The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]
Methven is the terminus of the Rakaia-Methven railway, twenty-two miles from the township of Rakaia. It is a very clean and healthy place, and is the business centre of a prosperous district. There are three churches, a state school, two hotels, and several large general stores in the township. The grain crops of the district average from fifty to seventy bushels per acre, and the grass is famed for its fattening qualities. Although the district is sometimes visited by heavy nor'-westers, it is compensated by the extra rainfall with which it is favoured through the northerly winds, from the adjacent mountains. The district is under the jurisdiction of the Mount Hutt Road Board, which levies a rate of one farthing in the £ on the capital value, which, for the whole road district, is estimated at £797,000. The population of Methven is about 300, and of the whole road district, 1500. About 300 miles of road, 220 of which are well metalled, have been made in the district. The main road from Ashburton to Methven, twenty-five miles, and to the Rakaia Gorge, ten miles further is equal to any highway in Canterbury. Methven was named by the late Mr. Patton, one of the pioneers of the district, after his native place in Scotland. On the foundation of the Rakaia-Methven line of railway, several large stores were erected in the township, which has since gradually increased in size and prosperity. Fortnightly sales are held at Methven during six months of the year, and monthly sales for the other six months. The sales are attended by buyers from all parts of Canterbury, and twenty thousand sheep are sometimes yarded at a time. There are some large estates in the neighbourhood, such as Mount Hutt, Mount Harding, Springfield, and Waimarama. The whole country is intersected with water-races, fed from the Pudding Hill stream and the river Ashburton. Lately large blocks have been purchased by the Government, and cut up for close settlement. “High-bank,” one of these properties, now supports one of the most prosperous farming communities in New Zealand; and “Corwar,” formerly the property of Mr. J. Cathcart Wason, gives promise of a degree of success.
The Methven School has an average attendance of about 100 pupils. Mr. James Gillanders, the headmaster, holds a D2 certificate. He is assisted by Miss E. M. Willis, and a female pupil-teacher.
The Canterbury Commercial And Family Hotel, (R. Millar, proprietor), Methven. The business of this hotel is carried on in a handsome two-storey building. It has well furnished sitting and commercial rooms, dining rooms, bath rooms, a billiard room, and numerous comfortable bedrooms. The cookery is under the supervision of Mrs. Millar, and the bill of fare includes the richest of creams, and the freshest of eggs, supplied from the hotel farm. The hotel is frequented by squatters, farmers, commercial men and tourists. The bar, which is stocked with the best spirits, wines and cigars, is away from the domestic portion of the house, and guests are therefore assured of a privacy almost equal to that of a private dwelling. The landlord maintains livery and bait stables, and buggies and waggonettes, with either one or two horses, and driven by steady and experienced drivers, are available for use. Methven is known to possess one of the most bracing climates in New Zealand, and many places of great beauty are within a short distance of the hotel, such as the Rakaia Gorge, Mount Hutt, the Ashburton Gorge, and Mount Somers; and the local roads are well adapted for driving, riding, or bicycling. Trout abounds in the Rakaia and hares are plentiful throughout the district, so that Methven has attractions for the sportsman as well as for the sightseer.
Mr. R. Millar was born in County Antrim, Ireland, and accompanied by Mrs Millar, arrived in New Zealand by the first trip of the s.s. “Norfolk” in 1880. For years he had charge of the late Mr. Michael Studholme's stores at Waimate, but in 1888 he started business on his own account at Darfield, and carried on the Darfield hotel for four years, when he bought the present hotel in Methven. He married Miss Dinsmore, and of a family of four, one daughter and two sons are alive.
Methven Boardinghouse (Vivian Rouse, proprietor), Methven. This house was established in 1883. It is situated close to the railway station, and contains nineteen rooms, thirteen of which are well furnished bedrooms. There are two sitting rooms, and one large, well ventilated dining room, capable of seating twenty-four persons. The house is patronised by the settlers, commercial travellers, page 799 and tourists, and supplies all the comforts of a home. There are good stables and secure paddocks attached to the house.
Mr. Vivian Rouse, the Proprietor, was born in Cornwall, England, in 1847, and was apprenticed to the butchering trade. He came out to New Zealand in 1873 by the ship “Mary Shepherd.” He was for a considerable time with Mr. Charles Reid, of Westerfield, and settled subsequently at Alford Forest. Mr. Rouse has been twice married, and his first wife bore him four sons and two daughters.
Mr. and Mr V. Rouse
Baker, John, Butcher and Baker, Methven. This business was established about 1878 by Mr. W. Morgan, and purchased by the present proprietor in 1886. While the railway, roads and water-races were being constructed, and cropping was carried on extensively prior to the land being laid down in grass, business was very brisk at Methven. Then followed the usual lull, but trade on a permanent footing is now carried on with the townspeople and settlers. Mr. Baker was born in 1853, in Wellington, Somersetshire, England.
Hibbs, Jonathan, Storekeeper and Farmer, Methven. Mr. Hibbs was born in Dorsetshire, England, and came to New Zealand in 1876. He was the first to import into New Zealand the Dorset horn-sheep, of which breed he imported from England a ram and two ewes in 1897. Mr. Hibbs has now a small flock of this hardy breed, which, from their early maturing and hardy qualities, should prove a benefit to New Zealand raisers of fat lambs.