Manitoba Historical Society
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Frequently Asked Questions: How to research the history of my house?

Manitoba has numerous old houses that have fascinating stories. Unfortunately, only a small fraction have had that story told. If you would like to learn more about your Manitoba home, including when it was built and who lived in it in the past, here are a few leads.

Winnipeg

In 1978, Lillian Gibbons, a long-time reporter for the Winnipeg Tribune, published a book entitled Stories Houses Tell in which she related the stories of some 300 houses around Winnipeg. Copies of her book are still available through antiquarian bookstores and in local libraries.

A few WInnipeg houses that have been researched by the Manitoba Historical Society as the residence of a noteworthy Manitoban are listed here.

Here are some ways to learn the history of other Winnipeg houses.

Tax Assessment Records - The City of Winnipeg has a tax assessment database where you enter the street name and number. It tells you a number of details about the house, including the year that it was built. Be careful in reading too much into such records. According to the City, the Foulds House on Palmerston Avenue in Wolseley was built in 1911. Historical research confirms it was actually built in 1872.

Other City Records, including Building Permits - The City of Winnipeg Archives contains records on building tax assessments, blueprints, and building permits for numerous structures around the city, going back to the 1870s. The documents for your home may be among their holdings.

Henderson Directories - The Henderson's Directory contains listings, by street address, of the primary householder, their spouse's name, and their occupation. The directory was updated annually, and paper copies from 1880 to 2000 are available at the Legislative Library of Manitoba and the Millennium Library. Some volumes have been digitized and are available on the website of the University of Alberta. By tracing an address' listing in each directory, it may be possible to reconstruct the chronology of occupation of a house.

Brandon

There is a Henderson directory for Brandon available online at the University of Alberta, covering the period from 1906 to 1955 (with a few missing years). The City of Brandon has tax assessment rolls archived in the basement of its City Hall.

Elsewhere

Every municipality is required by law to maintain tax assessments records back to the incorporation of the municipality. The Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie, for example, has a wonderful collection of tax rolls in its municipal office in Portage la Prairie.

Another source of information for rural Manitoba are aerial photographs at the Manitoba Air Photo Library in Winnipeg.

Sources:

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 23 January 2021

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