All this information has been gathered from the memories of the residents in the Bodmin community. Some family names may have been missed.
Bodmin acquired its name from a small town in England. Mr. Wrixson, an English train engineer, from that territory, named the district.
During the very early years, freighters transported the first sawmill equipment to the Big River town site by horse and wagon. Robert Isbister, (Miles Isbister's father) supplied hay for these teams used for hauling the machinery and supplies. All this feed was cut from Keg Meadows.
Before the railway built a spur from Shellbrook to Big River, mail, food and supplies were transported by ox and wagon in the summer and by dogs in the winter. The railroad was built in 1910, and Bodmin became a flag station with a settlement of a few scattered pioneers
Mr. Corbiel and Mr. Fidelle Doucette were to of Bodmin's original settlers. They established their homesteads on opposite sides of the Hudson's Bay Trail, reasoning that the surveyors would use the road allowance to divide the sections. However, when the district was surveyed, it was discovered that both men were situated on the same quarter. To avoid conflict it was agreed that both men would move. Mr. Corbiel was one of the men who helped build the Canadian Northern Railway through the area.
From 1911 to 1912, the community expanded as many families immigrated to the Big River District to seek employment in the sawmill. Some of these early pioneers who established their new homes in Bodmin are mentioned here.
The Degrasse family moved into the area when Mr. Degrasse was assigned a position with the railroad to help construct the Big River spur. Mrs. Degrasse was a midwife.
Phil Doucette was a saw filer in the sawmill; he married Anette La Gouffe.
Fred Doucette and family moved to Bodmin from Quebec. Mr. Doucette operated one of the first sawing outfits in the area. He cut and shipped a large amount of cordwood from the local surroundings. Fred also helped the development of the highway construction in 1938.
Mr. Langford originally came to Big River as a railroad worker. He decided to stay in the Bodmin area and became a freighter. He was commonly known as 'Clubfoot'. His grandson still lives in the Big River area.
John La Gouffe, with son Paul, came to the community in the early 1900s to pack telegraph lines up the Green Lake trail to Ile-A-La-Crosse. Later, the men sent to Quebec for their families and they settled in the Bodmin area. The La Gouffes were farmers and freighters. Paul became a bush boss and married Tessa Swanson.
Fred Trudeau was a pile driver for the first Big River sawmill. Some of these original piles are still standing in Otter and Sharpe Lakes. These were used to hold booms until the mill needed the logs. Fred married Regina La Gouffe.
The Bodmin settlement grew rapidly with an influx of settlers after the first World War. A few of these veterans were: Tommy Brown, who worked as dam watchman, mill watchman, and farmer.
Ned Caissey. a bush worker and farmer who married Bella Corbiel. (His sons Eugene and Louis still live in the Bodmin area).
Mr. Cornell, an American veteran. He established a sheep farm in the area. Some of the page wire is still on the farm section.
Ted Harvey, who started the first community store.
Mr. Humphrey, who was retired.
Joe Lamothe, a carpenter and farmer who married Philomen La Gouffe. Mr. Lamothe helped build the school, O.P. Godin's Store, Ted Harvey's store and many other buildings in the surround community. His son, Marcel and family still live in the Bodmin area.
Morris Pederson, Jimmy Rivers, Mr. Tuttle and Charles Smith who all farmed.
Phillip and Matilda Kelly, Mrs. Kelly was a Jamaican Missionary Nurse.
Mr. South, who came from New England and who operated the local store.
Settlement increased slowly during the 1920s and some of the families that moved here at that time include: The Adairs, Allansons, Cousineau, Hans Hansen from Denmark, Hans Jorgenson, Jack Lattenville, Alfonse and Phillipe Laurin, Nelson Lavoie, Bob Mas, Mr. Nemat, a trapper, Mr. Porsinko, Tom Smith (whose widow, Mary and sons Louis Dick and Frank still live in the Big River area), Alfonse Tardif, who married Leontine Corbiel and whose son Leo still lives in Big River.
With the onset of the Depression, many settlers moved north to escape the the hardships of the prairies. The occupations of these "hungry thirties" pioneers ranged from the unemployed skilled worker to the farmers whose land was dried out in the south. Each of these families were bonded together as they faced bad crops, hail, drought, and financial stress. Most of the newcomers filed for a homestead and tried to grow enough feed for the cattle and maintain a vegetable garden that would suit their winter needs. Many of these settlers left, after the strain of the Depression, to seek employment elsewhere. Some of these courageous people who arrived in Bodmin during the thirties are mentioned, alphabetically, below:
Anderson, Bademen, Barrion, F. Bradley, Croteau, Dahlby, Dougherty, Eagon, Egeland, Elliot, Fredrickson, Glendenning, Hallborg, Hunt, Kerr, Klyne, J. Laurin, Lay, McGrath, Miller, Minnie, Morin, Parao, Potts, Riome, Schuler, Scofield, Skopyk, Suderman, Tilsey, Tuttle, Walker (teacher), Wardo, White, Wholeburg.
During this time, the main source of revenue was cordwood, trapping and relief cheques.
After World War One, the settlers of Bodmin applied for a school. There were twenty-six families willing to donate ten dollars per year for the maintenance of a school. The new building would provide an adequate place for the children of school age. A free school site was offered by Mr. Corbiel and Mr. Fred Doucette; they each gave half an acre.
In 1920, a committee of three men was appointed to make the official application for the new school. These men were J. W. Rivers, Harry A. South, and George Langford. The first trustees were elected in 1922; these were H. Corbiel, J. Lamothe, and H.E. Lindasy. The school building was constructed by Joe Lamothe. The Bodmin community members would often meet for school board meetings; these gatherings would often last from afternoon until early the next morning.
The school opened in 1923, and operated until 1955, employing thirteen different teachers.
Mrs Harvey 1923 - 25
Miss M. Stuart 1925 - 28 (later Mrs. Phillips)
Mr. G. Walker 1928 - 29 (still lives in Big River)
Miss Pidwordbeckie 1929 - 32 (later Mrs. Laurin)
Mr. G. Walker 1932 - 33
Miss H. Fieve 1933 - 35
Miss Brownfield 1935 - 39 (later Mrs. Hartnett)
Miss A. Leask 1939 - 40
Mrs. Sloan 1940 - 41
Mr. W. Leverton 1941 - half year
Miss M. Combres 1942 - taught two months
Miss M. Bodmarchuk 1942 - remainder of the year
Miss M. Combres 1943 - 1945
Miss M. Michel 1945 - 46 (later Mrs. M. Olson)
Miss S. Kernaham 1946 - 48
Mrs. P. Laurin 1948 - 55
The Bodmin school building was moved into Big River and converted into a private home. The children are now bused to the Big River Schools.
Bodmin's first store was opened and operated by Ted Harvey. He began his business in the early 1920s and ran it until his brother, Joe, took over in 1938. This was known as the Bodmin Cash Store and it carried almost every line of goods, groceries, hardware, refreshments, and dry goods. Mr. Joe Lamothe built the store and it is still in operation today. It is now managed by Mr. and Mrs. Herb Beattie, who bought it in 1971.
The Farmer's Supply Store was built in 1932 by Mr. O.P. Godin. Mr. Frank Dougherty was the first salesman. He was succeeded by Mr. H, Cambres who died in 1937. Mr. H. South became a joint partner of Mr. Godin. (Mr. South owned the merchandise in the store). After Mr. South's death, his grandson, Jack Lattinville, purchased the building and ran it until moving to Calgary. The store was then sold, moved to Big River, and became known as Tom Huxted's Store.
The Bodmin Post Office was originally located in Ted Harvey's general store. Mr. Riome Pourier later opened a shop and he operated the Post Office, Government Telephone, and Barber Shop there. This stucco building was constructed in 1930 and it situated near the highway. Mr. Marcel Lamothe bought the shop and opened a community store in 1948. The front of the large building housed the telephone, store, and Post Office until 1948 when Bodmin's Post became amalgamated with Big River.
The Pool Elevator was built in 1940. It was ninety-eight feet high, painted dark red in colour, made of lumber, and had a galvanized engine room. Mr. Gordon Leask was the first elevator agent; he was followed by Mr. Linden, who was succeeded by Mr. Wainright. Mr. Alfred Hunt hauled gravel for the elevator when it was being built. The building was dismantled around 1943 because it was not a paying proposition and its equipment was urgently needed in bigger centres of business.
The Bodmin community also maintained a stockyard, that was managed by Mr. A. Hunt. Pigs and cattle were shipped to Burns Limited every Monday. The train stopped at Bodmin on its way to Prince Albert from Big River, and often the farmers had enough livestock to fill an entire train car.
The Bodmin railway station was built in the early 1900s and improvements were added as time progressed. One building included a freight shed and a place to light a fire while waiting for the train. Jerry Watier later bought the building and moved it to his farm.
At one time, the train travelled three times a week from Prince Albert passing through the following stations: Buckland, Crutwell, Holbien, Shellbrook, Canwood, Polworth, Mattes, Debden, Eldred, Wrixson, Bodmin and Big River.
Many of the people from the Bodmin community joined the Canadian troops of World War II. These citizens are listed below:
Air Force: Melvin Egeland, Marcel Lamothe, Rudolphe Lamothe, Steve Riome, and Evelyn Walker.
Armed Forces: Jake Banneman, Bud Barrone, Muriel Barrone, Ernie Kerr (killed overseas), John Lattenville, Harold McGrath, Fred Schuler, Pete Schuler.
Navy: Edwin Dahlby, Paul Doucette, Julian Ducette, Ted Harvey, Arthur Hunt, Tom South, Glen Tilsley, Tim Tilsley, Alex Walker.
Bodmin today has one general store operated by Mr. and Mrs. Beattie. This is also the location of the community bus stop. The population of this small district, six miles south of Big River, is approximately fifty.
Districts Part 3.
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