The Westman Oral History collection was a project of the Westman Oral History Association and ran from 1980-84. The Westman Oral History Association was created on August 12, 1980, by a steering committee of the Assiniboine Historical Society. The Oral History Association undertook a project called "Voices of Yesteryear." The project was created in order to record and preserve the lives and experiences of early settlers to the Westman area. Work began in 1981, and included interviews conducted with approximately seventy senior citizens from over twenty communities in western Manitoba. The Association held a training session for committee members on April 11, 1981, where 125 participants learned how to conduct an effective interview and how to operate the recorders used in the interviews. The chairman of the Westman Oral History Association was Effie McPhail, the coordinator was Sally Cunningham, and the secretary was Bob Coates. Some of the interviews recorded were used in the early months of 1982 on a local radio station, CKLQ, as part of a program called "Centennial Memories." The project resulted in the creation of the Westman Oral History Collection.
This collection was accessioned by the McKee Archives in 1998. The original tapes from the Westman Oral History project were deposited in the Brandon Public Library. Copies of these originals were made by Margaret Pollex of the Brandon University Language Lab at the request of Eileen McFadden, University Archivist in the early 1990s. These copies compose the collection held in the McKee Archives.
Scope and Content
The collection includes the audiotapes used to record the interviews, as well as corresponding files for each interview subject. The files contain facts about the interviewees, including date and place of birth, occupations, and marital status. The files also include a summary of the interview heard on each tape.
The interviews were done with men and women pioneers from the Westman area of Manitoba, and describe the daily lives of common people during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The topics covered in the interviews include the following: Agriculture, Associations and Clubs, Churches and Church Life, Cultural Events, Early Politics, Education, Health Services, Immigration, Local Businesses, Native-White Relations, Pioneer Settlements, Pioneer Way of Life, Social Life, Sports, Transportation, and War Brides. This collection includes interviews with residents from the following communities: Brandon, Boissevain, Brookdale, Carberry, Deloraine, Douglas, Elkhorn, Erickson, Forrest, Glenboro, Hamiota, Hartney, Justice, Kenton, Killarney, Melita, Minnedosa, Neepawa, Ninette, Oak Lake, Rapid City, Reston, Rivers, Shoal Lake, Sioux Valley Reserve, Souris, Strathclair, Virden, and Wawanesa. The interviews also disclose the unique experiences of pioneer women in rural areas. Many of the interviewees provide brief family histories during their interviews.
Some of the files include photocopied pictures of the interviewees. Description written by Robyn Mitchell (2001).