Category Archives: Swanson family history

Saskatchewan Homesteading

The North-West Territories of the Commonwealth of Canada became the province of Saskatchewan on September 1, 1905. Its political leaders at the time proclaimed its destiny was to become Canada’s most powerful province. Saskatchewan embarked on an ambitious province-building program based on its Anglo-Canadian culture and wheat production for the export market. Population quintupled from 91,000 in 1901 to 492,000 to 1911, thanks to heavy immigration of farmers from the Ukraine, U.S., and other countries.

In 1870, Canada acquired the Hudson’s Bay Company’s territories and formed the North-West Territories to administer the vast territory between British Columbia and Manitoba. The national policy set by the federal government, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Hudson’s Bay Company and associated land companies encouraged immigration. The Dominion Lands Act of 1872 permitted settlers to acquire one quarter of a square mile of land to homestead and offered an additional quarter upon establishing a homestead.

A settler could apply for a pre-emption. They had an option to purchase the quarter section next to theirs as a pre-emption, by paying the market price of the time which was about $2.00 acre. Even numbered sections were reserved for homesteads and pre-emptions, while odd-numbered sections were sold. A homesteader was granted a “quarter-section” for a $10 filing fee and he had to perform homesteader duties over the ensuing three years to be earn a Dominion Land Patent or “Title” to the land. For more information, and tutorial about Townships, ranges and meridians and about homesteads.

The Canadian Northern Railway was established, in 1899, and all railway companies owned by Mackenzie and Mann (primarily in Manitoba) were consolidated into the new entity. CNoR’s first step toward competing directly with CPR came at the start of the 20th century with the decision to build a line linking the Prairie Provinces with Lake Superior at the harbour in Port Arthur-Fort William (modern Thunder Bay, Ontario), which would permit the shipping of western grain to European markets as well as the transport of eastern Canadian goods to the West.

Meanwhile, Mackenzie and Mann expanded their prairie branch line operations to feed the connection to Port Arthur. From a series of disconnected railways and charters, the network became 1,200 miles of profitable and continuous track that covered most of the prairies by 1902

April 1904 saw the collapse of the rail bridge due to spring melt and ice on the South Saskatchewan River. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway system survey proposed Hanley as its northern terminal between Regina and Prince Albert. Saskatoon’s Board of Trade sent delegates from Saskatoon to Ottawa to discuss the river crossing and proposed city bridges. Their mission resulted in the selection of Saskatoon as the divisional centre for both the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway; both of these built bridges near the town by 1907.

In 1905, CNoR reached Edmonton.

In 1923 the Canadian Northern merged into the Canadian National Railway.

Grant Swanson

Minnesota Death Records
Swanson, Grant
Certificate Number: 1966-MN-007961
Death: March 27, 1966
County of Death: Ramsey County, Minnesota
Mother’s Maiden Name: MOEN
Date of Birth: Sep 27 1907
Place of Birth: OUT OF STATE

Saskatchewan Genealogy Index
Registration Number: 6822
Last Name: SWANSON
First Name: RICHARD
Sex: M
Birth Date: Sep 22 1907
Place of Birth: SWANSON [Saskatchewan]

Grant Swanson

Married to Vange. Possibly the Evangeline Agnes Swanson in Minnesota Death Records:

Swanson, Evangeline Agnes
Certificate Number: 1999-MN-027286
Death: September 20, 1999
County of Death: Hennepin County, Minnesota
Mother’s Maiden Name: ROUSSEAU
Date of Birth: 10/07/1909
Place of Birth: MINNESOTA

Grant worked as a printer.

Grant and Vange had two daughters: Jean (married Roger ?) and Julie (committed suicide as a teen-ager although there are no records for “Julie Swanson” in the Minnesota People Records Search — death records cover 1904 to 2001).

Theolene Swanson and her sons. Grant far left.

Selmer Swanson

Minnesota Death Records:

Swanson, Selmer
Certificate Number: 1985-MN-006836
Death: March 18, 1985
County of Death: Hennepin County, Minnesota
Mother’s Maiden Name: MOEN
Date of Birth: Oct 5 1899
Place of Birth: MINNESOTA

Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan Homestead Records
No dates are given in the finding aid.
Swanson, Selmer : NE 19-22-12-W3
Swanson, Selmer : NW 5-34-02-W2
(Swanson, Clarence, also has an adjacent homestead record : NE 5-34-02-W2)

Selmer Swanson
Theolene Swanson and her sons.
Selmer and Roy during the Second World War. Selmer also served in the First World War.

Selmer was a high-school gym teacher. He and Goldie had two sons. He once asked me if I thought it was a good idea that I was chewing gum.

Addison Telford Swanson

Known as Telford

Minnesota death certificate:

Swanson, Addison Telford
Certificate Number: 1989-MN-006202
Death: March 3, 1989
County of Death: Hennepin County, Minnesota
Details: Mother’s Maiden Name: MOEN,
Date of Birth: Oct 27 1902
Place of Birth: OUT OF STATE

A search of the Saskatchewan Homestead Records for Addison or Telford Swanson comes up empty, although his older brother Selmer and his younger brother Clarence did have homestead claims.

Worked as a buyer for a large department store. Was a Freemason and Shriner.

Addison Telford Swanson 1902–1989
Theolene and her sons. Telford back right.
Telford and his mother Theolene Moen.

St. Ambrose Cemetery

Location of the St. Ambrose Cemetery near Swanson, Saskatchwan

This information comes from the St. Ambrose Cemetery web page on the Saskatoon Gen Web. It was compiled in August 1999 by Randi Bender.

Located on St. Ambrose Cemetery Road, off of Highway 45 between Swanson and Ardath in the rural municipality of Montrose, Saskatchewan. The cemetery was founded in 1902 and has served the communities of Ardath, Swanson and possibly Conquest, Saskatchewan.

In his introduction, Mr. Bender states “Although I transcribed as I saw, be aware that due to time, damage and many, many mosquitoes, there were times when the markers were difficult to read. ”

“Many of the surnames found in this cemetery are still found in the area today. One of the notables in this cemetery is Abraham Swanson who homesteaded in this area in 1905 and founded the town of Swanson.”

Mr. Bender has transcribed information from about 160 grave sites dated between 1908 and 1997.

51.681617 -107.202737

The earliest burials are of those who died in 1908:
Heroes, baby of A.L.
Knudson, Baby Anna, age 13 days
Nisbet, John Clifford, b. 1907

Died in 1909
Parsons, Frank, age 11 years

Died in 1910
Parsons, Ambrose b. Feb 10, 1843 d. Mar 15, 1910 husband
Parsons, Elanor b. Oct 16, 1835 d. May 25, 1910

Died in 1911
Bowen, David, age 86 years

Died in 1912
Girvan, Mabel (nee Clark) b. Sept 19, 1879 d. July 10, 1912
Swanson, Abraham d. May 10, 1912 age 30 yrs, 6 mo
Tilk, Frederick d. Mar 22, 1912 age 59 yrs

I haven’t kept details of burials since 1912, except to note that the Bodie family of five died in the 1919 influenza.

Unidentified Photos

Ida and Isabel

Photo of “Aunt Ida and Aunt Isabel”, and a photo of “Isabel and mother.” So Isabel and Ida were sisters of either Theolene or Abraham.

The postcard from Turtle River of June 1910 was addressed to A. D. Swanson in Swanson, Saskatchewan, and said “Dear Brother, 
How are you we are O.K. living here in Turtle [signed] Ida.”

Aunt Ida on left. Aunt Isabel on Right. Kregel Photo Parlors | Twin Cities.

Kregel Photo Parlors was active between 1910 and 1917.

Isabel and Mother. Clossett Print.

Hand-coloured portrait

Embossed: “Rembrandt Minneapolis”

Perhaps Clarence Swanson.

Portrait taken in Moorehead, Minnesota

Photograph by G. E Flaten, Moorhead, Minn. On back: “Isbell Svenson”

My brother Jeff Swanson of Gull Lake, Minnesota, says that our cousin Tom (son of Telford) has some evidence that Abraham D. Swanson spent time in Fargo before embarking for Canada, where he founded the town of Swanson, Saskatchewan. Perhaps Fargo was a staging point for homesteading in Saskatchewan. Fargo is just across the Red River from Moorhead. Might this be a picture of Abraham?

Postcard to A.D.S., Swanson, Sask, 1909

Postcard to Swanson, Saskatchewan

To: Postmaster |Swanson P.O. | Sask | Canada
am shipping you car of potatoes for seed thats the kind we have here.
Will write soon
Postmarked Minneapolis, June 19, 1909.

Dominion Land Survey

W3 = West of 3rd Meridian
The 2nd Meridian is 102° west, forming the northern part of the Manitoba–Saskatchewan boundary
The 3rd Meridian at 106° west, near Moose Jaw and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan. Township 31 – Range 8 — West of the Third. Abraham David Swanson homesteaded on the north-west corner of section 30 sometime before 1907.

Saskatchewan. Township 31 – Range 8 — West of the Third. Abraham David Swanson homesteaded on the north-west corner of section 30 sometime before 1907.

Each township had 36 sections and had an area of 6 miles by 6 miles. Each section of land was one mile by one mile in size. One section of land has 4 quarter sections . Each quarter section was denoted as north west, north east, south west or south east.

Swanson, Saskatchewan

The hamlet of Swanson, Saskatchewan, Canada, is located on the Canadian National Railway about70 km southwest of Saskatoon along Highway 45.

Swanson, Saskatchewan
Click to open in Google Maps

Photos of Swanson, Saskatchewan, from the family collection

Canadian threshing crew. Swanson, Sask Canada. No date.
Grain elevators along CN rail line in Swanson, Saskatchewan.
Fire. Swanson, Sask. Canada

Information from other sources


Canadian Northern Railway station at Swanson. Source: Johnnie Bachusky, circa 1913

Prairie Towns

Town of Swanson, circa 1915

The photo was likely taken from the railway water tower located NE of the Railway Station. The stores pictured across the intersection from the RR Station are as follows starting from the far left of the photo.

  • Hotel operated by Mr. Belton & Sydney Pipe
  • Chinese Laundry operated by Joe Lee
  • General Store & Post Office operated by T.E. Warner
  • Swanson Mercantile operated by Mr. Stone & Mr. Cosgrove
  • Colley Hardware operated by Thomas Colley (It also housed Skjeie Meat Market)
    rounding the corner … the long building was * Dalton Wall Lumber Yard.

On a March night in 1921 a fire fanned by high winds destroyed all the buildings marked with an * above. Most were never rebuilt. Other businesses (not pictured, across the street, from those above escaped the fire). Fortunately, none of the Swanson residences were burned in that fire. However, several families were left homeless due to the fact that they lived in quarters at the back of their family’s business.

Post office opened on June 1, 1907. Closed on February 26, 1976.

Historical information courtesy of Pat Girwing

Saskatchewan History Album

Walter Sutherland

Walter and Ruth Sunderland came to Winnipeg, Manitoba, from England in 1904. A year later, brother Abram arrived, and in April, 1906, they moved to homestead north of Swanson, Saskatchewan on Section 12-32-9-W3.

We have many happy memories of our childhood days in Swanson: like Ethel’s first day of school. The teacher closed the classroom door, and it locked. So, Ruth drove the horse and buggy near the school window where Ethel and Mack Gilmour crawled in through the window. There were many times when the boys of the school hung Vera out the school window, and then waited until they saw the teacher coming back from lunch before they would haul her in again.

In the winter of 1912, Ruth took Ethel and Vera in to Swanson to see a traveling picture show, held in Anderson’s Hall above the hardware store. During the evening, the film caught fire. The audience all escaped, but the camera operator was badly burned trying to put out the fire.

Our first recollection of radio was listening, with ear phones on, at Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Wooltorton’s. Each of us had a turn for five minutes. Mrs. Wooltorton always had icing sugar sandwiches for lunch.

Sunderland and Beaton family plots are located in St. Ambrose Cemetery, southwest of Swanson.

William Beaton

William Beaton, the youngest member of a family of eleven, was born in Milan, Quebec, in 1877. His parents and grandparents had come with other Scottish settlers in 1840 from Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.

In 1902, he went to North Dakota, where he farmed. In 1905 he took a homestead south of Wiseton, Saskatchewan. He left when a rerouting of the proposed CNR left his land far from the proposed town site. He bored many wells in the Wiseton, Hanley and Dundurn areas, and also broke many broncos. In 1907 he bought land in the Ardath-Swanson district, and in 1909 married Florence Sunderland, whose family lived north of Swanson. William and Florence resided on S. E. 21-31-9-W3 until 1935 when they moved to S. E. 28-31-0.

Florence had come to Swanson in 1906 with her parents Edward and Elizabeth, to visit her brothers Abram and Walter (Ruth).

Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan

Homestead Records

Tp. 031 Rg. 08 W3
Swanson, Abraham D. : NW 30-31-08-W3
Swanson, Abraham D. : NE 30-31-08-W3

Swanson, Selmer : NE 19-22-12-W3
Swanson, Selmer : NW 5-34-02-W2
Swanson, Clarence : NE 5-34-02-W2

The land system in western Canada that was based on a grid survey developed for the Prairies by the Canadian government. The basic unit of the survey was the 36-square mile township that was divided into 36 sections. Each section was about one square mile (640 acres) and were divided into four quarters or into sixteen legal sub-divisions. Townships were numbered from south to north starting at the United States border, and numbered from 1 to 129. Ranges in Saskatchewan and Alberta (and parts of British Columbia) are numbered from east to west starting from each meridian, and ranges are numbered 1 to 34. Surveyors established seven meridians, which acted as baselines for surveying and numbering the townships.

W3 = UF West of 3rd Meridian

Abraham David Swanson

Saskatchewan eHealth Genealogy Index
Death Record Number: 1298
Last Name: SWANSON
First Name: ABRAHAM D
Sex: M
Death Date (yyyy/mm/dd) 1912/ 5/ 10
Place of Death:

Abraham David Swanson is buried in the St. Ambrose Cemetery located near Swanson, Saskatchewan. His headstone records the same date as the death record and gives his age at 30 years 6 months, placing his birth around November 1881. Abraham is the only Swanson in the cemetery. According to his son Roy, Abraham died of illness.

If that birthdate is correct, Abraham was around 17 when his son Selmer was born in Minnesota in 1898. Abraham’s wife Theolene Moen was born in 1873, so she was around 25 when Selmer was born.

According to an unverified version of the family tree, Abraham and Theolene were born in Houston township in south-eastern Minnesota.

Abraham had at least two sisters, Ida and Isabel, according to the postcard from Turtle River and an unidentified photo.

Abraham founded the town of Swanson. The town had a post office by 1907, and the birth of Abraham and Theolene’s fourth son Grant is recorded for that same year. Information on the St. Ambrose Cemetery website says Abraham Swanson “homesteaded in this area in 1905 and founded the town of Swanson.”

Abraham and Theolene had five sons:

Selmer 1898-1985, born in Minnesota
Telford 1902– 1989, full name Addison Telford, born “out of state”
Clarence 1904 ?–1943 ?
Grant (called Richard on his birth record) 1907-1966, born in Swanson
Roy (called Russel on his birth certificate) 1910–1996 (my father), born in Swanson

Abraham put down his occupation as farmer on Roy’s birth certificate.

Southeast Minnesota

In the late 50s-early 60s, our family used to go to Spring Grove for a picnic with a bunch of other members of the Swanson family.

Houston, Minnesota

The Houston, Minnesota, region was the birthplace of both Abraham and his wife Theolene Moen, according to the unverified family tree. In the 1950s and 60s our family and others from the Swanson side would go to Spring Grove to get together with a bunch of relatives from Spring Grove. I only saw those relatives once a year for a few years.

Houston was incorporated in 1874. The community was named after Sam Houston, first president of the Republic of Texas. In 1852, William McSpadden platted the original site of the Village of Houston. McSpadden had served under Sam Houston in the Mexican–American War. Pioneers followed him into the area and by 1854 there were stores and a school among the approximately 40 buildings in the settlement.

Spring Grove, Minnesota

A post office has been in operation at Spring Grove since 1855. The community was named for a spring and a grove near the original town site. On the town website it’s claimed that Spring Grove is the first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota.

Swanson, Saskatchewan

Abraham founded the town of Swanson, Saskatchewan, Canada. The hamlet is located southwest of Saskatoon along Highway 45 along the Canadian National Railway.

Click for the Wikipedia article on Swanson, Saskatchewan, Canada

Homestead Records from the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan
No dates are given in the on-line finding aids.

Sections NW30 and NE30 – Township 31 – Range 8 – W3 (west of the Third Meridian, 106° west, near Moose Jaw and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan)

Swanson, Abraham D. : NW 30-31-08-W3
Swanson, Abraham D. : NE 30-31-08-W3
Statement of coordinates (cartographic): ca. 51.6925, ca. -107.1377

Search of 51.6925° N, 107.1377° W on Google Maps.

Intersection of Highway 45 and Township Rd. 315

Selmer and Clarence also have homestead records but not nearby.

Clarence Swanson

1904–1943 ?

Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan Homestead Records
No dates are given in the finding aid.

Swanson, Clarence: NE 5-34-02-W2
(Selmer has a homestead record for an adjacent quarter: NW 5-34-02-W2, so this is probably our Clarence. These locations are not near the town of Swanson.)

There do not seem to be any pertinent records in the Minnesota People Records Search, comprising birth records from 1900 to 1934, and death records from 1904 to 2001.

Minnesota Death Records – possible matches
Clarence H. died January 17, 1934, Hennepin County
Clarence. died , April 1, 1941, Ramsey County

Clarence was one of my father Roy Swanson‘s four brothers. My father recalled that their mother Theolene sometimes sent him (Roy) to bring Clarence back from a beer joint. He died of alcoholism, according to Roy.

My brother Jeff has heard that Clarence died in Chicago.

Clarence Swanson

Photos with Clarence

Clarence, Grant, and Roy Swanson as youths in undated photograph.
Clarence, Grant, and Roy Swanson as youths in undated photograph.
Theolene Swanson (neé Moen) and Roy (Russel?) Albert Swanson in front. Behind: Grant (1907-1966), Clarence (1904?-1943?), Selmer (1898-1985), Telford (1902-1989)

Possible photos with Clarence

In front, Roy, children (Telford’s ?), Telford. In back, Theolene, Clarence?
Unidentified 8×10 photo. Small octagonal embossing in lower right corner: REMEMBRANDT MINNEAPOLIS.

The Directory of Minnesota Photographers / Galleries and Studios lists a Remembrandt Grand Studio with a Minneapolis address. The studio operated from 1813 to 1923. Clarence would have been 19 in 1923 if he was born in 1904.