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This article was published 16/9/2014 (921 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Headingley has an interesting past, but as the municipality grows, the community’s connection to its history is slowly disappearing.
The Headingley Historical Society was formed in the mid-1990s with 21 members. Now only five attend regular meetings.
Member Dave Taylor, 93, can trace his paternal family history in the area back for a few generations.
"My grandfather (John Taylor) was the first minister of agriculture in Manitoba," Taylor said.
After narrowly losing the first provincial election held after the Province of Manitoba was created, John Taylor served as MLA for Headingley in 1874 and 1878. His legacy was recognized when Headingley’s Taylor Bridge was dedicated in 1997.
The bridge, which was also constructed on land once farmed by the Taylors, spans the Assiniboine River where a ferry ran for 45 years until 1915, when it was replaced by a wooden bridge. The railway bridge situated slightly upriver is essentially the same structure built in 1882.
Taylor was one of six local long-time residents who participated in a Heritage Day held in September 2013, serving as historical storytellers.
Society member Jean Ammeter said the Heritage Day was a success, with newer residents attending to learn more about their community.
"They were enthused," she said. The society members plan to hold another heritage event next year.
The Heritage Day was held in the Headingley Community Centre at 5353 Portage Ave. which contains display cases and sliding drawers showcasing historical artifacts such as Hudson’s Bay Company nails and pottery shards found in the area. More recently produced items include scrapbooks created by Headingley 4-H members.
The municipal coat of arms, designed by the late Dr. Robert Thorlakson, is also on display.
Local family histories detailed in book
One of the Historical Society’s largest projects was compiling information for and publishing a history book, Headingley Pioneers, Past & Present in 2003.
Two-thirds of the book is devoted to local family histories, including family photos.
"We asked as many people to contribute as we could," said society member Blanche Keith.
Information from the book was adapted for the RM of Headingley’s website and can be found under the Our Heritage tab at www.rmofheadingley.ca
Another project began in 1998 when the society’s members researched the information contained on 18 plaques which were placed throughout the municipality.
Ammeter would like to see these plaques promoted and possibly have a cycling route designed to lead people from one to another.
Walk, cycle on former rail line
Part of Headingley’s history can now be traversed by bike or on foot, or on skis and snowshoes in winter. The Headingley Grand Trunk Trail leads from a point next to the west Perimeter Highway to the municipality’s western boundary with the RM of Cartier — a 10-kilometre journey. The trail follows the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway’s original rail line which once stretched from Ontario to Prince Rupert, B.C.
The company, which became part of Canadian National Railways in 1923, was responsible for building Winnipeg’s Hotel Fort Garry. Its name can still be found in tiles in the Johnson Terminal building at The Forks, which served as a cold storage facility for the GTPR.
The Headingley Grand Trunk Trail Association celebrated its 100th anniversary of the rail line’s completion in June.
Old service stations replicated
Another piece of Headingley’s history can be viewed at Jim’s Vintage Garages in a display space attached to the Headingley Community Centre. Usually doubling as a tourist centre in the summer months, the museum opened in 2005 after longtime residents Jim and Vivian
Pearn approached the municipal council offering to donate their antique collection. The museum contains detailed recreations of White Rose, Red Indian, Imperial Esso, North Star, Buffalo and B/A service stations as well as a general store.
Ammeter said while the museum board, Grand Trunk Trail Association and historical society usually meet separately, they do join in on community roundtables, which bring together all community groups to address common issues, twice a year.
Local residents invited to Remembrance Day service
She and the rest of the society are preparing for this year’s Remembrance Day service, to be held in the Headingley Community Centre. It will include a special tribute to the RCMP.
The society realizes that the continuing influx of new residents makes it harder to create a sense of community, and the Assiniboine River still presents a physical barrier, splitting the municipality into halves. However, they encourage everyone to attend community events like the Remembrance Day service and meet their neighbours.
"I think we lost the community spirit we used to have," said Keith, recalling the community bridal showers, dances, teas and baseball games which drew families from across the municipality. "But it’s getting better now."
She and the other historical society members invite residents to join the organization and help keep Headingley’s past from fading away.
For more information on the Headingley Historical Society, call Jean Ammeter at
204-832-1444. Information on the Grand Trunk Trail Association can be found under the Residents tab and on Jim’s Vintage Garages under the Museum tab at www.rmofheadingley.ca