Camperville and Duck Bay, on the northwest shore of Lake Winnipegosis, are inseparable in their history, religion and society. Mention of the northwest shores of the three Manitoba lakes – Winnipegosis, Manitoba and Dauphin – can be found in many early fur trade journals. It was northward from Lake Winnipeg via Cedar Lake and on to the prairies and northwest territory that the voyageurs paddled their boats, to build their forts, explore and trade with the Indians.
The Hudson’s Bay Company had access to this area also from the north. Fort Prince of Wales, built in 1732 at the mouth of the Churchill River, and York Factory, established in 1682 on the Hayes River, gave the Company water routes that eventually led to the lake country of interior Manitoba. Fort Dauphin was established in the interior at the south end of Lake Winnipegosis on the Mossy River in 1741 by Pierre La Verendrye. Nicholas Jeremie, Daniel Harmon and Peter Fiddler travelled in this area, to be followed later by William Dawson and Henry Youle Hind.
Inhabited by the Muskegon Indians (Crees of the muskeg) and Saulteaux, the area was an ideal place to trade, fish, hunt and explore. Later, the boats that plied these inland waterways were manned by Indians and Metis from Red River and Metis settlements from the south, at St. Ambroise and St. Laurent. The Hudson’s Bay Company requested Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries to accompany employees on their long journeys ministering to their spiritual needs.
Early missions in the Camperville and Duck Bay area are predominantly Roman Catholic, but to the north, at Shoal River, and the east, at Fairford, the Anglicans established missions in 1855 and 1842 respectively, and played an equally important part in the development of those areas.
The earliest of the Camperville and Duck Bay settlements can be traced back to families of the Metis who at one time lived in Red River and the more western districts such as St. Francois Xavier (then known as la Prairie du Cheval Blanc or White Horse Plains), St. Ambroise and St. Laurent. These people, in quest of work and adventure became employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and gradually found permanent places in small settlements along Lake Winnipegosis and throughout the interlake district of Manitoba.
Salt deposits were found eight miles north of the present-day town of Winnipegosis and also across the lake at Salt Point, and here some of these adventurers remained to prepare salt by an evaporation process for the Hudson’s Bay Company. This area was given the name La Saline, and some present residents remember evidence of the “cribs” at Flett’s Point in the 1920s. Early permanent settlement resulted from this enterprise, as many of these Metis married Cree and Saulteaux wives and remained there. On 28 August 1871, an Indian Treaty was signed at Manitoba House which created Pink Creek Reserve. This more or less confined the Indian population to this particular area along the lake.
Excerpt from “Manitoba Pageant, Volume 18, Number 2, Winter 1973 By Gwen Palmer