Manning, one of the newest towns in the north, was named after a former Premier of Alberta, Ernest Manning. The town sprung up after the Second World War on the banks of the Notikewin River, between two small hamlets, North Star to the south, and Notikewin to the north. Our community lies north of the 55th parallel nestled in northern Alberta’s Peace River Country. We may be far enough north to evoke images of icebergs and caribou steaks, but this lush area produces some astonishing crops that you wouldn’t expect to flourish here. Our seventeen-hour-long summer days and warm temperatures create a very short but very productive growing season.
The forests in the Manning Region have always provided local people with natural heritage. From yesterday’s split firewood to today’s highly technological dimensional lumber.
Recently, the timber resource has finally taken center stage. Joining the oil and gas industry, which has been the backbone of the Alberta economy since the 1940s, the timber industry is now becoming a front-runner in this region.
As far back as the 1920s, sawmills have been harvesting the vast expanses of timber carpeting the Peace Region and, thanks to the regenerative capacity of our forests and sustained yield timber management there is no end in sight.
To ensure this, the latest timber industries to establish in the area have paid much attention to the benefits that accrue to both the people and the forests from small to mid-sized developments. The establishment of Manning Diversified Forest Products Limited and Daishowa-Marubeni International Limited use state-of-the-art wood processing facilities. This has provided a much-needed boost to the local economy and has brought modern-day forest management to the local economy. In the Manning area, you will find a mix of small, medium and large timber-based businesses along with the main office of the Mackenzie Ranger District. This allows a healthy level of competition and growth among the businesses as well as locally-based forest regulations to ensure the continued health of the forests.
It’s a good mix and does much to explain the vibrant state of the forest industry in the Peace Region. With this infrastructure and an adaptive outlook, we can look forward to a continued steady flow of forest products and forest-related jobs in the Town of Manning and the surrounding area.
Health Care History
One of the great hardships that early settlers in the Battle River country had to contend with in their struggle to subdue the land, was the lack of medical care. Initially, the only care available, aside from the home remedies, was from a public health nurse and the saddlebag doctors. These dedicated people braved the mud, mosquitoes, sub-zero temperatures, and blizzards on horseback, buggies and wagons to carry aid to the sick. Theirs is a saga of heroic proportions. Seriously ill patients had to be transported over sixty miles by wagon on the trail that passed for roads to the nearest hospital in Peace River.
Attempts by the community to establish a local hospital failed. Finally, the people applied to the United Church Missionary Society for help. The citizens contributed money and more importantly, time and labour. An eight-bed hospital gradually took shape on the banks of the Notikewan River on the site of the future Town of Manning.
The Battle River Hospital admitted its first patient in August 1937. The first physician was Dr. W.A. Doige. Nursing was performed by Matron McMurray and another nurse. The first surgery, and appendectomy, was preformed three days after the opening. Three years later, in 1940, the hospital acquired an X-ray machine. The Battle River Hospital was spreading its wings and was establishing the patter of good care and service that it was to practice down through the years.
Beds were set up in corridors and every space available, as doctors and staff struggled to meet the health requirements of the ever growing population. Over 2,000 babies yelled their first protest to the world in the Battle River Hospital.
In 1954 the Manning Hospital Board was established. It took over the Battle River Hospital from the United Church, and the hospital was renamed the Manning Municipal Hospital. Construction commenced on a new 15-bed hospital, which opened in July 1955. Dr. Dwan was the first doctor and Eileen Reimer the matron.
In 1968 the hospital was expanded to 34 beds. To accommodate the ageing residents, a further expansion enabled to Board to provide long-term, palliative and respite care services.
The new Manning Community Health Centre opened in July 2003.