Historic Sites of Manitoba: Principal Meridian Cairn (RM of St. Francois Xavier)

The first marker of the Dominion Lands Survey was placed on 10 July 1871 at the Principal Meridian, about half a mile (0.8 kilometre) south of this site. The system, then inaugurated by Surveyor-General John Stoughton Dennis, extends across the prairies and to the Pacific coast, embracing more than 200 million acres (81 million hectares) of surveyed lands in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and parts of British Columbia.

This cairn, located where the Principal Meridian crosses the Trans-Canada Highway in the Rural Municipality of St. Francois Xavier, was dedicated at a ceremony on 14 July 1930. Organized by the Manitoba Historical Society and Association of Manitoba Land Surveyors, the ceremony was chaired by MHS President David Alexander Stewart and attended by Premier John Bracken, Manitoba surveyors Robert Charles McPhillips and Samuel Ebenezer McColl, Judge F. W. Howay of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Alfred Erskine Hoskin of the Law Society of Manitoba, Jacob Lonsdale Doupe of the Canadian Pacific Railway, F. V. Seibert of the Ontario Surveyors Association, W. R. Reilly of the Saskatchewan Surveyors Association, Richard Deans Waugh of the Old Timers’ Association, and historians Roderick George McBeth and Charles Napier Bell.

Principal Meridian Cairn

Principal Meridian Cairn (March 2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.881622, W97.459340
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Early Surveys in Manitoba by Henry E. Beresford
MHS Transactions, Number 9, Series 3, 1952-53 Season

The Special Survey by Douglas Kemp
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 3, Number 3, April 1958

Manitoba Settlement Patterns by John Warkentin
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1959-60 Season

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Plaques for Persons, Events and Sites of National Historic Significance


“Perpetuates memory of pioneer surveyors,” Manitoba Free Press, 15 July 1930, page 12.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 27 November 2023

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