Historic Sites of Manitoba: Sidney Brickworks (Sidney, RM of North Norfolk)
In 1909, the Sidney Brick and Tile Company began operations, erecting a brickworks two years later at a site near Sidney in the Rural Municipality of North Norfolk. It supplied red-coloured brick for the construction of numerous buildings throughout Manitoba, and other places in Canada and the United States.
After bricks were pressed into shape, they were loaded onto four-wheel trolleys and rolled along a narrow-gauge railway into a network of 7 or 8 underground tunnels, each about 50 meters in length. A large fan powered by a single-cylinder, coal-fired steam engine produced warm air that was blown through ductwork into the tunnels to assist in drying the moist bricks. When they were dry, the bricks were moved into one of five kilns where they were fired at high temperature to full hardness.
A shortage of labour as a result of the First World War led to closure of the facility in the early 1920s. Instead, clay quarried at the site was shipped to Winnipeg to be made into bricks there. In early 1942, bricks from the former kilns were salvaged by staff from the Carberry Air Force Base for use in building a swimming pool. The property was owned by Alsip’s Building Products until 1985 when it was sold as farmland to a local resident. A large depression over much of the site identifies the location of clay excavation. The foundations of several buildings are still visible, as are the remnants of the kilns, water wells, and a loading ramp to a now-removed railway siding on the adjacent Canadian Pacific Railway main line.
This site is on private property and trespassers are at risk from unmarked holes and other concealed obstacles. No visits are permitted.
Some of the buildings constructed of bricks from the Sidney Brickworks:
Carberry Plains: Century One, 1882-1982 by Carberry History Committee, 1982, Manitoba Legislative Library, F5648.C36 Car, page 187.
We thank David Thiessen, Neil Christoffersen, and Fred Lintott for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 20 April 2017
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