Manitoba Historical Society
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Honorary Secretary’s Report, Annual Meeting - 6 June 1969

by Edith Steenson

MHS Transactions, Series 3, Number 25, 1968-69 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 As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

This online version was prepared using Optical Character Recognition software so that spelling and punctuation errors may have occurred inadvertently. If you find any such errors, please inform us, indicating the document name and error.

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Our annual meeting tonight is the eighth event of the 1968-1969 season. The first general meeting in September was the field trip to the Interlake District. Boarding the buses, we received a detailed brochure of the trip, including an 1891 map and a 1968 map, showing the changes and growth of towns in the span of seventy-seven years. We also received a special edition of the Manitouwapa Times newspaper, welcoming us to the Interlake area. It was a very proud day for me, as I have lived in the Interlake area for the past nineteen years. Our district has been called a depressed area, but I’m sure the members found our people of many ethnic origins are far from being depressed.

As we started our journey, we passed the old Fort Garry gate, going over to St. Boniface, travelling past St. Boniface Hospital, La Verendrye Park, St. Boniface Museum and the blackened but still beautiful ruins of the St. Boniface Cathedral. Crossing back into Winnipeg, we saw the new City Hall and Civic Centre, then motored over the Disraeli Freeway, close to where Fort Douglas once stood, into Elmwood. Coming back over Redwood Bridge, we then turned northward, past St. John’s Park where the first Protestant school and church were built, on land set aside by Lord Selkirk in 1817.

We next passed the Seven Oaks monument, where Governor Semple and 20 of his men died in battle in 1816. Driving past Seven Oaks Museum (the old Inkster House), and Kildonan Park, we then travelled down the River Road, where lovely homes of early settlers still stand and are lived in. Past old St. Andrew’s on the Red, completed in 1849, we soon came to Lower Fort Garry, where we saw the last York boat to ply the Red River to the “Forks.”

We enjoyed a welcome coffee break at the lovely Betel Home for Senior Citizens in Selkirk. From there we journeyed through the Winnipeg Beach resorts to Willow Point to see the spot where the first Icelandic Settlers arrived in 1875. We were welcomed at Gimli by Dr. George Johnson, M.L.A., and served a delightful lunch by the Lutheran Church Ladies’ Aid. Following this, we had a group picture taken in front of the huge Viking Statue and a quick tour of the town.

Leaving Gimli, we travelled to Arnes to see the former home of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, famed Arctic Explorer, and the area set aside for a park to be named in his honor. We were met at Riverton by Dr. S. O. Thompson and directed to the town’s park for an unexpected but most enjoyable coffee break. Retracing part of our route, we then took a circle tour of Arborg, then on to Hodgson. From there, we drove across country to Ashern, where the Centennial Hall Ladies served a tasty evening meal.

Members of the Ashern Chamber of Commerce joined us at this banquet. Some of our members visited the “Glencorra Castle,” built by the late William Stark and viewed the paintings of his late brother-inlaw Brody Crawford. On the walls of the Centennial Hall were some thirty paintings by Armand Lemiez of Grahamdale, one of the honored guests. Reeve Joe Schwartz spoke on the history of Ashern and districts. Here the first three local Historical Chapter representatives from St. Gecrge, Miami and Steinbach received their charters from our beloved Honourary President, Dr. Ross Mitchell. Hon. Stewart McLean, Provincial secretary, and Elman Guttermson, M.L.A. for St. George, presented Manitoba pins to Society President, Dr. Steward Martin, Reeve Joe Schwartz and Henry Richaud, President of the Ashern Chamber of Commerce. In turn, Dr. Martin honored Mr. William Kristjansson with his Manitoba pin, thanking him on behalf of the society for his outstanding efforts in making the tour a success. Reverend Jalmar Erickson showed slides of the building of the hydro project at Grand Rapids. So ended the first trip to the Interlake District by a party from the Manitoba Historical Society.

In October, Mr. Marius Benoit read Father Champagne’s paper, “The Verendryes and Their Successors, 1727-1760.” The November meeting, a joint meeting with the Jewish Historical Society, heard Mr. A. J. Arnold give his paper on the “Jewish Contribution to the Opening and Development of the West.” Slides were shown.

The Anniversary Dinner in January featured the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker in his presentation: “Sir John A. Macdonald.” In February, Professor John Warkentine spoke on “The Changes in Manitoba Brought About by Ontario Farmers.” Comparative slides were shown.

The March meeting heard Mr. J. S. Walker on “The Sedition Trials in Winnipeg in 1919.” In April, Mr. Roy St. George Stubbs gave his paper on “Matthew Baillie Begbie.”

A tour is planned for 21-22 June to historic sites and museums in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Members of the Red River Historical Society will be the guides.

The Society transferred title to the Riel House to the Province of Manitoba. The edifice was then presented to the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board for development as a museum.

A Newsletter was started in March to keep members up to date on meetings and other events. It has been well received.

Two centennial publications are being sponsored: A Historical Atlas of Manitoba by Professors John Warkentin and R. Ruggles; A Popular History of Manitoba by James Jackson. Some back issues of the Transactions and Manitoba Pageant may be reprinted.

Memberships total 644. It is hoped that an objective of 1,000 members will be reached in 1970 - Manitoba’s centennial year.

Ross House is open for the summer. A new souvenir booklet with matching envelope has been printed and can be purchased for 25¢.

The annual drive for donations has netted $3,316.15.

Files on the descendants of Lord Selkirk settlers now contain 1,000 names according to a report released by Miss Anne Henderson. Mr. Gordon Pruden is continuing his research on Hudson Bay Company descendants.

Several more local histories have been received.

Six thousand slides, half colored and half black and white, are now on file in the Provincial Archives, the result of the good work of the Historical-Architectural Liason Committee. The survey has now covered 90% of the province. Metro Winnipeg will be done this summer. Mr. Norman Russell is to be congratulated on this project.

The treasurer will present a financial statement for your approval tonight.

Margaret McWilliams Medals will be presented this evening.

A Centennial Memorial Fund has been established in cooperation with the Fort Garry Trust Company. Members are invited to contribute. The fund now stands at approximately $1,000. Only the interest earned on capital will be used.

With 1970 being Manitoba’s centennial year, we are hoping that many former Manitobans will return to help celebrate our 100th birthday and make it one to remember for years to come.

Page revised: 3 October 2014

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