Brown wooden grandfather clock with intricate carving across the body and a gold clock face. A soldier wearing a plumed helmet and carrying a spear and hand axe poses on the door.


The Department of History documents and interprets the experiences of Red River inhabitants, settlers, and immigrants to Manitoba through its research and by collecting and exhibiting artifacts representative of the material culture these peoples have left behind. The Department of History works closely with the other research departments when creating exhibitions, so that the full story of Indigenous peoples, immigrants and their descendants, and the non-human life forms of Manitoba is told in a comprehensive and holistic way.

The History collection, which includes over 60,000 artifacts, begins chronologically with the arrival of the French, English, and Scottish during the fur trade era and emergence of the Métis nation. The collections continue into the post-Confederation period, with mass settlement of Western Canada in the late 19th to early 20th century. The processes of immigration continue to this day, with the ongoing arrivals of families from around the world, and our collecting and research activities aim to reflect this diversity. The Museum also collects artifacts related to social movements and recent important events, from labour strikes to Pride marches, Black Lives Matter, and the societal responses to the COVID pandemic. These events are history in the making, and are being preserved for future generations.

The Museum’s History research focuses on the lives of people in their homes, at work, and in their many organizations and activities. The Museum houses many significant collections unique to the province, which help tell these stories. 

Elongated triangular flag. The background is yellow wiith a thick black stripe stitched on top reading “Votes for Women” along the centre.

This Suffragist pennant was used in Manitoba during the struggle for women’s voting rights in the early 1910s. Image © Manitoba Museum 

A small horn-shaped brass bugle with dark brown braided cord wrapped around the coil.

This bugle was used by 16-year old Charles Bell in 1870. He was a bugle boy for the Red River Expedition, a military force sent to Manitoba by Canadian federal powers to speed the transition of authority from Louis Riel’s provisional government to a new Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. Some militia members of the Expedition caused havoc and violence when they settled in at Red River. Bell himself would later become a founder of the Manitoba Historical and Scientific Society. Image © Manitoba Museum 

The Ukrainian Canadian Veteran’s flag. The top half of the flag is light blue, and the bottom half is yellow. In the centre is a dark green maple leaf with a gold symbol on it – the Tryzub, or Ukrainian “trident” symbol. In yellow thread on the upper half of the flag is stitched, “Ukrainian Canaidna Veterans”. In light blue thread on the lower half of the flag is stitched, “Br. 141 / Royal Canadian Legion”. The flag has a gold fringe around the edges.

The Ukrainian Canadian Veterans flag includes the fusion of two potent symbols, the Canadian maple leaf and the Tryzub, a symbol of Ukrainian independence first used in 1918. The Ukrainian Canadian Veterans Association was founded in Winnipeg after WWII. 

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