Walking tours of downtown plunge into the dark side of Wheat City

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Delving into the dark side of Brandon’s past, the Brandon General Museum and Archives will host a series of historical walks to celebrate the spooky season.

Brandon is unique because the Wheat City lore typically doesn’t include ghost or haunted stories – but there is a secret tale of mysterious and sensational tales here, museum administrator Alyssa Wowchuk said. General and the Brandon Archives.

“Brandon has a ton of super weird, dark and even outrageous history,” Wowchuk said. “We don’t really need ghost stories; Brandon has a lot of other stories to tell.”

Wowchuk created the Dark History Walking Tours by compiling interesting information about Brandon’s past. She unearthed a rich and varied collection of stories capturing the beginnings of the city’s history until the mid-1950s.

The Brandon Museum’s General History Walks originally began in the summer of 2020 with the Brandon Neighborhood Renewal Corporation as a new initiative to help people get to know the downtown area better. They took place again this summer with the downtown ambassadors. The events proved to be successful, she said, as it was an activity accessible to people during COVID-19.

The latest visits were made possible through a collaboration with the Brandon Chamber of Commerce and the Brandon Public Library, just in time for Halloween.

It was difficult to focus on the stories to bring to light, Wowchuk said, because Brandon has some outrageous bits of story that are usually not talked about.

“Not many people know that the entire Brandon police force has been twice sacked,” Wowchuk said. “There is a really interesting story, but it’s not really common when it comes to Brandon’s story.”

Wowchuk added that the City of Wheat is particularly rich in stories featuring Prohibition, set between World War I and the Spanish Flu. For a while, Brandon’s two breweries, Empire Brewing and Brandon Brewery, remained open and produced beer during Prohibition. Wowchuk said the breweries found a legal loophole that allowed them to ship their beers out of the province.

“Rumor has it that some people had other addresses. They would ship the beer out of the province and then return it to an address here in Brandon,” Wowchuk said. “But, these are people who have had that luxury. There are more unfortunate stories of bans… Lots of people used alcohol to fill a void caused by the loss and trauma of war. has a lot of unhappy stories of people trying to find alternatives to alcohol and poisoning themselves and ultimately committing suicide. ”

Wowchuk explained that stories like the ones about Prohibition can help unravel the dynamics of the Brandon area over the years, highlighting the classism and racism experienced by members of the community.

She added that respect has been a key aspect when it comes to recognizing the wheat town’s past on tour. It was essential to remain respectful during the walks as she will be talking about fatal accidents and other traumatic events.

Wowchuk said she wanted to make sure people’s stories focus on their lives, not just their deaths.

“These people – their time has been cut short… and I want to tell their story appropriately,” Wowchuk said. “It’s not sensational.”

Those looking to join a dark history walk, Wowchuk said, should come with an open and respectful mind and be prepared to be curious.

“Be curious about the story. There’s a lot going on at the start of Brandon that a lot of people might not be aware of,” Wowchuk said. “I am really excited to tell these stories and hope to spark more interest in Brandon’s past.”

The Brandon Chamber of Commerce Dark History Tour takes place on Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The tour begins and ends at the Dock on Princess. Tickets cost $ 35 and can be reserved through the Chamber.

The Brandon Museum and Brandon Public Library will host “Death, Disaster and Disease in the Wheat City” on October 20 and 23 at 10:30 am. , murders, fatalities and other shocking stories. The walk begins at the Brandon Public Library. To register, send an email to programs@wmrl.ca.

»Ckemp@brandonsun.com

»Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp


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