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Manitoba Historical Society
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Manitoba History: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Marks a Century

by Kate MacFarlane
Ottawa, Ontario

Number 90, Fall 2019

This article was published originally in Manitoba History 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 As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.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 year (2019) marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC). The mandate of the Board is to advise the Government of Canada, through the Minister of the Environment, on the commemoration of nationally significant aspects of Canada’s history, including persons, places and events. Any aspect of Canada’s human history may be considered for designation. To be considered for designation, a person, place or event must have had a nationally significant impact on Canadian history, or must illustrate a nationally important aspect of Canadian human history. The Board’s mandate has been expanded several times to cover the designation of heritage railway stations (1989), the commemoration of the grave sites of Canadian Prime Ministers (1999) and the protection of heritage lighthouses (2009).

Over the course of its 100-year history, the Board has recommended designation of 41 persons, 55 places and 25 events related to Manitoba’s history and deemed to have national significance. Designations encompass a wide range of human achievement in an equally wide range of fields of endeavour. Recognized Manitobans include artists, explorers, athletes, scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs and community and religious leaders. Among them are such diverse figures as James Kenneth “Ken” Watson (NHP, 2014), an accomplished curler, skip, coach and teacher whose role in developing the long slide fundamentally changed the way curling is played. And Joséf Olesków (NHP, 1997), who promoted Canada in Ukraine and whose efforts had a profound impact on Ukrainian settlement in the Canadian West, including here in Manitoba. Of the 41 individuals designated to date, only six are women. They include: Thanadelthur (NHP, 2000), a Dene woman, “a skilled interpreter and negotiator” who was able to build a bridge between two cultures and play an important role in the English fur trade in the Canadian north in the early 18th century.[1] The other women were: Marie-Anne Gaboury, grandmother of Louis Riel and wife of Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière; E. Cora Hind, a leading advocate of women’s rights and suffrage in Manitoba; Margaret Laurence, one of Canada’s most esteemed and beloved writers; Margaret Newton, who worked on rust-resistant grains, rust diseases and wheat stem rust; and the revered Franco-Manitoban writer, Gabrielle Roy.

Designated places in Manitoba include not only buildings and groups of buildings but also archaeological sites, structures, districts and cultural landscapes. Among them are high-style residential and religious buildings such as Dalnavert (NHSC, 1990), home of Hugh John Macdonald and a fine example of the Queen Anne Style. And Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Winnipeg (NHSC, 1990), a fine illustration of high Victorian Gothic style church architecture. The Board has also recommended such diverse sites as railway stations (including Winnipeg’s Union Station NHSC, 1976), a rocket range (Churchill Rocket Research Range, Churchill (NHSC, 1988) and grain elevators (Inglis Grain Elevators, Inglis (NHSC, 1995).

One of the more unusual and intriguing place designations in recent years is Camp Hughes (NHSC, 2011). Located ten kilometers west of Carberry, Camp Hughes was a First World War military training camp. It is one of the most intact, simulated battlefield terrains in Canada and one of a dwindling number worldwide. It retains “in whole or in part many key features including the training trenches, rifle range, grenade training grounds, artillery observation posts, building foundations, and a camp cemetery.”[2]

The Board has also recommended numerous events that have impacted not only Manitobans but all Canadians. For example: the Winning of the Vote by Women (NHE, 1997) when, in January 1916, the government of Manitoba became the first in Canada to grant women the vote. Another well-known event, the Winnipeg General Strike (NHE, 1974), led to strengthening of the Labour Movement and the founding of the Commonwealth Cooperative Federation which became the New Democratic Party.

Over time, the range of subjects considered by the Board has broadened considerably. In 1919, membership consisted of just five men, all based in central or Eastern Canada. Brigadier-General E. A. Cruikshank, whose passion was the War of 1812, was at the helm. Manitoba did not get its own member until 1937, with the appointment of Msgr. Antoine D’Éschambault (1896–1960), priest and historian. D’Éschambault was a strong spokesperson for the francophone voice and he served as Board Chair from 1958-60. During the first few decades of its mandate, Board designations centred on the fur trade, exploration, conflict and nation building. A sampling of designations from the 1920s and 1930s includes: explorer and fur trader Henry Kelsey (NHP, 1931); the Arrival of the Selkirk Settlers (NHE, 1924); Indian Treaty Number 1 (1927); the Founding of Fort Alexander (NHE, 1931) by la Vérendrye; the Battle of Seven Oaks, Winnipeg (NHSC, 1920) and a selection of forts: Fort Churchill, Churchill (NHSC, 1920); Fort La Reine, Portage la Prairie (NHSC, 1925); Forts Rouge, Garry and Gibralter, Winnipeg (NHSC, 1924) and Prince of Wales Fort, near Churchill (NHSC, 1920).

Today, the Board is composed of a representative from each province and territory, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, an officer of the Canadian Museum of History and the Vice-President of Parks Canada’s Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate.

Beginning in the 1990s the Board began to focus greater attention on three key areas of history which, to that point, had been somewhat overlooked and were clearly underrepresented within the system. These were: the history of Indigenous peoples, women and ethnocultural communities. Since that shift in focus, there have been seven designations relating to the history of women,[3] eleven related to ethnocultural communities,[4] yet only two related to Indigenous history in Manitoba.[5]

Recently, in June 2019, Parks Canada announced a new Framework for History and Commemoration,[6] which expands upon these priorities. It reflects the Agency’s obligation to present a balanced and comprehensive overview of Canada’s history, and its commitment, going forward, to reflect the “full breadth and diversity” of that history. The Framework provides direction for Parks Canada and the HSMBC on the designation of persons, places, and events of national historic significance based on four new strategic priorities—the history of Indigenous peoples, environmental history, diversity and Canada and the world—priorities which reflect “the government’s commitment to reconciliation, exciting new scholarship and approaches to research, Canada’s changing demographics and the importance of history in informing public dialogue.”[7]

In 2020, Manitobans will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the passing of the Manitoba Act, which received Royal Assent on 12 May 1870. With that, Manitoba became the fifth province to join Confederation. Now is a good time to look back at our history as a province, to remember, to learn, to seek greater understanding and to celebrate and commemorate the people and events that have helped shape us.

The vast majority of applications for designation come from interested Canadians, individuals and/or groups. If you are interested in making an application to the HSMB, all the necessary information concerning criteria and process can be found at Parks Canada, History and Culture, Applying for Designation (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application).

Notes

1. Thanadelthur, NHP, Parks Canada, https://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/dfhd/page_nhs_eng.aspx?id=1897, accessed 17 September 2019.

2. Camp Hughes NHSC, Parks Canada, https://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/dfhd/page_nhs_eng.aspx?id=13019, accessed 17 September 2019.

3. E. Cora Hind, Margaret Newton, Tanadelthur, Gabrielle Roy, Margaret Laurence, Winning of the Vote by Women and Canadian Federation of University Women (NHE, 2011).

4. Cyril Genik (NHP, 1995), Joséf, Oleskiw, Sigtryggur Jónasson (NHP, 2010), Israel Isaac Kahanovitch (NHP, 2010), New Iceland (Establishment of) (NHE, 1999), Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, Cook’s Creek (NHSC, 1997), Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection, Dauphin (NHSC, 1997), Wasyl Negrych Pioneer Homestead, Gilbert Plains (NHSC, 1997), Ukrainian Labour Temple, Winnipeg (NHSC, 2009).

5. Chief Peguis (NHP, 2008) and Thanadelthur.

6. See: https://www.canada.ca/en/parks-canada/news/2019/06/parks-canada-announces-new-framework-for-history-andcommemoration.html, consulted 9 September 2019.

7. Ibid.

We thank S. Goldsborough for assistance in preparing the online version of this article.

Page revised: 1 May 2021

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