Friday, 1 December 2017

2017 History Buff's Christmas Gift Guide

Here is my eighth annual Christmas gift guide for the local history buff in your life. You will find books, t-shirts, magazines, mugs, memberships and more. Check back as there are bound to be updates.


A mainstay of any history buff's gift list are books, of course!

I've created an Amazon store called the Manitoba History Bookstore and assembled about 100 titles, new and old. There's also a section for out of print books that you might be able to find at used bookstores, plus a children's category!

Here is a list of some great recent titles. Those with an asterisk indicate that they are new for 2017.
** In Snacks: A Canadian Food History, Janis Thiessen tells the back story of Canadian kitchen favourites such as Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hawkins Cheezies and Ganong chocolates. (U of M Press, McNally Robinson, Amazon)

**Jeffrey Thorsteinson (architectural historian) and Brennan Smith (art historian) team up in Green Blankstein Russell and Associates: An Architectural Legacy. This local company went on to become one of Canada's preeminent modernist architecture firms of the 1950s and 60s. (WAF, McNally Robinson)

**Bryan Scott and Bartley Kives are back with their second instalment of unique photos and commentary. (See below for their first offering.) Stuck in the Middle 2 ventures where SM1 didn’t: outside the Perimeter. (Great Plains, McNally Robinson, Amazon)

**Photographer John Paskievich revisits the places he photographed in the 1970s – 1990s for his book in his book The North End in The North End Revisited. Check out this interview with Colin Corneau. (U of M Press, McNally Robinson, Amazon)

**In 1992, Susan Thompson became the first woman elected mayor of Winnipeg. Her memoirs look at her background and the challenges she faced in the male dominated world of civic government.(Friesen Press, McNally Robinson, Amazon)

Abandoned Manitoba is a collection of remnants of the past from around the province. The sites, from grain elevators to military installations and mine shafts, are beautifully photographed and well researched to tell their story. (Great Plains, McNally, Amazon)

The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation continues to add items to its bookshelf. Check out the Colour Your City colouring book featuring dozens of Winnipeg's best known buildings. There is also a new children's guide called Exchange Marks the Spot and their ever-growing collection of illustrated walking tour pocket books as well.

Check out their online shop or storefront office in the Exchange District.

**Relive the Jets' golden age with Geoff Kirbyson's The Hot Line: How the Legendary Trio of Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson Transformed Hockey and Led the Winnipeg Jets to Greatness. (Great Plains, McNally, Amazon)

Manitoba loves its pro wrestling but its roots go back much further than the days of Stampede Wrestling. Thrashing Seasons looks at the sport's evolution through the 19th and early 20th centuries. (U of M Press, Amazon)

In the world of fiddle music, Woodridge, Manitoba's Andy Dejarlis was - and is - a legend. Andy Desjarlis: The Life and Music of an Old-Time Fiddler looks at his life and his dedication to his music. To get you in the mood, check out some of his songs on YouTube! (Great Plains)

Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors, A National History
Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors, A National History is a first hand account of Canada's residential school system. It includes many historic photographs of students and their communities as well as images and site maps of of the school buildings. (Portage and Main Press - preview)

Gary Moir looks back at the radio stations and personalities that brought Manitobans together in the fun times and periods of crisis in On the Air: The Golden Age of Manitoba Radio. (Great Plains, McNally, Amazon)

In Wish You Were Here, Stan Milosevic of ManitobaPhotos.com shares some of his wonderful collection of colour-tinted postcards from Winnipeg's past, including the inscriptions written by the senders! (Great Plains, McNally, Amazon)

Over a decade in the making, DELTA: A Prairie Marsh and its People combines history, science and beautiful photography to tell the story of this region of the province. To hear an interview with Dr. Gordon Goldsborough, one of the co-authors. (MHS, McNally, other retailers)

Take a walk on Winnipeg's wild side with Haunted Winnipeg. Nine stories about some of Winnipeg's best known buildings and the creepy things that go on inside them at night. (Great Plains, McNally, Amazon)

Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story is the latest graphic novel by David Alexander Robertson recounting the story of a dark chapter in our province's history. Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson. (McNally, Chapters)

You can never go wrong with Winnie the Pooh! here's the latest book written about the real-life bear! (Amazon, Chapters, McNally) Also, check out this review in The Guardian.

A Knock on the Door  The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by Phil Fontaine and Aimée Craft (U of M Press, Chapters, Amazon) Will be available from the U of M Press in January 2016.

Brian Darragh, one of Winnipeg's last streetcar operators, put together this look back at our forgotten streetcar heritage. Check out the accompanying website. (Amazon, McNally, Friesen's)

The Patriotic Consensus  Unity, Morale, and the Second World War in Winnipeg by Dr.  Jody Perrun takes a look at what it was like in Winnipeg while World War II raged overseas. Hear my interview with the author. (McNally, Amazon)

The Roblin goes behind the scenes of Adelaide Street's Roblin Hotel, Canada's last men's only hotel and beer parlour. Check out my my interview with the author. (McNally)

From the publishers of Canada's History magazine is Canada's Great War Album to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Canada's entry into the Great War. (Direct, Amazon)

This is from 2013, but a book every Winnipegger should own. Imagining Winnipeg a collection of some of L. B. Foote's most interesting photographs of early Winnipeg, many never before published. (U of M Press, McNally, Amazon)

Also from 2013, Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg. Journalist Barley Kives and photographer Bryan Scott team up to check out the highs and lows of everyday Winnipeg. To hear my interview with the author. (Great Plains, McNally, Amazon)

Also from 2013 is 300 Years of Beer: An Illustrated Guide to Brewing in Manitoba. Meticulously researched and full of many never before seen images of breweries and beer memorabilia from locations across Manitoba. (Great Plains, McNally, Amazon)

Still around is Russ Gourluck's 2012 offering: Silver Screens on the Prairies. Be sure to check out his previous works and pick them up before they're out of print. The Mosaic Village: An Illustrated History of Winnipeg’s North End and his books on the Winnipeg Tribune, Eaton's and Portage Avenue. (Great Plains, McNally, Amazon)

Manitoba History is the quarterly journal of the Manitoba Historical Society. Single copies can be purchased at McNally Robinson or get it free with your membership in the MHS. Contact them about back copy sales. (Check out a preview of the current edition)

No more snickering because The Beaver is now called Canada's History Magazine. Canada's History Society also publish Kayak: Canadian History for Kids. Both are produced right here in Winnipeg and you can order gift subscriptions through the links above.


It's Winnipeg. It's winter. It's gonna get cold. Who wouldn't want an HBC blanket? If that is a little pricey for you, HBC has a range of products from t-shirts to Swiss Army knives and even dog sweaters.

Heritage Winnipeg still has Winnipeg Streetcar 356 t-shirts, but only XL and XXL. Proceeds go towards the Streetcar 356 Restoration Project.

How about a founding father? Keepin' It Riel t-shirts are available for sale online and at select retailers around the city. Check out the website.


Many museums have their own shops where you're sure to find something unique. Here are links to some of them: St. Boniface Museum - Manitoba Museum - Daly House - Musée St. Joseph Museum - Winnipeg Railway Museum - Royal Aviation Museum - Dalnavert Museum
Besides their book collection, the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation has a wide selection of merchandise featuring iconic Winnipeg buildings. Pins, fridge magnets, mugs, tea towels and more. Shop online or visit them at 266 McDermot, (Mon - Fri from noon to 4:30)

The St. Boniface Museum Gift Shop has a wide range of items, including Metis flags, mugs, voyageur sashes, toques, and replica Red River carts.

The Golden Boy Gift Shop at the Manitoba Legislature celebrates everything Manitoba. From Manitoba crested glasses and mugs to Golden Boy scarves and toques.


Heritage Winnipeg also has an online store that includes a collection of prints by Robert J. Sweeney or how about a copy of Fonseca's 1884 city map suitable for framing? Check out more items here.

From our finest buildings to our grungiest back lanes, Winnipeg photographer Bryan Scott has captured them all and sells a selection of his images here.

Elaina El's cityscapes include historic buildings such as the Telegram Building and West End Cultural Centre.


Have fun and help out the Gas Station Arts Centre with Villageopoly. It's based on Monopoly, but has all of your favourite Osborne Village haunts.

Cinematheque sells movie pass packages, posters, t-shirts and DVDs at their online shop.

Aside from their shop, the Manitoba Museum also invites you to adopt an artefact from their collection. It costs between $35 and $500, depending on the object, and you can switch it up year after year!

Last year, the City of Winnipeg emptied out its shard yard - pieces of demolished historic buildings that were saved to be incorporated into other projects - and approached Heritage Winnipeg to help find them a home.

A section of pieces are now on display and for sale at Shelmardine's and Heritage Winnipeg has some smaller pieces for sale.

Winnipeg's Salvage Supermarket offers a wide range of old building materials, from the mundane to the downright odd. Want some letters from the giant signs that hung on the side of the Winnipeg Convention Centre or perhaps a floor safe? Check out their miscellaneous section.


I fall else fails, remember that museums and heritage groups run on shoestring budgets and are always looking to sell memberships and accept donations. Why not buy someone a membership or make a donation on their behalf ?

You can find a complete list of museums here. Some deserving groups:


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