A pair of community groups are ramping up preparations to celebrate Charleswood’s upcoming centennial anniversary.
The Charleswood Historical Society and Citizens for Charleswood Habitat Preservation are looking at a series of heritage and habitat preservation projects to mark the community’s 100th birthday next year.
"We want to have active history," said Len Van Roon, president of the historical society.
The society recently received a $7,500 grant from the province to begin a preliminary archaeological investigation in an area off Charleswood Road adjacent to the Harte Trail. The society wants to study bison activity in the area going back hundreds of years, Van Roon said.
"We know the bison had come through here by the millions," he said, noting the society also wants to recognize thousands of years of First Nations history in Charleswood before its development.
"It really gives a foundation to the local history that’s quite amazing. It really makes Charleswood and Ridgewood South quite unique in the Canadian and North American context.
"It’s not just like any other suburb when we have all these vestiges of the past," he said.
The idea is to connect the area — tentatively known as the Bison Pound Wetland — with a series of new trails that intersect with the Harte Trail and hopefully lead to a large area the CCHP is working to preserve.
The CCHP has its eyes on a large piece of natural grassland prairie in Ridgewood South, president Victoria Macdonald said.
With only 1% of the original tall grass prairie in Manitoba remaining, it’s an important piece to preserve for the birds, butterflies, frogs, snakes and deer who call it home, she said.
The area, however, is on Qualico-owned land, and the group plans to reach out to the community, city and province to help fundraise to purchase and protect the area, she said.
"For it to maintain any kind of wildlife grasslands can normally support, it can’t be a token, small piece of land," she said.
The historical society also wants to make it easier to access Kelly Landing Park along the Assiniboine River, and provide school programming to teach Charleswood’s early history at the elementary level, Van Roon said.
"There are families that have chosen to raise their kids here and they’re extremely interested in the history because it makes them part of a community that’s been here long before they came," he said.
The planned Ridgewood South development is a "tremendous opportunity" for the 40-year-old society to pass on historical knowledge to a new addition to the community, he added.
Groups like the historical society have helped instill community pride by advocating to preserve local history, Macdonald said.
It’s incumbent for newer groups like the CCHP to ensure Charleswood residents 100 years from now have the opportunity to enjoy the same things that make the area what it is today, she said.
"Newer groups have a role in shaping Charleswood by recognizing what’s important here and trying to preserve it so people in 100 years can appreciate what we’ve achieved," she said.