New book explores history and architecture of Manitoba

Two Winnipeggers recently put out a book exploring the landscapes and architecture around Manitoba, accompanied with a look at its history and perceptions of the province from differing demographics.

The book, Stuck in the Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba, features photos from Bryan Scott and essays from journalist Bartley Kives after the two travelled the province researching the work, and Kives said the Wheat City features heavily throughout its pages.

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“Brandon doesn’t get its own chapter; Brandon appears over and over again simply by being the largest urban centre and the place with the most varied architecture outside of Winnipeg,” said Kives.

“It’s a book about Manitoba; the subtitle, The Defining Views of Manitoba, was really just a meditation on the idea that there is no definitive view of the province, it is meant to be an impressionistic take, it is by no means the definitive view.”

The book is a sequel to one the pair did in 2013 called Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, which was a take on the idea that the city is stuck between its past and future, between being a small city and a large one, as well as being stuck in the middle of the continent.

Scott, being a photographer and a Winnipegger, already had a trove of images of the city, and though he’s also an avid traveler, he had little experience in travelling around the province outside of his native city.

Kives on the other hand had written a book in 2006 called A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba and is more familiar with the area as a whole, adding when he and Scott approached this new project, they both had differing ideas of the province.

“We explore the notion that people don’t really have an idea of what Manitoba is,” Kives said.

“People outside of the province don’t really think of Manitoba at all; they just don’t have a conception of it and if someone outside the province does think about Manitoba, there’s no clear scheme that comes to mind, but also people living here have very different ideas.”

The topics of the book’s chapters touch on everything from geography, with one dedicated solely to the north, as well as indigenous Manitoba and the general history of the province from when the first European explorers arrived.

Scott said the two tried to travel to every location in the province, from all the major population centres to the smaller villages, even exploring places he described as ghost towns.

“I’ve traveled the world—I’ve been to Europe, I’ve been to Israel, I’ve been to South America, I’ve been all over the U.S., but until working on this project, I have really seen almost none of Manitoba, which I’m kind of embarrassed to say,” Scott said with a laugh.

“I find the landscape around the city of Brandon to be quite inspiring, more so than Winnipeg for sure; there’s just so much more to look at.”

Scott added he made two trips to the Wheat City for the book, spending roughly a day and a half in total checking out buildings and photographing the city’s more interesting architecture, using resources like the Manitoba Historical Society to find some of the historically designated structures.

“For a guy that didn’t spend a lot of time outside Winnipeg, I found myself amazed and constantly surprised at just how rolling the landscape is out there,” he said.

“For myself, and I think a lot of other Winnipeggers, we have this misconception that the rest of the province is as flat as it is out here, which is obviously not the case—it’s beautiful.”

The book officially launched on Nov. 15 at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg and Kives said the duo are planning to arrange a book signing in Brandon in the near future.

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