President's Report, Annual Meeting, 11 May 1955
by W. L. Morton
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1954-55 season
It is my privilege to report that the Society has had a busy and, I think I may say, a successful year. It was marred only by the lamented loss of the Honorary President and unfailing friend of the Society, the late Dr. J. L. Johnston. Seven general meetings were held, including this Annual Meeting, and papers were read by J. W. Anderson, Mr. Maurice Prud-Homme, Prof. Dougald McDougall, Mr. William Douglas, and myself, in the absence of Dr. Spence. Shortly, we shall hear Mr. W. G. Pearce. Your Council met eight times for the transaction of the business of the Society.
This was much expedited, and the execution of the general business of the Society much improved by the appointment of a part-time Secretary. Mrs. C. K. Temple was given working space in Room 255 of the Legislative Building, and has carried on her work there five mornings a week. The officers of the Society are indebted for the capable and interested way in which Mrs. Temple performs her duties.
During the year, the Society had 162 members in good standing, besides its many friends. It is important for the work and health of the Society to increase the number of its members, particularly among the younger people. It is to be hoped that all members will exert themselves to bring in two or three new members. Membership is, of course, open to any interested person. In addition to the "individual" members, there were 40 contributing and 13 sustaining, and 3 Patrons. The number of life members now stands at 9.
Because of the number of members and their generous support, the Society's income from memberships and donations, together with a small net income from the operation of the Ross House, has exceeded the amount of $3,000.00, all or any portion of which the Government of Manitoba had agreed to match. As the auditors' report is to be laid before you with an outline budget for the coming year, nothing further need to be said, except that the income can only be kept up by maintaining the active interest of members and friends in the work of the Society.
Since Mrs. Temple's appointment last October, the books and files of the Society have been put in better order, a routine established, and the current business discharged. The conduct of correspondence, the mailing of notices for meetings and of the transactions, the keeping of the minutes and books of the Society, the payment of bills, the answering of enquiries, have constituted a volume of work which surprised those concerned with it, and cause one to wonder how it was ever done in the past ten years by our Honorary Treasurers and Secretaries.
The work of your Council and its committees was extensive. The Transactions were ably edited by Professor Paul Yuzyk, who succeeded both in bringing them out earlier than in the past and in repeating his success of the previous year in keeping the cost down. A beginning was also made in having the Transactions serve as a medium of information about the Society and its work. The tenth number also completes the publication of certain papers which have been in the Society's files for many years for want of friends to publish them. With that, we may consider that the Society has discharged a debt of honour as well as rendered a service to the public.
The Ross House Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Murray Campbell had a very successful year. All expenses were paid, with a small balance; 1,856 persons visited the House; 3 pieces of furniture and a other articles have been added to the furnishings of the House. As yet the Society's hope and wish that this now successful showplace should be taken over by a public authority . has not been realized.
The Government Fellowships Project saw the Polish study by Dr. Victor Turek completed and accepted; that by Mr. Regis Lessard of the French since 1850 has been completed and is being read; the Icelandic study by Mr. W. Kristjanson is being revised for publication; the Mennonite study by Dr. E. K. Francis should appear in a shortened version soon and arrangements are being made to have the full study microfilmed. Progress can be reported on the Jewish study by Rabbi A. A. Chiel.
It is a pleasure to report that Council learned of the organization of the Dauphin Historical Society, and of plans for Societies at Morden, Selkirk, Steinbach and Stonewall. Mr. Wm. Douglas spoke at the first meeting of the Dauphin Historical Society, and your Council has endeavoured, through the good offices of Miss Margaret MacBeth, to encourage and assist the formation of local Societies. We look forward to pleasant and stimulating relations with what we hope will be a numerous band of sister societies.
During the year, the Society received in trust from Mr. R. F. McWilliams a sum of money to be used for the award of medals in memory of the late Mrs. Margaret McWilliams, President of the Society from 1944 to 1948. The medals are to be awarded annually in eight designated districts of the Province for the best essay or other historical work or collection on the history of the district. The first contest will be held this year, and panels of judges are being arranged by a central committee consisting of Mr. Justice T. A. Beaubien, Dr. Robert Fletcher, Dr. Ross Mitchell, Mr. Wm. Douglas, and the President. It is hoped that there will be a good number of entries this year, despite the comparatively short notice.
Your Council also undertook a somewhat unusual task in recommending names to the Winnipeg School Board for the naming of new schools. As the naming of schools has been a matter of considerable publicity recently, members of the Society should know that three of the names put forward by the Society were adopted, and two are to be used. As Council refrained from naming any living person, it is not surprising that the Board replaced one name recommended by that of Sir Winston Churchill. One other was replaced by that of Andrew Mynarski in response to popular demand. It was right that so strong and so understandable sentiment should prevail, but it should be said here that the recommendations of your Council was that all winners of the Victoria Cross should be honoured by naming one school "Valour School". One must rejoice that there is to be a school named after Andrew Mynarski, but it is to be deplored that there are none named, for example, after Allan MacLeod.
A committee of your Council is also assisting in preparing the pageant to be shown before the Governor-General on May 20th. These two examples illustrate what onerous, delicate and responsible tasks Your Council may be called upon to attempt.
Indeed, the pressure of routine and spontaneous business has been such that your President and Council have not found it possible to do the planning which is necessary if the Society is to be all it may be in the life of our Province. The needs, however, are clear. They are: first, to maintain and manage well the present flourishing revenues of the Society; second, to plan such new enterprises as well as further encourage historical studies and historical interests of all kinds in the Province.
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