Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada


Title: 'Didsbury'? Cannington Manor, Saskatchewan

Source: Staff Report - Historical??????????????????????????????????????????????? 1970


Historical Summary


This stone house, one of two remaining in the settlement of Cannington Manor was built in 1889 by the Beckton brothers, who had come out from England with settlers encouraged by Captain E.M. Pierce the original land-holder.


'Didsbury' was the centre of village social life patterned on that in the english .counties.? The Beckton brothers were horse-breeders and horse-racers. They closed out their activities in 1897 and returned to England a few years later.




Cannington Manor, in the Moose Mountain area of Saskatchewan was established in 1882, largely under the impetus of an english gentleman, Captain E.M. Pierce.? Several families and single young men emigrated to Pierce's holdings. including in the latter group some who had been sent out by parents in England to learn farming.


By 1887 a village had grown up including an Anglican Church, built in 1884 and still standing. The original small village homes have long ago disappeared.


Today, in addition to the church and a few out-buildings, all that remains of Cannington Manor is a pair of mansions - one of frame was built for James Humphreys in 1888 - the other of stone was erected by the Becktons, Ernest, William, and Bertie. in 1889.? These two large homes were symbolic of alternative ways of life advocated by their owners.


The Humphreys' house was a centre of industry and disciplined living, following the ideals of the original settler, Captain Pierce. The Beckton ranch house 'Didsbury' was headquarters of life patterned upon 'county' ways in provincial England, with horse-racing a chief interest. The Becktons were well-known builders, and cricket, tennis and garden parties - as well as formal teas and dinners - were features of daily living at Didsbury. Many of the young unattached gentlemen from England (apparently among the earliest 'remittance-men' later so much in evidence in the foothills and the Rocky Mountain areas of Alberta) flocked to the Beckton ranch, and the social life affected there contrasted sharply with day-to-day activities in the rest of the community.? It seems to have been a source of some ill feeling among the residents.


However, after only a few years, Cannington Manor died. It had been set down in its Moose Mountain location largely on account of the anticipated coming of the transcontinental railway, and when the new line passed ten miles to the south, the effort to survive was simply too great for the village.? Whole families moved away and school, town hall, stores, cheese factory, and pork-processing plant closed their doors. By the mid-1890's or shortly thereafter, Cannington Manor had ceased to exist as a community.


Extant Buildings of the Manor


'Didsbury', the Beckton ranch house, is situated in the Saskatchewan parkland just east of the lakes of Moose Mountain - Cannington and Carlyle.? It is described as having been an imposing stone mansion with a profusion of verandas, gables and dormers. Such photographs as are available reveal a victorian 'cottage-type' structure of field-stone in considerable disrepair. All information obtained suggests that major rehabilitation work would be necessary even to assure that the fabric would remain intact.

It was apparently a sumptuous mansion for the time and place with ballroom, billiard room, formal dining hall and many bedrooms. There were stables, a pork-processing plant, barns and other outbuildings.

Today only 'Didsbury', the former Humphreys house and All Saints United Church remain at Cannington Manor. The former village is several miles from the nearest settlement, and there is no regularly maintained access road. There are no public utilities including fire-protection available.




1. Excerpt from letter from Mrs. A.E.M. Hewlett, October 20 1962

{      The actual building was a triumph of both design and workmanship built in 1889 of local stone by craftsmen.


2. Excerpt from letter from Mrs. A.E.M. Hewlett, August 21 1962

{      The house is utterly beyond repair. The inadequate foundations have long ago caused collapse of one corner and great cracks keep coming in other walls

{      Would need a road in. a resident caretaker electricity watery sewage disposal fire insurance heating etc

{      The ranch is not close to any road linking towns, but is about half a dozen miles from the small hamlet of Parkman, with the trail in quite a mile over plow and round sloughs. The nearest house must be quite a mile away

{      The most recent owners the Hancocks were away a few days. The windows were broken, the tiling round the billiard room fireplace removed, and all other removable objects taken long ago.


A picture each of the church and ranch house will be available for





Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada


Title: ?Didsbury? Cannington Manor, Saskatchewan

Source: Staff Report - Supplementary Historical???????????????? 1970


The two surviving large houses at Cannington Manor, though certainly contrasting in style - the elaborate gothic revival of 'Didsbury' in its original condition with .a profusion of verandas gables and dormers, and the plainer Humphreys house built on colonial lines, do not really also typify such strongly contrasting ways of life in the settlement as is suggested in the main agenda paper.

Captain Pierce's aim for his colony, as he himself expressed it to Sir John A. Macdonald, was not only to promote industry and disciplined living. He wanted to.bring out more people of his standing, to 'live like kings on the little money they had', and he played a full part in providing for them in Canada the recreation they were accustomed to in England. This included evening dress Christmas parties (the first one was held two or three years before the advent of the Becktons) foxhunting, a rifle club, tobogganing, driving, boating on the lakes, summer cottages, a surpliced church choir, drama groups and sketching circles.

A chief supporter of the tennis club was Ernest Maltby one of the partners in the main business operation of the colony, the Moose Mountain trading company, and also owner of the stores, post office, hotel and blacksmith's shop - obviously a hard-working businessman.

On the other hand, the Becktons too were systematic in their horsebreeding operations and, in fact, must have been to have enjoyed the success they did on western tracks.


Both 'Didsbury' and the Humphreys house indeed represent only the largest type of house in the community and in fact these were scarce, only Captain Pierce's 'great white house' with its 24 ft x 22 ft living room rivalling them in size.

Most of the houses were very modest, and the business premises -

roller process flour mill, stores, hotel, cheese factories, blacksmiths,

carpenter's and shoemaker's shop were a third main type of structure.

In fact the english-born owners of the large houses were not even

typical of some very large elements of the population. For example,

two of the very first of the settlers John Turton and James Hindmarch, were Canadians and there were a number of others.




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