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Roland: A Pledge to Better Living
Roland: A Pledge To Better Living
*Click on any picture to expand*
Roland is named after Roland McDonald (not to be mistaken with Ronald McDonald) who lived from 1850-1938 and farmed the current Roland area. He was known as a very fine man and a courageous pioneer. One of the stories he often told was when he survived a surprise Manitoba blizzard on his way to Nelsonville, the go-to town for supplies at that time that later became Morden. The blizzard was violent and when he could no longer move forward, he turned his sleigh over for shelter and lay between the two horses for warmth to survive until the blizzard was over.
Settlement first began in the Roland area around 1875-1876, when families and supplies slowly moved over land from Winnipeg or Red River communities. In 1889, it was said that a railroad would be built through the area from Morris. Roland McDonald, the Reeve of Dufferin at that time, drew up a map of the present day Roland district and circulated a petition to the settlers in the area, then presented it to the superintendent of the Manitoba Division of the Northern Pacific Railway. He was successful and the townsite of Roland was established as the railroad came through. Roland McDonald purchased a quarter section of land next to the railroad and had it surveyed into lots and blocks. A village slowly formed, named after Roland by the suggestion of his wife.
The first business to appear was a grain elevator, and by the end of 1890, there was the railway station, Fawcett’s blacksmith shop, Lowe’s residence and post office combined, Lawrie’s general store, the Methodist church and Parsonage, and Nesbitt’s block. The first people who lived there lived mostly above the business places.
In the following years, many more buildings and businesses were established, including 4 elevators, two banks, the post office, and many beautiful homes. Roland had large park grounds with a baseball diamond, a tennis court, and skating and curling rink for the winter sports. At one time, there were four church denominations represented: Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Anglican and United.
And when it came to education, there have been many schools built over the years. The earliest children went to the Lowestoft school that was 3 miles south, then they created a school in a local barn loft. In 1898 a two-roomed school was built, and then in 1904 it was replaced with a two-storey brick school at a cost of $9,000. This served the community well until 1959 when a modern one-storey brick was built and an addition was added in 1961. The school was destroyed by fire in 1967 and the same year the present day elementary school was built, with the high school students now attending in Carman or Miami.
The Roland Memorial Hall was completed in 1952 and holds the Council Chambers, where the present Council continues to meet and are committed to making the RM of Roland a better place in which to live.
Roland is also home of the world’s largest pumpkin! This 1,684 lb, orange fiberglass pumpkin was put up in 1990 during the Roland Centennial to honour the “Pumpkin King”, Edgar VanWyck. He was one of Roland’s outstanding citizens, a long time member and supporter of the 4-H Club, and he made the Guinness World Book of Records in 1977 for growing the world’s largest pumpkin at 423 lbs. Pumpkins continue drawing people to Roland, as the Roland Pumpkin Fair is held every October.
The 4-H Club in Canada acknowledges Roland as it’s birthplace in 1913. The club focused on skill development, leadership, citizenship training and public speaking, with the members over the years ranging in age from 10-25 years. The clubs have had a wide range of projects, from raising poultry, beef, sheep, and dairy, to growing potatoes, fodder corn, and grain. There was also gardening, making clothing and cooking. The 4-H museum opened in 1990 in the former Royal Bank building with artifacts from across Canada and the USA dating back to 1913. It continues to tell the story of this very important part of Canadian agricultural history. The wonderful pledge below was important to the community then, and contributes to the hopes and anticipation of Roland’s future.
The 4-H Pledge
My Head to clearer thinking.
My Heart to greater loyalty.
My Hands to larger service.
My Health to better living.
For my club, my community and my country.