Gowen’s Brandon exhibit receives Manitoba Day Award

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A historic view of downtown Brandon.
A historic view of downtown Brandon.

Two Brandon University (BU) employees are honoured to be part of a team that has received a Manitoba Day Award for an archival photo project that was displayed last year.

“Gowen’s Brandon: Then & Now” was a joint photographic exhibit produced by the Daly House Museum and the S.J. McKee Archives at Brandon University. Funded by the Manitoba Heritage Grants program, the exhibit featured 47 reproductions of photographer Frank Gowen’s historic images of Brandon paired with present day images of the same locations.

A modern view of downtown Brandon, from a similar vantage point.
A modern view of downtown Brandon, from a similar vantage point.

Brandon University Archivist Christy Henry and researcher Morganna Malyon worked on the exhibit with Daly House Museum curator Eileen Trott and photographer Graham Street. Their project was recognized last week by the Association for Manitoba Archives at their 10th anniversary Manitoba Day Awards.

“The value of archival records is in their use and how they allow us to connect our past with our present, and explore who we are as a community,” Henry said. “‘Gowen’s Brandon’ was an opportunity for the McKee Archives and Daly House Museum to showcase some of our archival materials in the public sphere for people to enjoy and explore. Collaborating on the project with Eileen, Graham and Morganna was a pleasure and it’s an honour to have our efforts recognized by the Association for Manitoba Archives.”

Researcher Malyon said that she drew on everything from aging print directories to Google Maps to trace the history of buildings in the exhibit and it gave her a deep-seated appreciation for the history of Brandon.

“I am truly honoured to be receiving an award which recognizes the importance of both archives and local history,” Malyon said. “The S.J. McKee Archives at Brandon University houses a wealth of information about the rich history of Brandon, and southwestern Manitoba, but they are an underused resource. Brandon has a rich history, which archives make an invaluable contribution to sustaining, and the Gowen exhibit provided us an opportunity to make tidbits about Brandon’s boom-era, which were buried in the archives, accessible to the public. It is rewarding to see our efforts recognized.”

The exhibit was displayed concurrently at the Daly House Museum’s Exhibition Gallery and the Tommy McLeod Curve Gallery at Brandon University’s John E. Robbins Library from Jan. 22 to April 31, 2015.

“The exhibit I felt was a unique way to bring the historic photographs taken by Frank Gowen of city landscapes to the public’s attention,” Trott said. “In comparing those historic images with the images taken by Graham Street we could highlighting the changes to and the loss of the city’s architectural heritage over the last century. It is an honour to have our work with this project recognized.”

Street, who took the modern-day photos to accompany Gowen’s historic originals, also produced a documentary on the creation of the exhibit through MTS Stories From Home.

“It’s an honour to be a part of the team that has received this award and the fact that this is the 10th anniversary of the award makes this all the more special. I found the project to be an incredibly educational and fulfilling experience and the S.J. McKee Archives and the Daly House Museum were both great to work with throughout,” Street said. “The project was important to undertake as it demonstrated just how much the city has changed in 100 years and provides us with a connection to the past that is difficult to match, as we can stand in the same locations and see what it was like then compared to what is there now.”

The 10th annual Manitoba Day Awards were presented last week in Winnipeg.


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