2017 Annual Cultural Fundraiser

This year, on December 2 at the Lac du Bonnet Community Center, the Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society partnered with the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation to celebrate the Anishinaabe for our Cultural Fundraiser (formerly the Wine and Cheese), presenting history, culture, song, food and dance.

The weather certainly cooperated, as we had a full house of guests coming from all areas of the RM of Lac du Bonnet and beyond. Many new and familiar faces enjoyed the evening of historical displays, entertainment, draws and food, featuring wild rice quiche, bison meatballs, salmon, pickerel, and, of course, bannock.

MC for the evening was Maryanne Folster, Events Coordinator, of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.

Elder Harry Bone, who is well known for working tirelessly and quietly throughout his life to bolster Indigenous rights, said the opening and closing prayers.

Display of Sgt. Tommy Prince's WWI Medals

Chief Jim Bear, of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, spoke to the crowd about the background and origins of Brokenhead, in addition to reconciliation.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Southern Thunderbird Medicine Drum group, Hoop Dancer George Bear of Scanterbury, and ten year old singer Jordon Brooks of Whitemouth.

Isaac Cardinal and Autumn Abdilla, representatives of the Lac du Bonnet Senior School’s Indigenous Studies class, introduced their project, in partnership with the Lac du Bonnet District Museum. Students will paint an interior liner of the Museum’s newly acquired tipi depicting images of a “Winter Count” — a record of history done in pictographs by Indigenous peoples. This project will provide a self-guided Indigenous tour within the tipi for the upcoming season.

At the end of the night, members of the Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society were taken completely by surprise when the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation presented them with a generous $5000 cheque from the South Beach Community Spirit Fund.

Photo Arlene Davidson Lac du Bonnet Clipper

The Anishinaabe (comprised of the Ojibway, Chippewa and Saulteaux) are descendants of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island (North America), who have occupied the land for thousands of years. Long before to European contact, they had sophisticated civilizations based upon traditional laws and cultural practices, along with complex trading relationships between nations. Historically, the Anishinaabe peoples moved freely and frequently within their traditional use areas as dictated by the seasons and the abundance of plants and animals used for subsistence. By 1775, the Anishinaabe had pushed west from their ancestral strongholds of the Great Lakes into the Winnipeg River area. Come the 1820s, the Anishinaabe had displaced the Cree and the Assiniboine in the Lake Winnipeg watershed as far west as Portage La Prairie.

The Lac du Bonnet area is encompassed in both Treaty 1 and 3 territories.

Treaty 1 was signed at Lower Fort Garry on August 3, 1871 by representatives of the Crown and seven First Nations Indigenous Communities: Brokenhead Ojibway, Sagkeeng, Long Plain, Peguis, Rouseau River, Sandy Bay and Swan Lake. This boundary falls along the west side of the Winnipeg River, encompassing the Town of Lac du Bonnet and western half of the RM of Lac du Bonnet.

Treaty 3 was signed at the North-West Angle Hudson’s Bay Company post on Lake of the Woods October 3, 1873. Twenty-four Anishinaabe Chiefs signed the treaty, surrendering 55,000 sq. miles to the Crown for agricultural settlement and mineral discovery. This land extends to the east side of the Winnipeg River, including the eastern half of the RM of Lac du Bonnet. Chief Powassan, of the NW Angle, was spokesman. Chief Ma-we-do-pe-nais spoke some infamous words: “…I hope the promises you have made will last as long as the sun goes round and the water flows.”

Library and Archives Canada

Kairos Blanket Exercise

The Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society held a Kairos Blanket Exercise on October 12th, 2017.

The circle is a space where the sometimes disturbing and unsettling act of unlearning can take place safely. It creates a community with a shared vision of a different story of Canada.

This is the true power of the Blanket Exercise.


It is the hope that more people will be able to begin the process of unlearning the story they’ve been told their whole lives. Only then will they be able to walk on the path of reconciliation and create a new story for Canada.

The Blanket ceremony is one of the best tools available to help people move from unaware to awareness. It brings out the heart discussions that are so needed in Canada to ensure we can move to degrees of reconciliation relationship building.

It was an incredibly humbling experience!

Thank you to Leslie Wakeman and Andrea Maxwell from Sunrise School Division, Elder Adrian Jacobs from Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Center, along with all participants.



Museum Opening 2017

Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society board members with Reeve and Mayor (left to right): Reeve Loren Schinkel, Mayor Gordon Peters, Brigitte Schneider, Gord Emberley, Hallie Lavoie, Terry Tottle, Marlene Tottle, Mae Lavoie, Kaitlyn Mitchell (summer student), Gus Wruck, Denise Joss, Skylor Mitchell, and Maryanne Shipley... missing Norm Plato & Kathy Willis

Visitors, volunteers, vendors, and weather all contributed to a great Open House on Saturday, May 20th at the Lac du Bonnet District Museum!

This being the 100th birthday of the formation of the Rural Municipality of Lac du Bonnet and Council, we showcased exhibits celebrating RM100. Included among these exhibits are the “Community Travel Trunks,” which we created as our RM100 project.

The outdoor exhibits of the Wendigo, Hans Erickson cabin and Lac du Bonnet’s CPR train switch featured new descriptive signs, funded in part by the Lac du Bonnet Charitable Foundation.

Special VIP guests Reeve Loren Schinkel and Mayor Gordon Peters graced the attendees with opening speeches.

RM100 cakes were served along with coffee and lemonade.

Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society President Gus Wruck starting with an introductory speech to our VIP guests Reeve Loren Schinkel and Mayor Gordon Peters.

Getting the RM100 cakes ready for cutting....


2016 Annual Wine and Cheese

This year the Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society celebrated a tribute to our German settlers on Friday, December 2 at the Lac du Bonnet Community Center. It was a wonderful evening with the German dancers getting everyone off their chairs, dancing and singing. A silent auction, rainbow auction and 50/50 draw were held to raise funds for the Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society. We would like to thank local businesses, members, and everyone who generously donated prizes and their time to make this event a success.

The history of Germans in Manitoba began as early as 1670 when Ruprecht Von Wittelsbach (Prince Rupert of the Rhine) became the first Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. One hundred and fifty years later, German mercenaries were among the settlers brought in by Lord Selkirk. They tilled land along the Seine River until 1826 when most of these settlers moved to Eastern Canada or the United States because they found the farming conditions on the area poor.

By the late 1870s, 7,000 German-speaking Mennonites arrived in Manitoba, followed by many more settlers of German descent in the early 1900s brought to Canada by news of the rich farm land in the West. There was great diversity among these German Manitobans: they practiced a variety of religions, including Lutheran, Baptist, Hutterite and Mennonite, and many spoke either High or Low German, which were so different of dialects that they could not always understand one another.

In this area, the first Lutheran German settler was Friedrich Karl Wenzel, who registered for a homestead in August 1884, which was located twelve miles north of Beausejour and two miles west of the Brokenhead River. By 1896, a large group of Russian-Germans arrived in the Brokenhead area. These farmers were very successful over the coming years. In December 1906, the Beausejour German Society held their first ball, which some 200 people attended. The areas of Thalberg, Glenmoor and Golden Bay were also settled by German families. By April 1900, some forty German families were living in Whitemouth, primarily in the area that would become River Hills.

On March 12, 1908, Hermann L. Otto of Thalberg reported to the German Newspaper Der Nordwestern that he had been “working for J.D. McArthur in a bush camp at Milner, where [he received] $30 per month.” He also stated that once they were finished at Milner, eleven men were moved to Lac du Bonnet to work there.

Arnold Weiss, 1905
Courtesy of Karen Weiss

Two of the local German settlers were Arnold Weiss and Roy Freund. Arnold Weiss moved to Lac du Bonnet in 1903 and, for sixteen years, worked as a sawyer for J.D. McArthur. In 1905, he married Emeila Bruneau. They lived on Second St. for five years until they purchased and worked two farms one mile west of Lac du Bonnet. Weiss Road, off Hwy. 214, serves as a reminder of where they lived with their twelve children. In 1921, Arnold took on the contract to build a road from Lac du Bonnet to Milner Ridge, which would provide additional access to Beausejour, Whitemouth and Winnipeg.

Roy Freund, outside Allard Building Store May 1932
Courtesy of Charlotte Kitzmann

Roy Freund emigrated from Germany in 1928, settling in Green Bay with his sister and family. He took work where he could: painting, harvesting, working in bush camps and mines, until he found a steady job at the butcher shop in the Allard Building. During WWII, Roy served with the Canadian Army. Upon return to Lac du Bonnet, he married Verna Slaboda and worked for Harry Springman for two years before becoming manager of the Allard Building store. In the early 1950s, having saved enough money, Roy built a new grocery store, the IGA Food Market, located on Park Ave. where the dental clinic now stands. In 1962, he expanded and built a new store on Second St. (where Dancyt’s Fine Foods is today) called Roy’s Solo Food Market. This development sparked the change from residential to commercial buildings on Second St. Roy also served on the Town Council, was Chairman of the School Board and was involved with many community pursuits including the Anglican Church, Legion and curling. Roy retired in 1972, selling his business to the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Today, 9% if the areas’ residents are German.

2015 Annual Wine & Cheese

2015 Wine- & Cheese ExhibitThis year the Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society celebrated a tribute to the Finnish settlement in our region on Friday December 4 at the Lac du Bonnet Community Center.

Leno Knox, the daughter of Finnish immigrant Pete Livo, who resided in Pointe du Bois, gave a wonderful speech on the Finnish history to the attentive audience of 155+ people. Leona also had on display the costume her mother Alli Livo (see Photo) brought with her when she arrived in Canada in 1928, her Transatlantic ship boarding pass and her passport, along with other memories.

2015 Wine- & Cheese ExhibitMiriam Simoens a decendant of the Tuokko Family, raised on Pinawa Bay, also had a Finnish Costume on display, along with a table of more current items from Finland. Miriam played a very important role in baking traditional Finnish breads and desserts which were combined with other Finnish desserts made by Iona Plato.

The Lac du Bonnet District Museum displayed photographs of early Finns from Elma, Whitemouth, Newcombe, Riverland, Pointe du Bois, and Pinawa Bay.

The displays were overwhelmed with onlookers, photo takers, memories, and information.

Entertainment this year was “storyteller” Kay Stone with a tale of the Kalevala chapter  Lemminkainen the trickster and Don MacLellan on acoustic guitar

89 pounds of food was collected at the door and donated to the local food bank. Silent auction, rainbow auction, and 50 / 50 draw were held to raise funds for the Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society.

We would like to thank local businesses, members, and everyone who generously donated prizes and their time to make this event a success.

Finland is a Nordic country in northern Europe bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, and Russia to the east.

Unrest with the Russian occupancy of Finland Tsar Nicholas 11 's  February Manifesto of 1899, combined with Canada's Minister of the Interior Sir Clifford Sifton's advertising free homesteads in western Canada initiated a great exodus of Finns from Finland.

The Finns came to the USA then spread across the prairies favoring SE Saskatchewan "New Finland".

The late 1890s saw Finns settle in Whitemouth and Elma. Later they settled in Newcombe, Riverland, Pinawa Bay, Lee River, and Pointe du Bois.