Honorary Secretary's Report, Annual Meeting

by Joy Cooper

MHS Transactions, Series 3, Number 32, 1975-76 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 As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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This past year has been a very active one for the Society, particularly with respect to historical conservation concerns. After almost a year of preparation, our brief on the Protection of Historic and/or Architectural Buildings and Sites in Winnipeg and other Regions of Manitoba was completed by our Historic Buildings and Sites Committee chaired by Ed Nix. In early December, copies of the brief were presented to all levels of government, the media and interested organizations. We have become involved in the Historic Winnipeg Project through the committee headed by Prof. Thompson, our Honorary Treasurer. In the fall, Heritage Canada awarded a grant of $20,500 to Prof. Thompson and his colleagues on the committee for further study of the project, which has been renamed "Winnipeg's Historic Warehouse Area". Their report was presented to Heritage Canada yesterday.

The Society has also participated energetically in the community campaign to prevent the demolition of a significant heritage structure, the Empire Hotel on Main Street, by Great-West Life Assurance Co. As you know our efforts have met with some success: demolition has been postponed until September which allows more time for those concerned about this unique structure to develop realistic proposals for its preservation.

However, our experience with the Empire Hotel project as well as the problems associated with other preservation actions such as the Alloway and Champion Facade have led many to the conclusion that we need special and continuing organizational tools to deal with such situations as they arise. For this reason, your executive approved a proposal at our last meeting to establish an Historic Conservation Action Fund. This proposal, which was developed by Professor Thompson and other concerned individuals, entails the establishment of a committee to educate the public about historic conservation. This will involve, for example, the preparation of demonstration studies of building adaptation and information brochures on issues of historic conservation.

In January, the Department of Education indicated that Canadian History would no longer be a compulsory high school course. The Society among others protested and subsequently, the government announced that Canadian History would remain a compulsory subject.

Dalnavert, of course, continues to be an excellent demonstration of the value of heritage conservation activities. Late last spring, Tim Worth took over the job of curator, and the number of visitors last summer increased slightly over the opening season in 1974. Education programs at the museum have continued: the museum was decorated for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and a six week series of lectures on the Decorative Arts which began in March was well attended. Last summer the house was used by both the CBC and CTV as a background for programming. The First Annual Dalnavert Ball was held at the Fort Garry Hotel on October 24th. About 250 people enjoyed an "evening of Victorian entertainment" organized by Dave McDowell and his committee. Lieutenant-Governor and Mrs. McKeag led the Grand March. Music was provided by Pete Couture and his orchestra, and the Royal Scottish Country Dancers performed.

Linda McDowell, our Transactions editor and also a teacher, began this year's series of programs on October 21st with a presentation on Women Candidates for the Manitoba Legislature. On November 25th, Rodger Letourneau, a doctoral candidate at the University of Manitoba and a student of railroading, spoke on the Grand Rapids Tramway. Our annual joint meeting with the Jewish Historical Society on December 9th was addressed by Dr. Wilhelm Kristjanson. Dr. Kristjanson, an author, teacher and society member, spoke on John Taylor and the Pioneer Icelandic Settlement in Manitoba and his Plea for the Persecuted Jewish People in Russia. The Sir John A. Macdonald Anniversary Dinner was held on January 10th at the Fort Garry Hotel. A good turnout of members and friends heard Dr. Peter B. Waite of Dalhousie University speak on The Case Against Sir John A. Macdonald and Some Answers. An enjoyable reception was held at Macdonald House following the Dinner. On February 17th, Brian Huzel, a graduate student in history at the University of Manitoba presented a paper on "Labour and the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company - the Early Years (1898-1911)." Professor Ian MacPherson from the University of Winnipeg spoke to the March 16 meeting on George Chipman and the Institutionalization of the Reform Movement. On April 20th, University of Toronto historian Kenneth McNaught presented a paper on "The Radical Transition in Winnipeg". Tonight's topic is heritage preservation and the speaker is of course Mr. Pierre Berton, distinguished author and journalist, and wellknown radio and television personality. In addition, we have the pleasure of hosting the Board of Governors of Heritage Canada. Tickets for tonight's events are, as you probably know, sold out. It is unfortunate that attendance has not been nearly so enthusiastic for our other programs this year, particularly since all the presentations were of such high caliber. Hopefully, next year members will be more conscientious about taking advantage of the excellent programming offered by the Society.

Our field trip last June 14th to Indian Bay (Shoal Lake) attracted about sixty people. Transportation was by way of the Old Greater Winnipeg Water District System Railway. Plans have now been made for a field trip this june to Pine Falls for a tour of the Manitoba Paper Company Plant and lunch, and on to Pinawa for a tour of the Atomic Energy Plant and an early supper.

Only fourteen members attended a meeting of the Governing Council on June 26th but attendance was up slightly for the second council meeting on March 23rd in the Board Room of the Health Sciences Centre. This rather unusual location was the result of our retiring President's unfailing devotion to duty in the face of adversity-though hospitalized he was determined not to miss a meeting. Nine executive meetings were held during the year and our membership now stands at about 760. Three issues of the Manitoba Pageant have been published and nine editions of the newsletter have been mailed out. Publication of Transactions is catching up. The 72/73 edition of Transactions was mailed out to members; the 73/74 edition is at the press and should be out by the end of June; and work is well underway on the 74/75 edition.

We received about 250 replies to our membership questionnaire, and it has turned out to be extremely useful in identifying volunteers for a number of projects such as Dalnavert.

Page revised: 24 October 2012