Herb Lake Landing

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Herb Lake, situated on Wekusko Lake in Northern Manitoba, was once a thriving gold mining town. Gold was discovered in 1914 and the first ore was shipped to Trail British Columbia for smelting in 1917. The last mine closed in 1948, however the mines were always expected to re-open and the town was active into the 1950s, but dwindled to a few residents in the early 60's. It became a ghost town and has returned to bush, although there are still remains of some buildings.

Herb Lake Landing was the stopping-off place for travelers on their way to Herb Lake and has always been a small settlement. Hale's Landing provided lodging and was the main freighting center. The first lodge was owned by Folsters and then purchased by Bill and Mary Hale. Jack Patton was caretaker for many years after Hale's left, and later Emily Crosby, an artist, created a Northern Arts Center at this location.

Wildred and Bertha Cote lived at the South End and also provided lodgings and shipped freight. In the late 40's, freight was shipped from the South End to Bartlett's Landing, for the newly discovered mine at Snow Lake before the highway was constructed. Ethel and Albert Corman lived along the lakeshore as well. Kobars moved a cabin by the cliffs and a few other residents settled in, some of them moving houses from Herb Lake. Joe Kerr, Harry Roberts and Ted Taylor later moved here. Fred and Don Heibert built a log home and Jim and Hazel Corman built Tawow Lodge.

The community was first known as "The Portage" as the original transportation in the north was by canoe, and it was a 12-mile portage from the train station at Wekusko (called "The Steel"), to Wekusko Lake, usually called Herb Lake. When Hales had the lodge and freighting business, it was known as "Hale's Landing", while the area where Cotes resided was called "The South End".

Herb Lake Landing is still a small community, but there has been continual settlement since Herb Lake was established. It is now cottage country and is home to wild rice harvesters, trappers, fishermen and retired folks. Tawow Lodge is now owned by Carswells.


By Brock Tribble
Brock was in charge of the Faro Mine at Herb Lake in the mid 1940s, but this account provides details of an earlier trip to Herb Lake, circa 1930s.

I made a trip to Herb Lake to examine the Apex Group of mining claims owned by Jack Nutt. I arrived at the Wekusko train station at Mile 81 on the Hudson Bay railway line and stayed overnight at the stopping place operated by Joe and Ida Rainville.

The following morning Bill Hale took me by truck across the portage to Wekusko Lake where he and his wife Mary operated another stopping place, providing meals and sleeping accommodation in their big log cabin for travelers on their way to and from the railway.

Later in the day, Ralph Bryenton arrived from the settlement of Herb Lake with his large boat to pick up incoming passengers, and after a ten-mile trip up Wekusko Lake, Ralph unloaded his passengers and luggage at the dock. George Bartlett's General Store, which was nearby, served the prospectors, trappers and fishermen of the district.

I arranged for accommodation and meals at Fred Smith's Hotel and Restaurant, located a few hundred feet from the dock. Other places of business included a small store operated by Mrs. Calcutt, Mrs. McIntosh's book and magazine store and a post office, operated by Mrs. Cann. Ben Maxswell's place, originally a rooming house, had added a popular and flourishing beer parlor. Ralph Bryenton and his wife lived on an island, a couple hundred yards north of the settlement.

The following morning, Jack Nutt, who was the owner of the Apex Group of mining claims, met me in his canoe and took me over to the property, located about six miles northwest of the settlement, near Sand Beach.

At Sand Beach, there were a couple cabins, one owned by Felix Bordeau and Mike Huot, and another owned by Lachappelle. Mike and Felix had known each other since their boyhood in France, and as young men, they came out to British Columbia where their prospected, panned for gold, and lumbered together. Later, they heard of the gold discoveries at Herb Lake, the Rex, the Bingo, and other properties, and moved to the area. They staked several mining properties which they did yearly assessment work on, but they selected Sand Beach as the best location for their activities.

Bartlett's Store
Bartlett's Store at Herb Lake
Photo: Jim Corman Collection

Ice Fishing with Bombardier

Corman Bombardier, Ice Fishing
Photo: Jim Corman Collection

Emory Chartrand
Emory Chartrand, Herb Lake
Photo: Jim Corman Collection

Calcutt's Store

Calcutt Store, Herb Lake (formerly Corman's Store)

HEADFRAMES, HAPPINESS AND HEARTACHES, Mines of Manitoba, by James RB Parres and Marc Jackson
This 296 page book was published in 2009 and includes a history of Herb Lake. contact Marc Jackson at: ugpress "AT" gillamnet.com or snail to: P.O. Box 492, Snow Lake, MB, R0B 1M0, to obtain a copy.



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