Working in the present while preserving the past for now and the future

History of the Lac du Bonnet Historical Society

 

Lac du Bonnet District Museum

Lac du Bonnet District Museum

The Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society Inc. has been in existence since 1988. An important appreciation of the thinking in the early days can be obtained from the following Policy Statement in terms of the mandate of the Society.

 

Policy Statement – Mandate

 

The Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society was incorporated on January 18, 1988 as a non-profit organization with a mandate to “collect, preserve and display the history and artifacts pertinent to the Lac du Bonnet & district area”. The village of Lac du Bonnet has long been a service center that met the needs of a large geographical area. From the presence of early man, followed by explorers and fur traders, the area has provided the needed resources to the hunters, trappers, homesteaders, prospectors, storekeepers, etc.

 

At the turn of the century power development has occurred along the Pinawa Channel and the Winnipeg River, and natural resources have been harvested from as far away as Manigotogan, Bissett and Cat Lake.

 

Through the years the natural beauty of the area and the summer and winter recreational opportunities has been utilized by ever increasing numbers of cottagers and tourists. When we consider our past, Lac du Bonnet is unique when it comes to presenting and preserving its varied history.

 

Community Uniqueness

 

What sets us apart from other communities?

 

The Lac du Bonnet area is especially unique in three ways. First, our immigration mix has brought people from over 25 different countries. For instance the Swedes, Finns, and Latvians settled in the farmland east of the Winnipeg River while the Poles, Ukrainians and Germans settled the land to the west and south, the French from Quebec came to work in the lumber camps. The Hutterites came to take advantage of the available land northwest part of the RM, while the Scots and the Anglos came to provide many of the services and businesses the community needed. There are many others you could readily add to this short list.

 

Secondly, Lac du Bonnet has always acted as a hub for the smaller communities that grew up around it. Industries such as mining, aviation, forestry, and agriculture, surrounded the village while the basic medical, educational, postal, and police services were centralize in the village.

 

With these industries so wide spread and of such diverse nature, traditional artifacts are probably best left where they are. What can we move in from the power plants at Old Pinawa and Pointe du Bois, the mining communities at Cat Lake, Wadhope, Bissett, or Bernie Lake? Long before the paper mill was established at Pine Falls, woodcutters were taking timber out of the area, some of it pre-sawn, some barged and boomed out on the river. Where would we house a barge or a boat? Forestry fire towers are quickly becoming obsolete, but many fine examples of towers and the wooden accommodations and offices are still intact.

 

Thirdly, we are surrounded by traditional museums, with Whitemouth, Beausejour and St. Georges already providing the public with a range of homesteading artifacts. What we have are artifacts that are still on site. One might add the old homesteads still intact in Bird River, the Brightstone Post Office and the Riverland School which stands where it stood and served the community for many years.

 

Justification

 

Capital funding in the form of grants and donations are readily available from corporations, government, and within the community. This would provide the dollars for initial construction. Operating funds, which are generally not considered, are ongoing, and much more difficult to raise. Donations are more readily available on a project basis, not for salaries, heat and light.

 

It also follows that we stand a better chance of fitting into a tourist corridor concept. This service could be both seasonal and informative.

 

Staffing requirements could be met locally and entrepreneurial opportunities would be created in the areas of tour guiding, food and accommodation services. It would further support and assist local community efforts to preserve their individual histories.

 

Conclusion

 

The Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society can meet its mandate and more effectively respond to the needs of the associated communities if we develop an Orientation Center. It would create a focal point for the diverse and widely dispersed historical sites in our area.

 

Policy Developed December 1989 Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society.

 

Numerous people have served on the Board of Directors from that time. They are shown below.

 

Founding Board Members: (1988)
Name Name
Emberley, Gordon; President Hammerstedt, Stella
Bruneau, Louis Lesko, Joan
Byczek, Adele Stine, Helen
Carlson, Lorraine

 

Recent history compiled by: Miriam Simoens, Secretary

 

The Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society Inc. June/2010

 

Currently, with clear mandate, dedicated members and wide acceptance in the community it is hoped that the Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society will be able to continue uneventfully into the future with a program that will benefit the entire community and incoming visitors.