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Recent History News Items from 2017

News and Events: November 2017

Lest We Forget
Remembrance Day. Services were held across the municipalities November 11 to pay tribute to the young men and women who gave their lives in service of our country. These Remembrance Day services are one of our most enduring tributes to our past. Sadly, memories of our veterans and of the families who mourned their loss or celebrated their safe return are fast becoming lost to present generations. This is an area C/D MHAC will focus on as we work with local communities to research and compile inventories of their heritage resources.

Homewood Reunion. How many of you were a bit astounded when you read the article in this week’s Valley Leader (‘Marking Homewood history with helicopter cairn’, Thursday, November 9, 2017, p.4) and learned that Homewood was the site of the first helicopter flight in Canada and second only in the world? We would bet it caught a bit of attention amongst readers and that it will swell the ranks of folks who head to the community on July 15, 2018 for the local school reunion. Co-chair Stuart Breckon kindly forwarded the following information about the event:

In April, 2017 a group of former Homewood School students met to organize a reunion and arrange for a cairn to be placed in memory of the school. A committee was set up with Deanna Mutcher and myself (Stuart Breckon) as co-chairs.

Homewood School 1952

Here is the progress to date:

The date of July 15, 2018 has been set for the reunion and dedication. As Homewood tended to be the center for several other local schools, the organizers wish to celebrate Homewood village as well as the school.

All friends of Homewood are welcome. Whether it was school picnics, field days, curling, skating, church or just going to the co-op, grain elevators, or Latham’s store we’d love to see old friends.

The reunion will be an afternoon event with lots of time to visit with old friends. Events will include the dedication of the school cairn and a walking tour of “old” Homewood. At the end of the afternoon there will be a meal served with more time to visit.

Prior to the dedication of the school cairn, the Canadian Aviation Historical Society will be dedicating a cairn for the first helicopter flight in Canada. As many know, in the 1930’s three Froebe brothers built the first helicopter in Canada that actually got off the ground. It happened right in Homewood. We are excited that this dedication will be part of the day.

Another part of the reunion will be the “History of Homewood” project. This will include the overall history of the school and the village plus histories of individual families that lived in the area. Copies will be available at the reunion. Merle Kluczkowski (nee Cutting) is coordinating this project. Merle’s email is:

What you can do:

1. Plan to attend and let us know that you are coming. Send a reply email to Deanna or myself or respond in the Reunion section of the web site. We need to know you’re coming so we can plan accordingly.

2. The dedication events are free and open to everyone. There will be a charge for the meal. The meal tickets will be sold in advance and a further email will outline the details.

3. The school cairn will be funded by individual donations. Particularly if you went to Homewood School please consider a donation towards the costs. The donations will be tax deductible. A follow up note will outline the cairn, the costs and where to send your cheque.

4. Help us with contact information. If you have any information about former students or any friends of Homewood who should be at the reunion, please send their names.

5. Plan to get your family history written up so that it can be included in the Homewood history. Many will be able to update their family history from the Dufferin Municipal history book of 1980. Others will have to start from scratch. Please note that the histories will also be turned over to the Carman/Dufferin Municipal Advisory Committee (CDMHAC) to be sure that none of the old history is lost.

6. If you would like to volunteer to help on July 15 or help with the histories or with other preparations, please let us know. Everyone is welcome to join the committee.

We look forward to seeing you on July 15, 2018!

Deanna Mutcher: Co-chair.  Phone: (204) 745 2719
Stuart Breckon: Co-chair. Phone: (281) 450 1884

If anyone has photographs or information they can share with the committee, or can assist them in any other way, let’s help Homewood community make this an event to remember!

Graysville Heritage Inventory. Graysville heritage committee members are hard at work locating local heritage resources and sorting out what needs to be copied, archived or otherwise preserved. They all have firm ties with the past in a community that is rich with local heritage. We’ll be looking forward to seeing the results of their work as well as getting ideas about how to proceed in other communities in the municipality.

Graysville heritage group – Coordinator Judie Owen, Carrol Bruce,
Neil McNair, John Murray







Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden. The final construction phase of the garden has been completed.

Rod McPherson (Carman Legion) George Gray (Reeve)
Marg Neumann (Rose Garden Committee)







In mid-October, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the installation of a second water feature and completion of the final phase of the project. Under the dedicated leadership of Diane Gillingham, the committee and other volunteers have worked diligently over the past three years to landscape and fence the site, install water and lighting in the area and plant rose bushes in memory of the individuals and families who built the community.

The garden surrounds and highlights metal craftsman Cliff McPherson’s ‘Roseisle Rose”. A special feature of the garden is a section honouring local soldiers who died in WWI. C/D MHAC contributed along with other groups towards placing an obelisk at the WWI site. Thanks to the committee and other volunteers for many hours of fundraising, planting, weeding, watering, dead-heading and otherwise maintaining a beautiful tribute to the community and to the past.

News and Events: October 2017

Nedra Burnett and Bill Curtis set up equipment

Genealogy Workshop #3. The third in our series of genealogy workshops was held at the GPAC Saturday, October 28. Bill Curtis gave an informative overview of DNA testing – from the X and Ys to the how and whys. This session took some of the mystery out what happens when you send off that saliva sample and where best to send it. Over the next few weeks there will be a number of local folks who are anxiously waiting to see what surprises are hidden in the roots of their own family tree.

Participants discuss progress on finding their roots


New Arrivals (continued). In our September update, we spoke about the great work being done this summer by the Multi-Cultural Committee and related a story told by a new arrival to the community back in the 1940s. This prompted a bit of feedback and recounting of similar tales. Here is one from an even earlier era that caught my attention. It’s from a book put out this summer in honour of the 125th anniversary of the family-owned Burrows homestead. The story was related by a family member and is reprinted with permission of the authors.

I was told that the first winter on the land was not an easy undertaking. The first temporary shelter for James, Betsy, Tom (4) and William (2) was quite sparse….Food and other provisions were limited and survival for the first winter meant that hunting and gathering from the land was vital to their existence. As the story goes, James was away from the shelter during mid-winter hunting for game when unexpectedly, a lone Indian entered the shelter and started rummaging around the meagre food cache obviously looking for something to eat. Betsy was shocked, alarmed, and uncertain about this intrusion and the only means of communication between herself and this apparent intruder was a hastily cobbled together form of basic sign language. There was absolutley no meat to be had in the larder and Betsy out of desperation hastily prepared some oatmeal porridge which, after his first taste of this gruel, was quickly rejected by the hungry visitor.

The visitor resumed his search throughout the shelter for something to eat that his palate was more accustomed to and finding nothing to his liking, finally left. Betsy’s relief was short-lived when, in what seemed like a short passage of time, the shelter entrance flew open once again. This time, the first thing through the door was a deer carcass closely followed by the hungry visitor. Through sign language and gestures Betsy came to realize that the visitor fully expected her to skin and butcher the deer, which was something she had never done without her husband’s assistance. She started to dress the deer and in the eyes of this hungry man must have appeared sadly lacking in terms of traditional food preparation skills and not a good choice for a frontier wife. She was promptly scurried away from the carcass and the visitor took up the task of preparing this anticipated feast in a manner more to his liking.

While Betsy was in the process of cooking the visitor’s choice of the tenderest cuts, James returned home empty-handed from his hunting expedition. Once again, sign and body language introductions cleared the air of caution and a hearty meal was shared and enjoyed by all. The vistor, however, must have concluded that James was not a capable hunter and if the family was going to survive the winter, some help would be needed. For the remaining months of that first winter a much appreciated skinned rabbit or skinned deer would mysteriously appear in the snow just outside the entrance of the family’s shelter. (The Burrows Family by Brian Burrows & Dianne Swain, 2017).

This photo of James and Betsy’s sons, Charlie and Tom, which was taken after a grouse hunt some years later, supports the authors’ speculation that this first winter may have been a prime motivator for males in the family who all became “excellent marksmen and very capable hunters.”


Wellness Fair. The C/D MHAC and Dufferin Historical Museum shared a display table again this year at the local Wellness Fair. Knowing our heritage—getting in touch with our roots and our connection with the community—is all part of our sense of belonging and our personal well-being.

Trish Aubin, President of the DHM and Shirley Snider (Sec.-Treas., C/D MHAC)
at Wellness Fair Oct. 25, 2017


News and Events: September 2017

Genealogy Workshop. Our second workshop with Bill Curtis of the Manitoba Genealogical Society was held Sept. 9 at the Golden Prairie Arts Centre. Bill lead an informative session on navigating the internet, offering helpful hints for locating your ancestors or just for general searching. The third workshop will be on DNA testing and will likely be booked for November when Bill Curtis is next available. Nedra Burnett will contact everyone who attended earlier sessions when she has a firm date. For further information, contact Nedra at or telephone 204-435-2217 or watch for posters.

Heritage Grant. We just received word that our application for a heritage grant in the amount of $2,650. has been approved. The grant will pay for signs for sites short-listed in our recent Heritage Inventory project.

Missouri Trail sign. Debbie Nicolajsen and her committee have been working hard on putting together a proposal for replacement of the former Missouri Trail sign in the R.M of Dufferin just east of Carman. The earlier sign noted that the trail originally was formed by Indigenous tribes and buffalo herds following higher ground west of the Great Marsh. Later used by fur-traders, hunters and settlers, the trail became a rutted highway linking Fort Garry to the north with the Dakotas in the south-west. The trail crossed the Rivière-aux-îlets-de-Bois (renamed the Boyne River) a short distance north of the sign.

Traces of where Missouri Trail travellers forded the river

As the land has been cultivated, most traces of the trail have vanished, other than at the point where it crossed the river. This area also is of interest as the location of the abandoned Kennedy Burial Site. A member of the Missouri trail Committee has ancestral connections with the site and has a list of persons buried there. Several of these were young children, lost during a typhoid epidemic. The dual importance of the site adds to the relevance to this project.

Multi-Cultural Committee Events. Congratulations to the Carman/Dufferin Multi-Cultural Committee who just wound up a successful month of events in the community. The committee reports that at least 28 different countries are represented locally. During September, the group hosted a series of cultural events including music, film, displays, ethnic foods and talks, winding up the series with a colourful ‘dress expo’ and dance display this past weekend at the Active Living Centre.

This is great news for other heritage groups such as the C/DMHAC. One of the messages we try to promote is that ‘heritage’ is more than just preserving buildings and putting up signs and monuments. It also embraces our traditions, culture, memories – all the individual and family experiences that enrich community life. Getting to know our neighbours and learning more about their transition to Canadian society takes on special importance at a time of reaction to worldwide movements of refugees and immigrants. It seems timely that this ‘one small step’ towards understanding our local diversity coincides with the installation of our new Governor General, a former astronaut whose message is one of global inclusiveness.

Our families have all, at some point, been new immigrants to Canada. Accounts of adapting to life in a new land are among the more striking stories that have emerged in interviews and family histories we have been collecting over the years. If you are one of the many local folks just getting started on the journey into your family’s past, be sure to ask yourself: ‘What do I know about my family origins - why they came to Canada, where they came from, what it was like when they arrived, what was their reception by those who were here before them, the ease with which they integrated into the community?’ Here is an excerpt from just one local story:

“Our family was of German origin but we had been in Canada many years already when we moved to [this] town. It was 1942, during WWII. A friend told me later that when we arrived, a local man said: ‘We’re going to get rid of those Germans.’ But two years later he told her: ‘You know, when you get to know that family, you wouldn’t find nicer people anywhere.’ That’s the thing, to get to know people….”

The Multi-Cultural Committee is making a great start in that direction.

News and Events: July 2017

Genealogy Workshop. The second in our series of genealogy workshops will be held Saturday, September 9, 1:30 p.m. at the Golden Prairie Arts Centre. Bill Curtis from the Manitoba Genealogical Society will lead the workshop, which will focus on use the internet to locate your ancestors. No fee. Please contact Nedra Burnett at, or telephone 204-435-2191 if you plan on attending.

Museum Activities. An appreciative crowd turned out June 24th to the reopening of Boyne School. The event was part of local Canada 150 celebrations. It was highlighted by speeches, tours of the school, exhibits, refreshments, launch of their new book, 150 Memorable Stories of Carman and Area, plus lots of reminiscence about the good old school days.

Ribbon-cutting at Boyne School Re-opening


Is that really where our milk comes from?

C/D MHAC shared a table with the museum again this year at the Carman Fair. It’s a great opportunity to promote our website and other projects. The museum folks started a time capsule that will be opened for Manitoba’s 150th anniversary in 2020. And, as always, they came up with some creative displays, such as this milking demonstration, which fascinated a group of local children.

Other Summer Activities. C/D MHAC takes a break from meetings in July, but committee projects are still moving forward. We have launched our grassroots initiative to do inventories of heritage resources in our small and abandoned rural communities. The lists include everything from designated and repurposed buildings and cairns through histories of local organizations, family histories, interviews, photograph collections, cemetery records and much more. The Roseisle inventory is already six pages in length and growing. A group of interested volunteers from Graysville plan on launching their collection and preservation this fall.

Our signage committee installed a couple of new Business Signs in Carman last month. The signs trace the history of two of the Town’s early buildings. The Leader Block was built in 1897 by architect Edmund Watson and was part of a complex of five similar buildings built to promote the economic development of Carman. The other building, which now houses Nine Lives Fashions, has always housed clothing stores. It originally was a two-story building, built around 1896. The Victoria Hall, located on the second floor, was used for town gatherings, political meetings, stage and theater groups.

Finally a heads-up on an upcoming event: Homewood district is planning a big community reunion for July 15, 2018.

News and Events: June 2017

Bill Curtis at genealogy workshop
Genealogy workshop. The Introductory Genealogy Workshop, given May 13 by Bill Curtis of the MGS, was enthusiastically received by participants. The second workshop on use of internet resources is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9 at 1:30 p.m. at the Golden Prairie Arts Centre.

Century Farm Interviews. Jack McKinnon and C.J. Piatowski have plans in place to begin interviews this fall with owners of Century Farms in the area.

Collections. The Smith Family materials, donated recently by Bev (Garwood) Russell, are finally sorted, with photos in archival envelopes, everything scanned, printed and organized in binders, along with a DVD copy of the whole works. This process always seems to take a lot of time, much of it spent studying photos or becoming distracted by interesting tidbits of previously unknown history.

Thomas and Jane Smith
One item of interest surfaced in a note attached to a Smith family photo. Thomas and Jane Smith farmed near Morden. One of Thomas Smith’s “most valuable possessions” was a diploma he received at the World’s Fair in England in 1886 for growing the “best ten bushels of wheat in the world.” This was a sample of Red Fife, No. 1 hard wheat, weighing in at 98 lbs. per bushel. The grain was exhibited at the fair by McBean Bros. from the Winnipeg Grain Exchange. According to the note, the company informed Thomas just the day before they needed to send the sample.

The Smith family stayed up most of the night hand-picking ten bushels of grain so it could be ready to send the following day. Incidentally, the wheat sold for the grand sum of 50 cents a bushel.

This little note speaks to a rightly proud event in the Smith family heritage. From a broader perspective, it would have supported John A. Macdonald’s efforts to settle the West. After 1870, Macdonald was determined to populate the newly purchased HBC territory before it was overrun by the westward surge of American settlers. The Smith’s prestigious award added credibility to extravagant promises made by land agents and government posters. No doubt the promise of cheap and fertile land helped fire the dream of a second ‘gold-rush’. This time, the dream was of golden wheat from the unbroken prairie soil, land that could grow the “best wheat in the world”.

Museum Doings. The Dufferin Historical Museum folks have been spending long hours putting the finishing touches on the restored Boyne School, cleaning the log cabin, getting the150 stories of Carman project off to the printer and otherwise getting ready for their big June 24th celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

News and Events: April 2017

Genealogy Workshop - Change of Date. Due to a change in Manitoba Day events, workshop leader Bill Curtis has had to reschedule the Introductory Genealogy Workshop from May 6 to May 13. The workshop will now be held Saturday, May 13, 1:30 p.m. at the Golden Prairie Arts Centre. For further information or to let us know you will be attending, contact Nedra Burnett Tel.: 204-435-2191 email:

Battle of Vimy Ridge. April 9-12 marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Ceremonies in Europe and across the country marked the battle where Canada ‘came of age”. Local soldiers fought at Vimy and some did not survive; others, whose bodies were never found, also have their names inscribed on the monument. The following poem was written by a local soldier in memory of a brother who did not return home; it is reproduced courtesy of a great-nephew:

image of the Vimy Ridge MemorialVimy Ridge is green they say,
I saw the Ridge in a different way.
Where larks sing now and children play,
I know there’s truth to what they say.
The Ridge wasn’t green that long gone and fateful day,
They saw the Ridge in a different way, 
A ridge that seemed too far away,
Rain swept and dangerous gray,

Cold and wet, a cheerless dawn,
The command that was passed along said, “up and over, carry on”.
They left the trench with muffled curse and bated breath,
No lark sang here, so close to death.

The flare that turned their night to day,
Kept them low, in slippery clay.
Machine gun fire and screaming shell,
Made their journey a living hell,

A rusting rifle laying where,
My brother died and left it there,
I see the ridge a different way,
I see the ridge in sorrow gray.

Pte. William “Bill” Colvin RCCS

A ceremony was held April 10 at the Manitoba Legislature to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Thirteen Manitoba soldiers who died in the April 9-12, 1917 assault had Manitoba lakes named in their honour. Family members attended and received special certificates. Two of these young men were from the Carman/Dufferin area.

Pte. Iver Bernhardt Werseen was born in Roseisle and lost his life on April 9, 1917, at the age of 23. He is remembered on the Vimy Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Werseen Lake northeast of Flin fFlon has been named in his honour.


The Werseen family. The person holding the certificate is the official  family historian, a great-niece who now lives in the USA. The Werseens are among our most regular visitors to Roseisle Cemetery where several family members are buried.


Pte. Dorval Augustus Saunders was born in Carman and was living with family near Roseisle when he enlisted. He lost his life on April 11, 1917, at the age of 19. He is buried in the Barlin Community Cemetery Extension, France.

Dorval Saunders Lake, north of Flin Flon, has been named in his honour.

In 2015, Stephanie Fraser from Winnipeg contacted our website in her search for living relatives of Iver Werseen. Stephanie had found a number of letters, carefully preserved between the pages of an old copy-book that belonged to her grandmother Zelma Hood. Zelma had corresponded during WWI with both Dorval Saunders, a relative through marriage, and another local lad, Iver Werseen. Stephanie’s goal was to return the original letters to family members. Her efforts have gone far beyond that mission, re-connecting families, sparking deeper family research, and prompting a belated memorial service. Stephanie also placed a copy of the letters in the War Museum in Ottawa.

For more, see our Recent History for 2015.

Heritage Queries. Shirley Tort from B.C. wrote recently to ask if we had a photo of one of our WWI soldiers. She is active with the Find-a-Grave program and is planning another trip this summer to visit war graves in Europe. In preparation, she has been researching local soldiers with the hope of visiting their graves and writing their stories for the FAG site.

Shirley also has early connections with Carman. She wrote: “My grandparents were Alice and John Henry Johnston who had a machine shop and garage in Carman.  His son, Ross, was a mechanic. Gert Bowie, their daughter, had a beauty parlor and her husband Hugh was a partner in the Bowie Bakery.  My cousin Mildred Johnston married Jim McFadden… I saw the piece on the Bowie Bakery, knew the horse, Barney, and was given 5 cents/week for driving him when I was visiting in town, not that Barney needed driving because he knew where he was going.  But Hugh made a little girl feel good by giving her work driving a horse.  Barney was retired and they got a younger horse before they went to a vehicle.”

Canada 150. The Dufferin Historical Museum folks are taking the lead locally on celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada. One of their main projects, collecting 150 stories about Carman, is in the final stages of production and should be ready for the Grand Re-Opening of Boyne School on June 24th.

The Museum has put a huge amount of time, effort and money into moving the school to the Kings Park site where they have re-designated it as a heritage site, restored the building and preserved it as a fine example of the one-room schoolhouses that once dotted the municipality. As many of you know, their recent booklet “School Bells and Honey Pails” documents the history of schools across the municipality.

C/D MHAC 2020. Meanwhile, the C/D MHAC is planning ahead to the 150th anniversary of Manitoba in 2020. When the John A. Macdonald government purchased this territory from the HBC, surveyed it into townships and sections and opened it up to homesteaders, they did more than save the west from encroaching Americans. They also precipitated the most dramatic change in the local social and economic history since the disappearance of Lake Agassiz.

The Hunters’ or Missouri Trail had long been used by buffalo, indigenous tribes, fur-traders and buffalo hunters to skirt the massive Boyne Marsh that stretched east of the trail to the Red River.

After 1870, the trail became a conduit for settlers who staked out holdings on what is now some of the most fertile farmland in the province. This included the land along the Rivière-aux –Îlets-des-Bois, now known as the Boyne River.

View larger image (Source: History of the RM of Dufferin, 1880-1980, p.7)

This wasn’t the first settlement in the area. Métis settled near the Boyne from around 1832. The first baptism in the area was recorded in 1837 and in 1969, a Roman Catholic church was built at the Îlets-des-Bois settlement, the site where some 100 Métis are buried. And as can be seen on the above map, John Grant also had established a cattle transfer station, mill and large dwelling east of the Trail. He grew the first grain in the district in 1869. A change in the name of the local river to the Boyne marked the ascendancy of Irish Protestant settlers and gradual withdrawal of Metis from the area.

In 1960, the Dufferin Historical Society installed a sign to commemorate the place where the Trail crossed the Boyne. A property owner later removed the sign. One of the priorities in the C/D MHAC plans is to replace the sign for the 2020 celebration.


1960 Missouri Trail sign on 29-6-4w east of Carman

March 2017

Genealogy Workshop. Nedra Burnett has been working with Bill Curtis of the Manitoba Genealogical Society to set up a workshop designed to get you started on the search for your family roots. The session is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. in the Memorial Hall.

If participants are then interested in more advanced skills, Bill Curtis offers two additional sessions on locating information online and on DNA testing for genealogy. For more information, contact Nedra Burnett at 204-435-2191.

Back to the Memorial Hall. The basement rooms in the Memorial Hall have been completed and CDMHAC once again has a filing cabinet, work space and a meeting area available for our use. We have greatly appreciated being able to meet at the Museum over the past couple of years but will be glad to get our records together again in one location. At our next meeting on March 20 we’ll be working on plans for the 150th anniversary of Manitoba, which is coming up in 2020.

Website Feedback. One of the fun things about working with the website is the feedback we get from folks who have a query about relatives who lived in the area or perhaps have information to share about our past.

Here is a sample of contacts from the past month:

Marion Hughes from Ontario came across an old photo of the first Carman Hospital among her mother’s belongings. It’s framed in a lovely little cellulose frame and must have had some special meaning for someone close to her. Was it perhaps someone who trained or nursed in the hospital, or one of the women who raised money to build, furnish and maintain the hospital? Marion has identified aunts with the surname MacVickar who were in Nursing, but so far, we haven’t traced a family connection to Carman or even to Manitoba.



Ken Pomeroy from Duncan, B.C. wrote to ask if we knew whether Pomeroy School was named after a particular individual. We sent him links to the local online history book which identifies Rev. Daniel Pomeroy as the missionary who was sent to Manitoba from Ontario by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada to search out and cultivate new mission fields in this area. Pomeroy School is now preserved at the Threshermen’s Museum near Morden. Ken has forwarded our information to the family historians to see if he can pinpoint the family connection with ‘our’ Rev. Pomeroy. He attached a number of photos and background on the Pomeroys, whose roots have been traced back several centuries.

Ken Pomeroy also sent information on a former pupil at Pomeroy School by the name of Martin Lukaitis who settled in Duncan, B.C. and was an Alderman in the city. So far we haven’t located local traces of the family but if anyone has information, please contact us.

Bev Russell & part of her family collection, A few treasures from the past. The Carman website forwarded an e-mail from Bev (Garwood) Russell, formerly of the Roseisle and Carman areas. We visited her in Winnipeg and had an opportunity to look through her extensive collection of family photos and early records.

Bev’s grandfather, Cecil Garwood, came to Manitoba from England in 1907. He married Ruth Smith, a daughter of early settlers in the Roseisle area and worked at the cement plant at Babcock. He then homesteaded and taught near Gypsumville. Returning to Roseisle in 1930, Cecil operated a store there for many years before moving to Carman and buying the Harry Bolt store. His son, Montie, continued running the Red & White Store in Roseisle and raised mink as a sideline until 1965 when he also moved to Carman.

As happened in small rural communities, the family had connections through marriage with many of the early settlers from the area. Bev’s collection, which includes a large number of family photos, hand-written family histories, and minute books from previously undocumented early groups such as the Roseisle Literary Club, Roseisle Skating Rink Committee, and Roseisle Community Club, provides new insight into small-town life in the R.M. of Dufferin.

Museum News. The folks at the Museum are hustling to meet their deadline for collecting 150 local stories in honour of the 150th Anniversary of Canada. Word is that they are getting some great memories of the past. The booklet is scheduled to come out by June 24th, the date of the official reopening of the renovated Boyne School.


January 2017

ABANDONED MANITOBA. Gordon Goldsborough’s introduction to his fascinating new book “Abandoned Manitoba” was the highlight of the recent Dufferin Historical Museum  AGM. The book is based on his many years sleuthing out sites of interest across the province for the Manitoba Historical Society website and his weekly talks on CBC’s Weekend Morning Show.
The show’s host, Terry Macleod, aptly describes the author as a “walking, talking, insatiably curious story-telling machine.” *  His enthusiasm for his subject and the fact that his early roots were in the Graysville/Stephenfield area ensured that the evening was a special treat for the local audience.

* From Foreword  to Abandoned Manitoba: From Residential Schools to Bank Vaults to Grain Elevators, by Gordon Goldsborough, Great Plains Publications, p.7.

LIFE STORIES. Have you written your life story yet? Or recorded your parents’ or grandparents’ tales of their early days? It seems more often these days that our good intentions (“We must talk with …”) are turning into regret (“Too bad we never got around to…”). 

This maybe the best time of year to get started writing or collecting life stories.  

Most of us are still basking in the glow of the holiday season when stories shared at family gatherings brought memories of the past.  And of course now we are wondering what to do with these snow-bound winter days.

Why do it? I was struck when working on our cemetery project by the fact that all that many of us leave behind in this world are a name and dates on a gravestone.  That thought was reinforced by a poem titled “You are Gone” written by a newly-widowed friend.  It read in part: “You are gone and there is no one here/ Who remembers us when we were young and fair …./ I sit and recall again those days of distant past / And fondle all those memories like precious stones / I know they’ll disappear one day / as if they’d never been, / But, oh, to have someone / Remember us when we were young, / after I am gone.”  [Marjorie Cover Maxwell]

Lack of information is frustrating for those of us who dearly wish they knew more about their ancestors — who they were, their interests, how they spent their spare time, the attitudes and values of the day, or how the world changed during their lifetime. 

Our grandchildren were here from Australia this year for their first white Christmas. When 14-year-old Sean left a note saying “I just wanted to say thank you for all the great memories you have given the family, especially me!”  it wasn’t just the exciting new memories of snowshoeing , tobogganing, helping prepare traditional family recipes or visiting with relatives. It also referred to hours spent browsing through old photo albums and video clips, hearing stories of holidays and people past and reading life stories of family members — all of which gave him a sense of roots and global family connections. 

Family Christmas 1940s – only three of the people in the photo are still alive to recall these family gatherings.

Getting started. The biggest problem with life stories is getting started.  How do you begin writing or recording a lifetime of memories? And how do you persuade older relatives, who argue that they haven’t done anything worth talking about, that they have a rich legacy to leave for their family? Here are a couple of strategies that might help you get started:

Have everyone write a brief story of their life for your next family reunion. Put someone in charge of the project, have family members lend a hand with the very young and the elderly and compile a book of memories.  People will highlight what’s important to them, most will leave out stories they’d rather forget, but you will have the basic information — their family connections, where they lived and went to school, what they do for a living or aspire to do in the future, with probably a few early memories of other family members. It takes a bit of work, but if updates are added at each subsequent reunion, a rich compilation of family profiles is quickly built up.

Invest in a tape recorder. It’s a great gift for parents or that family member who has everything. The new compact, high quality tape-recorders make it easier to interview a family member or to record your own history. A huge bonus of recording life stories is that it captures the added richness of hearing the person’s voice. You may have to be present to get the memories on a roll. Think ahead of time about general areas to explore — such as school days, special events, holiday traditions, then prompt them with open-ended questions and sit back for one of the most informative and rewarding times of your life. You likely will end up having to spread taping over more than one session. A bonus these days is that the new recorders plug into your computer so you can readily transfer the interview to other media. More importantly, the interview can be digitally shared with others so more than one copy exits.

Future genealogists may have a different problem — that of wading through reams of social media material, masses of photos and personal details such as what their ancestors had for breakfast, what they think of climate change or the recent U.S. election. Can you imagine the excitement of finding amongst all that data a thoughtfully recorded life story, in an ancestor’s  own voice? 

Organize a group or sign up for a workshop on writing life stories.  It’s a great way to get started. You can expect to be inspired by the memories of others and reminded of experiences you had long ago tucked away in the back of your mind.

It just happens that the CDMHAC has talked about organizing a workshop for anyone who wants to get started writing or recording a life-story. Would you be interested in joining a workshop on writing your life story or on genealogy ?   If so, you can contact us through this website or watch for our next update.