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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]


Courtenay is a fertile agricultural district, on the southern bank of the Waimakariri river, and twenty-two miles north-west from Christchurch, by road. It originally formed part of the Racecourse Hill and Desert runs, the former of which was originally taken up by Mr Watts Russell, and the latter by Mr. Owen. It was one of the earliest settled districts in Canterbury, and among the first residents were Colonel Brett, Messrs W. J. Jenkins, James Robertson, A. McNae, G. Bedford, G. Seaton, W. Pitt, James Preston, and H. Cowan. A hotel was built and carried on by Mr White, and a store was opened at the township in the days when Cobb and Co.'s coaches ran through it on their way to the West Coast. However, the formation of the railway to Springfield, through Kirwee, and the consequent loss of the coach traffic, spoiled the business prospects of the township, and both the hotel and store were subsequently closed. The Courtenay Road Board, of which Colonel Brett was the first chairman, had jurisdiction in the district, and meetings were held at the Courtenay Hotel. Subsequently the Board's headquarters were transferred to Kirwee. The Courtenay Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and a horticultural society, were also formed in the early days, and shows were held at the Desert homestead, but of recent years they have been held at Kirwee. As an agricultural area Courtenay ranks high among the neighbouring districts. Crops of oats usually average about forty bushels per acre, and wheat about thirty-five. The district is popular with sportsmen, as along the banks of the Waimakariri hares and rabbits are very plentiful, and fish abound in the river. St. Matthew's church, the centre of the parochial district of Courtenay, is situated on the Halkett boundary. The present township has within its area a public school, an Orange Hall, a public library and several farm homesteads. Courtenay has two Friendly Societies—a Court of Foresters and an Orange Lodge. There is a local post office, with a daily mail service, but the nearest telegraph office and railway station are at Kirwee, three miles distant.

The Public School at Courtenay is one of the oldest in the provincial district of Canterbury, and was erected about 1868. Mr. Cheyne, the first master, conducted the school for several years, and was followed by Mr. Foster, who was master for a still longer term. The building is of wood, and contains the school and the master's residence. It is situated in the centre of the township, facing the West Coast road, and is surrounded by a spacious playground. There are twenty-five scholars on the roll, and the average attendance is about twenty.

Mr. Arthur Vickery Sims, Headmaster of the Courtenay school, was appointed to his present position in 1900. He is a native of Akaroa, and served as a pupil-teacher in the German Bay main school. Prior to receiving his present appointment he was in charge of the public school at Aylesbury.

The Courtenay Agricultural And Pastoral Association was formed in 1872, as a Farmers' Club, which was afterwards merged into the present association, and registered under its present designation. Its promoters included the Hon. Colonel Brett, Messrs N. S. Kingdon, L. Ceutts, W. B. Tosswill, J. Turner, J. Painter, G. Henderson, T. H. Anson, A. E. Davis, A. McNae, and other old colonists. Annual shows were held at Courtenay for several years, but afterwards an area of fourteen acres and a half was bought at Kinwee, which is a more central site. Financially, the Courtenay Agricultural and Pastoral Association is a great success, and year by year its members and exhibitors increase in number. At present Mr. Alexander Sandison is president; Messrs W. W. Jenkins, junior, and W. Sheate, vice-presidents; Mr. G. T. Robertson, secretary; and Mr. H. McNae, treasurer.

Mr. George Thomas Robertson, Secretary of the Courtenay Agricultural and Pastoral Association, is a son of the late Mr. James Robertson, one of the early colonists of Canterbury. He was born at Courtenay in 1861, educated in his native place, and brought up to agriculture by his father. For several years Mr. Robertson has been farming on his own account. He carries on mixed farming, and the land gives average returns of fifty bushels of oats, and from thirty to forty bushels of wheat to the acre. Mr. Robertson is a member of the Courtenay school committee, and was for many years chairman; he is secretary, and one of the elders of the Halkett and Kimberley Presbyterian church, and superintendent of the Sunday school. As a Forester he is connected with Count Courtenay, and has passed through the chairs. Mr. Robertson is an honorary ranger for the Canterbury Acclimatisation Society, and a member of the Christchurch Angling Society. He is also an occasional contributor to the columns of the Christ-church papers. Mr. Robertson married a daughter of the late Mr. Archibald McNae, one of the early colonists of Courtenay, and has a family of two sons and one daughter.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. and Mrs G. T. Robertson.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. and Mrs G. T. Robertson.