Manitoba

New book uncovers places left behind in Manitoba's past

A new book by Winnipeg historian Gordon Goldsborough takes the reader to places that few Manitobans have ever been — at least not anytime recently.

Historian Gordon Goldsborough’s Abandoned Manitoba launches on Tuesday in Winnipeg

This burial site in Emerson, Man. located in the middle of a farm field. According to the Manitoba Historical Society, it contains the 1885 grave of Emerson customs official F. T. Bradley along with the ones of his wife Caroline, who died in 1879, and four of their sons. (Gordon Goldsborough)

A new book by Winnipeg historian Gordon Goldsborough takes the reader to places that few Manitobans have ever been — at least not anytime recently.

Abandoned Manitoba: From Residential Schools to Bank Vaults to Grain Elevators features photos and stories about the buildings left behind as Manitoba evolved and developed over the last few centuries.

It was inspired by Goldsborough's regular column on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show, hosted by Terry MacLeod.

Goldsborough, a member of the Manitoba Historical Society, said regular listeners to his column will still find out more about abandoned places in Manitoba when they read the new book.

"When I have the latitude of a book, I can put way more detail in," he said.

The Vulcan Iron Works building was established in in 1874 by John McKechnie and W. W. McMillan. It is one of the oldest buildings at the junction of Sutherland Avenue and Maple Street in Winnipeg, according to the Manitoba Historical Society (Gordon Goldsborough)

For Goldsborough, the challenge of writing a book about abandoned places in Manitoba is picking which ones to focus on.

"That was a real dilemma," he said.

The author decided to select buildings that had strong stories to tell about Manitoba's history as a province.

"Unfortunately, they all are worth a story. I wanted to have ones that had a particularly important back story, a story that told us about how Manitoba has changed through the years," he said.

Abandoned Manitoba launches in Winnipeg on Tuesday. (Great Plains Publications)

Manitoba has many ghost communities, he said, because at one time, rail lines linked everyone in the province. The construction of provincial roads changed everything.

"That spelled the downfall of many communities. Once it was possible to drive everywhere you didn't need to stay in your community to buy your groceries and your other supplies," Goldsborough said.

"On the cover of the book you see a grain elevator … the one near Brookdale, Manitoba east of Brandon," he said.

"Those of course are mostly gone … a phenomena that was attributed to the change in the transportation network."

Goldsborough's new book Abandoned Manitoba: From Residential Schools to Bank Vaults to Grain Elevators launches at McNally Robinson at Grant Park Shopping Centre in Winnipeg at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Birtle Indian Residential School in Birtle, Man. (Gordon Goldsborough)