war diary lies open on a museum table and pulls a visitor back in time
with its daily details.
"That's only one story of hundreds," said Ross Neale,
26th Field Regiment / 12 Manitoba Dragoons Museum curator.
The Second World War veteran aimed his gentle smile toward
a wall of shelves packed with historical books and diaries. Neale founded
the small museum in the Brandon Armoury on Victoria Avenue in 1979.
The two-roomed museum is a quiet treasure open to the
public for only two precious hours each Tuesday afternoon and is operated
by nine volunteers.
"We're the best kept secret in Brandon," said Gord Sim,
The rich collection of historical literature and artifacts
runs on a modest $3,000 annual budget and Saturday evening -- in celebration
of the historical Vimy Ridge -- welcomes the public to raise funds with
casino-style games and a live auction.
While people may know about the museum's existence, Neale
admitted many just aren't interested. Still, he knows the museum's resources
hold immeasurable value to the researchers who travel to brandon with this
The museum displays medals, uniforms, photographs, weapons,
tactical signs and more, primarily of the 12 Manitoba Dragoons. The reserve
Dragoons were called to war in 1941 and disbanded as an active unit five
years later. The unit suffered 63 fatalities during the Second World War.
Neale stood in front of a display of hat badges and shoulder
"You won't see this anyplace else," he said.
Artifacts and archives from both world wars and the Northwest
Rebellion are also on display.
This weekend's fundraiser will fall on the anniversary
of Vimy Ridge. It was on April 9, 1917, that the Canadian Corps fought
for its first time as a single unit. Vimy Ridge, near Arras, France, had
been occupied by the Germans since 1914. The Canadians had control by April
The public is welcome to join in on casino-style horse
racing, and crown and anchor games, as well as the auction, at the Brandon
Armoury starting at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Copyright 2005 Brandon Sun