Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 144 years

Volume 36, No 4
April / May 2004


125th Ceremony
Come Home to History: The Dalnavert Visitors Centre
Dalnavert News
John Alexander Chivers (1909-2004)
New Members
President's Message
Manitoba Book Week
Spring Field Trip 2004
Fall Field Trip 2004
Heritage News
Speakers Wanted
On the Road to Rural Museums - Part 1
1879 Dinner

125th Ceremony

This year marks the 125th Anniversary of the Manitoba Historical Society. On Thursday, June 24th we invite you to join in celebration of this milestone event in the rotunda of the Manitoba Legislative Building. The event will start at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by light refreshments.

Since capacity is limited, we ask that you confirm your attendance by May 15. RSVP to Bill Fraser at 204-269-4639 or Carl James at 204-631-5971. Please leave a voice message if there is no answer.

Dalnavert News

A short time ago it was learned that Dalnavert's restoration architect John Chivers passed away. Dalnavert is what it is today in part due to the strong values that John brought to the restoration project and was able to instill in all those who worked with him. With obvious pride John continued to make regular visits to Dalnavert until he and his wife Alberta moved out to the B.C. coast. It is with sadness that we honour his passing.

After two years of planning the construction of the Dalnavert Visitors Centre is finally underway. As was previously outlined this new project is honouring the 1895 values that went into the construction of Dalnavert as well as not wasting the resources of the structure that is being removed to make way for the Visitors Centre. In fact in carrying out the de-construction of the house next door we will be gaining some very valuable construction materials, 1000 square feet of solid 3/4 inch oak flooring, lovely solid doors, a number of mirrors, pieces of hardware and the exterior red brick. This latter element will be re-used in the exterior façade of the new building.

Unfortunately due to liability concerns in a construction area, Dalnavert Museum will be closed to the public during the entire time period that it takes to build the Visitors Centre. We plan to incorporate into the Society's web site periodic updates on the progress of the Visitors Centre so if you have a computer please go to to see the developments. Even though the museum is closed Tim and Nancy have a number of special projects that they will be undertaking. They will also be available to take some of the museum's programming out to the community. If you have a school class, community group, etc. that would like to consider an outreach visit please call the museum at (204) 943-2835.

When Dalnavert reopens next autumn the Society membership will be invited to get a special preview glimpse of what we have created and what will sustain Dalnavert in years to come. In the meantime you are encouraged to support the museum by contributing to this year's Garage Sale or attending it on May 22 at the Ukrainian Labour Temple, 591 Pritchard Ave. Winnipeg.

John Alexander Chivers (1909-2004)

John Chivers, Dalnavert's architect during the restoration phase, passed away peacefully at his retirement residence in White Rock, BC, on 19 January 2004. John was born on 10 August 1909 in Winnipeg, and graduated in Architecture (University of Manitoba) in 1931, after which he spent a summer touring Britain and France. His artistic ability clearly became evident by the beautifully rendered classical buildings that he sketched while there, an interest that he continued as a member of the Winnipeg Sketch Club. John also loved music. His colleague George Walker remembers how he once spontaneously sat down at a pump organ in a small church on Hecla Island, bringing forth beautiful music from memory. John’s family regularly enjoyed sing-songs, as they called them, at home. He loved the out-of-doors, and worked tirelessly at the community club where his family grew up in St. Vital.

During WW II, John served for three years at the front with the Royal Canadian Engineers in Italy and Holland, but spent most of his working life in Manitoba. Late in his career he took up restoration work: Lower Fort Garry (1967 to 1970), Dalnavert (1970 to 1974), for which he received an award, Hecla Island and St. Norbert Heritage Park (1973 to 1976). He enjoyed this work most of all, even taking a course in Icelandic to be able to better understand that culture.

John was respected by all who met or had an opportunity to work with him for his honesty, kindness, and positive attitude. John retired in 1979, and moved with his wife Alberta to Mill Bay, BC. They had 62 years together. He is survived by his brother, C. Douglas in Vancouver, three children, Doug, Ila, and Tara, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

New Members

Poplar Point History Book Committee
Lucille & Paul Zywina
Leslie J. Roberts
Alex Waugh
Dr. Alexander Freund
Owen Clark
Natalia Aponiuk
United Empire Loyalists Association
Norm & Nora Harvey
Prairie Pathfinders
Dr. Simon Lucy & Leslie Malcolmson
Maureen Cousins
Linda West
Manitoba Bee Keepers Association
Aikins, MacAulay & Thorvaldson
James Richardson & Sons Limited
Jake MacDonald
Keith Burr
David Stones



U. Frances Bowles
Carl James
Fr. Stephan Sharman

MHS Dalnavert Visitor Center, Old House Campaign

Gordon Goldsborough & Maria Zbigniewicz
Lily Stearns
A. Blanche Miller
Mardie Law
Eleanor Wiswell
Catherine Miller
C. Robert Inman
John & Kay Lehr
Laird Rankin
Emily E. Stamp
Jim Blanchard
D. Richard & Dorothy Metcalfe
Betty M. Laing
Capital Campaign
2433771 Manitoba Ltd

President's Message

With spring arriving, the MHS will embark upon a fresh, new season. The snow is finally melting which brings the Society many events and activities to plan.

Firstly, many members and friends will have attended the 1879 Dinner in March at St. John's Cathedral. This annual social gathering was highly successful with MHS Past-President, Jim Blanchard as our guest speaker and fiddler Sierra Noble as our musical treat. I know I speak for all who attended in saying what a great time they had and would like to personally congratulate Programme Chair, Alan Crossin and his committee for a job well done. I would also like to thank Patricia Forsythe for her continued assistance in organizing the event as well as St. John's Cathedral for hosting it.

Secondly, many members may have heard by now about the great news regarding Dalnavert. I am pleased to announce that the construction of the Visitor Centre is finally underway! This is the result of some extremely hard work and commitment of numerous individuals over a span of many years. The Museum is presently closed; the de-construction of the residence next door is in progress; and the opening of the new centre is planned to take place during the Fall of this year. For a complete description of the "goings on" of the Visitor Centre, please read Vice-President Gordon Goldsborough's report. I hope all members will visit the newly constructed centre once it is opened.

Thirdly, a great way to end our Society's year is by attending our Annual General Meeting on June 5th. With this being our 125th Anniversary, a special occasion has been planned. Once again, Alan Crossin and the Program Committee have organized a train trip from Winnipeg to Warren aboard the Prairie Dog Central. This 45-minute excursion will offer members a relaxing way to travel to our meeting and luncheon. If interested in attending, please contact Jackie Friesen at the office to register. I hope to see all members there!

Finally, plans are also underway to organize our Society's 125th Anniversary Event. This celebration is our formal ceremony acknowledging the milestone our Society has reached. This will take place Thursday, June 24th in the Rotunda at the Manitoba Legislature, the very place where the MHS was enacted in 1879. The Governing Council and Executive hope that all members attend this joyful celebration. Attending these events will only guarantee the success of our Society.

Steven Place


Dorothy Slaughter, a long-time MHS member, died in Winnipeg on February 3, 2004 at 83 years. She taught primary grades in rural Manitoba beginning in 1941. From 1950 she taught kindergarten and nursery school at Weston and Gladstone schools in Winnipeg and at a DND School in West Germany. She was principal of Fort Rouge School from 1971 until her retirement.

Victor Speirs Cowie, a MHS member, died in Winnipeg on March 8, 2004 at 74 years. He taught English literature at The University of Manitoba for over 40 years. He directed and acted in plays on the campus, and performed at Theatre 77, MTC, Rainbow Stage, CBC TV and, more recently, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. He wrote and produced a well-received film about university life, And No Birds Sing. Recently he wrote a movie script set in the Red River Settlement.

Manitoba Book Week

Every April, the member publishers of the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers, in partnership with a variety of sponsors and supporters from the Manitoba book community, present Manitoba Book Week, a celebration of Manitoba writing and publishing.

Join us April 18 to 24, 2004 for various readings, launches, and lots of other fun events. This weeklong celebration of Manitoba-published books is held in conjunction with World Book Day (April 23) and Brave New Words: the Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards Gala, this year Fri. April 23 at the Hotel Fort Garry in The Crystal Ballroom.

The Manitoba Book Week launch is at St. Boniface Library, April 19 at 10:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend!

Other highlights this year include many readings and signings. Some are: Frances Russell, author of The Canadian Crucible: Manitoba's Role in Canada's Great Divide - a book that is perhaps the most clear-eyed assessment of Canada's linguistic chasm ever written - reading at St. Vital Library; Nathan Dueck, author of king's(mère) - an imaginative and audacious interpretation of the life of William Lyon Mackenzie King (poetry) - reading at West Kildonan Library; Greg Jackson-Davis, author of Digging for Philip - a young adult novel in which a 14-year-old digs up the restless Anishinaabe spirit Tikumiwaewidig near his island summer cottage - reading at St. John's Library; and, Clayton Bailey, author of The Expedition - the story of a pioneer woman dauguerrotypist who disguises herself as a man in order to take part in a transcontinental railway survey - signing books at Chapters (St. Vital) and Chapters (Polo Festival).

In conjunction with the publication of Caelum Vatnsdal's new book, They Came from Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema, The Cinematheque presents the most ambitious Canadian horror movie festival ever assembled!

There will also be events in French, including: Franco-Manitoban authors who will read from their works in the newly restored Maison Gabrielle-Roy, the home of one of Manitoba's best known authors; and, Robert Freynet, author of La Vérendrye, explorateur de l'Ouest canadien, a historical comic book, who will conduct a comic book workshop for children at St. Boniface Library.

There's lots going on out of Winnipeg too, including: a signing by Helen Mulligan and Wanda Ryder, authors of Ghost Towns of Manitoba, at Just Books in Portage La Prairie; and, a reading by Armin Wiebe, in Selkirk, from his new novel, Tatsea, a 1700s adventure story.

There will also be contests, displays, discounts on selected Manitoba-published books, and much more! For regular updates on Manitoba Book Week activities, check out the AMBP web site at, or call 204-947-3335. And, keep an eye out for Manitoba Book Week Events Bulletins at bookstores and libraries around the province.

On April 12, at McNally Robinson Books (Grant Park), the authors whose books have been short-listed for a Margaret McWilliams Award will be reading from their books. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the "travel alcove" which is immediately inside the door leading from the Mall to the store. Please come out and support this important MHS event.

The Book Awards, where the winners will be announced and received their plaques, will be at the Fort Garry Hotel, 7th Floor Ball Room, on the evening of April 23. (Cocktail reception 7:00, presentations 8:00).

Nominees for McWilliams Book Awards are listed here.


To MHS member Abraham J. Arnold for becoming a member of the Order of Canada.

Spring Field Trip - 2004

The MHS spring field trip will be held on Saturday, 19 June on the theme "Women's History." Led by Dr. Jock Lehr, the trip will include visits to an exhibit on Nellie McClung at Wawanesa's Sipiweske Museum and two of her former homes at the Archibald Museum near La Rivière, and a presentation on Hilda Blake (one of the few woman hung in Canada, in 1899) by Brandon historian Tom Mitchell. The cost of the day-long trip, including lunch, has not been confirmed. Please contact the MHS (204-947-0559 or for more information on the trip, and to reserve your seat on the bus.

Fall Field Trip - 2004

Prof. Jock Lehr will lead a tour to Churchill, Manitoba from 9 to 12 August, 2004. Click here for more information.

Heritage News

The City of Winkler and the Winkler Heritage Society has commissioned Dr. Hans Werner, a professor of History at the University of Winnipeg to write a new history of Winkler which will be completed in time for the city's centennial in 2006.

The 19th Annual Heritage Winnipeg Preservation Awards were presented at the Red River Princess Street Campus on National Heritage Day, February 16. Conservation Awards were presented to: Red River College and Corbett Cibinel Architects for the 140 to 164 Princess Street building, the Manitoba Theatre Centre and David Penner Architect for the lobby and marquee at MTC, Public Capital company & Empire Restoration for the Lindsay Building for restoration of historic interior elements and terra cotta, PNL Holdings Company, L.L.C. for the Paris Building sympathetic restoration of the lobby and exterior terra cotta, and North Portage Development and David Penner Architect for the Carlton Building, 354 Portage Ave for restoration of the Carlton Street facade, its window treatments and the lobby. Distinguished service awards were presented to The University Women's Club of Winnipeg for ongoing commitment to conserving, protecting and promoting the historic Ralph Connor House at 54 West Gate and to Shelley Ross, a teacher at Joseph Wolinsky School, for educating her students about the built environment and initiating interesting research projects and presentations.

The Heritage Museum at the Riverview Health Centre in Winnipeg has a collection of murals, pictures and artifacts celebrating the history of the Winnipeg Municipal Hospital/Riverview Health Centre from 1900 to 2000. The museum (room 238, Princess Elizabeth Building) is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily from Monday to Friday.

The Manitoba Crafts Museum at 1B - 183 Kennedy St. has its grand opening on Saturday, April 24. Its inaugural exhibit is "The Finest Touch: the Glory of Beads." Please phone Andrea Earl at 204-487-6117 for information.

A new 130 hectare park has been created - the Criddle/Vane Homestead Provincial Park, just south of Shilo. The park has the Criddle homestead and a self guided walk with information about the Criddle and Vane families. See the first entomological station in Manitoba.

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation has approved an application for funding in the amount of $49,750 by a steering committee representing the Long Plain First Nation and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs for the creation of the Indian Residential School Museum of Canada which will be based at the former Portage Indian School (now the Rufus Prince Building) on Long Plain Reserve land adjoining Portage La Prairie. The Long Plain Reserve is actively seeking support, partners and funding and also archival resources to build a strong foundation for the museum. The vision of the museum is "from a place of hurting to a place of healing." After recognizing a wound there would be cleansing and everything would be done to recognize the needs of the people involved. The spirit of the museum will address these stages of healing through its programs (at the Museum and through outreach programs), exhibits (static and traveling), regional displays and archives. The museum will preserve the history of the residential school system and its affects on those who attended any one of the residential schools in Canada. Non First Nations people will learn how the residential schools impacted on all Canadians. Photos, artifacts and cultural displays in the museum and traveling exhibits will show visitors how the healing process began and how it continues today.

Speakers Wanted

Volunteers are wanted to form an MHS Speakers Group that would respond to public requests for presentations about the Society and topics in Manitoba history. No formal speaking experience is required - only a willingness to engage with people. To help, please contact Jackie at the MHS office (204-947-0559 or

On the Road to Rural Museums - Part 1

Click here for this feature on the excellent museums of rural Manitoba, as explored by Maria Zbigniewicz.

1879 Dinner

After an interesting tour of St. John's Cathedral we enjoyed an excellent buffet dinner followed by Métis fiddle music played by Sierra Noble. Featured speaker Jim Blanchard presented a picture of Manitoba in 1879, the year of the Society's founding. Alan Crossin and the program Committee are to be commended for providing this enjoyable evening.

Attendees enjoy a
buffet dinner

Fiddler Sierra Noble
Click photo to enlarge
MHS YouTube Channel

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