9.46 m textual records; 1919 photographs & graphics
History / Biographical
Brandon, Manitoba was incorporated as a city in 1881. In 1882, led by Charles Whitehead and a small Board of Directors that included J.W. Vantassel, Charles Pilling, George Halse, J.E. Smith, William Johnson, R.T. Evans, and Thomas Lockhart, it was decided to hold an agricultural exhibition. These men were all involved in the farm business in one way or another, and they wanted an opportunity to help residents realize the agricultural potential of the region. In October of that year, the fledgling community held its first agricultural exhibition . The fair was held in downtown Brandon at what was known as “Market Square.” Market Square was two acres of land located on Princess Avenue between Eighth and Ninth Streets. Due to poor weather, and the fact that not many people were ready to show animals and grain, there was a relatively small turnout. The following year was much improved. There were 730 entries into the exhibition. By 1884, the Board of Directors of the Brandon Agricultural Society, which was in charge of the exhibition, realized that they were in poor financial shape, to the point of being personally out of pocket. It was realized that October was not the best time for farmers to be leaving their farms to go to an exhibition. In 1888, it was decided to move the exhibition to the summer time, when it was much easier for people to attend.
The first Brandon Summer Fair was held in July 1889, and it was a resounding success. The Board of Directors had added many items of interest to appeal to the entire public, not just agricultural people. In 1892, the Western Agricultural and Arts Association (WAAA) was formally established to take over duties from the Brandon Agricultural Society. However, it was not until 1897 that the WAAA held its first meeting. There is no explanation as to why there is a five year gap between the formation and the first meeting of this organization. 1897 was the turning point of the Brandon Exhibition. The fair was now firmly established in Brandon, and the Board of Directors was instrumental in ensuring that it remained so. This was done by petitioning to both the municipal and provincial governments for grant money. As well, the Board booked midway and grandstand acts that would bring the city dwellers to the agricultural exhibition.
There were also early attempts at holding an agricultural exhibition in the winter. The first such attempt was in 1884. There was also a Spring Stallion show held in 1891. By 1904, however, a petition by J.D. McGregor had gone out to formally establish a winter exhibition. This effort also failed, but by 1906, it was decided by businessmen, politicians, and farm representatives in Brandon, including McGregor, to organize a winter fair. Rather than seeing this new fair as competition, the Board of Directors of the summer fair felt that it would complement their exhibition. The new fair would remain primarily agricultural. The first winter fair was held in 1906. While the two fairs were not amalgamated, they did share the same secretary-manager. The secretary-manager was responsible for the day to day management of the fair, as well as keeping track of meetings and decisions reached by the various fair boards and committees. In 1907, the Brandon Winter Fair and Livestock Association (BWFLA) was formed to act primarily as a land-holding joint stock company. The following year the Provincial Winter Fair and Fat Stock Association (PWFFSA), an entirely separate organization from the BWFLA, was formed to manage the activities of the winter fair. The PWFFSA name was soon changed to the Manitoba Winter Fair and Fat Stock Association (MWFFSA).
By 1906, Brandon could boast two full size exhibitions, one in the summer and one in the late winter, both of which were considered to be premiere events. In 1908, the Brandon summer fair was renamed the Inter-Provincial Exhibition, and in 1912 it held it’s first Traveller’s Day, an event which would soon become an important addition to the fair and is still in existence today. It is thought that the name “Traveller’s Day” came from the fact that it was held on a Saturday, a day when many people could travel to Brandon for the exhibition.
In 1913, Brandon was bestowed with the honour of hosting the Dominion Exhibition. This was a national exhibition sponsored by the federal government. It was held in a different city every year. There were several cities vying for the 1913 Dominion Exhibition, but it was Brandon that impressed the sponsors the most. With the government funds received for this honour, the Board of Directors supervised the building of a new grandstand, display buildings, and racetrack, as well as the general expansion and improvements to the fairgrounds.
In the spring of 1912, it was decided by the Board of Directors of the winter fair that the facilities they were currently housed in were inadequate for their needs. The mayor and city clerk of Brandon went to the provincial legislature in order to request that there be an amendment added to the Brandon city charter. This amendment would allow the city to guarantee bonds issued by the winter fair board to help pay for the construction of a new facility. This request was granted, and a $70 000 addition was built next to the original winter fair building. The new building was opened in 1913.
Throughout the First World War, both the winter fair and Provincial Exhibition buildings were used for the war effort. There was one distinct difference however. The summer fair Board was able to negotiate a deal with the army that enabled it to reclaim the fair buildings during fair week. The winter fair, however, had to give up the idea of holding fairs in 1915 and 1916. It was not until 1917, that the winter fair was able to resume.
During this time, due to the financial problems that had beset the winter fair, the two exhibitions considered amalgamation. The Board of Directors of the winter fair felt that because they were the smaller of the two fairs, their interests would be swallowed up by the summer fair. The winter fair withdrew from the negotiations to amalgamate. With this rather sudden turn of events, the Board of Directors of the summer fair petitioned the government to be allowed to incorporate. This was granted, and in 1920, the WAAA was incorporated as the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba. From 1920, the summer fair was officially known as the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba. This was the first time that the summer fair was incorporated, and received the “status and financial assistance” that came with incorporation.
More problems beset the winter fair in the 1920s. In 1920, a fire burned down the winter fair pavilion, located at the south end of the winter fair buildings, and caused the Board to cancel the 1921 winter fair. It was not until 1922, that a new building was completed. By 1929, both fairs were well regarded throughout Canada. In 1929, a decade long Depression hit the west. While many fairs closed during this time, Brandon struggled to keep its open. The Directors of both fairs felt that the agricultural shows “encouraged excellence at a time when faith and enthusiasm were at a low ebb.” The summer fair proved to be quite successful during the Depression, likely as a result of the few moments one was able to forget one’s troubles while there. The winter fair was not quite as successful, although both fairs received government grants and work relief projects. There was little new entertainment in these exhibitions.
There were changes about to manifest themselves at the summer fair, however. While the winter fair had representatives from various associations on its Board of Directors, the summer fair Board of Directors was a small close-knit group of men. Citizens saw entry into this elite group as elusive and difficult. To ward off the possibility of the Board becoming a “self-sustaining clique,” that only chose Directors from within, it was decided by several citizens to try and elect some new blood into the fair Board. In 1933, there was a general election for the Board. Instead of the usual men shuffling positions, there were forty-four nominations for the twenty positions. When the voting was all over, seven new men sat on the Board. Despite some inner rumblings, especially on the summer fair Board over the next few years, both exhibitions survived the Depression.
During the Second World War the fairs once again were forced to operate under adversity. Once again, the buildings were requisitioned for the army, although they were released during fair week. The summer fair was forced to make several concessions, and the winter fair was relocated to the summer fair grounds for the duration.
The winter fair did not survive the Second World War intact. Due to financial reasons, in December of 1945, the Board of Directors turned the winter fair buildings over to the City of Brandon. By 1946, the BWFLA, which was the joint-stock land holding company, had ceased operations because the city now controlled the winter fair land and buildings.
The next fifteen years would be a time of rebuilding for both of Brandon’s exhibitions. Children especially were more active participants in the agricultural exhibitions. The summer fair continued to diversify and look for new ways of entertaining the public at large. The winter fair remained primarily agricultural. By the end of the 1950s the winter fair, which was used to struggling, was now both successful and stable; and the summer fair, a perennial success, was starting to fade.
By 1969, both the winter and summer fair Boards had realized that amalgamation was the best possible decision, both practically and financially, for the future of the two fairs. On 29 October, 1969, the two exhibitions amalgamated to become the Manitoba Exhibition Association. The reconstituted Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba was now responsible for both the winter and summer fairs. A new building was erected on the summer fair grounds to house both of the exhibitions. On 2 April 1973, the Keystone Centre was officially opened at the winter fair, although it had been in use since October of the preceding year.
In 1970, Manitoba’s Centennial, it was decided that an organization in Manitoba would receive the title of “Royal,” as a way to celebrate the centennial. Although many organizations applied for the honour, it was the Brandon winter fair that received the accolades. The winter fair was bestowed with the title “Royal”, and became known as the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.
In 1975, a third exhibition was added, this time a purely agricultural fall show known as the Agricultural Exhibition, or AgEx. This fair was partly organized on behalf of the cattle growers, who found that the summer and winter fairs did not give them adequate time and space to properly show their cattle. The return to a fall show, which had not existed since 1888, would be the return to a purely agricultural exhibition. This show was to be primarily a show and sale event. On 3 November 1975, the first AgEx was opened to resounding success.
The Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and AgEx are all still in existence in Brandon. They are regarded as three of the most important events to take place annually in the city.
These files were housed with the Manitoba Exhibition Association until c1986 when they were transferred to the S.J. McKee Archives at Brandon University.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of textual records and photographs comprised of the records from the three annual exhibitions that are held in Brandon, Manitoba: the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, and the Agricultural Exhibition (Ag-Ex). The textual records include prize lists, programs, minutes, financial, administrative files, original results, scrapbooks, tickets, news releases, contracts, by laws, documents as well as a miscellaneous section. There are approximately 1846 photographs that include scenes from these three exhibitions. These records provide a unique perspective on the development of agriculture and rural life in southwestern Manitoba. Fairs such as these have been and remain prime media of farm improvement, technological and scientific advancement in rural Canada, and the promoters of country living. These fairs also reflected the long tradition inherited from Britain and Europe of country fairs as centers of entertainment, social interchange and diversion. These records are a principal source of information about the most broadly based vocational, entertainment and social events held on an annual basis in southwestern Manitoba over the last century. The records are vital to academic research on agriculture or fairs, individual biography, or community history.
The RG 2 Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba Association finding aid was created by Karyn (Riedel) Taylor with the exception of Series 9 and the accompanying database, which were created by Donica Belisle. This finding aid was created in August 1999.
Researchers are responsible for observing Canadian copyright restrictions.
RG 2 Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba Association fonds
RG 2 Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba Association fonds
Additional records regarding the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, and AgEx are housed at the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba Association offices. To gain access to these records, it is necessary to contact the general manager of the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba Association.
The fonds is divided into sous-fonds by exhibition. There is a Provincial Exhibition sous-fonds, a Royal Manitoba Winter Fair sous-fonds, an Ag-Ex sous-fonds, and a Miscellaneous sous-fonds that holds information that could not be easily broken down into one exhibition. The arrangement is as follows:
RG 2 Provincial Exhibition Association of Manitoba fonds
RG2SF1 Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba
1.3 Financial Records
1.4 Administrative Files
1.5 Prize Lists and Programs
1.6 News Releases
1.7 Original Results
RG2SF2 Royal Manitoba Winter Fair
2.3 Financial Records
2.4 Administrative Files
2.5 Prize Lists and Programs
2.6 News Releases
2.7 Original Results
3.4 Administrative Files
3.5 Prize Lists and Programs
3.6 News Releases
3.7 Original Results
4.3 Financial Records
4.4 Administrative Files
Jack Stothard was born on February 16, 1932 in Brandon, MB. He attended public schools in the city (Central School, Park School, and Earl Oxford) and graduated from Brandon Collegiate Institute (BCI). Stothard married Velma Pollock in 1957 and together they had two daughters: Debra and Kimberly. Stothard was employed in the plumbing and heating business until 1960, when he joined Manitoba Hydro. In the course of his employment with Manitoba Hydro, he became Station Superintendent of the Brandon Generating Station. Stothard retired in 1995. Stothard was a member of the Canadian Numismatic Association, the Canadian Association of Token Collectors and the Toronto Postcard Club. Jack Stothard died on November 3, 2021 in Brandon, MB.
Accession 1-2003 was in the possession of Stothard until donated to the McKee Archives in 2003. Accession 12-2006 was acquired by Lawrence Stuckey at some point after the photograph was taken. Stuckey later sold a copy of the photograph. This copy was later acquired by Jack Stothard in the course of his collecting of Brandon postcards. Stothard donated the image to the McKee Archives in 2004. Accession 8-2007 was prepared by Jack Stothard in the course of 2007. He provided a copy to the Archives upon its completion. Accession 8-2008 was in the possession of Fred McGuinness until he gave jit to Jack Stothard in February 2008. Stothard donated the records to the McKee Archives on February 12, 2008. Accession 18-2008 was donated to the McKee Archives by Stothard on August 18, 2008. Accession 11-2009 was donated to the McKee Archives by Stothard on February 20, 2009. Accession 4-2012 was donated to the McKee Archives by Stothard on August 24, 2011. Accession 4-2013 was donated to the McKee Archives by Stothard in March 2013. Accession 8-2016 was donated to the McKee Archives by Stothard on January 21, 2015.
Scope and Content
Accession 1-2003 contains brief research reports prepared by Stothard on various topics concerning historical Brandon. These include: a listing of hotels, inns and motels that have operated in Brandon since the 1880s; reports dealing with the Café Aagard, Central United Church, the 1913 Dominion Exhibition, Brandon, the Empire Hotel, Brandon’s Central Steam Heating System, the Post Office and the Clement Block. It also contains one booklet: Facts About Brandon: An Industrial Survey of the City of Brandon. Winnipeg: Department of Industry and Commerce [n.d.]
Accession 12-2006 consists of one photograph of the Great Northern Engine 208, built by Rogers Locomotive Company 1887. Cylinders 18 x 24, Drivers 63". G.N. line Church's Ferry, N.D. to Brandon, Manitoba. Opened 1906, Closed 1936.
Accession 8-2007 consists of a brief typed report entitled "The Day the Lights Went Out in Brandon - Strike of 1919" by Jack Stothard. Document provides an account of the sources and delivery of hydro electric power to Brandon beginning in the early 1900s and the brief power outage at the beginning of the Brandon General Strike May 25, 1919.
Accession 8-2008 consists of "The Brandon Sun Challenge Cup" ledger, which contains two b/w photographs, newspaper clippings and information on the history and first race (1908) of the cup; 3 additional b/w photographs of different races; and the Brandon Old Timers Association record book (c. 1900).
Accession 18-2008 consists of a copy of Stothard's Brandon Postcards index. The index is divided into various sub-headings and consists of colored reproductions of postcards in Stothard's collection. The index contains pages that were discarded by Stothard as he updated his inventory, therefore the index is only up to date as of August 18, 2008.
Accession 11-2009 consists of a typed research report entitled "Brandon Police Department Stations and Locations" by Jack Stothard. The report outlines the location of the Brandon Police Department from 1882 - 2008, and also includes a section on "What the Future Holds."
Accession 4-2012 consists of pages for Stothard's Brandon Postcards index (18-2008) and a photocopy of a Brandon Municipal Railway ticket.
Accession 4-2013 consits of eight binders of handwritten notes/facts about Brandon compiled by Jack Stothard. The notes are a collection of names, places, things, events and items related mostly to the first 100 years of Brandon (1882-1982), although the notes continue into the 2000's. Some notes centre on the late 1930's to early 1950's during the period of Stothard's youth. The information in the binders was taken from a variety of publications, while some notes are Stothard's own comments. A list of sources, as well as a cross reference index for all eight binders, can be found in Book No. 1.
The accession includes: Book No. 1 - Notes of Brandon (A to B); Book No. 2 - Notes of Brandon (C to F); Book No. 3 - Notes of Brandon (G to O); Book No. 4 - Notes of Brandon (P to Z); Book No. 5 - Notes of Brandon: Churches, Hostpitals, Hotels; Book No. 6 - Notes of Brandon: Police Department, Fire Department; Book No. 7 - Notes of Brandon: Brandon City Council, City of Brandon etc.; Book No. 8 - Notes of Brandon: Brandon College/University, Brandon Schools, ACC, Brandon School Board. Accession also includes pages from Stothard's Brandon Postcards index (18-2008).
Accession 6-2016 consists of local history books, pamphlets, bakery tokens, local magazines, one binder containing handwritten notes/facts about Brandon compiled from the Brandon Sun's "Looking Back" column, and an accordian file box containing newspaper clippings about Brandon.
The accession includes the following local history books: Betty Watson's "One Day in Brandon Manitoba 9/9/99" (Brandon, Manitoba: Bart Art Books, 1999); P.N. Breton's "Popular Illustrated Guide to Canadian Coins, Medals, &. &.," (Winnipeg: Canadian Numismatic Publishing Institute, 1963 [reprint]); "Facts About Brandon: An Industrial Survey of the City of Brandon," (Province of Manitoba: Department of Industry and Commerce, ); The Polish Gymnastic Association Sokol's "75th Anniversary: From the Past to the Future!" ([Brandon, Manitoba: Polish Gymnastic Association Sokol, 1988]); and Brandon Kinsmen Club's "'Together...Once Again': A History of the Kinsmen Club of Brandon, Manitoba, 1925-1975 (Brandon, Manitoba: The Historical Committee of the Kinsmen Club of Brandon, 1975).
Pamplets and magazines include: Brandon Generating Station (1957) and (1969), The Brandon Quota Club presents...A Century in Revue (1982), Canadian Rail No. 168/July-August 1965 [featuring Brandon Municipal Railway], Prairie City Issue No. 3/1994, and Prairion May/June 1997.
The binder is titled Book No. 9 - "Year by year: miscellaneous items from 1969 to 2000"; an asterik (*) indicates notes have been made on each subject or item in the other Books. Each section is housed in
The files in the accordian file box have been rehoused and include the following topics: banks, Brandon 125 beer, Behlen Industries, breweries, Brandon Shoppers' Mall, calendars, Canadian Motors Ltd., Canexus/Nexen, Canada Games - Summer and Winter, Canadian Tire, CKX Radio & TV/CKLQ, Corral Centre, flour mills, hospitals, Keystone, Maple Leaf, Fred McGuinness, miscellaneous, A.E. McKenzie, people, railways, Simplot, Westman Recycling (new facility), weather-storms-floods, and extra copies of postcards.
Description by Christy Henry. Accession 4-2013: Book No. 1 contains a photocopied photograph of Aagaard's Cafe, photographs of the Dominion Bank and Barney's Drive Inn and a photo reproduction of the Bass Building. Book No. 2 contains a photograph of the Provincial Goal. Book No. 3 contains photographs of T. Eaton Company (4 construction photos) and a photo reproduction of tents on the Exhibition grounds (c. 1940). Book No. 4 contains photoraphs of the Oak Theatre and Western Motors. There are also photopied photographs of The Fun Shop.