Over the past number of years, the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba has been planning, fund raising and making improvements to the historic Dome Building on the Keystone Centre grounds in Brandon and there’s more set to take place in 2023.
A patio-garden area will be established on the east side of the building which has a long history in Western Manitoba.
From 1879 to 1913, the Dominion Exhibition, a national agricultural exhibition, was held annually across Canada. This was a prestigious and important event that communities competed fiercely for their fair to be designated the distinction of the “Dominion Exhibition” from the federal government.
In 1913, Brandon’s bid to host the Dominion Exhibition was successful and the infrastructure to host this esteemed event would be constructed. The city of Brandon was recognized for its community’s progressive attitude and the agricultural excellence of the region.
Reports indicated that over the 10 days of the fair, there was 200,000 visits. The fair opened on July 13, 1913; local hotels were filled to capacity and the overflow had to be boarded in the local roller rink. Brandon’s streetcar system opened just in time and during fair week, trailers were attached to the cars to help move the crowds. The 1913 Fair was a spectacular success and deemed “the best ever.”
During the years following the Dominion Fair, Display Building No. II saw many uses, from swine displays to hockey games and petting zoos, and more recently as a cold storage space for the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba. The building has been in continual use for a century.
“We’re still in the process of finishing that building, and we have a big grant through the Queen’s Jubilee to finish a patio and green space,” said Prov-Ex President Kathy Cleaver.
“We’re developing a garden behind the building and that was always part of the plans to develop that whole area. We’ve got the funds in place to do it and we’ll be set to go once the frost is out of the ground this spring.”
Cleaver said they spent $6.5 million to get the Dome Building to the stage where they could open it. “We had to mortgage $1 million and thanks to hard work and lots of fund raising we were able to retire that mortgage.”
Officials with the Provincial Exhibition are also pleased with the number of groups and individuals making use of the facility.