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Remembering the First World War – Archives Blog

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At Home and Away: Remembering the First World War through records at the Archives of Manitoba

Visit this blog for regular posts about records at the Archives of Manitoba that date from the time of the First World War. Visit the Archives of Manitoba to see the records in person.

December 2014 Posts:

15 December 2014

What a gift! 50,000 bags of Manitoba No. 1 hard wheat flour

In September 1914 the Manitoba Government offered a gift of 50,000 bags of Manitoba flour to the Imperial Government to help with the war effort by providing food to Britain. The flour was made from Manitoba No.1 hard wheat.

The Archives of Manitoba holds a souvenir flour sack representing this gift, as part of the Ethel Hart collection. Ethel Hart was born in England ca. 1878, immigrated to Manitoba ca. 1912 and operated the general store in Griswold, Manitoba before moving to Winnipeg where she died in 1967. Her interesting collection was given to the Archives by Ethel Hart in 1966 and from her estate in 1967. It includes:

  • the flour sack
  • photographs of Griswold and area including the nearby Aboriginal reserve
  • several items related to T. C. Norris (the Premier of Manitoba from 1915-1922 who was originally from Griswold, Manitoba)
flour sack labelled '1914, Manitoba's War Gift to Imperial Government, 50,000 Bags No 1 Flour, made from Manitoba Hard Wheat, 98 lbs, Canada'

Archives of Manitoba, Ethel Hart collection, Souvenir flour sack representing the 50,000 bags of flour made from Manitoba hard wheat presented as Manitoba's war gift to the Imperial Government, D311/2.

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Search Tip: Search “Manitoba flour sack” or “Ethel Hart” in Keystone for more information.

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8 December 2014

At a Crossroads

In 1914, at the launch of Hudson Bay Company’s wartime business in Europe, some people within the company were beginning to re-evaluate its long-time fur trade operations. Faced with a halting of fur sales in Europe due to war, these individuals began to consider the North American fur market more seriously. Plans were soon made to organize fur auctions in the United States to reduce freight and shipping costs.

Reactions during this time of transition and re-structuring were mixed. Shown here is a letter from the company’s Fur Trade Commissioner Norman H. Bacon to the chair of the Canadian Committee dated 3 October 1914. Convinced that North Americans had little interest in buying furs, Bacon warns that auctions in New York “cannot see much prospect of success”.

Excerpted pages from Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba.
Sir Augustus Nanton’s correspondence, General correspondence re Fur Trade Commissioner
(RG2/2/2, folios 43-43d)

Two years later, his position is completely reversed. In a letter to Hudson’s Bay Company’s Governor Kindersley in 1916, Bacon reports that exports to the United States are now “five to six times in value to those taken by Great Britain” and that a failure to adapt to the situation was “certainly putting the company at an enormous disadvantage”.

Excerpted pages from Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba.
Sir Augustus Nanton’s correspondence, General correspondence re Fur Trade Commissioner
(RG2/2/2, folios 146-150)

Search Tip: To find related correspondence, search Keystone for “General Correspondence re Fur Trade Commissioner.”

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1 December 2014

On the Home Front: What’s Up with the Winnipeg Streetcar Service?

The Great War brought changes to the lives of many, if not all, Manitobans. Records held at the Archives of Manitoba document many of those changes, for example, the letters sent to and from soldiers — sons, brothers and husbands — serving overseas. Other records demonstrate that many everyday activities continued at home. People went to school and to work; municipalities, towns, cities and the province of Manitoba continued to operate and offer important services.

The Manitoba Public Utilities Commission, established in 1912, continued its work throughout the First World War. The commission regulated public utilities in Manitoba including telegraph, telephone, railway or tramway transportation, water, gas, heat, light or power, and grain elevators. The commission’s minute books, order books and reports provide a clear picture of the commission’s work.

While the subject matter in the records is somewhat different from today — there haven’t been any streetcars in Winnipeg since 1955 – many of the problems discussed are very familiar to Manitobans in 2014. Read these minutes from March 1915 about streetcars in Winnipeg. Transit users will, no doubt, recognize some of the issues discussed!

document, Public Utilities Commission minute book no. 1

Archives of Manitoba, PUB 0020, GR11890, Public Utilities Commission minute book no. 1, 1912–1922.

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Search Tip: Search the “Public Utilities Commission” in Keystone to find more of their records.

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