We’ve all heard the adage "What ever goes around, comes around" and with this column, I’ve come full circle, for it was 45 years ago that I joined the staff at the St. Vital Lance.
My journey began while on workers’ compensation, when several members of the now-defunct St. Vital Bulldogs senior football team asked me to inquire about coverage in the Lance. I began writing game stories in longhand and three months later was hired to cover sports, St. Vital council meetings, and to sell advertising.
Six years ago I retired from the media to became involved with the St. Vital Historical Society and five years ago this month I helped open the St. Vital Museum located in the 99-year-old former fire hall at 600 St. Mary’s Rd. The museum is located in the former offices of the St. Vital Police department and Magistrate Court. The museum also has use of one of the building’s three bays, in which it keeps St. Vital’s second-ever fire truck, a 1939 Fargo pumper that is being restored by volunteers. The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service occupies the other bays.
The museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of St. Vital, which is the second-oldest settlement in Winnipeg, after Seven Oaks. On display are all eight gold records from the world’s top-selling band of 1970, The Guess Who, which were donated by bassist Jim Kale.
Don Berthman is developing a display highlighting St. Vital musicians such as Ray St. Germain, Lenny Breau, Donnie McDougall, Robbie McDougall, Bill Wallace, Graham Shaw and brothers Jesse and Shane Matthewson of KEN Mode, a hard music/heavy metal that won a Juno Award in 2012.
The First World War uniform of Wallace Monroe, who was twice wounded at Vimy Ridge on Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, is also on display. The capture of the ridge by Canadian troops on that day was the day historians say this country became a nation. After the war, Monroe settled on Crystal Avenue West. When St. Vital began changing street names, Monroe, who liked painting sunsets, submitted the winning entry: Sunset Boulevard.
Monroe’s son, Lorne, left home at age 12 to study the cello in London, England. Three years ago he ended a 32-year career as principal cellist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
In conjunction with Doors Open Winnipeg, at 9 a.m. on May 25, rain or shine, the SVHS will hold a pancake breakfast at the museum. In the event of inclement weather, the Smitty’s Restaurant-catered event will move into the ambulance bays. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children.
The museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays until the end of the month. During June, July and August the museum is open Tuesday-Saturday.
Bob Holliday is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org