Restoration of Display Building No. II
In 2009, local supporters, Gord Peters and his wife Diane, collaborated with the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba to make it their personal mission to restore the glory of this proud symbol of our heritage of agricultural excellence and an iconic representation of Brandon and Westman’s agricultural history. Click here for details on the Capital Campaign
History of the Dominion Exhibition, Display Building II (Dome Building)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 nearly a century.
In 2009, the Heritage Canada Foundation listed the domed building as one the most endangered structures in the country. Parks Canada, on its website, described the building as a “rare surviving example of the late 19th and early 20th century type of exhibition halls” built for agricultural fairs. The well known “Dome Building” was constructed for the hosting of the Dominion Fair in Brandon in 1913, and is the only surviving building in Canada constructed for this series of Fairs. Renovations began the same year and have continued to progress.
The restoration and redevelopment of Dominion Exhibition Display Building No. II will preserve an important part of the agricultural history of our community and our country. The restored building will become a cultural and tourism asset for Westman, housing an agricultural museum where visitors can experience agriculture first hand through a variety of interactive displays and activities. It will also contain office space and a board room for several nonprofit agricultural organizations (including the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba).
When the project is completed, the Provincial Exhibition will develop an agricultural park to surround it, on the west side of 13th Street between Brandon and Hill Avenue entrances. Display Building No. II and the nearby historic Government of Manitoba Trade Fair Building will form the hub of the park, surrounded by agricultural demonstration projects and activities, including a community garden, crop plots, an agriculture themed playground, wind turbine(s), a composting station, and much more. The park will be a true community project with participation from a broad cross section of organizations and interests, providing recreational and educational opportunities for all.