Honorary Secretary's Report, Annual Meeting, 1965

by Joseph E. Martin

MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1964-65 season

This article was published originally in MHS Transactions by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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For the second consecutive year, it is the Society's privilege to hold our annual meeting in the Carleton Club. Last year, we heard a fine address by Professor John Warkentin, formerly from our University and United College, now with York University in Toronto, on Western Canada in 1886. This evening, we have again gone east for our guest speaker, Mr. J. D. (Jack) Herbert, the Director of the Historic Sites Division of the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources. However, in contrast with Professor Warkentin, whom we lost to the east, Mr. Herbert is returning to the west, as the new Director of the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. His talk this evening on a new concept in museum work has been interesting, stimulating and informative. A highlight of last year's annual meeting was the presentation of an Honorary Life Membership to Margaret Arnett MacLeod. This year a highlight has been the presentation to Miss Lillian Gibbons of a model Red River cart in recognition of her interest and work in Manitoba history.

The annual meeting marks the eighth meeting of the busy 1964-1965 season. The first general meeting in September once again took the form of a field trip to historic spots in the province. This year's trip was west and north, from Winnipeg to Minnedosa, via Portage la Prairie. For much of the journey we paralleled two historic routes, one by land and one by rail. The routes were the Saskatchewan Trail and the old Portage-Westbourne-Northwestern Railway. At Minnedosa we toured the town, visited the museum and heard a talk by Mrs. E. J. Brown on Minnedosa's Early Days.

The papers delivered at the regular meetings of the Society are printed in the Transactions. At the November meeting, however, we had a slight departure from our normal pattern with the showing of historical films by the National Film Board, a meeting which was arranged in conjunction with the Societe Historique de Saint-Boniface. At the February meeting, Alderman Edith Tennant presented the Society with a gavel made from the wood of the old Winnipeg City Hall. Mrs. Hugill received the gavel on behalf of the Society.

Membership in the Society increased during the past season with recent figures indicating a total of 483 members.

On 1 July 1965, membership fees were increased to $5.00 and included a subscription to the Pageant. Life memberships have been raised to $100.00 from $50.00. There will also be a special student membership of $2.00 in future. This increase in fees, the first in many years, reflects the Society's willingness to ask for funds from its own members as well as from the Provincial Government.

On the general subject of the finances of the Society, a brief was presented to the Executive Council of the Province by the Society in December. After reviewing the needs of the Society, pointing out the necessity for hiring a professional director and also pointing out the fact that the Government's grant has not increased for over two decades, the Society requested an increase in the Provincial Government's annual grant from $3,000 to $15,000, spread over a three-year period. At the same time, the Society requested a substantial increase in space, both for itself and for the Provincial Archives and Library.

Although the Society's request for additional funds has not yet been met, the Society was pleased that funds were voted at the recent session of the Legislature for an Archive survey by Dr. W. Kaye Lamb, Dominion Archivist. We trust that the survey will recognize the very real need in our community for a new archives and public records building.

Turning to publications, you all received your 1962-1963 issue of Transactions in June of last year. It is hoped that the 1963-1964 volume will be available for distribution soon.

Three volumes of Pageants are now being published during the course of the year. Two of this year's editions have been mailed to subscribers and to public school teachers. It continues to be well received.

As you are all aware, the Society made funds available for a series of ethnic studies in the post-war years. This investment is still bearing fruit. Dr. Victor Peter's book on the Hutterians, All Things Common, is to be published shortly. It is hoped to have copies available to Society members for $4.00 - 40% below the retail price. In addition, Mr. W. Kristjanson's study, The Icelanders in Manitoba, is being published by Wallingford Press and Dr. V. Turek's study, The Pole in Manitoba is being published by the Polish Research Institute.

The Manitoba Records Society's first of five volumes, Manitoba, the Birth of a Province, edited by Dr. W. L. Morton, will be published this fall by Friesen & Sons Ltd. in Altona. A sixth volume, on the history of the French settlers of Manitoba after 1870, is being considered. The Record Society will be applying for a grant from the Centennial Commission under the recently announced Centennial Publications Assistance Programme.

The attendance at Ross House last year exceeded 3,500, and represented a 20% increase over any previous year. This will probably be Mr. Leonard Reid's final year as Chairman. I think it is important that he know how much we all appreciate the fine work he has done on Ross House. The best tribute you can pay him is to visit Ross House this summer and take your friends.

Centennial organization and publicity has stimulated a greater interest in the field of local history. Copies of How to Collect the History of Your District are being mailed on request and the winter edition of Pageant reprinted it in full. Much has yet to be done and will be done in the field of local history if the Society can find a sufficient number of willing and able volunteers to cope with the volume of work in this area.

At the May meeting of Council, it was decided to broaden the basis of awarding the Margaret McWilliams medals from local history to a variety of historical categories such as scholastic writing, popular writing, etc. This decision was made on the basis of a report prepared by Mr. Hart Bowsfield. A McWilliams Awards Committee will be formed, consisting of the President of this Society, the Provincial Archivist, a representative from the Department of History of the University with powers to add.

The Centennials Committee, formed in October 1963, has been meeting regularly. One of the first recommendations of this Committee was to urge the Government to undertake an archival survey. As reported earlier, action has been taken by the Government on this matter. The Committee has also been concerned with the planning of publications of an historical nature. To this end it is hoped that the Society will either publish, or have published, a popular history of Manitoba, a source book of Manitoba history and a volume of selected articles to be reprinted from our own transactions. In addition, the Winnipeg daily papers will be asked to consider the publication in book form of articles and editorials of lasting historical interest and significance.

Last summer, a survey was made of buildings of historical and architectural merit. This survey was organized by a Committee composed of representatives of this Society, the Manitoba Association of Architects and the Faculty of Architecture of the University. A slide presentation of the results of this survey will probably be shown at a meeting of the Society in the coming year. This presentation is available to any group on request. The Society and Manitoba Historical Sites Advisory Board have authorized funds for a continuation of this work this summer. The tripartite committee will once again oversee the project with specific direction given by the Provincial Archivist.

A specific project under consideration is the construction of a scale model of Upper Fort Garry to be placed within the Gate.

In addition to the architectural surveys undertaken and to be undertaken by this Committee, Society members may be interested to know that last year's third-year class of Architectural students drew plans of and measured and photographed buildings on Princess Street.

The needs in the broad area of preservation and marking of historic buildings are simply illustrated by the destruction of historic buildings all round us. The problems presently faced are well illustrated by the Nellie McClung House. When the Society learned it was for sale, a bid was made. However, the bid wasn't high enough and interests in LaRiviere purchased it.

On the subject of LaRiviere, it should be noted that the Society did battle with Radio Station CKY over the attempted renaming of that community. When it was learned that Radio Station CKY was attempting to have a community change its name to the Indian spelling of that station's call letters, we immediately wrote the station and asked them to stop. Our correspondence met with little success and so we contacted the newspapers and governmental authorities. Legally, we have succeeded in blocking the change. However, all of you should be aware of the fact that attempts are still being made to change the name by usage.

This year of activity reached its peak on April 30, May 1 and 2 when, under the auspices of our Society, the first Manitoba Historical Resources Conference was held at University College. Registration was between 130 and 140. Approximately 25% of those registered played a direct part in the programme. The programme included a survey of where we are today in history in Manitoba, and detailed talks, panels and discussions on museum and museums organization and operation, historical publications, routes and trails, buildings and sites, and the role of history in our schools. Outside speakers included Dr. W. Kaye Lamb, Dominion Archivist; Dr. Donald Pearce, Librarian of the University of North Dakota; Mr. Jack Herbert, our guest speaker this evening; Mr. N. V. Strymo, Director of Museums, Province of Ontario; Mr. Archie Keys, Museum Co-ordinator, Canadian Museums Association; and Mr. Andre LeBlanc, Chief of the Historical Division of the Centennial Commission. All those who attended thought the Conference a success and it is the hope of the Society that there will be similar conferences in the future.

This has been a busy year for the Society. It has been a year of activity and accomplishment. This is partially a reflection of an increased interest in history generated by a number of factors, not the least of which is the approach of the Centennial of Confederation. However, being of the conservative school of historians, I have the habit of attributing specific personalities as causal factors, not just vague economic and social factors. In the case of the Society, it is my sincere belief that much of the credit for the successful effect of our activity, both this year and last is due, strangely enough, to an economist who also happens to be our retiring President, H. Clare Pentland.

Page revised: 28 June 2019