August 6th is an important date in the history of the Rural Municipality of Victoria Beach, since it was on this date in 1919 that the municipality was formed and held its first election.
In April 1910 the Victoria Beach Investment Company was founded with C. W. N. Kennedy as president and C. Vokes, F.C. N. Kennedy, W. E. Macara and T.D. Robinson as directors. The aims of the company were "to layout, improve, sell and dispose of its lands for the purposes mainly of a summer resort” and also to enter into any type of business which they thought plausible.
C. W. N. Kennedy had started to assemble land at Victoria Beach in 1897 and had camped on the west shore of the peninsula on several occasions after crossing the lake by boat. In 1911, Plan 1755 which surveyed and subdivided land along Sunset Boulevard and Victoria Boulevard was registered in the Winnipeg Land Titles Office.
In 1913, Plan 2483, a survey of the land between Sunset and Eighth and between Arthur and the pumphouse site was registered, dividing that area into the lots as we know them today. In that same year the assets of the Victoria Beach Investment Company were sold to the Victoria Beach Company, and Senators G. Bradbury of Selkirk and William Sharpe of Manitou were to receive shares in the new company in return for "procuring the construction of a railway to Victoria Beach.”
By 1915 the Victoria Beach Company had accumulated a great deal of the land which now comprises the municipality, particularly that portion West of the present highway. In 1916 the railway arrived at Victoria Beach which made it easier to get supplies in to build cottages. Between 1915 and 1919 the company sold numerous lots and some of the early campers had built cottages.
In 1919 after some discussion between the company and the provincial government, Township 20 was taken from the North part of the Municipality of St. Clements and incorporated as the Municipality of Victoria Beach. Elk Island (which is designated as a Provincial Heritage Park) is also contained within the territorial limits of the municipality.
The first election was held on August 6, 1919 and C. W. N. Kennedy was elected reeve. The first councillors were Dr. W. Webster, Dr. N. J. McLean, Messrs. F. C. N. Kennedy and Henry Hampton. By December of that year Mr. Frank Sprague was Reeve and remained so until 1928. He was also manager of the Victoria Beach Company during that period.
In 1921 the Victoria Beach Community Club was organized, and in 1925 the Clubhouse was built; the club has remained a very important part of the community ever since. In 1923 the company started building a golf course at the present site and the golf course has operated continuously since 1924. The original tennis court was also at the golf course site.
On June 15, 1926, the first issue of the Victoria Beach News was published. It is now known as the Herald and has been published by the Community Club each summer since. Most of the issues are on file at the Legislative Library. It was also in 1926 that a survey map of the Albert Beach area was registered.
Although the railway was completed in 1916 the company had threatened to sue the Canadian Northern Railway for not completing it sooner. The community club had repeatedly approached the C.N.R. for improved service, and the municipality and the railway had ongoing arguments about rail crossings and land which were not finally settled until 1928.
In April of 1933 after lobbying by the company and the municipality, the provincial legislature passed a statute giving the municipality the power to restrict motor vehicles on its roads. However it was not until 1938 that the Victoria Beach Company turned the roads and lanes over to the municipality, after the municipality threatened to assess them for purposes of taxation.
In April 1935 the Royal Canadian Legion and Community Association was given a 99 year lease of the land that is presently occupied by the Legion and the Alex Anderson Community Club. The Alex Anderson Community Club plays an important role in the life of the residents of this area, as well as giving rise to the Seniors Scene.
Following the war of 1939-45 there was continuous agitation to build an all-weather road into Victoria Beach since the road at that time always became impassable between Albert Beach and Victoria Beach each spring, or following a rain. In 1952 the provincial government agreed to construct a road from Albert Beach to Victoria Beach with the municipality paying one-third of its cost.
After a good deal of controversy Manitoba Hydro became available to the permanent residents of the peninsula in 1954 and to the cottages in 1956. By 1962 most people came by car and the railway stopped running trains to the beach. In 1964 the municipality acquired the C.N.R. property and the old station, which was located on the "Green”, can now be seen as the first house on the west side of Ateah Road north of Pine Road. The section man’s house is now the summer home of the recreation director. The municipality later subdivided the northern portion of the railway right-of-way, and the cottages along Gibson were the result.
In 1967 the Victoria Beach Company approached the municipality with a proposal to sell its assets to the municipality and in 1968 this sale was completed. The money to buy the land from the Company was raised by the municipality selling debentures to cottage owners.
Since that time the municipal government has continued the past policy of attempting to keep Victoria Beach as a first rate summer resort with perhaps its most significant feature being the restriction of private vehicles in part of the municipality during the summer months.
Written by: Dr. L.S. McMorris