October 16th, 2018 will mark 50 years since the Transcona Museum first opened its doors. When we opened back in 1968 we were located in the basement of the Transcona Library. How exciting must it have been to be there that day! One of the ways we are celebrating our 50th Anniversary this year is a new blog series called 50 in 50. Each month from now until October we will be featuring 5 different artifacts from our collections, along with their stories and significance to the Transcona community. Let's get started, shall we?
#1 - TA68.1
An archaeological item, this grooved maul was found during a basement excavation in 1966. Mauls were used to pound or mash other items. The significance of this artifact is that it's the very first item collected by the Transcona Museum! It is the first artifact listed in our accession register, so this is where our collections all started.
#2 - TH2015.14.1 Steam Locomotive, CN 2747
Our biggest, longest, and by far heaviest artifact in the collection is the historic steam locomotive CN 2747. As the first steam locomotive built in Western Canada, it was in fact constructed right here at the Transcona Shops in April 1926. After 34 years of service, the locomotive was retired. The Kiwanis Club put forth a request to CNR that 2747 be brought back home to Transcona for its retirement. Their request was granted and CNR generously donated this locomotive as "a token of the dedication of the citizens of the Town of Transcona." In 1960, CN 2747 was placed on permanent display in Kiwanis Park (now, Rotary Heritage Park). Ownership of 2747 was later transferred to the Winnipeg Railway Museum, which is operated by the Midwestern Rail Association, Inc. (MWRA). In December 2015, the Transcona Museum acquired ownership of CN 2747 for $1 from the Midwestern Rail Association.
In May 2017, the museum contracted GP Heritage Consulting to prepare a condition assessment of the engine. We now know the extent of the work required to restore and preserve the engine for future generations, as it is a symbol of the early roots of this community.
#3 - TH98.71.1 Baby Scale
Used by Transcona physician Dr. Murdoch MacKay, this scale weighed babies during check-ups. The baby scale was located in his medical office, which was in the back of his home at 108 Victoria Avenue East, formerly known as 12 Victoria Avenue. In 1937 the Winnipeg phone book listed Dr. MacKay’s phone number as “55”. According to the late Paul Martin, he was the first baby that Dr. MacKay delivered as recorded in Paul's book In Awe With Life.
Dr. Murdoch MacKay was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 188(4-5?). He graduated from Manitoba Medical School in 1916 and married Ruby M. Gowland the following year. In 1916 (or 1917 by his attestation papers), Dr. MacKay enlisted in the Canadian Medical Army Corp and was a Medical Officer overseas. He served in England and France and experienced the loss of so many young lives. After returning from the war in December 1919, he purchased the medical practice of Dr. V. S. Winkler in Transcona. Dr. Murdoch MacKay later became the leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party. In 1927 he was elected to the Provincial Legislature as a Liberal. Dr. MacKay was an active member of Memorial United Church, the Transcona Legion, the Knights Pythias, Transcona Lodge 123, the Shriner's, and the Transcona Curling Club. He was also president of the Transcona Board of Trade. He continued his medical practice until illness forced his retirement in December 1953. He is the namesake of Murdoch MacKay Collegiate Institute in Transcona.
#4 - TH86.36 Max Katz Dry Goods Sign
On display in our front gallery, the Max Katz Dry Goods sign originated from the Max Katz Dry Goods store located at 115 Regent Avenue. The store first opened in 1927 and was owned and operated by Max Katz. His first store was only 12 feet by 12 feet. He later renovated the space to be 27 feet by 60 feet. In the late 1950's he introduced a Christmas in July sale. In 1975 Max sold the store to Barry Kramble. The store continued to operate under the same name with Max also continuing to work in the store six days a week. On March 1st, 1986 Max finally retired from working at the store - the same day the store closed its doors for good. Barry Kramble was quoted in the March 10th, 1986 Winnipeg Free Press as saying: "We thought he might enjoy sticking around and showing us a few things he had learned over the years... As it turned out, Max became the most valuable teacher and family friend anyone could ever hope to have".
#5 - TH220.127.116.11 CNR Apprentice Drawings
W.A. "Arthur" Girling (son of William Henry Girling) was an apprentice at the Transcona Shops. The above drawing was made as part of his apprenticeship training. There are a number of others within the Fonds as well. The drawing was hand-drawn in ink and was completed in May 1924. The image looks like a drawing that would be made with a computer program like AutoCad today. W.A. Girling went on to own Manitoba Millworks and Supply company located on Victoria Avenue near North American Lumber (now Lumber Zone) on Bond Street, which built and sold wooden train sets for sale at Eaton's around Christmas time. He also is said to have designed the Transcona Post Office and the built mortuary building at the Transcona Cemetery (according to family records and John Russell Arthur Fonds ) but other have attributed the mortuary to his father William Henry Girling (City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committee).
Come back in February for artifacts #6-10 in our 50 in 50 series.
315 Victoria Avenue East City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committees accessed January 26, 2018.
Celebrating 75 Years of Community: Transcona 1911-1986 Anniversary Book
Dugald Women's Institute, Springfield: 1st Rural Municipality in Manitoba, 1873-1973 (Altona: D. W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., 1974)
Jagar, M (1986, March 10) Sorrow marks the folding of Transcona dry goods store. Winnipeg Free Press p.24
John Russell Arthur Fonds
Memorable Manitobans: Murdoch Mackay (1884-1962) Manitoba Historical Society. Accessed January 26, 2018
Martin, Paul E. In Awe With Life Premier Printing, 1995
Mackay, Murdoch Attestation Papers, Library and Archives Canada. Accessed January 29, 2018
Richard Girling Fonds
Transcona Museum Collections