Visit this blog for regular posts about Your Archives: The Histories We Share throughout 2020. Visit the Archives of Manitoba to see the records in person.

September 2020:

September 25, 2020

1767 and 1772 maps of the route from Churchill to the Coppermine River — Submitted by Michelle Rydz, Archivist, Hudsonís Bay Company Archives

“In my first year working at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, I invigilated a viewing of a map drawn by Samuel Hearne (HBCA G.2/10) for a BBC television documentary hosted by bush craft specialist Ray Mears. This 1772 map shows the route of Hearne’s expedition from Churchill to the Coppermine River in search of copper deposits and a possible Northwest Passage. After listening to Mears speak about his reverence for Samuel Hearne’s reliance on and appreciation for Indigenous knowledge, I began pulling this map for tour groups. I focussed my explanation of it on how Hearne’s success in reaching the Coppermine River was because he was able to travel with the Dene leader Meatonabee and members of his community – taking a longer route and staying below the treeline as long as possible to ensure an adequate supply of food and shelter. At some point, I was doing research for an inquiry and came across ‘Map of land north of Churchill River by "Captain Mea'to'na'bee & I'dot'ly'a'zees”’ (HBCA G.2/27), and realized that the historical narrative of Hearne’s journey and subsequent map-making really gloss over the importance of this map, created jointly by Dene leaders Meatonabee and Idotlyazee and copied onto paper and annotated by Chief Factor Moses Norton.

A Map of part of the Inland Country to the Nh Wt of Prince of Wale's Fort HB
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Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Hudson’s Bay Company manuscript maps collection, "A Map of part of the Inland Country to the Nh Wt of Prince of Wale's Fort HB; By, Humbly Inscribed to the Govnr. Depy. Govnr. and Committee of the Honble. Hudns. By. Compy. By their Honrs. moste obedient humble servant Saml. Hearne; 1772." G.2/10, T15043. See Keystone description here
Map of land north of Churchill River
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Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Hudson’s Bay Company manuscript maps collection, Map of land north of Churchill River by "Captain Mea'to'na'bee & I'dot'ly'a'zees", ca. 1767-1768, G.2/27, T14868. See Keystone description here

“The story of Hearne’s journey to the Coppermine River often starts with mention of the fact that in 1762 Moses Norton asked Idotlyazee and Meatonabee to survey the area north of Churchill in search of rumored copper deposits and report back on their findings. The map that they returned with in 1767 (noted in Moses Norton’s correspondence to the HBC Governor and Committee in HBCA A.11/14 fo. 78d) is a record of the same route from Churchill to the mouth of the Coppermine River that is drawn on Hearne’s map, but in an Indigenous mapping style. The original deerskin map was copied onto paper by Moses Norton along with an annotated legend and is the map that is held in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives today. While this information may seem on the surface to be quite basic, these details provide the opportunity to think about the creation of this map in a more nuanced way.

Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Governor and Committee inward correspondence from posts, Correspondence from Churchill
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Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Governor and Committee inward correspondence from posts, Correspondence from Churchill, 1764-1773, A.11/14 fo. 78d. See Keystone description here

“When Meatonabee and Idotlyazee returned with the map, they would have had a conversation about it with Moses Norton. Both Meatonabee and Idotlyazee were Dene, but Meatonabee spoke Cree and some English. Moses Norton also understood some Cree so the conversation about this journey, which resulted in Norton’s annotation of his copy of the map, was not spoken in either of their primary languages.

“It was the knowledge obtained by Meatonabee and Idotlyazee that convinced Norton to send Hearne on his expedition. Hearne, who failed in his first two attempts to reach the Coppermine River, ended up travelling with Meatonabee in 1770, along the same route that Meatonabee and Idotlyazee travelled several years earlier. Samuel Hearne was successful in reaching the Coppermine River only because he was able to be a member of this travelling party, of which he was a minor member. The fact that Meatonabee and Idotlyazee returned to Churchill with their original map many years after Moses Norton made the request of them is also an important piece of information to consider. It speaks to both to the existence of relationships between the Dene leaders and Norton, but also to the fact that the information that Moses Norton requested was obtained as an aside to the movements of this particular Dene group. I think the same inference can be made in regards to Hearne’s expedition – there would have been value in the journey to the Dene people who guided him, or else it would not have happened.

“In the context of fur trade society, maps made by Indigenous people were often created to guide non-Indigenous people from one point to another. A verbal explanation of the journey would be supplemented with a basic drawing. European mapmakers working in the western cartographic tradition with the goal of an accurate portrayal of topography, geographical coordinates and distances could often not make sense of these maps, which resulted in their inaccurate use or a dismissal of them as incorrect. Moses Norton, however, was a part of fur trade society, and because of his place in this world understood what the map that Meatonabee and Idotlyazee brought back to him meant. The fact that he copied it and annotated it with the verbal information he was given by these Dene men, is I believe, proof of this.

“Archivists refer to knowledge about the creation of a record as its provenance. It is often a narrow definition based on the literal inscriber of a record. Based on the information that is known about the events surrounding the creation of both maps (far more than is mentioned in this submission!), it is obvious that there is much more to the provenance of these maps than the fact that Moses Norton copied and annotated a sketch map or that Samuel Hearne drew a map of the expedition he was part of in a Western cartographic style. These two maps exist because Meatonabee and Idotlyazee were willing to go on the initial expedition and shared the knowledge that they had gathered.

“I chose these records for my submission because they so clearly demonstrate the importance of looking at archival provenance through a societal lens. There are thousands of other records in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives that exist because of the relationships formed and the interactions that took place between Indigenous Peoples and employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company. My hope is that highlighting the history of the making of these two maps provides a framework for others to think about the societal interactions that cannot be “seen” that led to the creation of post journals, account books, photographs and a wide range of other records held in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives.”

Want to know more? Search Keystone for more information. You can also Visit Us in person at the Archives of Manitoba.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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September 18, 2020

Records of Ralph Maybank, Humphrey Lloyd Hime, and L.B. Foote — Submission by Barry Hyman, retired archivist [former Deputy Archivist and Head of Private Sector Records, Archives of Manitoba]

“I had the pleasure and good fortune to be employed with the Archives of Manitoba for almost forty years. When I started in 1967 I was one of two professionals in the office - the Provincial Archivist and myself, and my job description read that I was responsible for all archival activities in the absence of the archivist. These included the basic functions of acquisition, arrangement and description and of course reference services. As I was involved with almost all Private Sector acquisitions and some from Government Records before that Division was created about 1982, it is difficult for me to single out a favourite, as there were many.

“One of the first acquisitions I was involved with was a visit to Mrs. Dora Maybank, widow of Ralph Maybank. Over tea at her residence I assured her the Archives was interested in the records he created and accumulated during his career. I boxed the records and placed them in my car. When I was ready to return to the Archives I found that her cat had jumped in the car and squeezed in between the boxes.

Letter to Ralph Maybank from his son, Michael
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Letter to Ralph Maybank from his son, Michael
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Letter to Ralph Maybank from his son, Michael Archives of Manitoba, Ralph Maybank fonds, Ralph Maybank personal and family scrapbook, 1921-1949, P7508/1


Newspaper clippings regarding the Ralph Maybank’s election as a city alderman
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Newspaper clippings regarding the Ralph Maybank’s election as a city alderman Archives of Manitoba, Ralph Maybank fonds, Ralph Maybank “General Scraps” scrapbook, 1928-1943, P7508/2


“I had many favourites in the Still Images holdings. I was fascinated with the H.L. Hime Collection. The prairie expanse and the wooden buildings left a lasting impression on me. I thoroughly enjoyed the L.B. Foote holdings. I probably assisted in indexing them and went through them countless times when providing reference or selecting items for possible publication.

Letter to Ralph Maybank from his son, Michael
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Archives of Manitoba, Humphrey Lloyd Hime collection, Prairie looking south, 1858, C39 box 1 photo 23

“There were also Foote photographs and numerous other types of records in what became known as the Legislative Building scandal. We even found samples of concrete. As we had no work room at the time we cleaned and sorted the records by placing them on folding tables out side the Archives office in the south-eastern corridor of the Legislative Building.

“What I remember most about my years at the Archives is that I had the privilege to meet and acquire records of several lieutenant-governors, premiers and cabinet members, and that I worked with some talented colleagues and researchers. I was very fortunate.”

Want to know more? Search Keystone for other records related to Ralph Maybank, Humphrey Lloyd Hime, and L.B. Foote. To see photos by L.B. Foote of the construction of the Legislative Building, check out our online exhibit, The Manitoba Legislative Building: Photographing a Work in Progress. You can also Visit Us in person at the Archives of Manitoba.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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September 11, 2020

Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers fonds — Submission by Morna-June Morrow, Archivist of MBGEHR

“Although the Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers was not established until 1996, the history of bell ringing in Manitoba really began 30 years earlier when the first handbell group was established at Technical Vocational High School. Since then handbells have been used in schools, churches and community groups throughout the province.

Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers: The First Twenty Years, 1995-2015 Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers: The First Twenty Years, 1995-2015

Archives of Manitoba, Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers fonds, "Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers: The First Twenty Years, 1995-2015" by Morna-June Morrow, 2015, P7708/12


“Because one can learn to ring handbells with little or no experience, and this musical art can be used from youth through senior years, it has developed into a tremendous musical experience for all generations. Manitoba handbell ringers have performed provincially, nationally and internationally.”

Want to know more? Search Keystone for other records related to the Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers. You can also Visit Us in person at the Archives of Manitoba.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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September 4, 2020

Records documenting the settlement of New Iceland — Submission by Julianna Roberts, Executive Director of New Iceland Heritage Museum

“Within the archives you have information and history of the settlement of New Iceland. Including letters from John Taylor and Sigtryggur Jonasson, about the process of finding and then encouraging the Icelanders to come to Canada. They settled north of the postage stamp province of Manitoba, and created New Iceland which was complete with a constitution. It was eventually taken into the province of Manitoba. After they first arrived they suffered a smallpox epidemic.

“This is the story of historical significance in the creation of Manitoba. There is still a large population of Icelanders in the province. Our museum tells the story of the hardships they encountered when they got here. As well as celebrates their successes.”

Report of the Icelandic Commission, 1875 Report of the Icelandic Commission, 1875 Report of the Icelandic Commission, 1875 Report of the Icelandic Commission, 1875 Report of the Icelandic Commission, 1875 Report of the Icelandic Commission, 1875 Report of the Icelandic Commission, 1875

Report of the Icelandic Commission, 1875 Archives of Manitoba, Alexander Morris fonds, item 1066, Report of Icelandic Commission Ė John Taylor, S. Jonasson, Einar Jonasson, Winnipeg, 3 August 1875, P5283/3


Want to know more? Search Keystone for other records related to New Iceland, Sigtryggur Jonasson, and immigration. You can also Visit Us in person at the Archives of Manitoba.

Want to participate in Your Archives? See Submit Your Story for details. You may e-mail us at yourarchives@gov.mb.ca with a comment about this blog post and your comments may be included on this page.


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