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50 in 50: #46-50

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

We have come to the end of our 50-in-50 series with our final 5 artifacts. We started this blog series to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Transcona Museum opening its doors to the public on October 16, 1968. Much has happened in our 50 years: 3 different locations, two moves, thousands of artifacts, and too many volunteers to count. To celebrate this 50th anniversary, we are also putting as many of the 50 highlighted artifacts as we can on display in our galleries.

#46- TH99. Jerry- Ventriloquist Doll

Ventriloquist doll in a red suit.

This is Jerry; he was the ventriloquist doll that had an act with Len Vintus. Jerry was created in Chicago in 1923 by Alex Cameron, the same artist who made Charlie McCarthy, sidekick to the famous ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Len Vintus was the stage name of Melvin Justice Given McMullen. Mel McMullen was one of the co-founders of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM). IBM is now the world’s largest organization for professional and amateur magicians with over 50,000 past and present members. The headquarters of the IBM was at one time located in the Union Bank Building beside City Hall in Winnipeg. Mel was also an active member of the Transcona community: he married Helene Cargill of Transcona, worked at and eventually became manager of North American Lumber. He was also a president of the Transcona Board of Trade. He served as a Transcona school trustee and as Transcona Councillor.

The museum made a short video about Jerry and Mel McMullen and that can be viewed below:

#47- TH2018.23.1

1st Mayor's Chair

Chair given to 1st Mayor of Transcona

This chair was presented to Mayor Colin J. E. Maxwell upon his retirement from the office from the people of Transcona in 1912. Colin J.E. Maxwell was the first mayor of Transcona. He was elected in May of 1912 and completed his term in December of that year. When he first addressed the public after his election he said: “I feel that there has been a great honor bestowed upon me in being elected by acclamation as mayor of Transcona. I thank the citizens of Transcona for selecting me as the one to represent them as mayor.... I am going to do the best I can, and I hope when my term ends that it will be satisfactory to everyone.” - The Transcona Times May 12, 1912

Close up of plaque on Mayor's chair

The chair was passed down through the family over the years and donated to the Transcona Museum in Summer 2018. The family brought the chair from Victoria, B.C. to the museum.

#48- TH91.4.39

Christmas Stocking

Large Mesh Christmas Stocking

This large Christmas stocking is made of mesh and filled with many different toys. It is from the well-known Transcona store "Blostein and Son". There is a paper band on the top to hold the stocking closed and has a picture of a Christmas scene and the phrase "Merry Christmas". Some of the items in the stocking include a Dominion of Canada map puzzle, pompoms, a Novel fish game, a cardboard airplane, a plastic airplane, and a book.

Joe Blostein owned and operated the Department Store, which served Transcona residents from the 1930s up until the 1990s. He came to Canada in 1914 and settled in Transcona. He was a master tailor and he held a diploma attesting to his completion of a six-year apprenticeship on a naval base in Russia. Throughout the whole of Transcona’s history, Joe Blostein’s name was synonymous with quality craftsmanship, superior service, and unparalleled selection. He was the first to offer hand-made to measure clothing in Transcona. A common Transcona slogan was “If you can’t find it anywhere, go to Blostein’s. If Blostein’s doesn’t have it, quit looking.” He was also well-known for his annual Remembrance Day display which he put up in his store-front windows.

Master tailor, businessman, and community builder, Joe Blostein provided decades of generous service through “Blostein’s” - his landmark store in downtown Transcona.

#49- TH2009.5 Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Apprentice Agreement Papers, 1914

Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Apprentice Agreement Papers, 1914

On February 21st, 1914, Frank Moore, aged 16, signed indenture papers with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway to apprentice with the company to "learn the art and trade of Boiler Maker". The agreement was in effect from February 21, 1914 to February 21, 1919. Conditions of the agreement included: keeping business secrets of the Company at all times, readily and cheerfully obey all their lawful commands, not join or become a member of any fire company except ones the Company asked him to join in writing, and to perform work of other departments when asked. The wage of the apprenticeship was as follows:

  • First year of the contract paid $0.13/hr

  • Second year of the contract paid $0.17/hr

  • Third year of the contract paid $0.20/hr

  • Fourth year of the contract paid $0.23/hr

  • Fifth year of the contract paid $0.26/hr

At the end of a successful apprenticeship, the Company would pay him the sum of $25 as a gratuity of his hard work.

Many individuals got their career start as apprentices at the Transcona Shops. Many individuals also worked their entire careers at the Shops. This is the earliest example of an apprentice agreement that we have in our collection.

#50- TH2018.30

Brownie Uniform and photos

Brownie uniform tunic with two colour photographs

We started this blog series with the very first artifact in our accession record. For our last entry, we are talking about the newest artifact donated to the museum (to date). This recently donated Brownie uniform was worn by a Brownie here in Transcona. The photographs and paperwork that came with the donation dates to 1962. The uniform was purchased second hand in order to save money. The new uniforms at the time were darker brown in colour. The donor went through Brownies and completed one year of Girl Guides. At some point during her time in the organization, she had a group leader named Mrs. Campbell. The two photographs that accompanied the uniform show the donor wearing the uniform at a parade function - in what appears to be late spring/summer.

Thank you for following our 50-in-50 blog series. Please visit the Transcona Museum to view some of the artifacts discussed in this blog series.



Transcona Museum Archives

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