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Architecture of the Grasslands

In a recent tour of South-western Manitoba, I was struck by the number of lively towns such as Virden, Melita and Boissevain, and how these stand in stark contrast to more remote areas where rural depopulation over the second half of the 20th Century has left its mark. The different architectural styles found in the southwest remind us not only of the boom times for newcomers a century ago, but of the variety of people there, made up of Anglo-Ontarians, Scottish and Irish, Franco-Manitobans, First Nations, Mennonites and others. They all attempted to pursue a decent livelihood while living in community, and many of their descendants continue to call the grasslands their home.
 
Brockinton House, 1880s, made with stone from the Assiniboine River valley.

Abandoned house, Lauder, Manitoba. Constructed 1900-1915.

La Riviere General Store (ca. 1900 – 1920). Notice giant turkey to the left of the building: “La Riviere – Home of the Wild Turkey!”

 

 

 Wawanesa Insurance building, late 1890s, now the Sipiweske Museum. Wawanesa, Manitoba.

 

 
“The Aud”, 1911, Virden, Manitoba. The Virden Auditorium is a functioning and fully restored 467 seat opera house which hosts local and travelling concerts and theatre productions throughout the year.
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Roland Sawatzky

Curator of History

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Roland Sawatzky joined The Manitoba Museum in 2011. Roland received his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Winnipeg, M.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina, and Ph.D. in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University (2005). Roland conducts research, is responsible for acquisitions, and develops exhibits related to the settlement period in Manitoba, including the development of Winnipeg. His research interests include the social meaning of material culture, 19th Century settlement in Manitoba, life in the home and historical archaeology.