The 34th Annual Heritage Dinner: What to expect

The 34th Annual Heritage Dinner takes place on April 27th at Knox United Church in Brandon, Manitoba. The event starts at 6 PM and is preceded by the Prairie Patchwork workshop (1-4 PM). Learn more below or see how to register here.

What is the Annual Heritage Dinner?

The Heritage Dinner is “an opportunity for the South West Branch members to meet in fellowship along with the general public for an evening of dining, entertainment and learning,” says South West Branch Treasurer, George Mackay.

The annual event usually consists of some form of entertainment like a choir as well as a fine meal and a guest speaker. It is for the interest of everyone attending, not just those interested in genealogy.

Although there were some breaks taken from hosting these dinners due to COVID, this year is the 34th year that these dinners have been running.

Why These Dinners Are Held

The Heritage Dinners are one of our fundraising events that also gives people a chance to meet and mingle with others.

This year, the Heritage Dinner is accompanied by a workshop. “In the years that we hold a workshop,” says Mackay, “we usually align [it with] the Heritage Dinner.”

The event is also a time to award the Ruth Tester Award to a member of the South West Branch.

The Ruth Tester Memorial Award

George Mackay shared this description of the award:

“The Ruth Tester Memorial Award was inaugurated in 1983 as a memorial to a genealogist’s model. Early in her adult life and with the aid of her father, Ruth began to research her Heal and Cater families. She was able to extend her research as far back as the 1700s in England.

“Her interest in genealogy led her to become a charter member of the Manitoba Genealogical Society Inc. and she was instrumental in the chartering of the Brandon and District Branch in 1978. It is fitting that Ruth helped the Branch celebrate its 10th Anniversary in 1988 just a few days before her death. Ruth left a legacy of cemetery transcriptions and obituary abstracts as a memorial to her devotion to the Branch.

“The award is made annually to a member of the Branch who, in the opinion of her/his peers, exemplifies the spirit of service to genealogy and the Branch.

“In 1993 the first recipient of the Ruth tester Award was Ruth Phillips. The following are the recipients since the 1st award in 1993: Tom Stacey, Meta McCulloch, Betty and Blair Loree, Myrtle Grieves, Alvaretta McManus, Margaret Goodman, Beth Wall, Jim wall, Lloyd Duncalfe, Marg Cochrane, Sheila Shearer, Doug Freeman, Shirley Erskine, Barb Andrew, Vivian Privat, Barb Pettinger, Gladys Patmore, Jack Dodds, Eleanor Burch, Bernice Still, Denise Bromley, Laura Crookshanks, Grace Desjardin Green, Paul Voorhis and Stacey Shackel, George Mackay, Val Usunier.

What to Expect This Year

This year, the Seniors for Seniors Choir will serve as entertainment for the event, during which you’ll also enjoy a Chinese buffet.

Writer and researcher of History, Ken Storie, will feature as this year’s keynote speaker. His presentation, “Finding the Alpha: the Story of the Steamboats on the Upper Assiniboine River 1879 – 1885,” is sure to be an interesting piece for anyone interested in History.

Genealogy Workshop: Prairie Patchwork

For this year’s workshop, “Prairie Patchwork,” attendees will hear from keynote speaker Marie Palmer who is a genealogist, librarian, educator and former computer engineer from British Columbia. Her presentation “Using Google Earth to Enhance Your Genealogy Research,” could provide you with some useful insight into contextualising your ancestor’s experiences.

After Palmer’s presentation, attendees will have the option to sit in on one of two breakout sessions:

  • Will Goodon’s “Metis Culture and Heritage”; and
  • Gordon McBean’s “Railway in my Tree and Blood.”

People who attend this year’s Heritage Dinner will also have the opportunity to tour through the Margaret E. Goodman Memorial Library.

For information about this year’s event and more, please visit

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