Manitoba Historical Society
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Honorary Secretary's Report, Annual Meeting, 18 June 1963

by Mrs. A. E. Brown

MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1962-63 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 As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Our Annual Meeting this evening is also the seventh meeting of the current season. At our first General Meeting in October, 1962, Mr. D. L. Campbell spoke to us on Forty Years in Public Life ... these firsthand reminiscences of one who has been so actively involved in events of our more recent History were welcomed by our members. At the November meeting, Mr. H. Lane read a paper prepared by Father Antonio Champagne on a topic of great historic and current interest, Grand Rapids: An Old Historical Spot. A number of well chosen slides illustrating the talk were shown.

In January, Mr. Robert Wheeler of the Minnesota State Historical Society introduced our members to a field of archaeological investigation that was completely new to us when he spoke on Underwater Archaeology in the Lake of the Woods. At this meeting a large number of fascinating slides were shown to an enthusiastic audience which filled the auditorium to capacity.

Mr. Boris Margolis addressed the February meeting on The Roblin Government and the Election of 1911. In March, Inspector of Schools, Mr. W. Friesen gave a most interesting paper on A Mennonite Community in the East Reserve: Its Origin and Growth. On April 16, Mr. Peter Kuch of the Winnipeg Free Press spoke to us on the life and career of Arch Dale, for many years one of Canada's greatest cartoonists. Numbers of cartoons were projected to the nostalgic delight of the members.

All the meetings were held in McMaster House, through the courtesy of the Manitoba Teachers Society. During the season, light refreshments were served after each meeting giving the members a chance to meet each other and have a few words with the speaker. Mrs. Woods, our Social Convener, was in charge of arrangements. This was well received by the membership, and it is likely that the practice will continue.

The 1962-63 season was rather a special one: 1962 was the 150th Anniversary of the arrival of the Selkirk Settlers. A dinner to mark this anniversary was held on October 20, 1962. The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker and Mrs. Diefenbaker were in attendance. Mr. Diefenbaker, a descendant of the Selkirk Settlers, was made an Honourary Member of the Society, and gave a speech honouring the early settlers of Red River.

Another commemorative event was the opening of Ross House Western Canada's first Post Office - on May 3 for one day as a Post Office. Special First Day Covers bearing the new Selkirk issue stamps were stamped with the Ross House cachet. 38,400 stamps were sold, and 16,800 covers were mailed. The opening ceremonies were attended by the Honourable Stewart E. McLean, Q.C., Minister of Education, His Worship Mayor Stephen Juba, and Mr. George Toal, Postmaster of Winnipeg.

The Society was represented at the Gateway Stopping Place at Emerson in August, 1962 when the new markers for the Lord Selkirk Highway were unveiled, and at all the ceremonies conducted by the Lord Selkirk Settlers Association during this anniversary year.

Mr. W. Hlady was sponsored by the Society in a search for traces of early forts in the area soon to be flooded by the Grand Rapids Power Development. Leads were discovered which could well result in the identification of Fort Bourbon. It is hoped that further exploration may be undertaken before the final flooding. A very detailed report of this exploration is on file in the office.

A biography, Cuthbert Grant of Grantown, by Mrs. Margaret Arnett MacLeod and Professor William L. Morton, assisted by Mrs. Alice E. Brown, was published in March 1963, under the sponsorship of the Society - the first 500 copies of the book were purchased by the Society, thus giving us exclusive sales rights in Manitoba. The sales of this book have been most encouraging: a considerable number have been sold to retail outlets for sale to the general public, a great many to schools, libraries and cultural organizations in the Province, and many members have bought copies for themselves and for gifts. A considerable amount of direct mail advertising has produced many of these sales ... all members were advised, and a letter with a publisher's release was mailed to all schools, libraries and cultural organizations in Manitoba.

Publication of the Transactions of the Society, Series III, Number 17, has been delayed due to editorial difficulties. It is expected that the forthcoming issue of the Transactions to be published in 1963 will combine papers read before the Society in the 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons.

Dr. Victor Peter's study, The Hutterites - All Things Common, is expected to be published shortly. This work will make a valuable contribution to the field of ethnic group studies.

Progress is being made on the series of volumes planned by the Manitoba Record Society and the first volume is expected in the Fall of 1963.

The Local History Committee is proceeding with its project of collecting histories of towns and municipalities, and in spite of the difficulties encountered in finding people willing and able to undertake the production of interesting and readable local histories, it is hoped that books of such grass-roots history may be published before our province is 100 years old.

No essays were submitted for the Margaret McWilliams contest in the 1962-63 season. Any suggestions on arousing greater interest in this project will be welcomed by the Executive and Council.

The Chairman of the Ross House Committee has submitted a very comprehensive and detailed report of the activities of the Ross House Museum for 1962, copies of which are on file at the office. As usual, very good coverage has been given the Ross House by the two daily papers, and slides and information on the House were shown for two weeks by the CBC television station.

The Society extends its gratitude to Mr. L. A. Reid and his committee for their splendid work, and are delighted that the Chairman and his Committee will be continuing this work in the 1963 season.

The Manitoba Pageant has now completed seven years of publication. The issues for April and September of 1962 represent an effort on our part to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Selkirk Settlers. These issues provide rather a complete chronology of the early years of the Settlement, and contain a number of hitherto unpublished excerpts from the journals of Miles McDonell and Colin Robertson. The 150th Anniversary commemorative issues were very well received by readers, and occasioned such response that our supply of the April issue is completely sold out, and the September issue is dwindling rapidly. In our April, 1963 issue we reproduced a few illustrations from a collection of illustrated letters that merit wide recognition. They are the letters of Fred Phillips from his homesteading days in the 1880s. This collection was presented to the Provincial Archives by the late Hugh and Mrs. Phillips (Mrs. Phillips is with us tonight) and we wish to thank Mrs. Phillips and the Provincial Archives for permission to reproduce these excerpts in the Manitoba Pageant.

Because our last issue was so very late, the Department of Education was unable to send out the copies which are supplied free of charge to all the schools in Manitoba. Eighteen students from the Gordon Bell History clubs worked very hard for three hours, preparing some three thousand issues for mailing ... our very appreciative thanks to them for a worthwhile task very well performed.

Page revised: 9 February 2023

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