City of Winnipeg Archives all started with a cupboard

History traced back to City Council directions from February 1874

February 13, 2020

A simple request for a cupboard back in 1874 helped start the City of Winnipeg Archives. Since then, the municipal collection has grown to one of the most complete in Canada.

“This didn’t happen by accident. It happened because people saw the value of keeping records,” said Sarah Ramsden, Senior Archivist at the City of Winnipeg.

At that time, City Council directed the newly appointed City Clerk, A.M. Brown, to find the cupboard for the City’s corporation papers.

“The following year, Council authorized Brown to get two or more tin or steel iron boxes to hold papers and documents for the year 1874,” said Ramsden.

There are around 10,000 linear feet of records stored in the archives building on Myrtle Street. Even more records are kept at the Corporate Records Centre. 

There are Council Minutes going back to 1874 as well as by-laws, assessment rolls, photographs, drawings, maps, letters, and artifacts. The artifact collection includes time capsules recovered from City buildings, souvenir pins, keys to the city, and dream catchers that were gifted to the City.

Two photographs of Main Street taken in 1871 and 1872 were given to the City in 1924.
Two photographs of Main Street taken in 1871 and 1872 were given to the City in 1924.
Two photographs of Main Street taken in 1871 and 1872 were given to the City in 1924.

While civic records date back to 1874, the oldest items in the collection are a pair of photographs taken in 1871 and 1872 of Main Street. They were given to the City by a former resident in 1924 to mark Winnipeg’s 50th anniversary.

“We are responsible for keeping material with enduring value,” said Ramsden. “This means only records that document key decisions, events, or trends end up in the archives.”

Also included in the collection are records associated with other municipalities, including St. Boniface, Transcona, and Charleswood, prior to amalgamation. They were transferred to the City as a central place for safekeeping.

There are around 10,000 linear feet of records stored in the archives building on Myrtle Street. The crest of St. Boniface prior to amalgamation. A key to the City is one artifact in the collection. The engraving on one of the recovered time capsules.

 “These records help to tell the story of people across Winnipeg coming together to form one city with many voices,” said Ramsden.

In addition to having records of municipal governments, the archives include material from community organizations and individuals who have contributed to the development and identity of the city.

“Acquiring records from a variety of sources helps us to tell inclusive stories about our past that reflect the richness and diversity of experiences in Winnipeg,” said Ramsden. “We are honoured to continue the legacy of safeguarding this history.”

Residents can access records in the archives by in person or view digitized materials on Winnipeg in Focus.

Other City Information

Was this information helpful?

How can we make this web page better?

Information collected will be used to improve our website. Do not use this form to submit a request for service or information because it will not be forwarded to departments for response. To submit a request for service or information, contact 311.

This form is not intended to collect personal information; however, any personal information you choose to include in your comments is collected by the City of Winnipeg under the authority of section 36(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the purpose of improving our website and will not be used or disclosed for any other purposes, except as authorized by law. Contact the Corporate Access and Privacy Officer by mail (City Clerk’s Department, Susan A. Thompson Building, 510 Main Street, Winnipeg MB, R3B 1B9) or by telephone (311) if you have any questions about the collection of this information.

Ces renseignements sont-ils utiles?

Comment pourrait-on améliorer cette page Web?

Les renseignements recueillis serviront à l’amélioration de notre site Web. Prière de ne pas se servir de ce formulaire pour soumettre une demande de service ou de renseignements, car la demande ne sera pas transmise au service en question. Pour soumettre une demande de service ou de renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec le 311.

Le présent formulaire ne vise pas à recueillir des renseignements personnels. Cependant, les renseignements personnels que vous choisissez d’inclure dans vos commentaires sont recueillis par la Ville de Winnipeg en conformité avec l’alinéa 36(1)b) de la Loi sur l’accès à l’information et la protection de la vie privée dans le but d’améliorer son site Web et ne seront ni utilisés ni divulgués pour d’autres raisons, sauf dans les cas où cela est autorisé par la loi. Communiquez avec l’agent de l’accès à l’information et de la protection de la vie privée de la Ville par courrier au Bureau du greffier, immeuble Susan-A.-Thompson, 510, rue Main, Winnipeg (Manitoba) R3B 1B9, ou par téléphone au 311 si vous avez des questions sur la collecte de ces renseignements.