From behind, three children standing together looking into a wall of display cases filled with artifacts.

Winnipeg at 150

Winnipeg at 150

By Roland Sawatzky, Curator of History at the Manitoba Museum


This year is the 150th anniversary of the City of Winnipeg. In 1874 it promoted itself from a small village nestled within the larger Red River Settlement, to a bona fide City, with all the aspirations of growth and importance it could muster. The Winnipeg Gallery at the Manitoba Museum is a great place to explore the fascinating history of our city.

The Winnipeg Gallery was completed at the end of 2019, so if you haven’t seen it yet, this year would be a great time. The gallery includes a seven-metre long wall of artifacts, related to seven themes that run through the history of Winnipeg, including Indigenous Homeland, City of Newcomers, and Celebrations, to name a few. And with special digital kiosks, you can do a deep dive into the story of each artifact, like Sergeant Tommy Prince’s authentic war medals, or a billy club from the 1919 General Strike.

Ten medals lined up slightly overlapping each other.

This set of medals was awarded to Sergeant Tommy Prince, one of Canada’s most decorated Indigenous war veterans. Sergeant Prince was born on the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.. The medals reflect his service in WWII and the Korean War. Loan from the Prince Medals Committee. ©Manitoba Museum

A wooden chess board set up with all the pieces in starting positions.

Many Winnipeg Grenadiers servicemen were imprisoned during WWII at Sham Shui Po Camp in Hong Kong. One prisoner made this chess set with scraps found at the camp. H9-37-547 ©Manitoba Museum

Discover Winnipeg’s changes over time through our ground-breaking interactive digital map, which lets you explore the city from seven time periods, right up to today. You can release the floodwaters over our unsuspecting city, trace the growth of your neighbourhood, or track the various epidemics (and pandemics) that have hit the city over the last century and a half.

Indigenous history is integrated throughout the gallery, including a nine-Nation treaty established at the Forks in 1285 CE; John Norquay, the Métis premier (1878-1887); the story of Shoal Lake 40 and the Winnipeg Aqueduct; and the 1972 establishment of the era-defining “Professional Native Indian Artists, Inc.” art collective, plus much more.

The inspiring experiences of immigrants in Winnipeg are told through old artifacts and new stories, accessed through a “kitchen table,” where you can sit and listen to the challenges met and overcome by new Canadians, like adapting to the extreme cold, establishing a business, and learning a new language.

A jingle dress - a red dress with jingles attached along the shoulders and lower hems,

This jingle dress was made by Linda Tait from Swan Lake First Nation around 1970. Pow wows are important cultural events in Winnipeg today, and the Jingle Dress Dance is a major feature. H4-0-377 ©Manitoba Museum

A pair of tall black hip wader boots. The boot on the right is folded over, while the left boot stands at full height.

During the catastrophic flood of 1950, this pair of hip wader boots was used by a volunteer to assist with relief. Around 100,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes. H9-37-632 ©Manitoba Museum

A dress with a flared waistline and short flared sleeves. The fabric has leaf a pattern in green, yellow, and orange-red.

This is a Kaba dress made by Olayinka Ali in 2018 for the Manitoba Museum. Olayinka is a fashion designer and dressmaker for communities from Africa in Manitoba. H9-38-824 ©Manitoba Museum

Then explore the changes in “Winnipeg 1920.” Most visitors call it the “little town,” but Winnipeg in 1920 was Canada’s third largest city. We’ve made changes to populate it with the diverse peoples of the time.

Our city has had its fair share of important events and contributions to the Canadian story, along with deeply challenging social disparities, from 1874 right to this moment. Winnipeg’s history is tumultuous ever-changing, and contentious. But it isn’t dull. See for yourself!

Plan your visit today

Dr. Roland Sawatzky

Dr. Roland Sawatzky

Curator of History

Roland Sawatzky joined The Manitoba Museum in 2011. He 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…
Meet Dr. Roland Sawatzky

Manitoba Museum Announces 2024 Tribute Gala Honourees

Promotional graphic for the Manitoba Museum's 2024 Tribute Gala. On the right is a photograph of honourees James Cohen and Linda McGarva-Cohen. On the left, text reads,

Winnipeg, MB: January 30, 2024 – The Manitoba Museum will honour two prominent Manitobans at its annual Tribute Gala on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

Community leaders James Cohen and Linda McGarva-Cohen will share the honours at the gala event with proceeds supporting the Manitoba Museum’s Access for All community initiative.

The 2024 Tribute Gala will celebrate and highlight the exceptional contributions made by James and Linda during a conversation with award-winning Canadian broadcast journalist, Shelagh Rogers.

“The Manitoba Museum is an iconic institution in our city and province. It tells the stories of our First Peoples and the generations of others who followed from all over the world. We are all part of the fabric of this great place and the Museum strives to bring all of us together in the hopes of learning about the past and helping to create the path to a promising future. Linda and I are so appreciative to be recognized by this treasured member of our cultural community.” – James Cohen

Funds raised through the annual Manitoba Museum Tribute Gala support the Access for All community initiative by removing financial, social, and cultural barriers to visitation. Through this initiative, the Museum aims to further grow, diversify, and engage new audiences and create a place that belongs to all Manitobans. This involves the continual reflection and assessment of research, collections, exhibitions, and programs to enhance their relevance to Manitoba’s diverse populations including ethnicity, culture, age, gender, and abilities. One of the Access for All initiatives is providing Manitobans access to the Museum at no charge – those Manitobans who would otherwise not have the opportunity to engage in memorable learning experiences that bridge our understanding and love of history, nature, and science with today’s reality and hopes for the future.

The Manitoba Museum 19th annual Tribute Gala will take place in Alloway Hall on April 24, 2024. For information on reserving tables, purchasing tickets, exploring sponsorship opportunities, or donating to the Access for All community initiative, please visit our webpage or contact Cassidy Nicholls at or 204-988-0629.

2024 Tribute Gala Honourees

James Cohen is a Winnipeg-based community builder, business leader, volunteer, and philanthropist. He is President and CEO of real estate and energy investment company Gendis Inc., a past-Chair of several organizations including: Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The Manitoba Museum, The Manitoba Museum Foundation Inc. and The Young Presidents Organization YPO Manitoba Chapter and also served a full 8 year maximum term on the board of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and began his three decades of volunteering with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Football Club and the West End Cultural Centre. James is also a successful published musician and songwriter as founder of James Cohen and the Prairie Roots Rockers who released their debut album in 2011 on Soccermom Records / Warner Music Canada and featured the radio hit “So Long Sweet Deception” which appeared nationally on the Mediabase Active Rock Top 50 Chart for 16 consecutive weeks.

Linda McGarva-Cohen is a longtime volunteer, event planner and philanthropist who has served on the boards of several organizations including the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, The Downtown Winnipeg Biz Placemaking Committee, The Manitoba Theatre for Young People and Ace Art Inc. Previously she worked as a graphic designer, marketing specialist, and fashion illustration instructor.

James and Linda have supported a wide variety of causes in our community and abroad including the Assiniboine Park Conservancy Amur Tiger Exhibit, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The Manitoba Museum, The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, University of Manitoba, St. John’s-Ravenscourt School, True North Youth Foundation’s Camp Manitou, Harvest Manitoba, Ronald McDonald House, World Vision Canada, and various Winnipeg area hospitals.

They both believe in giving back by thinking globally, acting locally, and trying to help make our world of over 8 billion people a better place.



Media Contact: 

Brandi Hayberg
Manager of Marketing & Communications
Manitoba Museum

Do you know how to spot Orion in the night sky?

Long winter nights are perfect for sky watching! In this video, Planetarium Astronomer Scott Young will show you how to find the constellation Orion and the Winter Triangle.

Find the next showing of Manitoba Skies on the Planetarium schedule.

Join us for Dome@Home on the last Thursday of the month at 7 pm. We’ll be live on both Facebook and YouTube.

Do you know how we conserve the dioramas? Part 2

Did you know that vibrations and gravity can change the dioramas in the Museum Galleries? These dioramas are cared for by our Conservation team, who have a variety of challenges in their up-keep and must constantly adapt to find solutions to issues that arise! Learn about some of the work of a conservator in this video with Assistant Conservator Loren.

To learn more about diorama conservation in Loren’s recent blog post, click here.

Winnipeg 150: The Winnipeg Gallery

The city of Winnipeg turns 150 this year, with today being the anniversary of the first meeting of City Council! Join Curator of History Dr. Roland Sawatzky in the Winnipeg Gallery to learn some of the amazing stories shared in this space.

This series will continue throughout 2024, so keep an eye out for more #Wpg150 videos!

Do you know how we conserve the dioramas? Part 1

As you travel through the Manitoba Museum, you’re transported to various places and times by the dioramas in the galleries. These dioramas are cared for by our Conservation team, who have a variety of challenges in their up-keep and must constantly adapt to find solutions to issues that arise! In this video, Assistant Conservator Loren shows us his favourite diorama and shares a bit of the upkeep that goes into preserving it.

Come back next week to watch part 2! To learn more about diorama conservation in Loren’s recent blog post, click here.

Did you know light can damage the Museum’s collection?

You may have visited a museum and wondered why some spaces are a bit dark, or have motion sensor lights. It’s to minimize light damage on delicate artifacts! In this video, Senior Conservator Carolyn tells us how conservators work to protect objects on display from light damage, and how you can protect your treasures at home!

Climate Heroes: Youth Against Climate Change

Two youth wearing Youth Climate Alliance t-shirts engage with three young visitors at a pop-up exhibit.

By Mika Pineda, Learning and Engagement producer for Youth Climate Action at the Manitoba Museum

Working with youth always fascinates me. Their enthusiasm, creativity, and eagerness to learn are contagious; even tackling a complicated topic such as climate change is something that they are ready to take on.

Climate change is a global concern.  It is the long-term change in the Earth’s overall temperature, with massive and mostly permanent effects.  You see, climate change solutions are not simple for many, but for youth, you would be surprised with what they can come up with given the opportunity.

Young people play an important role in combating the climate crisis. They hold power in making a difference in the community and accelerate climate action. With youth’s increasing awareness and knowledge about climate change, many institutions are stepping up to provide a platform for them to pursue their climate change advocacies.


Participants host events to raise awareness and start important climate conversations. ©Manitoba Museum

The Manitoba Museum launched its first-ever Youth Climate Alliance program in March 2023. The Youth Climate Alliance is a group of high school students, age 14-18, who work together to better understand climate change and its impacts. Through a series of workshops and training, the Youth Climate Alliance host events “by and for” youth.

Since then, the program has had two cohorts with each cohort tackling various issues surrounding climate change – from global and local impacts of climate change to clothing and fast fashion. The participants of the Youth Climate Alliance organize and develop an event that aims to raise awareness and start important climate conversations with their fellow youth and even adults.

A group of nine youth and a Museum staff member smiling together. All are wearing matching t-shirts with an illustrated globe and the words “GenAction! / Youth Climate / Alliance”. On the right side of the group is a sign reading, “Our Changing Climate”.

The Climate Alliance works together to better understand climate change and its impacts. ©Manitoba Museum

Three youth wearing Youth Climate Alliance t-shirts stand behind a pop-up exhibit table with a shirt laid out in front of them. On a screen behind them text reads, "Clothing Materials that are Harmful:"

Do you know what your clothes are really made of? The Climate Alliance does! ©Manitoba Museum

While climate change is a big and complicated issue that the world is facing right now, programs such as the Youth Climate Alliance help provide a glimmer of hope to many, and with the start of the new year, the next cohort of the program is also around the corner!

Join the Alliance! The next cohort of the Youth Climate Alliance is now accepting applications.

Click here to find more details

Three youth wearing Youth Climate Alliance t-shirts stand behind a pop-up exhibit table with a container of water and two balloons floating in front of them.

The first cohort of the Alliance tackled the topic of global and local impacts of climate change. ©Manitoba Museum

Two smiling youth stand either side of a small rack of clothes. A poster on the rack reads, "Guess which items are fast fashion vs sustainable".

The second Climate Alliance cohort explored the issue of “fast fashion” and the industry’s impact on climate. ©Manitoba Museum

Hearts of Freedom shares the impactful stories of Southeast Asian refugees

Promotional graphic for Hearts of Freedom exhibition featuring six photographs of groups of refugees. Text reads,

Winnipeg, MB: January 2, 2024 – Stories of loss, stories of courage, stories of triumph. The Manitoba Museum is proud to host a pop-up exhibition which shares the emotional and impactful stories of Southeast Asian refugees who came to Canada between 1975 and 1985, and the stories of those who assisted them.

Impacted by the Vietnam War, the Lao Secret War, and the Cambodian Genocide, millions of refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia were forced to flee their homelands and to seek safety in other countries. Hearts of Freedom: Stories of Southeast Asian Refugees tells the stories of these survivors, in their own words and through their unique perspectives, adding to the fabric of the Canadian history of immigration.

“At the Manitoba Museum, we strive to collect and tell the stories of all the peoples of our province. This is an important exhibition that shares the incredible history of the Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian people who escaped war and genocide to find a new home in Canada, and in Manitoba.” – Roland Sawatzky, Curator of History at the Manitoba Museum.

The exhibition, curated by Dr. Stephanie Phetsamay Stobbe and created in collaboration with the Hearts of Freedom Exhibition Committee, is comprised of a variety of panels detailing the stories of refugee journeys through photographs and shared memories captured in interviews. Each panel’s interpretive text gives the reader further insight into the paths and obstacles faced by those making the difficult and often dangerous expedition.

“This is the first museum exhibition in Canada that showcases the Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian experiences in resettlement and settlement in Canada, and their successful integration. It also highlights the contributions they have made and continue to make in Canada and around the world.” – Stephanie Stobbe, Curator of HOF – Stories of Southeast Asian Refugees and Professor at Canadian Mennonite University.

Hearts of Freedom: Stories of Southeast Asian Refugees, will open to the public in the Manitoba Museum’s Festival Hall on January 5, 2024, with an official opening event on January 19. The exhibition will be on display until April 7, 2024.

About Hearts of Freedom

The exhibition was created by Dr. Stephanie Stobbe and the Hearts of Freedom Museum Exhibition Committee, in collaboration with Canadian Mennonite University, Carleton University, the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the Canadian Immigration Historical Society, the Vietnamese Canadian Federation, the Lao Association of Ottawa Valley, the Cambodian Association of Ottawa Valley, the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre – Museum of Migration, and the Manitoba Museum.

The Hearts of Freedom exhibition tour is funded in part by SSHRC and private funders.



Media Contact: 

Brandi Hayberg
Manager of Marketing & Communications
Manitoba Museum

Did you know where the HBC Museum started?

Before the Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection was donated to the Manitoba Museum, it was displayed elsewhere by the company. Learn how this tableau at the entrance to the HBC Gallery relates to the first HBC Museum in this video with Dr. Amelia Fay.

Check this spot out when you visit during Pyjama Days! Until January 7, 2024, we’re open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, with family fun in all three of our incredible attractions.

Buy your tickets today!