ANCHORED SOME HUNDRED METRES OFF THE WINDING BANKS OF THE RED RIVER RESTS THE FORMER HOME OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF MONTRÉAL: THE GREY NUNS. SCHOOL, HOSPITAL, CHAPEL, ORPHANAGE – THE ANCIENT CONVENT HAS SERVED THE NEEDS OF MANY OVER THE COURSE OF ITS 169 YEAR HISTORY. TODAY, IT STANDS AS WINNIPEG’S OLDEST BUILDING AND ONE OF THE LARGEST OAK-LOG STRUCTURES IN THE ENTIRETY OF NORTH AMERICA.
The cozy Quartier Fran.ais of St. Boniface is well-known for its wealth of history and culture. From the unique architecture of Esplanade Riel to the iconic Festival du Voyageur, this quaint Winnipeg neighbourhood boldly celebrates the rich heritage of the Red River Valley and its people.
Today, the former convent hosts Le Mus.e de Saint-Boniface Museum, which has artfully curated many relics that tell the stories of the people of the Red River Colony. Sharing these stories – the stories of the M.tis and French Canadians who lived here over two-hundred years ago, is a welcome mandate for the Museum. However, Winnipeg’s oldest building is more than just a museum.
In cadence with its own heritage, Le Mus.e acts as a pillar of the community where people gather from all walks of life. It offers historical workshops for all ages on numerous crafts such as beading, as well as capote and moccasin making; on holidays such as Louis Riel or Canada Day, if you come to Le Mus.e de Saint- Boniface Museum, you will find families participating in games, activities, and celebrations. During the summer months, the museum runs camps for children looking to immerse themselves in the exciting history of the Red River Settlement, and its facilities are always open to hosting a meeting or event.
During the school year, the museum offers a number of scholastic programs in order to provide students an experiential, inquiry- based approach to learning. Want to know more about Louis Riel and the M.tis? Le Mus.e de Saint-Boniface Museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts relating to both, from the time of the Fur Trade to the Northwest Resistance. What’s better than a textbook? How about Life in the Colony, an activity-based program that brings history to life? Students sample the daily lives of settlers in the 1800s as they perform chores on the farm, learn to weave, build Red River carts, and more.
In addition to programming at the museum, it also offers educational kits for in-class use. These kits work alongside the museum’s tours and are designed to scaffold students from pre- to post-visit, as well as target a number of Specific Learning Outcomes in the Manitoba Education Social Studies and History curricula. Le Mus.e is also an excellent opportunity for students to practice their French, as all programs are offered bilingually.
Despite being the oldest building in Winnipeg, Le Mus.e de Saint-Boniface Museum is consistently making improvements and modernizing its approach. New exhibits, artifacts and programs are in constant development in order to enrich the experiences of visitors, both here in the heart of St. Boniface, and across the world.