The Bell Farm Visitors Register was printed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and was first used in August 1884, a full two years after the Bell Farm began operations. Hence, it is not a complete record of all who visited the Farm, as many early visits are not recorded. As well, historical information from other sources indicates that not everyone who came to the Farm signed the Visitors Register.
This album includes approximately 310 entries. Most of the research on these people was undertaken by Michelle Cabana of Saskatoon. Her ability to decipher the signatures in the Register and to then locate historical information on and photos of those people has been most rewarding. The information attests to the great variety of people who visited the Bell Farm from diverse locations in Europe and North America, and the mixture of ages. Considering the transportation facilities of the late 19th century, it is remarkable that so many people found the time and resources to travel to the Canadian West and to take the time to include a visit to the Bell Farm in those itineraries. Even more remarkable is that so many of those visitors subsequently wrote about their experiences and publish them in newspapers, journals and books.
The Register Entry Numbers correspond with the sequential numerical system that Major Bell instituted. While he carefully numbered each line for the first few pages, he discontinued that process about 1/3 of the way through, at number 128. Hence, later numbers (129 to 310) were assigned by us in the same sequence as the visitors signed the book.
A photograph of each Register page is inserted immediately before the entry number at the top of that page. Click on the page to get an enlargement of the signatures and accompanying information.
There are 268 entries in the Register during the early years of the Bell Farm's operation, when the Farm's fame was wide-spread. However, after the Bell Farm suffered financially in 1885 and 1886, and was reorganized in 1886, the number of visitors dropped dramatically. Between 1888 and 1894 only 42 additional visitors signed the Register.
NOTE: In some instances, where evidence clearly indicates that both husband and wife visited the Bell Farm, an extra entry has been made for the spouse, generally by adding an "a" after the primary entry number, and a "b" after the secondary entry. For example: Entry 28a is for Robert Crawford, and Entry 28b is for his wife, Elizabeth [Miles] Crawford.
Pimary research was undertaken by Michelle Cabana, Saskatoon, Sask, with assistanbce from several others, including: Margaret Hryniuk and Frank Korvemaker, both of Regina, Sask., and Bill Pinfold, England.