Harvest the past, sow the future. That’s the Pioneer Village Museum’s motto, and they do a fantastic job at it! Established in 1967, the Pioneer Village Museum (owned by the Broken Beau Historical Society) recreated a small rural Manitoba community in the early 1900s. Be transported back in time and take in the magnificent sights like the railway station, barbershop, blacksmith shop, a school, pioneer home, and much more.
Years ago, most of the pioneers of this region were of Polish, Ukrainian, or German descent, coming from the areas known as Galicia and Volhynia. These pioneers had to face many hardships in carving out the wilderness and learning to adapt to a new way of life. Many artifacts (over 300) depicting the early pioneers of the surrounding area’s lifestyle are located in the Museum’s buildings.
Pioneer Village Museum Buildings
With fourteen buildings, numerous pieces of farmers’ equipment, and a wheat field that is seeded and harvested to this day you could spend hours exploring the grounds and uncovering the fascinating history.
The Log Cabin is a typical style of house built in the twentieth century for middle-class settlers, many of whom moved to the prairies to be farmers. The logs used were hewn, causing a more square shape log which was less common. The majority of log houses would have been built using round logs, which were quicker to put to use, as shelters like this needed to be built quickly to protect the settlers from the elements. The home had no running water and would have been heated by a wood-burning stove.
The Teacher’s Cottage is from Brokenhead School Division 472, about 12 miles north of Beausejour on Highway #12 North. Also called a teacherage, the Teacher’s Cottage was a small home provided to teachers by the school they were employed with. Since teachers were mostly young unmarried women who often needed to move far away from their hometown to find a job, they also needed somewhere to live. A teacherage was a luxury that not every teacher enjoyed. Many had to board with students’ families or slept in a small corner of the schoolhouse.
The Sebright School was built in 1904. Originally, the one-room schoolhouse was located along with Highway #44, between Beausejour and Tyndall. It was closed in 1966 with the amalgamation of the Agassiz School Division and the ability for students to be bussed to Tyndall, Garson, or Beausejour for school.
When the doors first opened, there were 34 students ranging in ages from five to 14. At times as many as 50 students attended – some having to sit on sawed-off logs.
The Brightstone Hall was built in 1928 in the Ukrainian community of Brightstone, 40 miles northeast of Beausejour and eight miles west of Lac du Bonnet. The hall was used as a place for fellowship and community gatherings before the community was disbanded around 1944. The building then stood abandoned until acquired by the Museum in 1973 for $100. It was dismantled and moved from its original location on Highway #317 and reconstructed in its current location.
The most common type of station built in Manitoba can be specified as Class Three or 3rd class stations, which were generally built in small rural towns. The Beausejour Canadian Pacific Railway Station, a Class Three Station by design style, provided the people of Beausejour and the surrounding area a quicker and more convenient way to travel to Winnipeg, and eventually the rest of Canada.
Rebuilt in 1909 after a fire destroyed the original station in 1907, the station was located on Pacific Avenue between Second and Third Street and was used until 1972. It was then dismantled in 1974 by John Funk, who donated the front wall to the Museum. The rest of the building was constructed from logs from the Loeb homestead in Lydiatt.
The Kososki’s Store was originally located on the corner of Park Avenue and Second Street in Beausejour. The store was built in 1922 and operated until 1968. It was owned and operated by Carl & Agnes Kososki and later by Joe & Louise Kososki. The store was donated to the Museum in 1983.
Starting as a general store selling everything from food to books to clothing, Mr. Kososki even made a business selling wood for heating from his store. However, with the introduction of coal and oil for heating, this product line was discontinued.
It was not uncommon for a rural town to only have one general store for people to purchase all of their household goods.
The A. Bryk Tailor Shop was originally located on Fourth Street. This tailor shop (circa 1928), while not very large, served as the headquarters for Anton Bryk as he worked as a tailor, originally making uniforms for the Royal Canadian Air Force and then continuing to serve the Beausejour community for all civilian tailoring needs for over 40 years.
The Splett Harness Shop was founded in 1920 by Edward Splett and ran it until his death in 1940 when relatives took it over. Located on Third Street near Park Avenue, it was the second harness store started in Beausejour and was in business until automobiles became the norm after WWII.
This building now also holds artifacts from Edward’s widow Alvina Sonnenberg’s Gift Shop & Sewing Centre, Ed’s son’s W.M. Splett’s Standard Radio Service, and J. Recksiedler’s Johnny’s Tire Shop.
The building was generously donated to the Museum by Ed’s son Harold Splett.
Struss Barbershop was constructed by the Museum in 2012 as a memorial to William Struss, a farmer and family barber who was seen as a pillar of the Beausejour community until his passing in 2008.
While not a historic building in the sense of date constructed, this building serves as a glimpse into what it was like in a small-town barbershop where there was no fancy modern equipment, only the fellowship of good friends talking over a straight shave or trim. Unlike modern hairdressers, barber shops were for men only.
The red, white, and blue pole was the symbol of the barbershop; the red and white symbolized blood and bandages as barbers also use to help people with small medical needs, and the blue is said to have been added in the United States to represent their flag’s colours and then adopted by other North American barbers.
A Blacksmith shop was a staple in all pioneer towns. Before automobiles and tractors, it provided people with much-needed metal-made goods such as horseshoes, plowshares, wheel rims, and other tools and wagon parts. Blacksmiths primarily worked with iron, which was a black metal, hence the name ‘black’smith.
The buildings would have large doors so horses, wagons, and farm implements could fit inside. They were challenging to keep clean because of all the black soot from the coal in the forge.
By 1928 Beausejour had at least three blacksmith shops.
Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church Brokenhead was originally built in 1904 by the pioneers of the Brokenhead District. It was located 12 miles north and one mile east of Beausejour. It was in continuous use until 1977 when it was closed due to disrepair.
The church was then moved and renovated by the Beausejour-Brokenhead Historical Society in 1979. It now stands as a tribute to the early pioneers.
The Clay Ovens are a replica and were constructed in 1980 of brick, clay, cement and straw, and are an example of one type of outdoor baking source that would have been used before the modern stove. The roof over top helps provide protection from the elements.
The Museum uses the clay oven on special occasions to bake bread and buns.
The Schreyer Home and Barn are the actual home of former Governor General of Canada, Ed Schreyer.
Born in Beausejour on December 21, 1935, Ed Schreyer was educated at Cromwell School, Beausejour Collegiate, United College, St. John’s College, and the University of Manitoba. Schreyer earned a Bachelor of Pedagogy in 1959, the first of four degrees. He received a Bachelor of Education in 1962, a Master of Arts in International Relations and a second Master of Arts in Economics in 1963.
Schreyer was the Governor General of Canada from 1979 to 1984 and was the youngest Governor General (43 years old) since Lord Lorne in 1878 (33 years old) and Lord Lansdowne in 1883 (38 years old).
His political career began when he was first elected to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly at the age of 22. He ventured into the academic world as a professor of International Relations at St. Paul’s College of the University of Manitoba from 1962 to 1965. In 1965, he was elected to the House of Commons. On June 8, 1969, he was chosen leader of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba and subsequently served as Premier of Manitoba from 1969 to 1977.
Also, throughout the Museum grounds, you will find a variety of antique tractors, farmers’ equipment, and vehicles.