📸Photo Credit - Dan Harper Photography
The LGD of Alexander, an area comprised of approximately 600 square miles, was incorporated under the "Local Government Districts Act” by Order-in-Council No. 1008/44 on December 28, 1944 and became effective January 1, 1945. At that time, the District was administered by a government-appointed Resident Administrator and supervised by the General Supervisor and staff of the Local Government Districts Branch in Winnipeg. In 1945, there were 21 Local Government Districts in Manitoba, made up mostly of unorganized districts in the eastern and northern parts of the province.
The first Administrator appointed to the LGD of Alexander, Edward LaFortune from Vassar, Manitoba, was requested by the Minister of Municipal Affairs to open an office in this area. In the early years of Local Government Districts, the office of the Resident Administrator moved from place to place; many Administrators ran their offices from their own homes. However, LaFortune met with Father Donat McDougall, a parish priest from St. Georges who was actively promoting business in that community. As a result, the first LGD of Alexander office was opened in the St. Georges Creamery which was owned by Father McDougall. The office remained there until 1950. That was when the Creamery was demolished because of the flooding of the Winnipeg River by Manitoba Hydro for the construction of the Pine Falls Generating Station. The office was relocated to a number of different homes on Chateauguay Street in St. Georges and then in the old St. Georges Convent. Finally, in 1951, a new office was constructed along P.T.H. No. 11 and the LGD of Alexander had found a permanent home.
The original building was 24 feet square and was considered a great improvement to the area. It was heated with an oil space heater, had a small sink in one corner, a small vault, and an outhouse in the backyard. This building served the District well until 1969 when the first addition became necessary.
At that time, many of the Administrators throughout the province were concerned with using their personal cars for road inspections and other travels on the often rough and sometimes impassable back roads of the districts. Therefore, many of the Local Government Districts in Manitoba purchased their first vehicles that year. The addition to the District office was built to house the new ½ ton truck which was purchased for the use of the Resident Administrator.
Another addition was soon required for the Municipal office to provide space for the regular monthly council meetings. It wasn’t until 1972, when a third addition was constructed, that indoor washrooms were finally installed in the office. In 1980, a new council chamber was added to the existing building, complete with a new roof over the entire structure. Over the next years, various improvements were made, both to the interior of the building and the grounds it is situated on, which in turn meant better working conditions for the employees.
In the early years, administration of the District included mostly tax collection, administration of Local Government District lands obtained through tax sale, and assisting ratepayers with local problems. Funds were very limited and staff was not available to provide Public Works services. Roads were constructed and maintained by the Department of Highways on a 50-50 cost sharing basis. The local School Districts which were administered by locally elected School Trustees, decided which roads would be constructed and the District would levy the necessary funds. At the time of incorporation, the LGD of Alexander was comprised of 20 School Districts. In addition to the trustees, an appointed Secretary-Treasurer was also part of the administration team.
The Resident Administrator did not have the luxury of extra staff for busy times of the year. Their families were often required to assist with the preparation and mailing of tax statements (written in long-hand) and numerous other office duties, all without pay. The wives and families of the first Administrators should be recognized for their devotion and patience. It wasn’t until 1968, that the Local Government Districts Branch decided each Resident Administrator should have an assistant to help with the operation of their District and to be in the office while the Administrator was away on office business, holidays, etc. He would also be trained to eventually replace the Administrator upon his retirement.
At about this time, the activities in the Local Government Districts in Manitoba were increasing rapidly and the Department of Municipal Affairs felt the Districts should be represented by elected officials rather than the government-appointed Resident Administrator. Initially, a series of public hearings were held throughout the Districts which were then followed by elections in local communities. The five Advisory Committee Members, elected for 2-year terms and representing 5 wards or areas of the district, would advise the Resident Administrator and prepare policy. The first Advisory Committee meeting in the LGD of Alexander was held on April 8, 1969. Unfortunately it was only attended by three of the five members.
Now that the wards had representatives residing locally, the demand for services increased rapidly. Requests for culverts, roads, drainage, gravel, mowing, grading, and snow removal were being discussed at the monthly meetings. This resulted in an increasing tax levy. In 1945 it was $20,136.73 and rose to $76,742.00 by 1969. The total budget levy in 1988 was $2,464,882.14.
During the 1970’s there was also a large increase in assessments. The major cause of this was development of the resort areas Traverse Bay, Hillside Beach, Lester Beach, Bird River, Bracken Falls and Poplar Bay. The demand for cottage lots within the District continues today with approximately 300 building permits issued annually since 1981.(1988 figures) The Local Government District of Alexander has grown to become one of the largest Districts in Manitoba. With the increase in population and growth in the cottage and commercial industries here, the future looks very bright indeed.