Some time ago I had a call from a pleasant young man by
the name of Hugh Farey. From his accent it was apparent that this
was no prairie boy I was talking to. Indeed, Mr. Farey is an English
teacher -- not of the language, but from the place.
He explained that he was holidaying in Canada, and while he was
here he was looking into the origin of the name of the town of Bredenbury
southeast of Yorkton. Why became apparent when he told me that his
school is called St. Richard's and is housed partly in a building
that is still called Bredenbury Court near the town of Bromyard
in northeastern Herefordshire, England.
photos courtesy Hugh Farey
of the few surviving photographs of W. Henry Barneby, surrounded
by his extended family in the 1890s.
Well, he certainly had my immediate and full attention! People
Places: The Dictionary of Saskatchewan Place Names attributes the
name of Bredenbury to A. E. Bredin, a land agent for the Manitoba
and North Western Railway, because that is the citation that appears
in CPR's files, as well as in most other sources on Saskatchewan
names. However, I had had my doubts ever since learning of the existence
of the English village a couple of years ago, and my computer data
base contained this note: "…there is a village called Bredenbury
east of Leominster in Herefordshire, England. Given the pattern
of railway names in Saskatchewan, it is far more likely to be the
source of the name."
So, with Hugh Farey's help, here's the story. William Henry Barneby
was the "lord of the manor" at Bredenbury, Herefordshire. He first
visited western Canada in 1881 and returned two years later to visit
several friends in Manitoba.Towards the end of July 1883 he met
Nicholas Flood Davin, the editor of the Leader, in Regina. He travelled
the CPR as far as it had then been built (about Medicine Hat). Upon
his return to England, he wrote of his experiences in a book entitled
Life and Labour in the Far Far West (1884).
sign at the entrance to Bredenbury, Herefordshire, today.
Barneby returned to Canada in 1888 as the guest of the vice-president
and the general manager of the Manitoba & North Western Railway,
the owners of a line beginning at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba,
and projected to link with Prince Albert, but which was subsequently
taken over by the CPR and rerouted westward through Saskatoon and
on to Edmonton. Barneby's trip on this visit took him all the way
to Vancouver, a mari usque ad mare, but he made two interesting
side trips. The first was to some property he had purchased in 1881
near Otterburne, Manitoba, which he had named "Little Bredenbury".
The second was to the end of track on the M&NW, which at that time
reached as far as Langenburg. Again he wrote a book on his return
to England, this time called The New Far West and the Old Far East
Barneby Arms Hotel, Bredenbury.
In recounting his adventures in what is now eastern Saskatchewan,
Barneby wrote that "Beyond Churchbridge there is another new settlement
called the "Commercial Company," at which a station named Bredenbury
was to be located this present year." He made a trip to Churchbridge,
and also describes a quick visit to the Icelandic settlement at
Logberg/Thingvalla on his way back to Langenburg. At the end of
the chapter containing these reminiscences, the following appears:
"NOTE. - The Manitoba and North Western Railway was extended
25 miles towards Prince Albert during 1888, and the following
new stations have been opened -- Churchbridge, Bredenbury, and
Court today. The long classroom addition on the left was added
in 1950, the chapel on the right in 1903. Other than that the
building is very much as Henry Barneby left it. It is now St.
Richard's School where Hugh Farey teaches.
There would seem to be no doubt that my suspicions of an English
connection for the name of Bredenbury have been confirmed by the
information provided by Hugh Farey. Although Barneby does not directly
claim credit for the name, certainly he suggested it to his hosts,
the senior officers of the Manitoba & North Western Railway, who
were only too pleased to oblige their guest with a station name.
So, if a revised version of People Places: The Dictionary of
Saskatchewan Place Names comes out at some time in the future, here
is what it will have to say about Bredenbury:
"William Henry Barneby was the "lord of the manor" of Bredenbury
Court near Bromyard, Herefordshire, England. He visited western
Canada three times, in 1881, 1883 and 1888, and wrote books on
his experiences on the latter two occasions. On his third visit
he was a guest of the Manitoba & North Western Railway and journeyed
on their line to its then terminus at Langenburg. Barneby travelled
by buggy from there to the nascent settlement at Churchbridge,
and also visited the Icelandic colonies at Logberg and Thingvalla.
"By 1890 the M&NW had been extended to Yorkton with new stations
at Churchbridge, Bredenbury and Saltcoats. Bredenbury (from the
Old English bredene berg, "fortified place made with boards")
was doubtless named to honour the estate of the railway's distinguished
Barry, Saskatchewan place name expert
One final note. Hugh Farey informs me that, while nearly everybody
calls the English village (BREE den bur ee) today, there are some
old timers in the district who pronounce it the way we here in Saskatchewan
do, (BRED en bur ee).
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