Tag Archives: local history

What’s New in the Local History Room?

It’s time to stop and have a look at the newly-arrived Manitoba reads in the Local History Room.
Cover image for Red River girl : the life and death of Tina Fontaine
The shocking murder of 15 year-old Tina Fontaine, found dead in the Red River, made national headlines in 2014 and led to the government conducting a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Red River Girl by British journalist Joanna Jolly is based on extensive face-to-face interviews, police records and trial testimonies  and documents Tina’s life in the weeks up to the events that led to her life being tragically cut short. The focus of the book then shifts to the efforts of Project Styx, the undercover operation that ultimately led to the arrest of suspect Ray Cormier, and the wider search for justice from Tina’s family and community.
 Image result for Festival du Voyageur HÉ HO! : a celebration of culture and heritage
An excellent (and long overdue in my opinion) retrospective book about our most well-known winter festival, spearheaded by Lucienne Beaudry: Festival du Voyageur HÉ HO! : a celebration of culture and heritageEvery February since its debut in 1969, tens of thousands from all over the globe flock to St. Boniface, Manitoba, to attend the largest winter celebration in Western Canada⁠—the Festival du Voyageur. For its duration, these visitors can experience the customs and ways of the men and women who settled the prairies after the arrival of La Verendrye in 1734. The richly-illustrated book offers an informative account of the successes and challenges, and gives homage to the volunteers and famous guests who took part in the festival in the past 50 years.
Cover image for Assiniboine Park : designing and developing a people's playground
In 1904, Assiniboine Park was conceived as a people’s playground, a place devoid of commercial amusements where all classes of Winnipeggers could relax and rejuvenate in idyllic and Arcadian surroundings. This is the story that David Spector’s Assiniboine Park : designing and developing a people’s playground tells as it traces the development of the park and its infrastructure⁠—the layout of fields, forests and gardens, the two pavilions, the conservatories and the zoo which became its most well-known features. The park’s design was the subject of a decade-long debate between board members and politicians, and it is surprising to learn of some of the proposed ideas for the park that didn’t make the cut, notably a golf course and a man-made beach. Having enjoyed many strolls and events in this park, this was an instructive and enjoyable read.
Image result for Forgotten history : the untold stories of Manitoba's first provincial jail 1881-1930
Another local institution recently given the literary treatment by historian Kristen Treusch is the oldest provincial jail still standing in Western Canada. What we now know as the Remand Centre is still lacking an historical designation, and the author wrote Forgotten history : the untold stories of Manitoba’s first provincial jail 1881-1930 in the hope of inspiring interest in preserving Winnipeg’s heritage buildings through focusing on the lives of the (in)famous and not-so-famous people incarcerated in what was originally known as the “Eastern Judicial District Gaol.” We read about the general conditions of imprisonment at the time (inmates topped their usual diet with vegetables they helped grow). Some of the inmates were hardly more than children, some were rebels and strike leaders (including future Mayor of Winnipeg John Queen) and some were hardened criminals. Treusch also talks about the staff who served there in the prison’s early years, members of the judiciary and police forces involved in the justice system of the day, and activists who helped to reform it.
Image result for Rusalka : the legend and the legacy : the history of the renowned Ukrainian Dance Ensemble
Rusalka : the legend and the legacy : the history of the renowned Ukrainian Dance Ensemble is a commemorative book celebrating one of Canada’s most renowned Ukrainian dance ensembles through personal anecdotes, recollections of important milestones and trips within Canada and around the world. From their beginnings in 1962 under the directorship of Peter Hladun, the Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble brought together a group of promising young dancers and made them the most famous Ukrainian dance ensemble in Canada.
Stop by the Local History Room and browse through them!

What’s New in the Local History Room

Winnipeg Riot [Portage Avenue]

“Winnipeg Riot” postcard from the PastForward database

We are marking the centennary of one of the most significant events in our city’s history this year: the Winnipeg General Strike, which began on May 15, 1919, and lasted for over a month, helping to shape labour history throughout Canada for decades after.

The Winnipeg Public Library will be hosting a series of lectures at the Millennium branch, beginning on Wednesday March 20th, from noon to 1:00 PM, and continuing on for the next four Wednesdays.  For more details you can consult our newsletter – follow this link to our program calendar.

Also, come have a look at some of our new reads in the Local History Room:

Local author Gordon Goldsborough has recently released a sequel to his previous excellent book about our province’s hidden history, entitled More abandoned Manitoba : Rivers, Rails and Ruins.  The book is richly illustrated (thanks in part to clever drone photography), exploring abandoned sites around Manitoba, describing their features, what caused them to be abandoned, and their link to the larger history of Manitoba.

Cover image for Wisdom from the homeless : lessons a doctor learned at a homeless shelter

Wisdom from the homeless : Lessons a Doctor Learned at a Homeless Shelter  is both a timely wake-up call and inspiring read.  The stories in it’s pages are from people who attend Winnipeg’s Siloam Mission,  the homeless men and women as well as those who help take care of them.  It “is about the wisdom that people with nothing can teach all of us in affluent North American culture”.  Dr Neil Craton writes about his experiences as a physician in Siloam Mission’s medical clinic, treating all kinds of wounds, but also learning lessons in kindness and respect from his patients as fellow human beings persevering through pain and difficulties with joy and compassion.  His stories also include the experiences of other volunteers and staff working in the shelter and how it changed their lives and their faith.  The book is easy to read and benefits from great photography.

Cover image for Prairie fairies : a history of queer communities and people in western Canada, 1930-1985

Bringing to the forefront the previously marginalised history of the LGBTTQ community of the Western province was the aim of history professor and author Valerie Korineck in her new book Prairie Fairies : A History of Queer Communities and People in Western Canada, 1930-1985.  It focuses on five Prairie cities: Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, and Calgary, exploring the regional experiences and activism of queer men and women through oral and archival histories.  In the first part of the book, spanning from 1930 to 1970, we learn about the public hangouts (restaurants, clubs, etc.) where queer people could assemble prior to creation of an organized movement  The second part is about the role played by different activists and other community actors in the 1970’s and onward that helped create spaces for gay and lesbian individuals dedicated to their communities and transforming the local social and political landscape.  Though this is a hefty academic title, it is filled with personal anecdotes and stories that makes it quite accessible to the more casual reader.

Gimli Harbour & Fishery : An IIlustrated History by Andrew Blicq explores the rich stories of the men and women who, over the last 140 years, have ventured out onto Lake Winnipeg in search of a living and a future.  We see a way of life that grew fishery through archival documents and photos, seeing the evolution of the boats, the various industries and businesses that helped keep Gimli prosper, and the stories of the families for whom fishing was an arduous yet rewarding calling.

Image result for north east winnipeg historical society volume 2

Finally, we have just received the second volume of the community history North East Winnipeg Area History : Elmwood, East Kildonan, North Kildonan  which offers a look back on some of the earliest inhabitants of one the oldest neighborhoods in the City of Winnipeg.  In addition to providing detailed histories of local pioneering families (some going back as far as the early 19th century), this volume describes the early road system in Winnipeg and methods of transportation such as the Kildonan Ferry.  Of particular note is the section devoted to Glen Hamilton and his home which eventually became famous for its séances, where attempts were made to communicate with the spirits of deceased loved ones, some famously photographed.

Come and check it out!


What’s new in the Local History Room?

With the coming of Winter it’s time to have a look at the new arrivals in the Local History Room collection.

Cover image for Rooster Town : the history of an urban Métis community, 1901-1961

A long-anticipated arrival is Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Métis Community, 1901-1961 by Evelyn Peters which is the product of years of exhaustive research into a part of Winnipeg’s history that has re-surfaced after decades of obscurity, thanks to her work.  Rooster Town, which grew on the outskirts of southwest Winnipeg from 1901 to 1961, was one of many Métis communities in Manitoba on the edges of urban areas, and probably the most famous of them all with 59 recorded households at its peak in 1949. Those years in Winnipeg were characterized by the twin pressures of depression and inflation, chronic housing shortages, and a spotty social support network.  Rooster Town grew without city services as rural Métis arrived to participate in the urban economy and build their own houses while keeping Métis culture and community as a central part of their lives.

Cover image for Stolen city : racial capitalism and the making of Winnipeg

Stolen City: Racial Capitalism and the Making of Winnipeg by geographer Owen Toews is a widely-acclaimed new arrival that critiques what he identifies as the emergence of a ruling alliance that has installed successive development visions to guarantee its hold on regional wealth and power.  Through a combination of historical and contemporary analysis, Toews argues how settler colonialism, as a mode of racial capitalism, has made and remade Winnipeg and the Canadian Prairie West over the past one hundred and fifty years. The author gives particular attention to “an ascendant post-industrial vision for Winnipeg’s city centre that has renewed colonial ‘legacies’ of dispossession and racism over the past forty years.”


Cover of Memories of the Moonlight Special and Grand Beach Train Era

In the first half of the 20th Century, the Canadian Northern Railway, later CN, established a train service to the east shores of Lake Winnipeg called The Victoria Beach Sub Division. This rail line opened up cottage country and changed people’s lives forever. Author Barbara Lange offers to take us through a time capsule with Memories of the Moonlight Special and Grand Beach Train EraSixty years after train service to the east shores of Lake Winnipeg ceased, a writer embarked on a journey of discovery. “People remember the boardwalk, concessions, the Moonlight Inn, picnics, the carousel, the dancing pavilion, Daddy Trains, beach romances, Hot Lips ginger beer, bands, Morse code, ice boxes, honey pot toilets, red boards, the Wye, fishflies, bittersweet vine, the Snowshoe Special, and a bygone era when passengers felt part of one big family.”

Cover image for Settlers of the marsh

Settlers of the Marsh by Frederick Philip Grove is actually an old read: first published in 1925 after much resistance, and welcomed with much condemnation from critics, it has gradually become recognised as one of the greatest novel about the experiences of immigrants settling in the Prairies. The story centers on recent Swedish immigrants to Canada, based partly on the author’s own personal experience, taking place in northern Manitoba where settlers like protagonist Niels Lindstedt were hoping to start their own homestead despite inhospitable climate and the arduous work it required. Niels’ attempts to come to terms with his new land and community, and the toll that these attempts take on him are further complicated by his relationships with two very different women. His dreams of domestic happiness married to his neighbour’s daughter, Ellen, being dashed after she rejects him, Niels is seduced by a local widow, Clara, with devastating consequences for all three.

  • Louis-Philippe

What’s New in the Local History Room?



Fall programming is now upon us and the Winnipeg Public Library wants to invite you to come and learn about an exciting new resource now freely available to all Manitobans.

Our World on the Manitoba Research Gateway provides access for everyone within Manitoba to unique collections of millions of pages of digitized historical content including newspapers, maps, photos, pamphlets, manuscripts and more.  The library will offer two information sessions this September so you can learn how to navigate its collections of historical newspapers and periodicals, and resources related to LGBTQ history, slavery and anti-slavery movements, and Indigenous peoples.  Come and learn all about it!

With the last days of summer it’s time to see what new titles have arrived in the Local History Room.

Cover image for Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, letters

Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Lettersoffers an intimate look at the professional relationship between two pillars of Canadian literature. Margaret Lawrence was at the height of her literary fame and Jack McClelland was one of Canada’s most important publishers – both of whom helped shape modern Canadian literature through their work. Over three decades of written correspondence found in this book, we eventually see a deep friendship developing through their shared passion and commitment to Canadian writing.  It’s interesting to see their initial formal writing evolve, growing in warmth and familiarity over the years.

Cover image for Drought & depression

The effects of the Great Depression in Canada has remained an under-studied aspect of Canadian history until recently, but we are now seeing renewed interest in it. Drought and Depression is the sixth volume of the excellent History of the Prairies Series and contains articles on a broad range of topics related to the “Dirty Thirties” in the prairie provinces. On the back cover of the book, one can read that “between 1929 and 1932, per capita incomes fell by 49% in Manitoba, 61% in Alberta and an astounding 72% in Saskatchewan. The result was enormous social and political upheaval that sent shockwaves through the rest of the country.” Familiar subjects like unemployment, ecology, strikes, and the new forces that arose in Canadian politics because of the Great Depression are covered, along with lesser known ones like soldier settlements for unemployed veterans, and the prairie novel.

Cover image for Threads in the sash : the story of the Métis people

In Threads in the Sash: The Story of the Métis People, historian Fred Shore draws on years of research and explores the history, culture and political development of Canadian Métis from the days of the fur trade to the present. The book is written in a approachable style and tackles questions such as: Where did the term Métis come from? Why are the Métis recognized as Indigenous people? How much of Manitoba did the Métis build? If you have ever wanted to know who the Métis are, this book is highly recommended.

Cover image for Farm boy to fly boy

This next title is a treat for fans of flying and Cold War history from the experience of a local man. Retired RCAF Colonel Gordon Brennand recently published his memoir Farm Boy to Fly Boy. It tells the story of his childhood in rural Manitoba during the Great Depression, his enlistment in the air force to become an accomplished jet fighter pilot in the decades following WWII, and his years being a base commander in Portage La Prairie.

Cover image for A fist around the heart

On the fictional side, we have received A Fist around the Heart by Heather Chisvin, a story of love and trauma between two sisters, Anna and Esther Grieve, that begins with them being sent to Winnipeg to escape the persecutions of Jews in Russia in the late 19th century. While Anna moves to New York and starts a new life for herself, Esther remains behind, slowly succumbing to mental illness despite living among the city’s wealthy. When Anna receives the unexpected news of Esther’s possible suicide on “If Day”, an unusual day in 1942 when a simulated Nazi attack took place in Winnipeg in order to raise funds for the war effort, she must return and find answers to what exactly happened to her sister.



What’s New in the Local History Room?

The Holiday season is upon us and among the new titles that have arrived in the Local History Room collection, we have a very special treat for history fans.

Cover image for Manitoba at Christmas : holiday memories in the keystone province

is an anthology of stories from by and all about how Christmas was celebrated by Manitobans from the earliest Christmas recorded in the days of exploration before the establishment of the Red River colony to the 21st century.  From simple rituals, like a toast while sharing memories of absent families in pioneer times, the observance of Christmas evolved and grew more elaborate as the years passed and different cultures added their own traditions: church services, family reunions, ever-growing street parades and decorated storefronts.  The sights, sounds and smells of Manitoba at Christmas left happy memories which one can re-visit in the pages of this book: visiting Toyland at the Eaton’s store, sharing letters and stories with family in rural Manitoba on Christmas morning, or preparing a concert at a school to be attended by Fraserwood’s entire community.  In darker times, it was a time to hold on to hope: Margaret Owen, one of the featured authors, talks about how during the Christmas of 1941, her family waited to hear news about her father, a POW for several years after being captured during the defence of Hong Kong.  In addition to fun anecdotes, personal stories, great historical photographs and illustrations, the book also contains holiday recipes, for example a vinarterta, a traditional Icelandic layered Christmas cake .
Golden Boys
Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the NHL, Ty Dilello’s Golden boys : the Top 50 Manitoba Hockey Players of All Time, offers us a look at fifty players that have shaped the history of hockey in Manitoba. Featuring detailed biographies that were extensively researched, interviews both past and present, rare photographs and never-been-told-before stories, this is a must for both fans of local sports or those interested in Manitoba’s history in general.  While some of the names included are obvious choices: greats like Jonathan Toews, Andy Bathgate, Ron Hextall and Bobby Clarke, this is also valuable if you are curious about less-well known players like Bones Raleigh (his poetry was reviewed in the New York Times) or Dan Bain (he played and won some of the earliest Stanley Cups in the 19th century), or Terry Sawchuk (best goaler and crowned #1 player overall by Dilello).
agassiz cover

Were you aware that not too long ago, existed a lake so large it could easily have swallowed our present Great Lakes?  Lake Agassiz was an enormous glacial lake that covered a large chunk of the North American landscape between 14,000 and 8,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age.  This is the story that Bill Redekop wanted to explore when he started writing Lake Agassiz: the Rise and Demise of the World’s Greatest Lake.  Born of the melting ice that had covered North America for millennia, Lake Agassiz was a force of nature for 6,000 years. Its story is one of superlatives: inconceivable tsunamis that bored through solid rock; tributary torrents that gouged huge valleys, and colossal outpourings that created a mini-ice age in Europe.  The book is extensively researched and shows readers the “footprint” that Lake Agassiz left all over the prairie provinces (as well as some American states): from remnants of beaches nowhere near bodies of water, to valleys that were formed by retreating glaciers and left as remnants Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba, and Lake Winnipegosis as we know them today.

Cover image for Out of old Manitoba kitchens
Out of Old Manitoba kitchens by Christine Hanlon is the story of the people and the food they prepared by melding recipes, photographs and narratives of its earliest cooks, including the Indigenous people, Selkirk Settlers and first homesteaders. From wild rice to perogies, smoked goldeye to tourtière, one can find a blend of pioneer cuisine dating back to the fur trade and beyond. See how wave after wave of immigration brought with them their own recipes.  This book is a great read for those who enjoy history, good food, and memories of food prepared on the campfire, the hearth and the cast iron stove, from the trails of the buffalo hunt to the outdoor kitchens of the early settlers.
Cover image for The North End revisited
Finally, John Paskievich’s excellent photography book has just been re-published with an extra 80 photographs chronicling the history and transformation of his native neighbourhood from the 1970’s up to the present.  The North End Revisited also contains interviews with the author exploring different aspects of his work  in chronicling the stories of ordinary Winnipeggers from a very special community.
In the fun read  Snacks: A Canadian Food Historylocal historian Janis Thiessen profiles several iconic Canadian snack food companies, including Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hawkins Cheezies, and chocolatier Ganong.  These companies have developed in distinctive ways, reflecting the unique stories of their founders and their intense connection to specific places.  These stories of salty or sweet confections also reveal a history that is at odds with popular notions of ‘junk food.’  Through over 60 interviews and archival research, Thiessen uncovers the roots of our deep loyalties to different snack foods, what it means to be an independent snack food producer, and the often-quirky ways snacks have been created and marketed, like the “Kids Bids” local TV program where children bid for prizes using empty Old Dutch chips bags.

What’s New in the Local History Room?

This fall, the Winnipeg Public Library is proud to be a partnering with The World Remembers organization by hosting an electronic display of names in the Local History Room. This is part of a nation-wide act of remembrance and commemoration of the men and women who died a century ago during the First World War.

The World Remembers is a non-profit company based in Toronto whose sole purpose is to build and facilitate The World Remembers project.

The ongoing project began in 2014 by displaying, for one minute starting on October 15th and ending on November 11th, the names of everyone killed in the conflict in 1914, and repeating the process the following years.  The World Remembers organization displays the names of those soldiers who died in World War 1 so that people not only remember these fallen soldiers but honor these shared histories.   The monitor screen set up in the Local History Room shows a continuous loop of the names of soldiers killed in war in 1917. This display will end on November 11th and will display more than 661,800 names of soldiers who lost their lives from UK, Canada, France, Germany, the US, Turkey, Belgium, Australia, the Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia, China and the former British Indian Army.  This display will also be running simultaneously at other organizations (libraries, schools, and universities).

Here are the locations of the schools, cities, libraries, museums and other groups that are presenting The World Remembers names display.

If you are interested in finding a specific individual whose name will be displayed, you can search the TWR database here and find out at the exact day and time it will come up.

There is also a book display set up near The World Remembers display for those interested in learning more about the First World War.  Come and have a look.


What’s New in the Local History Room?

It’s time to take a look at some of the recent arrivals in the Local History Room.


Cover image for Riel's defence : perspectives on his speeches



Though the great waves of unidentified flying objects sightings is behind us, the phenomenon still intrigues to this day. Fifty years ago this year, Winnipegger Stefan Michalak claimed to have had an encounter with a mysterious aircraft that left him seriously injured.  When They appeared: Falcon Lake, 1967, The Inside Story of a Close Encounter was written by his son Stan and UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski. It includes Stefan’s original account of the encounter and relates how him and his family dealt with the government investigation and the extensive media coverage that followed. The book reviews the evidence left at the site, includes copies of transcripts of interviews and reports made at the time by the RCMP and other agencies, as well as tell Stan’s personal experiences and how the incident shaped his youth.


Cover image for From the outside in : Jewish Post & News columns, 2015-2016

From the Outside in: Jewish Post & News Columns, 2015-2016 is a collection of columns written by Joanne Seiff for Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News. These cover a wide range of topics of interest from raising children, social justice to the keeping of religious practices.  The author also includes anecdotes about her personal experiences, notably about moving to unfamiliar Winnipeg from the States and how they adapted.


Cover image for The Seven Oaks reader
On June 19th, 1816 an event occurred that had a pivotal impact on the history of what would become Manitoba (even if it has somewhat receded from our collective memory). This was the of Battle of Seven Oaks that broke out between rival hunting parties of the fur trade companies (the Hudson Bay and North West) that were vying for control of the territory.  The Seven Oaks Reader by Myrna Kostash offers a comprehensive retelling of the Fur Trade Wars. The book incorporates period accounts and journals, histories, memoirs, songs and fictional retellings, from a wide range of sources.


And to conclude, in The Forks, a Meeting Place Transformed by Sheila Grover you can learn about the early history of The Forks, the fur trade and railway eras, and the transformation from an industrial site into one of Winnipeg’s most popular gathering places. The book also includes a self-guided tour of the historic and contemporary buildings and landscapes. This is an ideal title to learn about how much the Forks have changed, especially in the last decades.

Come to the Local History Room and check it out!
– Louis-Philippe

What’s New In the Local History Room?

We have a few new reasons for you to come and visit the Local History Room.  A new display about the history of the railway system and how it shaped Manitoba is ready to explore, with artifacts and information generously loaned to us by the Manitoba Railway Museum  –  come and check it out! It’s also time to have a look at what’s new in the room’s collection, as it keeps growing with new additions.

Retired Winnipeg lawyer Norm Larsen is back with a new legal read: Notable People from Manitoba’s Legal History, in which he describes 32 “notables” connected to Manitoba and its legal system in quotations and anecdotes. The notables include Nellie McClung, Hugh John Macdonald son of the first PM and briefly Premier of Manitoba, Sam Freedman, Thomas Douglas (Lord Selkirk) who suffered “death by litigation”, Chief Peguis and Sister Geraldine MacNamara “the activist nun with a law degree”.  This is an easy and informative read.


Firmin Wyndels : the Belgian builder by James B. Wyndels tells of the man who came from Europe at the head of Wyndels Construction Company in 1909 as part of the growing Belgian community in the St. Boniface area and built colleges, churches and homes in Manitoba, some that still stand today, including the Fort Garry Church and the Sacred Heart College in Swan Lake.


For 15 years, Karen Toole wrote a spiritual advice column on the Faith Page of the Winnipeg Free Press, dealing with the role of religion and faith in everyday issues and how it could help guide us in our real-life struggles and overcome human suffering in all its forms. Reflections : a selection of columns written for the Faith Page of the Winnipeg Free Press 1994-2001 was compiled in response to many of her readers’ requests to offer a selection of her writings in a more permanent form. I noted a quotation from one of her column from 1998 that best sums up her humanistic view: “Religious coercion can kill faith.”


 Hot Line : how the legendary trio of Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson transformed hockey and led the Winnipeg Jets to greatness chronicles how Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson came together to form a dynamic line that saw the Winnipeg Jets win two World Hockey Association championships (which rivaled the NHL until 1979). On January 5, 1978 they helped beat the Soviet Red Army Squad in front of a packed Winnipeg Arena crowd, the first time a North American club team ever managed to achieve this. Their chemistry on the ice and impact on the game is explored as well as the resulting influx of new European players into the NHL in the years following.


Cover image for Stay, breathe with me : the gift of compassionate medicine

Stay, breathe with me : the gift of compassionate medicine shares Helen Allison’s insights into the need to stop seeing patients simply as diseases needing cures and technologies but as living beings with symptoms and suffering that need to be addressed as a whole, with nonjudgmental medicine delivered with compassion. Several intimate stories tell of her experiences with her own patients in palliative care and the lessons she learned from them as they struggled with various, often fatal, ailments and how everyone, physicians or relatives, can contribute to improve their quality of life.

Finally, a title not in the Local History Room collection yet but which I would like to recommend for local fiction and horror fans is The Shadow Over Portage and Main: Weird Fictions, an anthology of short stories from authors who were influenced by their stay in Winnipeg. Whether it’s the extremes in our weather, our reputation for crime and murder, or our unique mix of cultures and ethnicities, authors like David Annandale, Eric Bradshaw and Keith Cadieux among others have written tales about the dark and gothic side of the city. My personal favourite is the story of a woman who discovers a book about superstition that has troubling effects on people who come in contact with it. Most of the stories are meant to inspire unease and fear, some of them have ghosts (predictably) and other supernatural threats, some don’t even mention Winnipeg but we are meant to recognize its “vibes”, which leads to the conclusion that our city can be quite a dark place!

Drop by and have a look in person, or feel free to explore the Local History and Genealogy Subject Guide for more of our recommended online resources to explore Manitoba’s past.


BookFest! The Bookiest of Days!

[Yes, we know ‘bookiest’ isn’t a word – but we couldn’t find the perfect one, so we made one up.]

We are super excited to have put together a really special event – our first ever BookFest is just two weeks away on Saturday, November 19! What is a book fest? Well I’m glad you asked. It’s a smorgasbord of prairie book goodness taking over the second floor of Millennium Library, brought to you by Winnipeg Public Library as well as the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers, and generously funded by the Winnipeg Public Library Board. There are tons of things planned:

1-handwrittenBook Tastings

Like a wine tasting — but with books! We will provide small yummy samples of new and top titles in prairie fiction and non-fiction. A sure way to find new favourites, with one of the showcased books up for grabs at every ‘tasting’.
Running time is 11 am – 4 pm in the Anne Smigel Room (second floor, west side of the library).

Here are the 30-minute seatings:

11-11:30 am Life and Death: notable new memoirs & mysteries

12-12:30 pm Past and Present: compelling local history and military must-reads

1-1:30 pm Fact and Fiction: hot (and hidden gems) in non-fiction and fiction

3-3:30 pm Turtle Island Reads: new and classic Indigenous titles

2How to Judge a Book by Its Cover

I’ve started to notice a trend in what books pique my interest enough to pick them up (bold colours, retro photographs). What kind of cover makes you reach for a particular book? How does a publisher choose which cover to use? Why do so many book covers feature headless people, anyway? Charlene Diehl of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival will lead a discussion 2-3 pm in the Carol Shields Auditorium featuring cover designers from Doowah Design and Mel Matheson, Librarian Barbara Bourrier-Lacroix, and Jamis Paulson of Turnstone Press.

See what I mean by a headless cover?


3-2Book Fair

Tables and tables and tables of local authors and publishers scattered around the second floor, with prize draws every hour! From 11 am to 4 pm.

number-4   Colour & Create

Anishinaabe artist Jackie Traverse will be showcasing her brand new Indigenous colouring book, Sacred Feminine. Colouring sheets will be available to try out. From 11 am to 4 pm in Wii ghoss.


number-5-handwritten     Book Club Corner

We know you’re always searching for good book club picks and we’ve got titles your group will love (or love to discuss, at any rate)! Plus, enter to win a set of 10 copies of The Opening Sky and an appearance by its author Joan Thomas at your book club!


 And Even More Books!

Just in case you weren’t already staggering under armloads and lists of to-read books, there’s still more! Displays of recommended reads on different themes will be stashed throughout the second floor, including a selection of titles personally curated (so fancy) by our Writers-in-Residence, Christine Fellows and John K. Samson!


See you Saturday, November 19 all over the second floor, Millennium Library, 251 Donald Street!!




What’s New in the Local History Room

Electric display LH

It’s time to have a look at what is new in the Local History Room.

First, come and learn about the history of electric power in Manitoba. The new display set up in the room, through collaboration with the Manitoba Electrical Museum which has loaned artifacts and historical photographs, illustrates this fascinating aspect of our history.

While there, take some time to browse and explore some of the new titles in our collection:

Cover image for Andy De Jarlis : the life and music of an old-time fiddler

Andy De Jarlis: The Life and Music of an Old-time Fiddler by Joe Mackintosh is the story of Andy de Jarlis (1914 – 1975), a successful Métis fiddler and composer who came from a long line of fiddlers and musicians. Though his name may not be familiar to many today, he is credited as having kept Métis fiddling music alive just in time to see a resurgence in today’s music scene. The book also describes the hot spots for live folk music and dancing in Winnipeg from the mid-1950s onward where Andy played on his way to national fame.

Cover image for The ballad of Danny Wolfe : life of a modern outlaw
The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw by Joe Friesen is a much tougher read, which starts with one of the most famous prison breakouts in recent Canadian history, perpetrated by a man some would come to see as a living symbol of a sad legacy. Through 24 chronological chapters, the author traces the early years of Daniel Wolfe’s life: from his birth in Regina to his mother Susan Creeley, a First Nations woman marked by the residential school system; to his first brush with the law at the age of four and then his subsequent arrests; to the birth of the Indian Posse in 1989 – the Aboriginal street gang in Canada that would eventually claim the title of the largest street gang in North America with over 12,000 members (from BC to Ontario, and even Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona) and Danny at the helm; to Danny’s death in 2010.

Diagnosed with a rare cancer in 1994, Tefs spent the next 20 years coping with this new reality while raising a family, writing acclaimed works of fictions, battling cancer, and cycling. Wayne Tefs is the “Dead Man on a Bike,” his posthumous follow-up memoir to Rollercoaster: A Cancer Journey. Riding throughout Manitoba and parts of Europe was the author’s way of dealing with “the wound,” and provided space and  time for reflections that he shares with the reader.

Cover image for Solving poverty : innovative strategies from Winnipeg's inner city
In Solving Poverty: Innovative Strategies from Winnipeg’s Inner City, Jim Silver, a scholar actively engaged in anti-poverty efforts in Winnipeg’s inner city for decades, offers an on-the-ground analysis of complex and racialized poverty. Silver focuses particularly on the urban Aboriginal experience, and describes a variety of creative and effective urban Aboriginal community development initiatives, as well as other anti-poverty initiatives that have been successful in Winnipeg’s inner city, especially in regards with subsidised housing.

Often under-valued, under-recognized and under-appreciated, support units are seen as less “glamorous” than infantry or armoured units when it comes to military reading, and yet their role is no less essential. Bruce Tascona’s book United in Effort: Manitoba Combat Service Support History, 1870 to 2015 is the first publication to undertake a study of the integral role of logistics and training support in military operations with a specific focus on Manitoba service support units domestically and overseas. These include transporting troops and supplies as well as medical, dental, pay, postal, provost and veterinary services. The book follows the history of these units in Manitoba from the Riel Rebellion to Afghanistan tracing the development and growing importance of logistics in modern warfare.

He has dangled by his toes over a hundred hungry alligators in Florida, been buried alive in India, and jumped from a plane wearing a straightjacket in Japan; escape artist Dean Gunnarson doesn’t shy away from a challenge. The book Dean Gunnarson: The Making of an Escape Artist by Carolyn Gray explores the Winnipeg-born entertainer’s career from its beginning. It describes how after surviving leukemia as a child, his friendship with fellow cancer patient Philip Hornan inspired him to attempt a series of stunts culminating in a near-fatal submerged coffin act on the banks of the Red River that propelled Gunnarson to stardom.

Come and check it out!

  • Louis-Philippe