Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 144 years

Frequently Asked Questions: Benefits of MHS Membership

New members of the Manitoba Historical Society are often not aware of the full scope of our activities. Even long-time members may not know about all of the things we do. The many benefits are listed below, grouped into four general categories: awards, publications, programs, and museums.

1. Awards

Centennial Farm – This program was initiated by the MHS in 1980 to recognize farms which have been operated continuously for 100 years or more by a single family. To date, over 1,200 farms have been so designated throughout southern Manitoba. Recipient families receive a plaque or certificate, usually at a formal presentation ceremony. A separate Century Farm program of the provincial government provides signs which recipient families post at their farm gate.

Centennial Business – In 1999, the MHS initiated the Manitoba Centennial Business Awards to recognize businesses that have operated continuously in the province for over 100 years. Changes in business location and ownership are permitted. Recipient businesses, of which there have been 52 so far, are presented with a commemorative plaque at the annual Macdonald Dinner or at an event sponsored by the recipient.

Centennial Organization – This program was started in 2004 as part of the MHS’s 125th anniversary celebrations. It commemorates 100 years of continuous operation by non-profit organizations, clubs, congregations, and associations in the areas of culture, economic development, education, health, heritage, labour, politics, recreation and sport, religion, and social reform. Twenty-six awards have been made to date, usually at an annual awards ceremony.

Margaret McWilliams – This award was instituted in 1955 as a memorial to Margaret S. McWilliams, a well-known Manitoba author, by her husband, former Lieutenant-Governor Roland F. McWilliams. Its purpose is to encourage the study and interpretation of the history of Manitoba. Certificates are presented at an annual awards ceremony to authors of scholarly books, popular books, works of historical fiction, local histories, institutional histories, essays, theses, displays, videos, and web sites.

Young Historians – This award program is open to all school children in the province to encourage them in producing essays, posters, models, and videos on themes from Manitoba history. Thirty-three awards were made at our most recent annual ceremony. The winner of the Dr. Edward Shaw Award (named in honour of the late MHS President and historian) for the best senior essay has their work published in our journal, Manitoba History.

Douglas Kemp – This award was inaugurated in 1988 to recognize exceptional service in the promotion and preservation of Manitoba’s heritage, usually by an MHS member. It commemorates the late MHS President. This award is typically presented at the Annual General Meeting.

Charles Bell – This award was initiated in 2004 to recognize the student with the highest standing in the introductory course History of Canada (11.144) at the University of Manitoba. The award commemorates the life and work of Charles Napier Bell, who was President of the MHS from 1889 to 1891 and again from 1913 to 1929.

2. Publications

Time Lines newsletter – The newsletter, and its predecessor Keywords, is published every two months. It reports on MHS activities, advertises upcoming events and museum developments, and informs members about heritage news around the province and elsewhere.

Manitoba History journalManitoba History is a peer-reviewed journal which has been published since 1980. It is the only journal devoted to the history of Manitoba and it contains well researched, scholarly articles as well as articles of general interest, book reviews, advertisements, and an annual bibliography. Originally published twice a year, its publication frequency increased to three times a year in 2005.

Web site – Originally developed in the late 1990s to provide basic information about the MHS, the web site was re-launched in 2002 with the full content of MHS publications (Transactions, Manitoba Pageant, back issues of Manitoba History, Keywords, Time Lines). It also contains unique documents and articles, biographies, lists of award recipients, and information about the MHS museums.

Reference library – The Edwin Nix Memorial Library located in the MHS office was designated in 2004 in honour of the late MHS member. It contains collection of books, journals, newsletters, local histories, and pamphlets relating to the general theme of Manitoba history.

3. Programs

Sir John A. Macdonald Dinner – This event is held each year on the Saturday closest to January 11, nationally designated as Sir John A. Macdonald Day, the birthday of Canada’s first Prime Minister. It is the Society’s primary fundraiser of the year. Recent dinners have featured speakers such as the Honourable John Crosbie, Rex Murphy, Mel Hurtig, Phil Fontaine, Jamie Brown, Judge Murray Sinclair, Jake MacDonald, and the Honourable John N. Turner. In 2006, we featured entertainer Mike Ford.

Multicultural Dinner – This annual events highlights the ethnic diversity of Manitoba. Each dinner features a particular group, including its indigenous foods and beverages, and accompanied by a presentation on its activities in Manitoba. Recent dinners have been held at the Centro Caboto, the Icelandic Club, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, the Czech and Slovak Association, the St. John’s Cathedral, and the Winnipeg Chilean Association Hall.

Film Night – This event, a collaboration between the MHS and the Archives of Manitoba (and, most recently, the CBC), has been held annually since 1997. It highlights archival film footage held at the Archives and has incorporated guest speakers and noted specialists. Its role is to increase public awareness in the holdings of the provincial archives.

Field Trips – The MHS operates guided historic bus tours to various sites in the region. Recent field trips have included stops at Wawanesa’s Sipiweske Museum, the Archibald Museum near La Rivière, the Inglis grain elevators, the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum in Shilo, and the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon. The MHS has prepared walking tour guides of Tuxedo, Crescentwood, Wolseley, and Point Douglas neighbourhoods in Winnipeg.

Annual General Meetings – The appointment of MHS officers, adoption of constitutional revisions, and major decisions requiring membership approval are transacted at the AGM, held alternately in Winnipeg and rural communities. The event is usually accompanied by a presentation or an historical tour.

Committees – The MHS’s standing committees address topics of specific interest. Some committees are responsible for research, planning, and presentation of awards, or operation of museums. Others are more wide-ranging in their terms of reference. At present, committees include: Centennial Business, Centennial Farm, Centennial Organization, McWilliams, Young Historians, Field Trip, Finance, Publications, Membership, Program, Macdonald Dinner, Historic Preservation, Heritage Trust, Dalnavert Museum Management, and Ross House Management.

Conferences – Our history conference is held periodically to enable students and amateur historians as well as professionals to present papers on their current research. In 2005, we sponsored the Second Annual Fort Garry Lectures in History that was organized by graduate students at the University of Manitoba.

Presentations – The Program Committee, often in collaboration with other MHS committees and external groups, organizes oral presentations on a range of topics. In 2005, presentations were made on Winnipeg’s early hotels by Bruce Cherney, and its rock music history by John Einarson, among others. We also inaugurated a series of public lectures in our Dalnavert Visitors Centre.

Representation – The MHS appoints a representative to provide input to several external groups, such as the City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committee, which advises on significant architectural features around the city. Our representative on the Winnipeg Real Estate Board’s Citizen’s Walk of Fame proposes nominees in an historical category, for whom a brass bust is unveiled annually in Assiniboine Park. We are represented on the Board of Heritage Winnipeg, which considers heritage matters in Winnipeg.

Affiliated societies – The MHS’s mandate includes assistance in the formation and work of local historical societies in furthering the objectives of the Society throughout Manitoba. Any local, regional, national, or international group which endorses the objectives of the MHS is invited to become an affiliated society with a view toward facilitating intercommunication and mutual enrichment.

4. Museum

Ross House – This log house, site of the first post office in western Canada, was built in 1852 by William Ross. It has been moved twice and is now located in Joe Zuken Heritage Park, in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas neighborhood. The Ross House Museum is owned by the City of Winnipeg, and operated by the MHS. The Society is responsible for the collection and display of artifacts, and it provides museum staff. Ross House is open during summer months.

Page revised: 16 May 2015

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