Winnipeg's Heritage Goes Virtual

by E.B. Lapointe

On the same day that the Heritage Winnipeg Corporation recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, Rey Pagtakhan, the Member of Parliament from the Winnipeg North-St. Paul riding, announced that the federal government's Department of Canadian Heritage will contribute monies towards the set-up of the Heritage Winnipeg Virtual Library/Interactive Guide.

The virtual library will give researchers free bilingual (English/French) access to an archive of photos, video, maps, and documents of Winnipeg which, as Mr. Pagtakhan said in his press release, "... will tell online the important story of Winnipeg's place in the history of our country." Heritage Winnipeg's website <http://www.mts.net/~heritag2> will also house the virtual library.

At present, the website has lots of information on Winnipeg and its heritage, including a listing and description of heritage houses in Winnipeg. As well, there is extensive research on the "Exchange District," a 30 block area in downtown Winnipeg, north of the intersection of Portage and Main Streets, where the Winnipeg Grain Exchange was once located from 1881 to 1918.

Winnipeg, the capital city of the province of Manitoba, is also the province's genealogical research center.

The Manitoba Genealogical Society headquarters is located there, and has an Internet presence at <http://www.mts.net/~mgsi>. Their special projects include transcriptions of cemetery tombstones; indexing of vital statistics from local newspapers; indexing of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada records; and the construction of an index to the 1901 Canadian census in Manitoba. If you wish to know more about these projects or about Manitoba genealogy, contact the society at <mgsi@mts.net>.

The society's four provincial branches are in Dauphin, Swan Valley, Brandon, and Winnipeg (which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary). The Winnipeg branch is found online at <http://www.mts.net/~mgsi/wpg_br.html>.

The Archives of Manitoba in Winnipeg <http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives> has a publication entitled A Guide to Family and Community History, which can be ordered from the archives. In addition, their own resources are outlined online and is an excellent way to locate such information as census, land, court, immigration, church, education, military, and cartographic records. Aboriginal resources are also noted online, as are links to the Hudson's Bay Archives and the North West Company Archives, both of which are also located in Winnipeg.

One should not forget the Manitoba GenWeb Project, located at <http://www.rootsweb.com/~canmb>. There, one can find the eight districts of Manitoba, which include the Central Plains; the Eastern Section; the Interlake; North of 53o; Parkland; Pembina Valley; the Western Section; and the Winnipeg Section.

There is a wealth of links here, including a list of look-up volunteers, a Manitoba Queries page, cemeteries and census pages, as well as links to Louis Riel, Festival du Voyageur, and the Manitoba Living History Society.

One can conduct a Manitoba Vital Statistics search by using the online searchable database for births of 100 or more years ago, marriages which occurred 80 or more years ago, and deaths which happened 70 or more years ago. Simply place the surname of the person being researched in the search engine, and the results will be given. If one wishes to receive the full record, an order form is right there by the record. There is a fee for complete records.

And for more on the history of Winnipeg and its environs, go to <http://winnipeg411.com/history/brief>.

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