Books – History
The Canadian Prairie has long been represented as a timeless and unchanging location, defined by settlement and landscape. Now, a new generation of writers and historians challenge that perception and argue, instead, that it is a region with an evolving culture and history. This collection of ten essays explores a more contemporary prairie identity, and reconfigures “the prairie” as a construct that is non-linear and diverse, responding to the impact of geographical, historical, and political currents.
Portraits of the Prairie Town, 1946
In the 1940s, the Manitoba Royal Commission on Adult Education investigated directions for the modernization of the province in the post-war era of change. The commission engaged Jim Giffen, then a young sociologist from the University of Toronto, to undertake a detailed field study of three rural Manitoba towns — Carman, Elgin, and Rossburn — in this context. Giffen looks at characteristics such as leadership in the community, ethnic differences, hierarchy of roles, participation in organizations, and aims and activities of young people. Friesen’s postscript provides a wider context to this study, and an assessment of what these differences and commonalities meant to the province.
Manitoba’s North and the Cost of Development, 1870 to 1930
Although climate and geography make our northern condition apparent, Canadians often forget about the north and its problems. Nevertheless, for the generation of historians that included Lower, Creighton, and Morton, the northern rivers, lakes, forests, and plains were often seen as primary characters in the drama of nation building. Jim Mochoruk shows how government and business worked together to transform what had been the exclusive fur-trading preserve of the Hudson’s Bay Company into an industrial hinterland.
Alexander Begg and Joseph Hargrave on the Red River Resistance
Reporting the Resistance brings together two first-person accounts to give a view “from the ground” of the developments that shocked Canada and created the province of Manitoba. In 1869 and 1870, Begg and Hargrave were regular correspondents for the Toronto Globe and the Montreal Herald. They describe, often from very different perspectives, the events of the resistance, as well as give insider accounts of the social and political background. Largely unreprinted until now, this correspondence remains a relatively untapped resource for contemporary views of the resistance. These are the Red River’s own accounts, and are often quite different from the perspective of eastern observers.
Journeys from Wartorn Poland to the Canadian Prairies
At the start of the Second World War, Poland was invaded by both the German and the Soviet armies. After the war, Canada accepted over 4000 Polish immigrant soldiers and their families who did not want to return to a communist regime in their country. This book is a moving oral history of the experiences of forty-five individuals during that transition period between the outbreak of war and their eventual relocation in Canada.
Farm Women’s Work in Manitoba
Based on hundreds of interviews with Manitoba farm men and women, Making Ends Meet reconstructs the common history shared by modern farm women as well as by their mothers and grandmothers. It explores women’s changing roles on the farm, from the early days of the Red River settlement to the twentieth-century farm community.
Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670 to 1846
Although new diseases had first arrived in the New World in the 16th century, by the end of the 17th century shorter transoceanic travel time meant that a far greater number of diseases survived the journey from Europe and were still able to infect new communities. These acute, directly transmitted infectious diseases – including smallpox, influenza, and measles — would be responsible for a monumental loss of life and would forever transform North American Aboriginal communities. Historical geographer Paul Hackett meticulously traces the diffusion of these diseases from Europe through central Canada to the West.
The First Settlers
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Icelanders emigrated to both North and South America. Although the best known Icelandic settlements were in southern Manitoba, in the area that became known as “New Iceland,” Icelanders also established important settlements in Brazil, Minnesota, Utah, Wisconsin, Washington, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia. Earlier accounts of this immigration have tended to concentrate on the history of New Iceland. Using letters, Icelandic and English periodicals and newspapers, census reports, and archival repositories, Jonas Thor expands this view by looking at Icelandic immigration from a continent-wide perspective.
The Manitoba Historical Society and the History of Western Canada
A Thousand Miles of Prairie is a fascinating look at Manitoba’s early boom years (1880-1910) through the eyes and words of some of the most interesting personalities of early Winnipeg. This collection brings together fourteen pieces from the first decades of the Manitoba Historical Society, when its lectures were attended by the province’s political and cultural elite.
Revisiting the Mennonite Migrants of the 1870s
In the 1870s, approximately 18,000 Mennonites migrated from the southern steppes of Imperial Russia (present-day Ukraine) to the North American grasslands. Their adaptation to the New World required new concepts of social boundary and community, new strategies of land ownership and legacy, new associations, and new ways of interacting with markets. In Hidden Worlds, historian Royden Loewen illuminates some of these adaptations, which have been largely overshadowed by an emphasis on institutional history, or whose sources have only recently been revealed.