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The Trek West, 1888-1900

Written by Clifford Dumville of Ottawa, Ontario

Family legend says that the Dumville clan, not being land owners in the east, were interested in moving west to homestead. John Gibson, married but without children, and brother-in-law Charles Henry Dumville, single, and therefore with the least responsibilities, were elected to proceed ahead to scout for the best available areas for homestead land. Family members remaining at home were to look after John's wife and farm.

They departed early in 1888 and after ranging over the homestead lands decided that what is now the Cambridge District between Rocanville and Welwyn was the best of what was left. They then returned home late 1888.

In the spring of 1889, John Gibson, wife Sarah (nee Dumville) and brother Frederick A. Gibson were back west and settled in Township 16. On 16 June 1889 their first child, Ethel, was born there. The exact location of John Gibson's farm was probably 9-16-31-W1, on land purchased from the CPR. On 20 Jan 1890 brother Frederick filed a homestead on the adjoining quarter section, NW 4-16-31-W1.

Charles Dumville and Ella Lauder married on 30 October 1889, and then also moved back west. The Census of 1891 shows them living with the Gibsons. Their first child, Nettie, was born there in November of that year.

In 1893 Joseph Dumville left St Catharines with a carload of settlers' effects, arriving in Moosomin in March of that year. He was met there by his brother, Charles Dumville and brother-in-law John Gibson who helped him move to 10-16-31 where he was later joined by Mrs Dumville and children. Charles and family moved back east shortly after.

On 27 August 1894 Joseph Dumville filed a homestead on SE 2-16-31, and moved to that location early in 1895. He later acquired the adjoining quarter, SW 1-16-31, where he built a new frame house in 1907. In about 1897, George Dumville settled nearby on SE 36-15-31 with his family. A photo of Cambridge School, 1898, shows the children of Joseph and George Dumville, and John Gibson all attending.

Charles and family moved back west following daughter Ruby's birth in Grantham in 1897. On 24 August 1900 Charles purchased S35-15-31-W1. As a matter of interest, the north half of that section was purchased one day later, 25 August 1900, by William Brown. This land adjoined the homestead of Joseph Dumville, William Brown's son-in-law.

In 1908 Eliza Jane Dumville and husband G. Stephen Wood also moved west to establish Woods Hardware in Regina. The remaining two children of John Dumville, Mary Jane and Amanda Louise remained in the east. The trek west was complete.

Section: 1 square mile of land, divided into 4 quarters (NE, SE, SW, NW).
Township: 6 miles square blocks of land (36 sections plus road allowance).
Free Homestead: An eligible homesteader could file (fee $10) on a quarter section, and subject to improvement requirements, obtain patent (title) 3 years later. Also an adjacent quarter could be pre-empted (reserved) for $10 and bought (usually $3 per acre) when the original homestead was patented.