by Marcy Nicholson ~ Brandon Sun ~ April 7, 2005

                                                                                                                 Colin Corneau/Brandon Sun

A 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, museum secretary.

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 single purpose.

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 flashes. 

"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 12.

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

Back to the Museum Entrance

Volunteer Webmaster: Bill Hillman
Bill and Sue-On Hillman Eclectic Studio