What’s in a name?

Where did Indian Head get its name? It’s a little different than how most towns are named on the Prairies.

Hello Flatlanders,

Many of you wrote in to say you enjoyed Monday’s spooky local stories. 

Helen wrote:

Loved the ghost stories . . . Cool!!

Another reader wrote:

Love those stories! I bet there are more out there. I am forwarding this to those I know from Winnipeg, one from Eli. 

Irene wrote:

This was awesome reading, as I live in Manitoba! Very, very interesting. I often wondered why some of those big old houses in Saskatchewan and Manitoba were abandoned

I wonder why houses are abandoned too. I’ll see if I can find an answer to that in a future issue.

Karen wrote:

I live in Melville. First time I’ve heard of this highway (being) haunted. Been there too many times to count.

You are not alone, Karen. I wasn’t aware of any of the stories featured in last week’s issue until readers shared them with me.

I have also driven that highway a few times, and don’t recall seeing anything unusual. Though I’m not one to stop and offer people rides because I have watched way too many true crime documentaries.

Another reader wrote:

A ten-gallon pail is a huge pail to be lugging around, ghost or not.

Yes, but the pail contained banknotes, not water, so that could make it lighter.

Ghost stories like these are folklore. I interviewed academics a while back about the value of local folklore even if one can’t prove these stories to be true. I’ll have to dig those interviews up for a future issue of The Flatlander. 


Remembrance Day – Flatlander reader stories

Local, independent, in-depth.

Our Prairie stories.

If you have any stories related to Remembrance Day, I would love to hear them and feature them in The Flatlander. Perhaps you have a war hero in your family, or your community has a unique wartime story or monument.

Christmas – The Flatlander “Buy Local” Holiday Guide

With the holidays fast approaching, I am also preparing a Manitoba and Saskatchewan gift guide for those of you looking to support local businesses and artists while doing your holiday shopping. If you have any favourite locally-made products or community stores that you think are must-haves and must-visits, please let me know.

And if you are the owner of a local business or artist who would like to reach this audience, consider buying an ad in the gift guide. Ad options start at $100, and the money will go towards hiring a freelancer to write some local business articles for The Flatlander in the New Year. 

Five stories you may have missed from Manitoba

  1. Manitoba licence plate on missing, murdered Indigenous women in the works
  2. Province invests $3.6M to improve downtown Winnipeg safety, address homelessness and addiction
  3. Manitoba child advocate says more work needed to break colonial bonds
  4. Two arrested in Winnipeg Halloween cannabis incident
  5. For anyone wondering what to do with their pumpkin now that Halloween has passed, how about throwing it off the top of a parkade?

Five stories you may have missed from Saskatchewan

  1. Owners rebrand Riders Donair as Turkish Express, taking pride in Istanbul roots
  2. Should Indian Head, Sask., change its name?
  3. Thatcher speech invitation sparks calls for Sask. to fund longer-term housing for people fleeing abuse
  4. Shelves are literally empty’: Sask. parents fed up with ongoing baby formula shortage
  5. James Smith Cree Nation killer’s partner shares story of brutality, survival and hope

A small win?

The Google News Initiative featured the above section of my newsletter in a recent online workshop for global news startups. They thought it was a good way to share local news stories with readers, so that was a pleasant surprise for me.

Here is a screenshot of the slide deck from the presentation that they shared with news founders from around the world:

From the What's in a Name issue of The Flatlander - a screenshot of the Five stories you may have missed section

Five stories from The Flatlander archives you may have missed

  1. Where do the buffalo roam these days?
  2. Human trafficking on the Canadian Prairies
  3. Historic dance halls on the Prairies – gangs, fighting, Vikings and love
  4. Gophers are smarter and more interesting than we think
  5. How the Prairies helped win the Second World War

What’s in a name?

Since the name Indian Head is under discussion these days, I thought I would look at the origins of its name.

  • It is said Indian Head was the name assigned to it by the Cree to commemorate the smallpox epidemic of 1837-38.
  • People died in such large numbers that human remains could be found scattered throughout the area.
  • Because smallpox was so contagious, there was concern that one could contract the disease from the deceased. Providing a proper burial was risky.

You can read more on the town’s website

What's in a name? Indian Head statue in Indian Head, Saskatchewan.
Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Wikimedia Commons

And here’s one for Manitobans…

Virden, like Indian Head, is along the TransCanada Highway.

  • Virden used to be called Gopher Creek.
  • Then it became Manchester before becoming Virden in 1883, named after the country estate of the Duke of Manchester, who served on the Canadian Pacific Railway Board of Directors. A lot of Praire towns are named after railway officials.
  • Oil was discovered in Virden in 1957, putting the community at the centre of Manitoba’s oil patch.

You can read more about Virden here.

Until next time…

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Thanks for reading, and kind regards,

Kelly-Anne Riess

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