Manitoba's Museum of Man and Nature

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

In September 2007 we were fortunate to visit this museum, an exquisite and rewarding experience!

The Manitoba Museum is the province’s largest heritage centre, renowned for its combined human and natural heritage themes. The institution shares knowledge about Manitoba, the world and the universe through its collections, exhibitions, publications and much more.
The Museum’s collections reflect the heritage of Manitoba and other regions of the world. Eight interpretive galleries explore the history and environment of the province from its northern Arctic coast to its southern prairie grasslands.
We also enjoyed the Urban Gallery, which shows Winnipeg in the 1920s, and the full-size replica ship Nonsuch, whose voyage in 1668 led to the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Too much to take in on one visit, so we hope to return some day. Meanwhile, here is an impression.


An INUKSUK (plural: inuksuit) is a stone landmark used as a milestone or directional marker by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. Inuksuit differ from some cairns in significance. The Arctic Circle, dominated by permafrost, has few natural landmarks and thus the inuksuk was central to navigation across the barren tundra.
Inuksuit vary in shape and size, and perform a diverse array of tasks. It is a symbol with deep roots in the Inuit culture, a directional marker that signifies safety, hope and friendship.
Source: Wikipedia.
We came across many, esspecially east of Winnipeg, entering the Canadian Shield.


Human History curators and staff are committed to increasing awareness and appreciation of Manitoba’s heritage through the acquisition and preservation of artifacts. This collection of 2,300,000 artifacts is used for research, gallery and exhibit development, public programming and as educational teaching aids.


Natural History collections are developed and maintained as a ‘specimen library’ of plants, animals, fossils, rocks and minerals for the province. Specimens are used for reference and research, in public and school programs, and in exhibitions. More than 200,000 specimens are stored in secure, climate-controlled conditions. As the provincial repository, a large portion of the Museum’s collections is Manitoba material, but there are also many significant specimens from other parts of the world.

The Hudson's Bay Company Gallery is the showcase for 'Manitoba's National Treasure': the Hudson's Bay Company Museum Collection.
The Collection was gifted to the Museum in 1994, together with the Company's commitment to ensure its future care.

On June 5, 1668, the Eaglet and Nonsuch made their way down the Thames from Gravesend en route to Hudson Bay. Ten days later they rounded the Orkney Islands to the Northeast of Scotland and headed west. The intent was to make a speculative voyage to North America and prove the economic viability of trade with those parts of the world.
Some 1200 nautical miles west of Ireland the two ships encountered severe storms and heavy seas. Eaglet was forced to turn back and arrived back in Plymouth "with some losse" by August; Nonsuch carried on alone.
The sturdy little vessel anchored in James Bay, off the mouth of the Rupert River on September 29, 1668 - the very same place where Henry Hudson had wintered more than half a century earlier. The crew set about to make their winter camp, clearing land and building a stockade and small house. Nonsuch was hauled up out of the water and careened on the riverbank. In the spring of 1669, after a long winter, almost 300 peaceful Cree arrived to trade prime beaver skins. Finally, on June 14, Nonsuch set sail for England, arriving back in London in October.
The subsequent history of the ship is unknown, but it is likely she was sold. Later vessels used by Hbc were much larger.


To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Company a replica of the Nonsuch was built by Messrs. J. Hinks and Sons of Appledore, Devon. She was launched in August 1968 and shipped to Canada in 1970. She sailed around Lake Ontario in 1970 and 1971 and through the Welland Canal into Lake Erie, and as far as Chicago. In 1972 she was transported to Seattle and after spending some time there sailed up to British Columbia making several ports of call along the coast.
Today the Nonsuch replica has a permanent home in this museum Winnipeg, where she is the star attraction of the Nonsuch Gallery, "moored" at a recreation of the 17th century London docks.



Both Nonsuch and Eaglet were ketches, a type of two-masted sailing vessel with the second, or mizzen, mast set behind the main mast and holding a small triangular sail. The ketch is still popular today among long distance cruisers as the additional sail allows for better balance. At 43 tons Nonsuch had a deck 53 feet in length, 37 feet along the keel. Her beam (breadth) was 15 feet , she had a draft of 6˝ feet, and was designed to take a completment of 6-8 naval cannon.
Built in Wivenhoe, Essex in 1650, she had begun life as a merchant ship, was bought by the British Navy, subsequently captured by the Dutch, and recaptured by the British before being sold to private interests.
She is generally believed to have been named in honour of Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine, one of King Charles II's favourite mistresses. The name, meaning "none such" or "without equal" was a nickname of hers.
Source: www.hbc.com/hbcheritage/history/transportation/nonsuch


Steered by direct 'rudder control', not by a wheel.


Transport went mainly by water during the era of the Fur Trade, by canoos and shallow keelboats.


As the canoes grew larger, these York boats were also introduced as they could transport an even larger load. Points of portage had to be altered, on longer portage points logs were used to turn the trail into a 'road'.
York boats were used by the Hudson's Bay Company on all of Canada's major rivers and lakes east of the Rockies after 1797.


Motorized sleds were first fashioned in the early 1900s for practical purposes like logging, trapping, carrying mail, and emergency transportation. Although the Ford Motor Company manufactured a snow-friendly adaptation for their car in 1928, most early snowmobiles were pieced together with borrowed parts from farm implements and parts available at the local Agway.
Between 1922 and 1926, Carl Eliason of Sayner, Wisconsin hand-produced forty "motor toboggans" with ski-like front runners and rear drive tracks, which became the prototype for the modern snowmobile.
Source: www.njskylands.com


The agricultural background of the Prairie Provinces.


The scenic beauty that was yet to come for us.

Wnnipeg 1920s
Winnipeg of the 1920s recreated.

Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature
History on the Hudson Bay Company
Hudson Bay Company on Wikipedia
Transportation in Canada - Wikipedia
Canadian_Prairies on Wikipedia
To: Canadian Prairie Provinces - Sep. 2007