The region surrounding Virden was known, prior to European settlement as a good hunting area due to the abundance of large buffalo herds which grazed the surrounding plains area on both sides of the Assiniboine River. Various early aboriginal archeological sites are found through out western Manitoba, with local sites centered along the Assiniboine River valley and in the Oak Lake aquifer region.
The first European settlement in the Virden area was established in 1790, with the construction of Fort Montagne a La Bosse by the Northwest Company. It was primarily a pemmican fort supplying food for both the Red River settlement but also for the further expansion of the fur trading area to the north and west. The last known record of the fort was approximately in 1815 but remnants of the Fort were still visible to J B Tyrrell in 1890.
In 1872 the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Virden, with the first town site being established near Gopher Creek, immediately east of the present town site. A model farm colony was established in 1881, in the Gopher Creek area, by Sir George Stephens but it failed due to sandy soil conditions not being conducive for crop growing.
The Gopher Creek post office was established in 1882 and in 1883 the CPR established the present town site, initially naming it Manchester. The post office on the present town site was registered as "Virden" in October 1, 1883.
The origins of the name remain somewhat obscure even today, with the most prevalent interpretations being either some connection to the Scottish home estate of Lord Mount Stephen or relating to the 7th Duke of Manchester's wife, her German homeland and the beautiful cathedral city of Verden.
Virden became known as the "little tree town of the west" due to early efforts to establish vegetation so as to provide protection from the harsh prairie winds. In 1920, it was nick named "Virden, the Beautiful" by press writers of the Winnipeg Tribune.
Telephone service was provided for by private enterprise in 1893. This was later bought out by the Manitoba Telephone System. The first electrical service was also provided by private enterprise in 1893 but it was not widely accepted. An acetylene street light system was established in approximately 1901 and was taken over by the town council in 1903. It remained the principal civic lighting source until grid supplied hydro electricity came to Virden in 1930.
Oil exploration started in the region in 1948 with the first successful well being drilled in January of 1951. Since this time Virden has been known as "The Oil Capital of Manitoba"
Recent new discoveries in the region has doubled current reserves and further exploration is continuing to expand these reserves even more. In 2006, close to 500 new oil wells were drilled with total industry expenditures reaching nearly $ 400 million.
COMMUNITIES IN BLOOM
The Town of Virden was one of the first communities to participate in the Communities in Bloom program.
While the program has 7 categories, the community is very aware of the interconnectiveness of these objectives and goals. Special recognition has been granted for achievements in the areas of heritage preservation, environmental programs and a long term vision for the environment.
Most for the work is undertaken by an active volunteer committee with the support of local government services. The Town of Virden's Parks and Recreation Department, has been key in establishing this mandate within local government policies and services.
|1996||Most Beautiful Community in Canada (Category 1,501 to 5,000) |
|1996||Outstanding Floral Displays Award and Tidiest Community Award|
|1997||Second Most Beautiful Community in the World, Nations in Bloom (Category 1 - 10,000)|
|1997||Four Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Special Recognition for Environmental Programs|
|1998||Five Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Special Recognition for Tidiness & Community Involvement|
|1999||Five Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Special Recognition for Community Involvement|
|2000||Four Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Special Recognition for Heritage Preservation|
|2002||Four Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Special Recognition for Heritage Conservation|
|2003||Four Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Special Recognition for Tidiness Effort|
|2004||Four Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Architectural Heritage Preservation|
Five Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Long Term Vision for the Environment
| 2006|| Five Bloom Rating Communities in Bloom, Millenium Garden|
Communities in Bloom 1996-2006
The Community has participated in the National Competition since 1997 and has continually achieved high marks. This is remarkable in that many of our competitors come from regions which have significantly better climatic conditions.