In the early decades of this century there was considerable concern everywhere in Canada about the quality of rural living. People were leaving the farm. On one hand, this might mean that there were deficiencies in country life, and that the needs of the people were not met and hence they departed; on the other hand it definitely did mean that the rural services of a district any longer in the way they had been when there was a dense population. In short, rapid social change was taking place in the country. It was questionable whether a high proportion of the young people could be held on the farms because the opportunities for jobs lay in the cities in this age of industrialization. But at least it was possible to investigate the nature of the changing rural society and then, perhaps, one could see whether it was possible to cope with the new order of things.
To get some information about the rural Manitoba they were serving, the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in 1914 conducted a rudimentary economic and social survey of two large areas in Manitoba, the Turtle Mountain District and Swan River area. Maps accompanied the published reports, showing the locations of the churches of the different denominations, and the places where services were held if they were not held in churches. It is evident that the churches were quite accessible to farmers. Thus we have a picture of an aspect of the religious situation in two parts of Manitoba at a time when the rural development of the Province had reached its height, just before the period of steady population decline. This type of survey was a rarity in Manitoba, and it is only in the last decade [1960s] that there has been a return to the investigation of the nature of the rural society in this Province. The symbols on these maps are rather badly chosen, so the maps are difficult to read.
(Warkentin and Ruggles. Historical Atlas of Manitoba. map 303, p. 560)
Image Courtesy of University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections