Honorary Secretary’s Report, Annual Meeting, 10 May 1956
by Paul Yuzyk
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1955-56 season
The report for the year 1955-56 which I have the honour to present, indicates that the Manitoba Historical Society has had perhaps one of the most successful years since its establishment in 1879. The eight general meetings, including this Annual Meeting, heard papers read by the Honourable T. A. Crerar, Mr. Harold C. Knox, Mr. William D. Hurst, Mr. Alexander S. Barbour, Professor Murray S. Donnelly, and Mr. Henry A. V. Green. Mr. M. J. G. McMullen will tonight present a film on historic cairns in the province. The Council of the Society held eight meetings, transacting a comparatively large volume of business.
On June 30, 1955 the Society lost one of its oldest and most faithful members, a former president, secretary and Honourary Life Member Mr. Alexander Shiriff Morrison, Q.C., LL.B. To him, our Society owes a lasting debt of gratitude for his many services rendered.
The executive work of the Society was conducted in Room 255 of the Legislative Building five mornings a week, on a half-time basis. We have been fortunate in having capable and devoted secretaries Mrs. C. K. Temple and since February, 1956, Mrs. K. P. Bedson.
The campaign to increase the membership, as planned by Mr. Nathan Arkin had a very successful outcome. There are 341 members in good standing, more than double the number last year, and perhaps an all time record. In addition, there are 45 contributing, 23 sustaining, 3 Patrons and 11 Life Members - a total of 423. During the year, life membership was conferred on the Honourable R. F. and Mrs. McWilliams. Our outstanding success in this respect, I hope, should not mean that further efforts should not be made to gain more members, for an ever increasing membership assures more intensive and a wider variety of activities in the historical field.
The larger number of members and the generous financial response of many firms in Winnipeg has again qualified the Society for a grant of $3,000 from the Government of Manitoba, for which we are naturally grateful. With this amount the gross annual income reached a total of $6,329.69. The auditor’s report, which will be presented tonight by Mr. G. F. Morrison, will give the details of the income and the expenditures. It is hoped that our finances will steadily increase but, of course, this depends on the active support of the members.
Your elected Council carries on the work of the Society through committees. A detailed account of the work of the committees would produce a long report, and therefore I shall give only the highlights.
This year No. 11 of Series III of the Transactions was published. The 96-page volume is the largest to date. The first edition of 500 copies was unexpectedly exhausted two weeks after its printing and the Council approved a second edition by offset printing. The increased demand for our Transactions and the favourable reviews in both Winnipeg dailies is most inspiring. Now that the Council has approved the securing of a copyright, perhaps the time has come to give thought to extending the scope of our official publication.
A new publication, Manitoba Pageant, was launched only recently. This illustrated magazine for young people in Public and High Schools has won a welcome reception in the Winnipeg papers, by many teachers and pupils, and by many people in general. It is planned to publish three issues a year and will be sent to all the schools in the province at the mailing expense of the Department of Education. A minimum subscription of 35¢ will make it available to pupils. Adults are asked to support this publication by contributing one dollar a year, for which they will receive all the issues. The editorial committee consisting of Mrs. M. L. Brown, Mrs. John Craig, Mr. H. Bowsfield, Mr. Douglas Kemp and myself are making plans to improve the magazine; they are to be commended for this promising activity of the Society.
The highlight of the Society’s public service was the unveiling of the Selkirk Memorial on November 12, 1955. The presentation was made by Father Antoine d’Eschambault of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and the acceptance by our President, Miss Anne Henderson. Addresses were delivered by Senator T. A. Crerar for the Dominion Government and Mr. Justice A. M. Campbell for the Lord Selkirk Settlers; the dedication by the Very Reverend Dr. W. Gordon MacLean; the unveiling by Mr. J. Ross Blanchard and the placing of the wreath by Mrs. J. W. Gunn, presidents of the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupertsland and the Ladies’ Auxiliary respectively. The Council regrets that the original plans of our Society for this memorial were altered without our approval and hence is not completely satisfied with its present form; this was conveyed to Ottawa.
The Ross House, the first Post Office in Western Canada, was open during the summer months of 1955. Dr. Murray Campbell, Chairman of the committee in charge of it, reported 1220 admissions; the decrease from last year was due to the shorter stop-overs of trains. Mrs. Myra Macdonald donated four pieces of furniture and furnishings, which were duly acknowledged with thanks. The operation of the Ross House at a deficit is of concern to the Council, which is making efforts to have it taken over by a public authority. The opening of the Ross House this year is slated for June 4th.
The Ethnic Group Studies Project subsidized by the Manitoba Government, has made further progress. Dr. E. K. Francis’ shortened version of his manuscript was published in late 1955 under the title In Search of Utopia: The Mennonites in Manitoba by D. W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., Altona, Manitoba. This book and Paul Yuzyk’s The Ukrainians in Manitoba can be procured from our Secretary at the reduced price of $4.00 each. The original manuscript of Dr. Francis has been made available to researchers in microfilm, printed by the University of Toronto Press. Mr. W. Kristjanson’s manuscript The Icelanders in Manitoba, revised by Professor T. J. Oleson, is now with the University of Toronto Press and will appear as No. a in the series. Arrangements are to be made to have a microfilm print of Dr. Victor Turek’s manuscript The Poles in Manitoba, published by the University of Toronto Press as part of the series. Mr. Regis Lessard’s manuscript on the French Canadians, is undergoing a revision. The Jewish study by Rabbi Arthur A. Chiel is expected to be completed this fall.
The first local history competition for the Margaret McWilliams Medals in 1955 was successful, if the circumstances of a late start are taken into consideration. Essays were submitted in 6 out of the 8 districts in Manitoba. The following were declared winners in their districts:
The medals were presented by the Honourable R. F. McWilliams at a special ceremony in the Legislative Building on February 16. The Council recently carried a decision to approve the publication of the prizewinning essays in booklet form. The central committee of the local history contest under the Chairmanship of Professor W. L. Morton, hopes to have a better response of entries this coming year. The members of the Society are urged to encourage candidates to participate in all parts of the province.
All committees of the Council have had a busy year. Archives and Pictorial Archives report new acquisitions. Mrs. Margaret A. MacLeod was awarded a grant to continue research on Cuthbert Grant. In Archeology, Mr. P. W. Grant and his group have made new findings in the Lamprey Falls area. Dr. Murray Campbell and Mr. H. Bowsfield cooperated with the C.B.C. in the production of the Television film “Signs of the Past”, presented on April 29th, showing historic sites in Winnipeg and the vicinity. A special committee of the Council assisted in the preparation of the Pageant which was shown at the Auditorium on May 20, 1955 before the Governor-General, the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, as part of the Citizenship Day ceremony.
From this survey of the work of the Society it is evident that the Council has received the co-operation of its members, who are devoted to the cause of promoting a public interest in the colourful history of our province. I am sure that they have the satisfaction of achieving this purpose to some degree, which is the only reward they seek. It must be recognized, however, that the progress made this year was due in a large measure to the continuity of the work of previous Councils and members.
Since the Society has received greater publicity and recognition, it will be necessary for the new Council to set up plans for greater activity. The stronger financial position calls for an intensification of some of the present projects as well as for new ones. The work of the Society should expand to the chief centres in the province. Members who have particular interests should volunteer their services to the Council. The least that each of us could do is to continue our membership and encourage others to join, to make contributions and to participate in the various activities.
I like to think that the deeper the interest in the history of the life of our province, the greater is the degree of understanding and the consciousness of service of our fellow-man and our country.
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