Hartney & District Learning Materials Project


Our Essential Past: Learning Products: About this Project

Origins & Purpose

The Town Hartney and the R.M. of Cameron completed the three foundational projects which fall under the umbrella,  “Our Essential Past”.

These projects, (Special Places, Notable People and Pivotal Events) have generated considerable material from which educational products can be adapted. The purpose of The Learning Products Project is to introduce these projects to teachers and to begin the process of providing a framework within which the projects and other local resources can be used to best advantage in classrooms.

In general we hope to make it easier to teach Manitoba and Canadian History from a local perspective, and put students in contact with sites, artifacts, photographs, maps, and texts that are connected to their world.

It is you, the teacher, who will decide the best ways to use the resources; our goal is to provide some starting points.

Source Materials Available

Special Places

Special Places Projects are Inventories of Sites, including an analysis process that addresses the relative heritage value of existing sites. Inventories of both the Town of Hartney and The R.M. of Cameron are available.

Notable People

Such projects use the process developed for Special Places Projects with the focus being on People as opposed to Buildings. The result will be a comprehensive look at the influential people in the region’s history and the relative merits of each person’s contribution. The results are available in two binders; The Inventory of Notable People and “We Made Hartney”, a more in-depth look at the contributions of selected individuals.

Pivotal Events

Pivotal Events Projects aim to identify and explore the main themes in a community's history and produce an illustrated Time Line that will help communities recognize, explore, celebrate and promote the heritage assets that every community has.

All materials are also available at: hartneyheritage.ca

Rationale for using Local History Materials

Blame Nellie McClung…

As a teacher and a student of history, I knew a bit about Nellie McClung and her role in the battle for women’s suffrage. I had read at least one of her works of fiction, and counted myself well informed in general. But what I didn’t know, what my high school and university history courses had neglected to tell me, was that she grew up just a short distance from my home town.  I had no idea that in the numerous times that I had driven down Highway #2 in the Wawanesa area I passed within sight of the school yard were she got her early education, within a few miles of the homestead where she grew up. In fact I knew distant relatives of hers, (there still are quite a few in the area) before I knew anything about her early life.

My point is that I think I would have appreciated that information. I think that knowing about a local concrete link to this prominent Canadian would have made History a bit more real for me. In fact Historians were, and still are, somewhat careless about physical details that might establish more of a sense of place to the stories of the past. Manitoba’s new encyclopedia (an excellent volume) lists Nellie’s childhood home, incorrectly, as Millbrook.) I believe they meant to say, Millford.  Someone didn’t check even the most basic of sources, or an editor simply made a mental error. Either way it reflects a general lack of concern, a mindset in which such details are of little consequence.

Well I believe that such details are of consequence. I think that instead of bemoaning the fact that interest in History seems to be declining, we should be examining the possibility that if we allow for an easier connection between the somewhat abstract facts, figures and dates, and the physical concrete places, buildings and artifacts, we will find the people indeed do like history.

Experiences: How One Thing Leads to Another….

I learned about the local connection to the Nellie McClung story while researching, of all things, canoe routes. In trying to learn more about the country I was crossing, I discovered that there were many forgotten town sites along the rivers and that their names were unfamiliar to me. Millford was one of them. And one thing led to another…

Learning by accident…

Often while driving westward along Highway #2 near Wawanesa I’ve taken a brief glance southwards as I crossed the bridge and thought, “That looks interesting.”  You only have time to catch a glimpse of a steep cutbank cliff and the winding river that brushes against it, a mere hint of a wild looking landscape. You get another glimpse as you crest the hill and, for most of us, that’s all you see. We’re all busy. We’ve got places to go. Were you to stop at the western rim of the valley, as I did one day, you will be surprised to find out how easy it is to get a much better view. A conveniently placed crossroad offers a road allowance south from Highway #10 that you might mistake for a lane to a farmyard. The road ends abruptly, and indeed does lead to the entrance of private lane, but it is a public road allowance, and there, a few hundred metres from a busy highway, if you get out of your car and walk a few steps, you will be rewarded with a river valley view that can only be described as panoramic. There on the ‘flats’ was the village of Souris City, a tiny but important nucleus of settlement that existed for a brief decade in the 1880’s until the railway routes were finally settled and Wawanesa came into being.  At its birth Souris City was one of many speculative “cities” that came with the Manitoba Land Boom of 1881-82, but although it is now long gone, it did have more of an impact than most of its kind. This spot perfectly captures a view of the entire flats, the dream and the reality that was Souris City.

But I wouldn’t have known what I was looking at, in fact I likely wouldn’t have stopped, if my rambling (and random?) inquiries spurred on by my canoe route research hadn’t taken me there.

These “False Starts” exist all over Manitoba. The textbooks we are given in schools usually don’t mention them. They are local trivia from the national perspective, but they are essential to telling the complete story of each existing community.

So is my point perhaps that, if you want your students to connect with history, take them canoeing? Or hiking?


Or get them to to try this:

Go to Google Earth and enter the coordinates 49' 31'12.70 N and 99'49'34.35W.

With a bit of zooming you should find a view similar to this one.

What we are seeing is a stretch of the Souris River about 10 km southwest of Wawanesa.

Even a curious and observant person might not notice the pair of lines running north-south to the west of the river channel. A person who did notice them might at first suppose that they were some sort of trail, but they don't seem to be going anywhere, at least the one on the right doesn't seem to go anywhere.  And why would there be two parallel trails?

I'm happy to report that they aren't landing strips for alien spaceships or even ancient aboriginal linear mounds. They're much more recent. In fact they date from about 1890 and they represent the hopes and dreams of one of the area pioneers.

How do I know? Again … blame the canoe.

Stuff Happened Here!

Once I made my own personal connection between the abstract past and the very real artifacts, locations, buildings that exist in all communities the list of things I wished I would have learned in school kept growing.

I hadn’t really though about sawmills and the lumber business, because my history and geography courses had led me to believe that lumber came from B.C.  I hadn’t known much about fur trade forts because my school texts gave me the impression that they were all northern and didn’t mention the ones that were right here. I knew about explorers like LaVerendrye and David Thompson but had no idea that they had spent time nearby.

It not that this information wasn’t readily available. Its just that the standardized textbooks our teachers relied upon were written from a national perspective. We were supposed to get the big picture.

We learned about Louis Riel but not so much about Cuthbert Grant, we learned about the C.P.R. and not so much about the branch lines and upstart companies that brought our small towns to life.

Which brings us to the simple purpose of this project.

The aim is to just make it a bit easier for teachers to make the local connection by providing this collection of resources.

It’s not a self-contained learning package. It is not a definitive manual or textbook. It won’t take the place of mandated texts.

I can’t, and shouldn’t, tell you what to do with these resources, although I may have included a few general suggestions. Teachers will know what to do with them – I’ve just done some of the legwork in pulling them together.

Ken Storie

Best Practices in Local History Teaching

Historical Thinking
At the end of 12 years of studying history in school, students should have more than an accumulation of memorized dates and facts. Students need to understand their lives in the historical context of the past. Historical Thinking fosters a new approach to history education. It involves a shift in the teaching and learning of history. Historical Thinking is central to history instruction and students should become competent Historical Thinkers as they progress through the grades.

The Six Historical Thinking Concepts that provide a way of understanding history and communicating complex ideas are:

1. Establish historical significance

Our local histories are full of information about our communities. The Hartney Pivotal Events Project is one source teaches can use to get students thinking about which events are significant and why.

2. Use primary source evidence

The Hart-Cam, Museum has photos, diaries and other materials that can give student first hand experience with primary sources.

3. Identify continuity and change

Old photos, maps and newspaper clippings  can be used to introduce discussions about Continuity and Change.

4. Analyze cause and consequence

Examining the creation of town and villages is one way of considering how events are related.

5. Take historical perspectives

How did people in another era see things differently than we do?

6. Understand ethical dimensions of history

Do standards of right and wrong change? What knowledge brings change?

Adapted from: http://www.stclementsheritage.com/index.php/learn-our-heritage/teachers-corner

Specific Strategies

Connect with controversy and contemporary issues

Make it real by making connections. In 2014 farmers in Western Canada were concerned about what they saw as inadequate resources for movement of grain to market.  This was also a big issue in the 1880’s.

Use art to display history – create

Hartney has a good assortment of historic buildings and some good photos exist of some of the earliest buildings that are now gone. Artistic re-creations of neighbourhoods can be a part of investigations into the ownership and use of those sites.

Connect with the unique elements of a community

The Hartney area was home to fur trade posts and on major pre-settlement trails.  It was served by Canada’s two main railway lines. It was the home to to brick yards, a flour mill and a sash & door factory.

Make it personal

Many students have a grandfather or other relative that can serve as a source for stories about earlier days.

Produce Content

Students can write history and historic fiction. They can create maps, sketches and plans.

Use Technology

Digital Technology makes it easy for students to product videos, documentaries, podcasts, and to do both desktop and web publishing. Social Media such as Facebook can be used to create “Interest” pages and link with other communities.

Connect artifacts to experience – touch – see - build – use

Using information gathered from photos and from museum visits, student can re-create tools and devices from an earlier age.

Use photos to stimulate questions

A Gallery Walk is just one of many simply managed activities that can use historic photos to stimulate thought, questions and understanding. Have students circulate through a “Gallery” of about ten historic photos (or artifacts, or ….). They should record one question that comes to mind for each. The questions then are posed to the teacher and/or each other.

Establish Historical Significance – A Sample

The past is everything that ever happened anywhere. How do we make decisions about what we wish to remember as history?
Historically significant people and events include those resulting in great change, over long periods of time, for large numbers of people. Whether or not a person or event is significant depends upon one’s perspective and purpose.

Historical people and events can acquire significance if we can link them to larger trends and stories that reveal something important for us today. The story of a Ukrainian family member, who immigrated to Canada 1897-99, may become significant if it is told in a way that illustrates the larger history of immigration in Canada at that time. In that way the insignificant becomes significant.

Why was James Hartney historically significant? (Substitute any one of the people profiled in “We Made Hartney”.
He established on of the first large successful farms in the region.

He applied for and received the first Post Office in the region which he operated out of his home. It was named after him.

He became an advocate for his community and tried to use his influence to improve his community.

He opened the first store in the region, also on his property.

When the C.P.R. located a town near his property which they called Airdrie, local citizens protested and the name of the new town was changed to Hartney.