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February 26, 2021

HBC Cartographic Records related to Laurenson Lake — Submitted by Jason Carrie, Archivist, Archives of Manitoba


“The Hudson Bay Company Archives (HBCA) holds a wealth of cartographic records of early settler towns. My hometown of Kenora and its layout today is easily recognizable in the plans found in HBCA’s vaults. Many of these early plans reference Rat Portage but today people know it now as Kenora. Prior to 1905, the three communities in the area were Keewatin, Norman, and Rat Portage. Kenora received its name by taking the first two letters from each community. You can spot each of them in this 1902 sketch of the area.

“Kenora is well known for its beautiful lakes and this summer I had the opportunity to canoe a leisurely route from Laurenson Lake to Coney Island Beach with my partner and two friends. The route began with a short paddle from the east end of the lake to the mouth of Laurenson’s creek. Once in the creek and sheltered from the wind we moved amongst the cattails catching a glimpse of a blue heron. After lazily making our way through the small bends in the creek we emerged out into the hustle and bustle of Lake of the Woods. Now, in stark contrast to that warm August day I am pouring over 100 year old plans noting the creek and lake we paddled through while the wind and snow blows downtown.

“Laurenson Lake is named for HBC employee Robert Laurenson who worked at the Rat Portage post in the mid 1870s.

It is interesting to examine the plans and note the slow changes over the years to the names given to the creek and lake. You can see in “Plan of H.B. Cos Reserve at Rat Portage, Lac la Pluis District” that “Lake” is simply denoted in this plan.

“In subsequent records it is Laurence Lake/Bay. Then a common theme began to emerge – Laurenson Creek and Laurence Lake. It begs the question of whether Laurence Lake was named for someone with the surname Laurence or was it an error on the part of the individual who made the plan? This is an all too common experience and frustrating aspect about working with archival records. They do not always provide the answers you are seeking. Instead, they at times dangle clues that send you off on different paths down your research journey. As for me, I will keep searching to find out when Laurence Lake became Laurenson(s) Lake!”

Want to know more? Search Keystone for more information.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story and Upcoming Events for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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February 19, 2021

“Journal of a Journey over Land from Buckingham House to the Rocky Mountains in 1792 a 3 by Peter Fidler” — Submitted by Roland Bohr, Historian, University of Winnipeg, Centre for Rupert's Land Studies


“Peter Fidler spent the winter of 1792/93 among the Pikani People, the southern division of the Niitsitapi, or Blackfoot, to strengthen trading ties between them and the HBC. He made important observations on Indigenous culture, politics and life ways on the Plains at this time of rapid change.

Journal of a Journey over Land from Buckingham House to the Rocky Mountains in 1792 a 3 by Peter Fidler
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“Journal of a Journey over Land from Buckingham House to the Rocky Mountains in 1792 a 3 by Peter Fidler”, fo. 2.

“Fidler described in detail the changing bison hunting methods of northern Plains Indigenous people; from the old way of hunters on foot driving bison into pounds/enclosures to newer methods, such as headlong chases conducted by hunters on horseback. Fidler was one of the few whose observations of communal bison hunting in pounds were recorded, documenting millennia-old adaptive strategies employed by Indigenous people to sustainably use the resources on their lands, giving way to horse-based bison hunting. Fidler also recorded many of the beliefs, ceremonial practices, social customs and aspects of Indigenous ingenuity around bison hunting. Even though the document pertains to the Bow River region of southern Alberta, since there are several bison pound sites in southern Manitoba, this document has relevance for more local Indigenous history as well.”

“Journal of a Journey over Land from Buckingham House to the Rocky Mountains in 1792 a 3 by Peter Fidler”
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“Journal of a Journey over Land from Buckingham House to the Rocky Mountains in 1792 a 3 by Peter Fidler”, fo. 15.
Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Peter Fidler fonds, Peter Fidler journals of exploration and survey, 1792-1806, E 3/2.

Want to know more? Search Keystone for more information. Read the Spotlight on Peter Fidler and the Selkirk Treaty.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story and Upcoming Events for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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February 12, 2021

Drawings of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre building — Submitted by Camilla Holland, Executive Director, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre


“The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s theatre at 174 Market Avenue celebrated 50 years in September 2020. It’s a most unusual anniversary as the building is closed for public health reasons, and it’s a large and lonely building without people. These three architectural renderings were created by architectural firm Waisman Ross Blankstein Coop Gillmore Hanna in likely 1969 (their name changed to Number TEN Architectural Group in 1970) to help visualize the design intent and the finished product of the building of our new theatre, a Manitoba Centennial project in partnership with the build of the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corporation (Concert Hall and Manitoba Museum) across the street.

“The drawings are remarkably accurate, which makes me think they were created late in the process, perhaps to assist with the final push of the fundraising campaign, or to build excitement among the theatre-going public. The renderings are of our exterior (from the corner of Lily and Market Streets), our main lobby (with the prominent windows on the left as you enter the lobby) and our theatre auditorium, viewed from behind a single performer playing to a crowd. I love the richness of the colours, the lines of light that make the entire building feel like a stage. Eagle-eyed lovers of the theatre will note that the lobby doesn’t appear to include a bar, and that a few lucky patrons have secured elusive parking spots in front of the building. In the exterior sketch, the ‘waving flag’ on our fly tower is prominent – this was designed as a neon tip of the hat to the flags flown during performances in Elizabethan times. Usually, it’s illuminated when we have a play on the stage; during COVID, we have continued to let it wave in hope and tribute to the artists and audiences who are eagerly awaiting the return of live theatre.

“The sketches also celebrate the dynamic of the concrete brutalist design, and the interplay with energy of people. In 2009, Royal MTC was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada and ten years later, the building was awarded the Prix du XXe siècle by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. This prize recognizes buildings that have become landmarks of Canadian architecture, and celebrates design quality and enduring excellence. We still have a working relationship with Number TEN Architects, sharing the responsibility of ensuring the stewardship and spirit of the original design of the building, while updating and renovating to meet the evolving needs of audiences today.

“These images remind us that our beloved and celebrated building was created for gatherings – crowds, close contact, proximity, density; all things that we look forward to returning in 2021.”

Want to know more? Search Keystone for more information.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story and Upcoming Events for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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February 5, 2021

Scrapbooks and Newsletters documenting tuberculosis in Manitoba — Carmen Lowe, A/Senior Archivist/Records Analyst, Archives of Manitoba


“Early in my career as an archivist at the Archives of Manitoba I had the privilege of processing and describing the records from the Sanatorium Board of Manitoba (SBM).

“SBM is a non-profit statutory organization that was established in 1904. SBM was the central agency in Manitoba working to reduce the presence of tuberculosis (TB) in the province by providing diagnosis, treatment, and maintaining a central registry. During the height of the fight against TB, SBM operated five institutions dedicated to TB treatment that served all of Manitoba as well as patients from Northwestern Ontario and Central and Eastern Arctic regions. They also operated diagnostic travelling clinics, did contact tracing, served as a federating body for all the TB institutions in the province, and educated the public about tuberculosis.

“Although still fresh to the archival profession, I knew that these records had incredible importance as they documented the history of a public health crisis and the rise of many of our current medical institutions. As well, through these records I learned about the disparity of care that existed (and still exists) between urban and rural, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Manitoba.

Archives of Manitoba, Sanatorium Board of Manitoba historical files
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Archives of Manitoba, Sanatorium Board of Manitoba historical files, Scrapbook – “High Points in the History of Tuberculosis,” 1930-1935, P7113/1

“One of the challenges in writing this submission is knowing that I do not have space or time to adequately unpack and explain the complexities of the various histories that are documented in this large set of records, nor do I believe I would be the right person to do it justice. But, I take great pride in knowing that I played a small role in describing the records and making them accessible, so that others can dedicate their time to that important work and that the records will help some families and communities find information about loved ones affected by the disease.

“I have thought a lot about tuberculosis and the Sanatorium Board over the last year as our world has been turned upside down dealing with Covid-19. One aspect that I have become particularly interested in is the contradictory role that the SBM had to play in communicating the seriousness of the disease but also the promoting its successes.

Archives of Manitoba, Sanatorium Board of Manitoba historical files
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Archives of Manitoba, Sanatorium Board of Manitoba historical files, Scrapbook – “High Points in the History of Tuberculosis,” 1930-1935, P7113/1

“I remember thinking when I first saw the scrapbooks that it seemed incredibly insensitive to create a book entitled “High Points in the History of Tuberculosis.” At the time, I was deeply affected by the lives lost or changed forever by the disease and the families ripped apart as a result of the limited medical options available. It seemed inconceivable that promotional material like this would be developed.

“Looking at these archival records with fresh eyes (and with my lens now shaded by Covid-19), I see this material in a new light. I am constantly seeking good news about new scientific discoveries about Covid-19, possible treatments, and the vaccine roll out. I initially viewed this scrapbook as self-serving and trivial, but now realize that promotional material like this may have been well received, perhaps even needed by the public. As a whole I now see this promotional material trying to strike a balance between communicating the need to be diligent and careful, but also communicating hope about the progress that had been made. A balancing act we see playing out in our news and social media today.”

Want to know more? Search Keystone for more information.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story and Upcoming Events for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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January 29, 2021

Archival material about York Factory and William Hemmings Cook at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives — Submitted by The Famous Sandhogs, Musician

“I'd like to highlight the records of William Hemmings Cook in York Factory in the late 18th - early 19th century. I used available archival material about York Factory and William Hemmings Cook to create a concept album called Kahnawpawamakan.

“Kahnawpawamakan (1769-1813) was a Mushkegowuck woman who lived in York Factory, Manitoba. She married HBC writer, and later Chief Factor, William Hemmings Cook when she was 17. This album contains stories she may have told to her children, family, and herself.

“I spent some time looking around the archives - mostly trying to find something that mentioned Kahnawpawamakan, but there was little mention of her directly, and so I had to piece her life together from what was mentioned of her husband, William Hemmings Cook. She would have been alive at the time of La Perouse, and then the smallpox epidemic that swept north. Her son, Joseph Cook, later became an advocate for Metis rights - this would have been pre-Louis Riel - and so I felt like Kahnawpawamakan instilled in him a pride in himself, so despite the hardships she had to endure I imagine she retained in her a healthy spirit that she fed into her children. But her later life was likely very tragic - having been abandoned by William Hemmings Cook for a younger woman.

“With the album I was trying to fill in the missing information that wasn't recorded. The lack of mention in the journals of the death of his wife - the lack of any information about her, really – may be a poignant reminder that these records - though they are infinitely valuable and interesting - are biased toward the English/French male experience, and that the other, unrecorded side, though briefly glimpsed through these records, is no less important. I also used instances in the records for inspiration, including a reference of Cook’s failed trip to Duck Lake, mentioned in the York Factory correspondence book of 1790-1791 in “The William Hemmings Cook Song”.

“It was a wonderful experience going through the Archives of Manitoba, something that I don't do enough of. There are thousands of stories, thousands of songs and albums buried in there.”

https://thefamoussandhogs.bandcamp.com/album/kahnawpawamakan



Want to know more? Search Keystone for more information.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story and Upcoming Events for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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