Although for community assessment purposes we are primarily interested in recent history as reflected in recent community actions and the perceptions of current residents, it is important to recognize that history has long arms and can reach out of the distant past to help shape life and conditions in present-day communities.
For example, much of a community's infrastructure (e.g., streets, housing, schools, health facilities) was designed and created for conditions that existed decades ago. Yet old street patterns have a major influence on today's traffic flows, and things like the location of schools and the quality of housing stock have a major influence on where people choose to live or are forced to live if their income level is too low to allow choice.
Historical background can provide useful context for our community assessment - as long as we don't spend too much time looking for it.
The kind of community history we may be interested in falls into main categories:
Here are some standard web sources of information for Manitoba communities (a Google search, the community's own web site, Wikipedia and Manitoba Community profiles).
Using the example of Gimli, the same standard sources can be used to find information on other Manitoba communities.
The Winnipeg Health Region (WHR) communities are subdivided into neighbourhoods that tend to preserve historic boundaries and names. We can use the names of the neighbourhoods that coincide with our chosen WHR community to search for history books in library catalogues, articles in periodical databases or web sites.
We can also use the pre-1967 municipalities that coincide with our chosen WHR community and use the old municipal names to search for municipal histories.
Before 1967 "Greater Winnipeg" was a conglomeration of 14 independent cities, towns and rural municipalities (see individual sections below). Each had its own history, its own character, and its own boundaries.Since the wealth of the communities varied drastically, the level and quality of services also varied radically.
The larger communities were able to provide their populations with many services (e.g., fire and police departments, libraries) while smaller communities either did without services or contracted for them with their larger neighbours.
In 1960 the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg was created to provide uniform services throughout Greater Winnipeg in a limited number of areas: assessment, planning, water, sewer, principal streets and bridges, parks, public transportation, disaster, and civil defense.
In 1972 Greater Winnipeg was amalgamated into a single city but it took many years after that for the disparities to be ironed out.
NOTE: if you are using screen reading software and you have problems with the "Community Histories: Winnipeg" box, please contact the Library for assistance.
Town of Brooklands
Incorporated as a village in 1921 and as a town in 1961. In 1967 it became part of the City of St. James.
City of Winnipeg
Kildonan Park and Assiniboine Park, both of which were outside the City of Winnipeg boundaries but were owned by the city. In 1928 the strip of land along Wellington Crescent linking Winnipeg to Assiniboine Park was detached from the Town of Tuxedo and annexed to Winnipeg.
City of St. James
St. James absorbed the Village of Brooklands in 1967. It amalgamated with the Rural Municipality of Assiniboia in 1969 to become the City of St. James-Assiniboia.
Rural Municipality of Assiniboia
Rural Municipality of Charleswood
Rural Municipality of Fort Garry
City of St. Boniface
In the 1960s St. Boniface was the most highly industrialized area in Greater Winnipeg. Many of these industries have vanished but they have left their mark on the urban landscape.
City of Transcona
Rural Municipality of North Kildonan
City of East Kildonan
City of West Kildonan
Rural Municipality of Old Kildonan
Almost everyone has a website these days and this is a great place to start for getting background information on an institution, organization, service or program.
The websites will often include a bit of history, especially web sites devoted to an organization or institution.
Most organizations, institutions, and government agencies issue annual reports and these can show how they and their programs and services have evolved over time. Many of these annual reports are available on the web; others reside with the organization or agency, and some are available in libraries.
The best source for information about past community actions is the people involved in these activities. In some cases these people might work for local branches of federal, provincial or municipal agencies; in other cases, they might belong to community groups or social service organizations.
The first step is to identify the agencies and organizations operating in our community.
Community perceptions are usually gathered through surveys and focus groups, but the results are not often published and can be hard to come by. We may have to rely on our contacts within community organizations and agencies to guide us to information on resident perceptions.
Alternatively, we may have to conduct our own small-scale surveys to gather resident perceptions. Once again we have to be on guard against devoting too much time to this kind of activity.
Do you have a title to recommend for our collection? Use the Suggest a Purchase form to suggest a book, video or journal.
Do you have suggestions or feedback that can help improve this guide? Please contact this guide's author on the "Getting Started" page.