PARKS CANADA NEWS AND INFORMATION
MEMORIES OF THE BEGINNING OF RMNP:
July 26, 2013 marks the Eightieth Anniversary of the official Dedication of the Riding National Park, held on the 26th July 1933, some three years after its creation.
In 1927 the idea of changing the Forest Reserve of Riding mountain into a National Park was the ‘Brain Child’ of D. D. McDonald Mayor of Dauphin and Mr.J.N.McFadden, a Dauphin barrister.
On the 6th October 1927 some eighty Delegates were invited to an inaugural meeting in the Town of Neepawa to establish a national park. The delegates at this meeting represented all areas of the province and they agreed to form a Riding Mountain Association to lobby Ottawa for a national park. Mr.McDonald and Mr.McFadden were elected President and Secretary respectively. In addition, an executive committee of ten representative citizens were also elected, they were, M.Baroni(Neepawa), H.Brown (Killarney), J.L.Cowie(Carberry), J.A.Glen(Russell, Member of Parliament), M.Hyman(Winnipeg), R.McAskill(Gladstone), D.L.Mellish(Pipestone), W.V. Oglesby(Brandon), C.T.Thomas(Glenella), and W.J.Ward(Dauphin,Member of Parliament) This committee became the driving force behind all subsequent efforts to obtain a national park in Riding Mountain.
On the 30th May 1930, the Forest Reserve became Riding Mountain National Park and the opening was organised by the Honourable T. G. Murphy. The Honourable James D. McGregor, Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, presided over the dedication ceremony with speeches given by the Honourable John Bracken and the Honourable J. T. M. Anderson, Premiers of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, J. L. Bowman, M.P., (Chairman), Colonel H. A. Mullins, M.P. and
Mr. W. C. Wroth, President of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities. Also in attendance were W. R. Clubb, Manitoba Cabinet member and Minister of Public Works; W. J. Major, Attorney-General; J. S. McDiarmid, Minister of Mines and
Natural Resources. W. H. Burns, M.P. and Errick Willis, M.P., together with Mayor S. E. Snively of Duluth and Mayor Ralph Webb of Winnipeg.
A bronze plaque on the Cairn at the Main Beach was erected to Commemorate the event. It reads, "This Tablet commemorates the official opening of Riding Mountain National Park, an area dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment" The Dedications were broadcast by the Manitoba Telephone System, (MTS) in collaboration with the Canadian Broadcasting Commission,(CBC).
The visitors to the Park had increased in 1933 and they loved to attend the first Danceland at Clear Lake which was owned by the Pedlars from Neepawa and was officially opened on the 24th May 1932.
Bruce Pedlar was the Manager and played trumpet in the first Orchestra to play in the Park. The name of the Orchestra was “The Phantoms” and its leader and Sax
player was Dean Smith, with Tom Brown on Sax, Clarinet and Vocals; Wilfred Carpenter played piano; Bruce Pedlar played Trumpet; Dean Smith played Sax, Clarinet and Violin; Roy Brown played Drums and Delmar Hudson was Bassist.
Patrons in these early days of Danceland dressed in their finest outfits to attend the nightly Dances. Some nights featured specialty Dances and on Waltz night as an example, many girls wore wide brimmed Summery Hats with Flowing Gowns and all the men were dressed in their Sunday best.
Bare back dresses, blue jeans, short’s and bare feet were considered in bad taste and never seen. There was a zero tolerance policy with consuming alcohol and any one found in possession of a “Mickey” was promptly given a refund and banned from the Dance.
In 1933 the Orchestra was changed to “Dean Smith and his Riding Mountain National Park Orchestra” and there were also some changes in the Orchestra membership, Bob Brown was replaced by Jazz Drummer/arranger Al Blue from Winnipeg and Bob played Rhythm Guitar. A new Trumpeter, Cecil Duncan of Winnipeg replaced Del Hudson who returned to play at the Royal York in Toronto. Dean Smith, Wilf Carpenter and Tom Brown the Brother of Roy made up
The members of the Orchestra had planned to hold a Jitney Dance following the Dedication Ceremony but it was a flop. On the other hand they played at the evening Dance to a capacity crowd.
Bob Brown and his brother Tom were very excited about the official opening of the Park because their father Howard Brown was a member of the Executive Board of the Riding Mountain Association and had planned to attend the Official Ceremony, but forgot to mention that the rest of the family, mother and brothers Frank, Joe and Percy were driving up from Killarney in their old Star touring car.
A recognition Monument listing the Executive members of the original Riding Mountain Association is located immediately south of the Visitor Centre.
It was dedicated on 26th July 1983, on the 50th anniversary of the official opening of Riding Mountain National Park.
Note #1: During a Jitney Dance it was the practice to pay for each Dance, in advance. It was customary for most Dance Halls in the 20`s and 30`s to charge admission to the Dance Hall (15 cents). Once inside the building, couples were escorted to a roped off area (promenade), where they purchased tickets for 5 cents per dance. There were a prescribed number of dances: 16 per hour. Between numbers, rope boys cleared the Dance Floor and collected
the money for the next number.