On Manitoba Highway #5 along the east side of Riding Mountain National Park a few kms south of McCreary a little roadside stop has given respite to weary travelers for over 125 years. Known as the Satterthwaite Homestead, the site contains several historic relics from the region’s early settlement.
If Highway #5 had flashbacks, it could easily recall being the Burrows Trail, which moved thousands of pioneers into the area around Dauphin. Before that, natives used the trail for its ease, as did untold herds of bison and other wildlife. The physical origin of the trail began when the last Ice Age ended. As one of the beaches of old Lake Agassiz – cold, deep and filled with glacial meltwater – the Arden Ridge, as it is known, stayed clear of overgrowth and become a convenient path, the only high ground between two lowlands.
Jane and Thomas Satterthwaite’s house sat right on the Burrows Trail. Built in 1895 from logs with a sod roof, it became a stopping house along the Trail. Whenever a traveling preacher came through, the house became a church. The Satterthwaite’s even built a large wood frame Eaton’s Catalogue house straddling the trail.
What’s left of the original log house, built about 1885 using half-lap dovetail construction, rots away into the prairie in one corner of this site. An approximation of it has been built on the site. A section of the original Burrow Trail with ruts cut by Red River carts and wagons is fenced off and protected. A mature garden of local flora with signage and an information sign about the Burrows and other trails through the area give the stop extra interest. It is obscure and the signage is overgrown but it’s a fine leg stretching place and a fascinating glimpse into pioneer life. Watch my short video report about Satterthwaite’s homestead.