Local history is a story of grand human adventures

The growth and progress of the town of Portage la Prairie up to the year 1871 was slow indeed. Its beginning may be said to originate with the home built by John Hudson on the bank of the slough at the south extremity of what was Joseph St., later Garland St. and now 4 St S.E. From this point it began to grow north and westward.

By 1871 also, Hudson Bay Company had recovered all their merchandise from their ‘Old Fort’ location by the water tower and were concentrating their efforts at what was even then, known as the west end.

Their stores and warehouses with the addition of houses of their employees and as few others made quite a little settlement around 18 St.! The Eastend comprised of Anderson and Wallace’s Hotel, Anderson’s house on the bank of the slough, Schultz and Lossee’s store, Andrew McLaren’s Tin Shop, W.M. Smith’s Mill, Jim Moule’s Saloon, Frank Otton’s Saloon, Charlie House’s store, William Hudson’s house with his sawmill close by and also Frank Bird’s residence and store.

Stretching westward along what is now Crescent Road were William Gaddy, John McLean, Peter Garrioch, Mr. King, Mr. Demairis, Gavin Garrioch, William Garrioch, Mr. Franks, John McDougald McKay, David Halcro, Alexander Gaddy, J.J. Setter, Malcolm Cummings and the English church mission and school.

In 1871 Mr. Bird, who had been keeping a store for some years, retired and Schultz and Lossee continued his business in the house situated at the south extremity of Main Street and now known to old-timers as T.B. Miller’s old place of business.

Mr. Lossee was the resident partner in the firm. He had one peculiarity, which the settlers were to laugh over for many years to come. When a customer, whether lady or gentleman, asked for an article he didn’t have, and in those days that was a daily occurrence, he would reply, “No Ma’am, but we have plenty of broad-axes.” Whatever a lady would do with a broad-axe, or even some of the gentlemen was forever lost on the mind of Mr. Lossee. Perhaps he was an early humorist!

Marlatt and Dixson also started in business at this time in a house on John McLean’s place. After Anderson moved into the hotel (when talking early Portage, that number-one hotel was always the Anderson and Wallace Hotel), Marlatt and Dixson moved their stock into the house vacated by Anderson and continued to operated there until 1872 when Dixson left for Winnipeg and Marlatt went to the west end to keep store for Captain Palmer Clark.

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