Provincial sesquicentennial, staycations make historic sites of interest

Explore some of Manitoba’s rich and abundant history this summer

With COVID making the ‘staycation’ fashionable and Manitoba celebrating its 150th anniversary this summer, this is a good time to make plans to search out some of our historical sites. During this uncertain time of social distancing and self-isolation, planning future outings is an activity which can involve the whole family.

A great many towns and villages have museums and historical sites well worth a visit. Even those of us who do a lot of exploring still have many want-to-see spots around our province.

A small, but interesting place is the Badger Creek Museum in the village of Cartwright (about 55 km (34 miles) south of Glenboro, on Highway No. 5).

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This museum holds a row of several heritage buildings:

  • Mount Prospect School, set up with desks and books as it once would have looked;
  • A shoe repair shop with equipment, a Manitoba Telephone System building containing historical artifacts;
  • A pioneer post office, relocated from Mather, a pioneer home; and
  • A CPR caboose.

A walk around the site provides good photo opportunities, but check out the hours if you want to explore inside these buildings. A nearby park provides a good spot for a picnic, while about six kilometres north of the village is the historic Clay Banks Buffalo Jump used by native hunters in prehistoric times to drive herds of bison over a steep cliff.

A pioneer home at the Trembowla Cross of Freedom site.
photo: Donna Gamache

Another interesting site is the Minnedosa Museum and Heritage Village. Buildings to explore include:

  • The Cadurcis House, part of which was originally built in 1910;
  • Havelock School, built in 1910 at a cost of $1,650, and moved here in 1997 from southeast of Minnedosa; and
  • The Hunterville Church moved here in 1996, from east of Rapid City.

Also check out:

  • The Manitoba Electrical Power Plant & Minnedosa Hydro Building, which began operation in 1920, the second such plant constructed in Manitoba;
  • Roy Munroe’s Blacksmith Shop, a 16×24-foot structure built in 1936 as a temporary school for six months, and then moved to be used for blacksmithing;
  • The Hopkins’ Log Barn, which came from northeast of Clanwilliam;
  • The Manley Log House; and
  • The Wm McManus Trappers Cabin.

Of particular interest is the Octagon Building which was moved here from the Minnedosa Agricultural Grounds and is a designated historical site.

The Heritage Museum buildings are open from the beginning of July until Labour Day, but you can explore the grounds at any time.

A pioneer home at the Trembowla Cross of Freedom site.
photo: Donna Gamache

(While in Minnedosa, visit other spots of interest: Minnedosa Beach and Campground, the bison enclosure and the caboose in Tanner’s Crossing Park.)

A different type of ‘museum,’ but one of particular significance to farm families, is the Inglis Elevators National Historic Site, located in the village of Inglis, north of Russell. This site has five original wooden grain elevators, four of which have been standing since 1922. Self-guided walking tours can be taken at any time, while school classes can pre-arrange tours.

Northwest of Dauphin is the Trembowla Cross of Freedom Museum. Here you will find St. Michael’s Church, the first Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, an outdoor oven and a couple of different pioneer homes used by early settlers. Another Ukrainian site is Wasyl Negrych Homestead, northeast of Gilbert Plains. It contains 10 original log buildings, including one built about 1899, and a bunkhouse (about 1908) with an indoor clay oven.

Inglis’s historic ‘elevator row’ is a reminder of a disappearing Prairie landmark.
photo: Donna Gamache

Large, well-known museums in southern Manitoba include:

  • Lower Fort Garry, south of Selkirk;
  • The Mennonite Heritage Village of Steinbach;
  • The Musée St. Joseph in St. Joseph;
  • The Manitoba Agricultural Museum in Austin; and
  • The Fort la Reine Museum & Pioneer Village in Portage.

But smaller ones such as the Nellie McClung Heritage Site in Manitou, the RCA Museum (Canada’s National Artillery Museum) in Shilo, and numerous others in many of our towns and villages are also worth a visit.

Manitoba has too many such museums to describe them all, but this website is an excellent resource to help you decide which ones you’d like to explore: museumsmanitoba.com. If you do plan a trip, check out opening times before you go, as some of the smaller ones are open limited hours or only certain days.

Another good place for information is the website of the Manitoba Historical Society.

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