Delta Marsh History Initiative
What is DMHI? | Newsletters | Documents | Minutes | How to help

What is the DMHI?


The dance hall, hotel and breakwater near the Delta railway station on the shore of Lake Manitoba, circa 1920.

In its heyday, Delta Marsh attracted people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Generations of farmers, fishermen, hunters and trappers who lived close to the marsh found themselves in the company of the British royal family, and later, movie stars, television personalities and even astronauts. Today the marsh is just as famous but it has seriously deteriorated since the 1960s due to the effects of unfavourable water levels, a destructive fish species, overgrowth by cattails, and contamination from sewage, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides.

Delta Marsh is designated officially as a Wetland of International Significance, a Heritage Marsh, and an Important Bird Area. As such, many people and organizations are keenly interested in restoring the marsh to its former magnificence. By making people aware of the rich history and cultural importance of the area, we believe that support for conservation of Delta Marsh, and other similarly degraded wetlands throughout the province, will grow. The Delta Marsh story, as part of the heritage of all Manitobans, must be preserved for the benefit of future generations.

A group of people who share an interest in the area, the Delta Marsh History Initiative, is preparing to write a book. This book will include histories of the prominent people and organizations of the marsh, encompassing a full range of views from cottage and lodge owners, hunters, fishers, trappers, birdwatchers, beach-goers, scientists, tourists, and others.

Following an enthusiastic initial meeting at Mallard Lodge, a steering committee was formed in May 2001 to oversee the collection of historical information, the publication of a book, and the deposition of collected materials in an appropriate historical archive for use by future generations.

Work of the DMHI is supported by Manitoba Conservation and the Delta Marsh Field Station (University of Manitoba).

Are you interested in helping? Please contact us!

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Delta History News


Women boating in Delta Channel, circa 1920.

The DMHI newsletter Delta History News contains stories and photographs about Delta history found in the course of our research. It provides a taste of what will come in our book.

Note: The newsletters are Adobe Acrobat documents. In order to view them, you will need a copy of the Acrobat Reader software, which is available as a free download from the Adobe web site at www.adobe.com.

Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 2002) (Adobe Acrobat file, 29 kb)

Contents:
What is the Delta Marsh History Initiative?
Steamboats in Delta Marsh
World War II troop carrier excavated from Delta Beach
A day at Delta - 1901
Delta History Fish Fry - March 2002

Vol. 1, No. 2 (April 2002) (Adobe Acrobat file, 243 kb)

Contents:
The Murder Oak
The Great Delta Dog Derby - 1927
Delta history on the Internet
Delta History Fish Fry - March and July 2002

Vol. 1, No. 3 (June 2002) (Adobe Acrobat file, 18 kb)

Contents:
The Fourth Station
Canada Day Fish Fry - 1 July 2002
Delta in the News - 1952 to 1955

Vol. 1, No. 4 (October 2002) (Adobe Acrobat file, 23 kb)

Contents:
Flood !
Delta History Fish Fry & Silent Auction
Oakland History
Thanks

Vol. 2, No. 1 (January 2003) (Adobe Acrobat file, 46 kb)

Contents:
Fairford Channel
Gambling at Delta - 1901

Vol. 2, No. 2 (May 2003) (Adobe Acrobat file, 18 kb)

Contents:
Where have all the ducks gone?
Delta Vice - 1901
Oakland History Book
Delta History Fish Fry

Vol. 2, No. 3 (September 2003) (Adobe Acrobat file, 69 kb)

Contents:
Royal Duck Hunt 1901
Lawbreakers 1925
Delta Reed Harvest
William Martin, Manitoba Gypsum Company

Vol. 2, No. 4 (February 2004) (Adobe Acrobat file, 66 kb)

Contents:
A "Home Child" at Delta
Delta History Fish Fry
Delta History Open Houses
"Darkness on the Delta"
Hugh Armstrong (1858-1926)

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Documents


A tax roll book for the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie (1937-38), containing detailed information on land use in and around Delta Marsh

DMHI handout (Adobe Acrobat file, 16kb)

Geological origin of Delta Marsh
Delta Marsh has existed for at least 2,500 years. It was formed when a peninsula was eroded by counter-clockwise currents in Lake Manitoba, causing deposition of a "barrier beach" along the southern lake shore. A portion of the lake was thereby isolated, creating the marsh.

History of the Delta Marsh Field Station: Donald H. Bain (1874-1962) (Adobe Acrobat file, 75kb)
Gordon Goldsborough, 1996
Many of the buildings comprising the field station were originally owned by prominent Winnipeg businessman and athlete Donald Bain. This is a short biography of Mr. Bain. A much longer, more detailed one is in preparation.

History of the Delta Marsh Field Station: The transitional years (1962-1966) (Adobe Acrobat file, 197kb)
Jennifer M. Shay, 1997
This report, by the first Director of the field station, describes the events following Donald Bain's death in 1962, the purchase of his property by the Manitoba government, and the eventual establishment of the field station in 1966.

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Minutes of steering committee meetings

The Duke of York visits the shooting box of Senator John Nesbitt Kirchhoffer in Delta Marsh, 1901.

The steering committee meets frequently to discuss progress and to plan future events and activities. Its minutes are available here.

2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007

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How can you help?


Clark Gable and members of Portage Country Club after a successful duck sheet, circa 1938

We need your help to complete this project. There are several ways you can help:

  • provide photographs, reminiscences, family stories, or any other information pertaining to Delta Marsh
  • let us know about people you know who have information about Delta Marsh
  • make a tax-deductible donation to help with costs of the project

Contact us at:

Delta Marsh History Initiative
c/o Delta Marsh Field Station (University of Manitoba)
Box 38, R.R. #2
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba R1N 3A2
Phone: (204) 857-8637
Fax: (204) 857-4683
Toll-free in Canada: (866) 770-5372
E-mail: delta_marsh@umanitoba.ca (Note underscore: delta_marsh)
Web: www.umanitoba.ca/delta_marsh/history

The project is being spearheaded by people from communities in and around Delta Marsh, including Delta, Oakland, Westbourne, and Portage la Prairie. Please contact a member of the steering committee for more information.

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