William Wallace was born in Scotland around 1859. In 1881, when William was twenty-two, he emigrated to Canada with his father and brother. Once here they settled near what is today Forrest, Manitoba. The following spring they moved to the northwest margin of settlement in Manitoba, homesteading in the Shellmouth area. Wallace remained a resident of the region for the rest of his life. William Wallace was active in community affairs. He was appointed to the post of Secretary-Treasurer of the Shellmouth Municipality in 1887, and he held the position until 1904. In 1909, Wallace was injured in a railway accident, and he had to give up farming. He moved to Shellmouth and took up the position of postmaster, which he held for twenty-seven years. He died in 1945, and is buried at Shellmouth cemetery, Manitoba.
The letters contained in the fonds remained in the possession of Margaret Wallace, who was the original recipient of the correspondence. She emigrated to Canada in 1904. At some point the letters passed to William Wallace who kept them in his possession in Shellmouth. In 1941, William contacted Professor E. J. Westcott of Brandon College regarding the fonds. He offered it to the College for safekeeping. Westcott accepted the letters. Westcott passed the letters on to various officers and staff at Brandon College and then Brandon University. Since 1982, the collection has resided in the S. J. McKee Archives at Brandon University.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of hundreds of letters that William Wallace and his brother, Andrew, wrote to their sister, Maggie, from 1881 until 1904. The first letter, dated 22 March 1881, was written by both William and Andrew aboard the S.S. Prussia as they sailed to North America from Scotland. The last letter was written on 4 January 1904 by William. It was written to inform Maggie and her husband that William had reserved a homestead in their name. This letter marks the end of the fonds. Later that spring Maggie and John emigrated to Canada to be with her family.
William was keenly interested in everything going on around him; his letters and Andrew's reveal what life was like for inexperienced settlers on the Canadian agricultural frontier in the last years of the ninteenth century. Fonds touches on a variety of social, political and economic themes.
CAIN No. 202641. A partial accession of the Wallace collection was completed in 1992 by Eileen McFadden.