Rippoth Bonny (1850-1924)

Civil servant

Richard Brunsden

Plasterer (Brunsden & Beasley)

Con Clerihue

General store

James Clerihue

General store

George Cochrane


J. J. Cochrane

Deputy sheriff

William E. Cochrane


C. F. Collins

Clerk of Carlton Municipality

J. Colpitts


Thomas Seymour Coppinger (1860-1940)

General store (Meikle & Coppinger)

Thomas Duncan (c1850-1910)


C. R. Dunsford


Albert Eaton

Real estate agent

David Ferguson

Carriage maker

Norton Flemming


John Fox


James Hugh Fraser (c1927-1899)


Julius Frazelle Galbraith (1854-1934)

Publisher, Mountaineer

W. Garrett


T. B. Godfrey


W. M. Haley

General store (Haley & Sutton)

A. Harris

Agricultural implements (A. Harris & Son)

John Henderson Haverson (1854-1932)


James Aaron Hobbs (1863-1932)


Fremont Irwin


J. P. Irwin


G. J. Jackson


Alexander Johns

Hotelkeeper (Johns Brothers)

M. C. Johns

Hotelkeeper (Johns Brothers)

Andrew Laughlin


George Leary


H. S. Lemon


Corbet Locke (1854-1932)


G. T. Lundy


H. B. Martin

Professor of music

James McCann


Benjamin James McConnell (1861-1923)


John McGregor

Harness maker

H. McIntyre


John Brown McLaren (1855-1916)


Harry Meikle (1857-1931)

General store (Meikle & Coppinger)

William Morrison


Wilfred Pirt


Johnston Rinn

Livery stable

Joseph Rinn

Stage proprietor

M. B. Rombough, DLS

Land surveyor

George Ruddell


John Henry Ruddell (1859-1906)

Harness maker

William Hall Salts (1856-?)


William Steele

Cabinet maker

W. J. Sutton

Banker (Haley & Sutton)

T. Underwood

Carriage maker

J. T. West


James G. West


David Henry Wilson (1855-1926)


Robert Wilson


T. N. Wilson


See also:

A Manitoba Ghost Town by Hartwell Bowsfield
Manitoba Pageant, September 1956

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Nelsonville Cemetery (RM of Thompson)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Mountain City (RM of Stanley)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Dunston Community Hall (RM of Thompson)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Stephen Town Site (RM of Stanley)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Thomas Anglican Church (131 Eighth Street, Morden)


A Sketch of Both Sides of Manitoba by Jeff Gee, 1981, page 134.

Henderson’s Manitoba and North-West Gazetteer and Directory, 1884. Manitoba Legislative Library.

“Judge Locke, aged Manitoba jurist, dies in Vancouver,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 February 1932, page 10.

“Evacuation of Nelson” by Howard Winkler, Winnipeg Free Press, 7 May 1953, page 25.

“Cairn will mark site of Nelson,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 June 1958, page 13.

“Nelson,” Historic Sites Advisory Board Office Files, Schedule CH0263, Accession GR1597, Archives of Manitoba.

We thank Rose Kuzina for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 November 2023

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