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Manitoba Historical Society

Founded in June 1879 by an Act of the Manitoba Legislature, the Manitoba Historical Society (MHS) is the oldest organization in western Canada devoted to the promotion of public interest in, and preservation of, the regionís historical resources.

To learn more about the MHS and its activities, please select from the menus above.

What is MHS?

The MHS mandate is to:

  • encourage research and publications relating to the history of Manitoba
  • promote and encourage public interest in Manitoba and Canadian history
  • foster the preservation of property relating to the history of Manitoba
  • assist in the formation and work of local historical societies in furthering the objectives of the Society throughout Manitoba

In 1879, Winnipeg Alderman Alexander McArthur, an MHS founder, envisioned an organization devoted to the study, preservation and promotion of history and natural sciences of the province. It was to function as a library, museum, and archives. The wisdom and foresight of McArthur’s vision was manifest, as the Manitoba Historical Society would later provide the foundations for the present Winnipeg Public Library, the Manitoba Museum, and the Archives of Manitoba. Today, the focus of the Society remains steadfast to the preservation, promotion, education, and celebration of the history and rich cultural heritage in our province.

Awards

We encourage interest in history and reward excellence in projects and written works by young Manitobans through our Young Historians Award competition; we lobby for history to continue to be a vital part of the curriculum of Manitoban and Canadian schools.

Our Margaret McWilliams competition honors meritorious work relating to Manitoba and its history, in scholarly, popular and local history books, University theses, short articles, audio-visual media, and web sites.

MHS recognizes and honors the contributions of the early settlers of Manitoba by awarding the Centennial Farm Award to descendants of the pioneer families who have maintained ownership of the original farm for 100 years or more. The Society also recognizes the contributions of early commerce in the province through its Centennial Business Award to those businesses that have continued to flourish and operate for 100 years or more. In 2004, in celebration of our 125th anniversary, we introduced a Centennial Organization Award to acknowledge the contributions of non-profit groups, associations, and congregations to our province’s social, cultural, and economic life.

Activities

Field trips are organized twice a year, to areas throughout the province from north to south, to promote and encourage interest in the important historical roles that each community in our province played in its unfolding drama.

Our Historic Preservation Committee focuses on the preservation of our historical resources, which includes the establishment with legal mechanisms by which heritage buildings receive designation, under federal, provincial and municipal law. MHS has long played a significant role in the preservation of Manitoba’s historical landmarks.

Since 1980, the Society has published Manitoba History, a journal devoted to the history of Manitoba. Articles are selected by specific academic standards, and have a broad appeal to all Manitobans. The journal includes book reviews, photographs, and a wide variety of interesting articles.

MHS encourages the formation of local historical societies throughout the province. Many of such societies in existence today came into being with assistance of the Society.

Museums

MHS owns and operates Dalnavert Museum, a designated National Historic Site. The museum is based in a Victorian-era home built for Sir Hugh John Macdonald, son of the first prime minister of Canada Sir John A. Macdonald. Hugh John Macdonald served briefly as Premier of Manitoba. The Society saved the house from demolition in 1970, purchasing the property, and restoring it over a four-year period to its original 1895 appearance. The interior has been furnished with Victorian artifacts and antiques donated by generous Manitobans. Many Macdonald family pieces form part of the extensive collection.

The Society also operates Ross House Museum on behalf of the City of Winnipeg. The house was erected in 1852 for William Ross, who was appointed as postmaster by the Council of Assiniboia in 1855. Ross House was restored under the Canada-Manitoba Agreement for Conservation and Recreation on the Red River Corridor. The house served as post office as well as home for the Ross family, and the museum reflects the early days of the postal service.

Please contact our office for more information on the Manitoba Historical Society.

Page revised: 1 July 2009

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