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MHS Resources: Digital History Books

The following books were published by the Manitoba Historical Society, its affiliates, supporters, and donors, or are in the public domain. They are made available here as a free, public service. All are in Adobe PDF format, for which you will require Acrobat Reader, a free download from the Adobe web site.

Notable People from Manitoba’s Legal History
compiled and edited by Norm Larsen, Winnipeg, 2016

Including four founding fathers, criminal lawyers, corporate lawyers, mavericks and outliers, and ten notable visitors. They include Thomas Douglas (Lord Selkirk), a founding father who suffered “death by litigation,” Noel Ritchot, a priest who negotiated Manitoba’s entry into Confederation, Isaac Pitblado, a lawyer who made contact with a spirit named Walter, Lewis Stubbs, a judge who spoke his mind -- and lost his job, Peter Vander Graaf and Jack Taylor, two detectives -- the last of the tough and legendary police officers, Geraldine MacNamara, an activist nun who had a law degree, and Izzy Asper, a lawyer-businessman who rather enjoyed suing and being sued.

Notable Trials from Manitoba’s Legal History
compiled and edited by Norm Larsen, Winnipeg, 2015

A collection of 15 fascinating trials: strikes, sedition, libel, the fur trade, murders, abortion, wrongful convictions! The earliest of the 15 trials is from 1845. Within six days after a murder, the accused man was convicted and executed in front of 1,000 witnesses. In the most recent case, from the 1980s, a man was tried for murder three times and convicted twice before the police declared him innocent – almost 20 years after the murder.

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike is one of the most written-about events in Canada’s history, but very little of it is about the trials that followed the Strike. Six men were sent to prison for conspiring to overthrow the governments of Canada, Manitoba and Winnipeg. Their convictions were set up by prosecutors who crossed legal and ethical lines to pack the juries, and by a presiding judge who was openly biased against the accused men throughout the trials (much to his later regret). All but one of the 15 trials took place in what is now downtown Winnipeg.

Tales from the Underworld and Other Stories
by Roland Penner and Norm Larsen, Winnipeg, 2009.

Tales from the Underworld and Other Stories is a unique and fascinating collection of real life stories and anecdotes—some funny, some tragic, some bizarre. Included are chapters about a legendary judge and criminal lawyer, the mysterious murder of a Winnipeg heiress in Florida, and a fatal duel in a blizzard in Northern Manitoba—as well as anecdotes on the often humourous, and sometimes testy relationship between judges and lawyers, and lawyers and their clients.

Ten Years in Winnipeg
by Alexander Begg & Walter Nursey, Winnipeg, 1879.

This readable and amusing book was written as a chronicle of events in Winnipeg during the ten years after Manitoba joined confederation. It also contains numerous pages of advertisements by businesses operating in the city at that time.

Women of Red River
by W. J. Healy, Winnipeg, 1923.

This book collected memories of the Red River Settlement up to 1873 from elderly women who had lived during this period.

Brandon’s Politics and Politicians
by W. Leland Clark, 263 pages, 1981.

This book is a revised version of Dr. Clark’s doctoral dissertation completed at the University of Alberta in 1976. It concerns politics in Brandon, Manitoba during the period from 1899 to 1949. This book is made available courtesy of the W. Leland Clark fonds, S. J. McKee Archives, Brandon University.

Manitoba: The Birth of a Province
edited by W. L. Morton, 265 pages, 1965.

This collection of rare documents, compiled by a noted Manitoba historian, provides a readable and vivid account of the conflict of purposes that led to the birth of Manitoba in 1870. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

The Dafoe-Sifton Correspondence, 1919-1927
edited by Ramsay Cook, 310 pages, 1966.

This volume reprints a collection of articulate correspondence between politician Clifford Sifton, owner of the Manitoba Free Press newspaper in the early 20th century, and his editor John W. Dafoe. It provides insight into the lives of these prominent men and the many issues and personalities which filled this period. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

The James Wickes Taylor Correspondence, 1859-1870
edited by Hartwell Bowsfield, 193 pages, 1968.

Over a period of 23 years as the US representative in Winnipeg, James W. Taylor was a popular figure in the social and business life of the British North West. This collection of his early correspondence covers the period when Americans were keenly interested in acquiring the territory. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

The Diary of the Reverend Henry Budd, 1870-1875
edited by Katherine Pettipas, 198 pages, 1974.

This volume examines the activities of the first native person to be ordained in the Anglican Church in the missions of Manitoba and Saskatchewan during the late 19th century. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

Gateway City: Documents on the City of Winnipeg, 1873-1913
edited and introduced by Alan F. J. Artibise, 288 pages, 1979.

From the Riel Resistance of 1870 to the outbreak of the First World War, Winnipeg was Western Canada’s most exciting city. These documents, collected from various public sources, are central to an understanding of its development in this period. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

Phillips in Print: The Selected Writings of Walter J. Phillips on Canadian Nature and Art
selected and edited by Maria Tippett and Douglas Cole, 156 pages, 1982.

The writings of Walter J. Phillips (1884-1962) offer a fascinating look into the life of an important and beloved painter and printmaker, and also illuminate the art world of Manitoba and Western Canada in the formative years between the two world wars. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

The Collected Writings of Lord Selkirk, 1799-1809
edited and introduced by J. M. Bumsted, 372 pages, 1984.

This volume, the first of two which collects and reprints the early writings of Lord Selkirk, provides insight into the life of a man known to most Canadians as the founder of the Red River Colony. Selkirk emerges not merely as a man of action but also one of ideas. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

The Wheat King: Selected Letters and Papers of A. J. Cotton, 1888-1913
edited and introduced by Wendy Owen, 166 pages, 1985.

A. J. Cotton (1858-1942) became known as Manitoba’s “Wheat King” because of the size and quality of his crops. Unlike most early farmers, Cotton preserved extensive accounts and a massive correspondence. This volume of selected letters and papers provides an intimate glimpse into life on the rural prairies before the First World War. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

The Collected Writings of Lord Selkirk, 1810-1820
edited and introduced by J. M. Bumsted, 283 pages, 1987.

This volume, the second of two which collects and reprints the later writings of Lord Selkirk, helps to show that Selkirk was neither villain nor hero, but a complex and often brilliant man caught in a web of circumstances. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

The Modern Beginnings of Subarctic Ornithology: Northern Correspondence with the Smithsonian Institution, 1856-1868
edited and introduced by Debra Lindsay, 226 pages, 1991.

In the mid-1850s, HBC fur traders joined with aboriginal peoples to provide information and specimens to the newly formed Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. This book focuses on correspondence between the Smithsonian and its northern collectors of birds and eggs, providing insight into nineteenth century science. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

Ottawa at War: The Grant Dexter Memoranda, 1939-1945
edited and introduced by Frederick W. Gibson and Barbara Robertson, 513 pages, 1994.

During the Second World War, powerful men in the Canadian government trusted Grant Dexter, a long-time Winnipeg Free Press correspondent, with some of their most confidential information. Dexter wrote voluminously and a generous sampling of his memoranda and letters is reprinted in this book. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

A Great Movement Underway: Women and The Grain Growers’ Guide, 1908-1928
edited and introduced by Barbara E. Kelcey and Angela E. Davis, 253 pages, 1997.

Between 1908 and 1928, The Grain Growers’ Guide was the official weekly newspaper of the Manitoba Grain Growers Association. Reproduced in this volume are a selection of letter and editorials which reflect the topics of interest to its editorial staff and readers. This book was published by the Manitoba Record Society, which was formed in 1960 by the Manitoba Historical Society as an independent body focused on making historical documents and other important, rare materials more readily available.

Extraordinary Tales from Manitoba History

Extraordinary Tales from Manitoba History
by J. W. Chafe, 265 pages, 1973.

An amusing and sometimes irreverent account of the the province’s history, covering the first Riel uprising, the fur trade, the CPR controversy, John Norquay’s premiership, and the Manitoba Schools Question. On the comical side are the peripatetic bells of St. Boniface which crossed the Atlantic five times, the ‘Republic of Manitobah’ which ended in a drunken brawl, Stephen Leacock’s remarkable uncle, and the Winnipeg Icelandic-Canadian hockey team which won the 1920 Olympics.

The Assiniboine Basin

The Assiniboine Basin: A Social Study of Discovery, Exploration and Settlement
by Martin Kavanagh, 1946.

This remarkable book, a history of the City of Brandon and surrounding region, was compiled by Brandon teacher and historian Martin Kavanagh using a wide range of sources. An initial “Pioneer Edition” was published in 1946, subsequently updated and reprinted in a 1967 “Centennial Edition” to commemorate Canada’s 100th anniversary. The full text and illustrations of the original are reproduced here with the kind permission of the Kavanagh family.

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba

Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba
by Manitoba Library Association, Winnipeg, 1971.

This collection of biographies of early Manitobans was published in 1971. Those included in the collection lived prior to 1920, and came from all walks of life: politics, professions, business and finance, armed services, arts, pioneers, and others.

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba

Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba
by Canadian Publicity Company, Winnipeg, 1925.

This collection of biographies of Manitobans was compiled by the Canadian Publicity Company in 1925. Most of those featured in the book were living at that time, so no information on death dates was provided. Where possible, these have been added to this online version. An introduction to the history of Manitoba, written by librarian W. J. Healy, has been omitted.

Ten Years in Winnipeg
by Alexander Begg & Walter Nursey, Winnipeg, 1879.

This readable and amusing book was written as a chronicle of events in Winnipeg during the ten years after Manitoba joined confederation. It also contains numerous pages of advertisements by businesses operating in the city at that time.

Winnipeg As It Is in 1874, and As It Was in 1860
by George B. Elliott, Winnipeg, 1874.

This book promoted the advantages of Winnipeg, and was probably intended to attract businesses and settlers to the new city. It contains descriptions of life as it existed at that time, written by a feisty newspaperman with an eye for detail.

Reminiscences of a Raconteur, Between the ‘40s and the ‘20s
by George H. Ham

These irreverent memoirs by newspaperman and promoter George Ham are full of personal anecdotes, including a period in the 1880s when he lived in Winnipeg.

The Red River Expedition
by G. L. Huyshe, London, 1871.

This commemorative of the 1870 Wolseley Expedition to the Red River Settlement was written by one of the British officers who accompanied the military contingent. His account of the trip from Toronto to Fort William, then along an arduous route through Lake of the Woods, the Winnipeg River, Lake Winnipeg, and the Red River, is richly detailed.

Rough Times, 1870-1920, A Souvenir of the 50th Anniversary of the Red River Expedition and the Formation of the Province of Manitoba
by Joseph F. Tennant, Winnipeg, c1920.

This memoir by a bugler with the 1870 Wolseley Expedition is uneven in its coverage but it contains useful information from the perspective of a low-ranking soldier, along with eyewitness accounts, and appendices listing the survivors of the Expedition alive in Winnipeg in 1920.

Manitobans As We See ‘Em, 1908 and 1909
by Newspaper Cartoonists’ Association of Manitoba, c1909.

This remarkable collection comprises 213 caricatures of prominent Manitoba men from the early 1900s, at a time when Winnipeg’s economy was booming and its place in the development of Western Canada was assured. The men were so well known that no further description was necessary.

A PDF list of names in this book is available here.

The Centennial History of Manitoba
by James A. Jackson, 270 pages, 1970.

Historical Atlas of Manitoba
by John H. Warkentin and Richard I. Ruggles, 1970.

In commemoration of Manitoba’s centennial in 1970, the Manitoba Historical Society published this 585-page collection of maps. Starting with a map from 1612, the collection includes selections from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Land surveys, rural settlement plans, economic and demographic charts, and scientific maps are also included.

Pioneer Icelandic Pastor: The Life of the Reverend Paul Thorlaksson
by George J. Houser and edited by Paul A. Sigurdson

This biography of controversial Icelandic pastor, Páll Thorlaksson, was written by the late George J. Houser. Thorlaksson, who died from pulmonary tuberculosis in 1882 at the age of 32, has been described as the “Father of the Icelandic Settlement in North Dakota.”

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge a grant from the Winnipeg Foundation which made possible the digitization of some books in this collection.

Page revised: 5 April 2017

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