With all the history people travel to see, it’s the historical sites in your own backyardthat can be most overlooked, deputy city clerk Heather Ewasiuk said at the Brandon General Museum and Archives fundraising dinner on Thursday.
“Isn’t it interesting that when something is located in our backyard that we become complacent about what we have in our historical backgrounds,” said Ewasiuk, who was previously the city’s heritage resources officer.
Ewasiuk then guided the attendees of the second-annual fundraising dinner through some of Brandon’s treasures, such as the various types of architecture — often designed by famous Brandon architects —still standing throughout the city and have been preserved for the ages. Perhaps one of the lesser known gems lives on in St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, where in 1949, Leo Mol’s canvas was the ceiling of the church. His work remains today after a recent restoration.
While some of the city’s history is, to some residents, hidden in plain sight, it doesn’t have to be, thanks to the historical sites, museums and walking tours available to city residents, Ewasiuk said. For example, Doors Open Brandon is one way for people to see the interior of heritage buildings they may walk past on a regular basis.
“Really over the past couple of years, they have expanded their whole program to include walking tours and bus tours,” Ewasiuk said. “The other option is to do a self-guided walking tour and there are a couple of printed tours that are available for people.”
While some of the pamphlets are now out of print, there are provincial government documents from 1982 that show a route that puts Brandon’s commercial districts and commercial history on display.
“The other one is the residential walking tour, that was published by the Assiniboine historical society in 1993, and this one is a walking tour of areas between Pacific (Avenue) and Victoria, First and 18th streets,” Ewasiuk said.
Those looking for more information can find it online at heritagebrandon.ca.
Ewasiuk also used the Gossip in the Graveyard program, created by the city and now run by Brockie-Donovan funeral chapel as a way to tell the region’s stories. Among them is former NHLer Joe Hall, a Stanley Cup champion with the 1907 Kenora Thistles who died in 1919 as a result of the Spanish influenza epidemic that cancelled the Stanley Cup Final series. Another includes George Tackaberry, who invented a new hockey boot for Hall — an invention that evolved, in more modern times, into the CCM Tacks skate.
Other notables with local ties include eight-time Canadian track champion and Olympian Tommy Town, first female councillor in Brandon Rhoda Tennant and two-term mayor John Fleming.
There are other examples of history aside from the Brandon General Museum and Archives, such as the 12 Manitoba Dragoons-26th Field Artillery Museum at the Armoury at 11th Street and Victoria Avenue, Daly House on 18th Street, the Commonwealth Air Training Program Museum at the Brandon Municipal Airport and the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum at CFB Shilo, Ewasiuk said.
She noted that their preservation of local history brings untold numbers of people to the city and can be major attractions.
She used the example of her hometown of Inglis, which spent $1 million to save five working grain elevators as a historical site and now draws visitors from far and wide to see a rare sight of Prairie life that many took for granted until they were gone.
The dinner raised money for one of Brandon’s newest museums, located on Ninth Street between Pacific and Rosser avenues.
Approximately 100 people attended the gala, which featured various auction items that included three art prints of local historical interest: the Prince Edward Hotel, the former Canadian Pacific Railway station and the former Brandon Brewery.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 14, 2012