/, Events, Lac du Bonnet Feature, Living in Lac du Bonnet, Visiting Lac du Bonnet/The Saga of JD McArthur and the Winnipeg River Princess: What is it all about?

The Saga of JD McArthur and the Winnipeg River Princess: What is it all about?

All year Lac du Bonnet has celebrated its 100th birthday with an amazing array of events and partnerships ranging from the Legion’s New Years Day Levee to the Fashion Tea which highlighted clothing from 100 years ago.

With the arrival of the play this weekend, residents, visitors and guests will be treated to an original production based on history but interpreted through the actions, words, and music of cast and crew.

“I have been anticipating the production of The Saga of JD McArthur for several months now – my interest piqued by the appearance of the locomotive in the July 1st parade and by hearing snippets of the original music under the trees at the Pinawa Dam earlier this summer.” – Donna Marion,  long time area resident and volunteer member of the RM 100 Committee.

Who Was JD McArthur?

McArthur, credited with establishing the community of Lac du Bonnet, was a Postmaster, a Railroad Builder, a Lumber Baron, an Industrialist, and a Brick Maker. It is widely believed that McArthur built more miles of railroad than any other man in the history of Canada. Besides building about 250 miles of the then Grand Trunk Pacific between Winnipeg and Lake Superior Junction, some of his other large contracts included about 500 miles of the Canadian Pacific Railway and a long stretch of the then Canadian Northern Railway between Portage la Prairie and Edmonton. He alone was responsible for putting the entire Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway system on the map, an enterprise which entailed laying over 900 miles of track. He also built the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway and all but the last section of the Hudson Bay Railway.

McArthur was a big man, not only physically, but in his mental outlook. Where others saw only flat, uninteresting prairie, he saw the future home of countless happy settlers; where others saw forests and streams simply as possible fishing haunts or vacation grounds, he saw thousands of uncut railroad ties, millions of feet of lumber which might be used in the building of a nation. He was a man of vision, an empire builder who loved the country he was born in and spent his life developing its natural resources, bringing vast areas of it within the borders of civilization, and trying by every means within his power to make it great and prosperous.

. . . Or Something a Little Different?

“The J.D. story is epic – it would easily fill a big movie screen with action and adventure. The thrilling, original live performance of the score transports us to an earlier time, when men of imagination and ambition challenged and conquered the wild and dangerous country that was the beautiful region we now all call home. If you love history and legends . . . you must see this play.” Gail Mooney, President of The Eureka Group.

The dramatic and controversial adaptation of The Saga of JD McArthur and the Winnipeg River Princess depicts McArthur as a greedy man who stopped at nothing to bring industry to this region. While not disputing that McArthur was a great man, the cast and crew wonder if there was something a little different about McArthur as they explore Lac du Bonnet’s beginnings.

The play explores the dark, seamy underbelly of what it took to build a town, a country, a nation. Set in a time where forests were nothing more than lumber yards ripe for the picking. The natural and beautiful landscapes – a nuisance in the way of grand plans. Slave labour was the key to success. Weak, tired and dead bodies were left at the side of the railroad or grimly used as tinder. Such were the accepted ways of the past. A necessary evil some would say, a lesson in humanity.

“I expect to be immersed in the issues of the day, and in the dynamic interactions of the larger than life personalities who ran our town in 1917. The play will offer an entertaining and fresh perspective on the history of our town. Do I expect that all who see the play will agree in its historical accuracy – not likely. But do I expect that we will all be challenged, possibly provoked, maybe inspired, by this unique production? You bet!” – Donna Marion

Ticket Information

The Saga of JD McArthur and the Winnipeg Princess is set to take the stage four times from August 18 to 20, 2017.

Friday and Saturday Dinner Theatre: Doors open at 5:00. Dinner Served at 5:30. Show Begins at 6:30.

Saturday and Sunday Matinees: Doors open at 1:00. Show Begins at 2:00

Location: Lac du Bonnet Community Centre. 25 McArthur Avenue.

Ticket Pricing: Dinner Theatre: $60.00 per person or a table of 8 for $400.00 ($50.00 per person. Matinees: $15.00 per person.

Ticket Locations: Online at or in Lac du Bonnet at Ingham Pharmacy, the Town Office or the RM Office.

Seating is limited so advanced ticket purchases are encouraged.

For additional Information please contact Cyndie Mitchell (director of Marketing) at 213-0619.

About the Eureka Group

Bringing a stage production to life for an audience can be both rewarding and terrifying. The best part is bonding with a mixed bag of people for a common purpose. The Eureka Group is a place to provide that opportunity – for theatre loving people to find an outlet to express their creative side.

The Saga of JD McArthur and the Winnipeg River Princess is a fictional novella written by Sheldon Sveinson that has been transposed into a musical play with help from Patrick Alexandre and Jesse Krause. Directed by Sean McMullen. Actors: Jay Buchanan, Chelsey Young, Glenn Radley, Ward Yunker, Ashley Kowalchuk, and Logan Goulet.

source: Lac du Bonnet Historical Society

Leave A Comment