Long before Google, Winnipeggers found answers in library’s Where File

There is a splendidly quirky and little-known data archive in downtown Winnipeg that predates Google and possibly has extra hidden secrets and techniques than the search engine big.

It is a wealthy useful resource for researchers, a rabbit gap for historical past lovers and a trivia buff’s bonanza.

Do you know: Winnipeg’s first civic vacation was noticed Sept. 16, 1874? That Winnipeg’s first skilled photographer provided to commerce images for wooden or flour?

You will discover, on this paper-based Winnipeg Public Library archive, the seating capability of all of Winnipeg’s film theatres in 1978, or the minimal wage charges for yearly between 1921 (25 cents) and 2003 ($6.75).

Welcome to the The place File — as in “the place can I discover this?” or “the place do I am going for that?” or “the place are these?”

Louis-Philippe Bujold goes via a few of the entries within the The place File. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

“This was sort of our search engine earlier than the Web was extensively out there,” stated Louis-Philippe Bujold, native historical past librarian on the Millennium Library. 

“It represents 1000’s of labor hours from our librarians over a few years who devoted their time to attempt to reply the data wanted of our metropolis’s residents and library patrons.”

There is a drawer fully dedicated to golf equipment and learn how to discover teams dedicated to calligraphy, caves, dolls, pin collections, sasquatch, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who, origami, orienteering, cats, Avon bottles.

There are entries for medievalists, miniatures fanatics, singles, sexaholics and skeptics — the latter for these “who imagine the world is full of superstitions and weird concepts.”

The The place File was made out there to the general public in 2017 after many years of being accessible solely to library workers. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

The cupboard of index playing cards, positioned on the fourth flooring of the library, was assembled by metropolis librarians who determined to do one thing about the most typical questions they have been continuously fielding.

They wrote the solutions on three-by-five catalogue playing cards, and if the solutions have been too lengthy, they listed the books, magazines and newspapers — and particular pages — the place the data could possibly be discovered.

“Discovering the solutions to these questions typically concerned a whole lot of work, so that they created a listing that may [contain] their analysis in case it was going to be wanted once more. Having on-hand data saved a whole lot of time,” stated Bujold.

The enterprise file consists of an entry concerning the now-closed Winnipeg classic clothes store If You Have To Get Dressed Within the Morning. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

As entries multiplied, extra drawers have been added, and playing cards have been reassembled into topic classes.

Typically paper clippings have been added in makeshift pockets or paper clipped to the cardboard, whereas extra standard topics expanded into a number of playing cards stapled collectively.

By no means digitized

“When you begin trying on this, you possibly can spend hours and discover particulars and data you’ll by no means discover in any other case,” stated Bujold, noting the data was by no means digitized, so most of it solely exists within the file.

“It is a fallacy to say that every thing is on the web. That is not true. And we nonetheless use the The place File exactly as a result of for subjects which can be specialised on Manitoba, you are much less prone to discover it wherever else.”

There’s data on buildings, streets, communities, companies and personalities — musicians, artists, authors, broadcasters, actors, athletes, politicians, navy commanders.

Wish to learn about postal service within the pre-Winnipeg Crimson River Settlement or the dog-sled mail run from Norway Home to Winnipeg? How concerning the Eaton’s Magnificence Doll or Winnipeg’s connection to Playboy journal?

Do you know there was as soon as an honour, known as the Order of the Gate, given to residents of Fort Garry for meritorious service to the group?

Wish to know all concerning the Winnipeg’s bridges? The The place File will assist that. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Like a tree’s age is measured in rings, the passage of time could be seen within the ink used for The place File entries, progressing from fountain pens to typewriter ribbon and ballpoint pens.

“You’re feeling the historical past of {the catalogue}. You see that so many individuals contributed to it,” stated Bujold.

“It is sort of a historic artifact in itself — a bodily manifestation of the subjects that have been of curiosity to Winnipeggers throughout these years.”

The file on Winnipeg metropolis historical past has seven playing cards — as does the one concerning the metropolis’s bridges, containing the dates they have been constructed, demolished and rebuilt. The oldest present span, the The place File can inform you, is Redwood (now Harry Lazarenko Bridge) inbuilt 1908, whereas the longest is Slaw Rebchuk at 660.2 metres.

The Winnipeg drawer is flush with details and trivia concerning the metropolis. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

It’s well-known that Winnie-the-Pooh was named after Winnipeg, however do you know he was truly a she? Winnie lived till Could 12, 1934, when she was euthanized at age 20. Her cranium was saved on the London Zoo and placed on show in 2015.

“If we’re ever stumped by a query, the The place File has saved the day,” stated Glen Morris, an information companies assistant on the library.

Whereas a lot of the content material is Manitoba or Winnipeg-centric, there are a whole bunch of different playing cards on issues just like the phonetic spelling alphabet, the prayer for law enforcement officials and the one for fishermen, or Lou Brissie — the one-legged baseball participant — and parachuting.

The primary profitable bounce from an airplane occurred in 1912 in St. Louis, however the first creature to leap with a parachute was a canine dropped from a hot-air balloon in France in 1785.

Among the playing cards are bundled with clippings from newspapers and magazines. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

“It is like elements of Winnipeg’s collective historic mind frozen in time,” stated data companies librarian Monique Woroniak. “What have been folks researching? What faculty assignments would possibly they’ve had? What subjects have been of concern to them? The The place File tells us that.”

‘A Winnipeg factor’

The gathering was began within the Nineteen Sixties and maintained till the early 2000s. The cupboard was saved in a workers room and used completely by library staff.

Bujold is not fully positive what number of entries are within the The place File however stated “we’re speaking a number of 1000’s.”

You will discover the The place File within the Native Historical past Room, behind the stacks on the fourth flooring of the Millennium Library. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

It was not out there to the general public till just a few months in the past, when it took up its new place within the Millennium Library’s Native Historical past Room, prompted by solutions from present librarians like Woroniak.

“When folks contact their public library and ask a query, whether or not it is one thing simple or one thing associated very personally to a necessity they’ve, I wish to suppose they’re gifting us slightly a part of themselves and that it is our duty to look after these questions till we have discovered a solution, after which reward it again to the individual asking,” she stated.

“For me, proof of library work, like what was saved within the The place File, is proof of care and engagement with the group. I wished folks to see that care and even have it at their fingertips.”

The entries on the playing cards are like miniature time capsules in themselves, going from being marked with fountain pens to ballpoint pens because the years glided by. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Though the file hasn’t been commonly up to date because the early 2000s, sometimes a librarian would possibly add an entry on an present card or create a brand new one for a subject of serious curiosity.

As an example, a current one is about Faron Corridor, the person who turned generally known as Winnipeg’s homeless hero after he jumped into the flood-swollen Crimson River to rescue a teen in 2009. In 2014, Corridor’s physique was pulled from that very same river.

“My sister has labored in libraries throughout the nation, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and she or he’s by no means heard of one thing known as the The place File,” stated Mary Robinson, an information companies assistant.

“This can be a Winnipeg factor.”

Extra from the The place File

  • The font used for the motto on the Metropolis of Winnipeg crest is Futura Daring.
  • The primary-ever film proven in Winnipeg was A Magic Lantern at St. John’s Corridor on April 5, 1861.
  • The primary reside theatre in Winnipeg was began by British troops who got here to Fort Garry with the Wolseley expedition in 1870. The stage was within the retailer owned by Andrew McDermot (close to present-day McDermot Avenue).
  • The primary “talkie” was proven on the Metropolitan in October 1928.
  • The primary indoor rink was on Princess Road but it surely collapsed as a result of it was structurally unsound. It was rebuilt in 1892 and the Manitoba Northwest Hockey League performed there.
  • The primary Participark — an idea combining a jogging monitor with train stations — was positioned in Transcona’s Crocus Park.
  • The final greenback invoice was issued to chartered banks at 3 p.m. on June 30, 1989.
  • St. Boniface is Winnipeg’s oldest hospital, opening in 1871 with 4 beds. However there was one other that opened on the identical time, on the nook of McDermot Avenue and Albert Road. Village housewives tended to gunshot wounds, typhoid fever and malaria. The hospital closed quickly after resulting from a scarcity of funds, however was reopened in 1872 and charged $1 per day for a public mattress. It later moved areas and is now generally known as the Well being Sciences Centre.

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