Historic Sites of Manitoba: Historic Sites Advisory Board of Manitoba / Manitoba Heritage Council
The designation of historic sites in Manitoba during the early 20th century was done by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. This Board continues today to identify sites, events, and persons of national significance in our province.
Provincial government participation in the recognition of important sites dates to 1946, when the Historic Sites Advisory Board of Manitoba was established. This group of historians, architects, archaeologists and other citizens made recommendations to the provincial government to identify, protect, preserve, commemorate and interpret historically and architecturally significant sites, buildings, people and events in Manitoba. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Board sought to strengthen national sentiment by commemorating individuals and places of historic significance.
In the 1950s, the Board encouraged the establishment of commemorative plaques at scenic or strategic “wayside parks” in an attempt to popularize Manitoba history. Many of the plaques dealt with Manitoba’s early fur trade trails and trading posts. Centennial celebrations in 1967 and Manitoba’s centenary in 1970 saw increased activity, with an emphasis on commemorating political and historical themes, such as the boundaries of the “Postage Stamp Province” and the origin of the name “Manitoba”.
In the 1980s there was a trend to expand commemorative themes to represent those which have long been ignored as contributors to society: women, labour, ethnic and aboriginal heritage were highlighted. In 1986, with the new Heritage Resources Act, the name of the Board was changed to the Manitoba Heritage Council.
The earliest commemorative markers were wooden. Metal plaques were first erected in the late 1950s. Made of cast aluminum and mounted on a post, the familiar six-sided markers carry the Manitoba crocus symbol at the bottom. They are usually unilingual. If a French version was deemed appropriate, a second plaque and mount accompanied the English version. Beginning in 1987, commemorative plaques were made of etched brass and mounted on a wall or a white concrete podium. These plaques were either bilingual or trilingual and usually carried an illustration. Most recent provincial plaques have been made of cast metal.
In recent years, the identification and commemoration of historic sites in Manitoba is being done primarily by the municipal governments of Manitoba. In 2010, the Manitoba Historical Society initiated its Historic Sites of Manitoba project to identify and promote a great diversity of historic sites around the province, encompassing but broadening the list beyond those designated officially at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels.
The founding members of the seven-person Advisory Board, appointed in 1946, were W. C. Graham, L. T. S. Norris-Elye, G. M. Brownell, J. E. Tisdale, S. Criddle, C. P. Wilson, and A. d’Eschambault. As of 1952, other members included J. L. Johnston, H. W. Bowsfield, R. Mitchell, W. L. Morton, and H. E. Beresford.
“Dr. W. Graham made board chairman,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 July 1946, page 24.
“Legislation guards our historic sites,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 November 1952, page 7.
Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques: 1946 -1994, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Citizenship.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 22 July 2017
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