One of the icons in the collections of the Manitoba Museum is the replica of the ship Nonsuch.
The Nonsuch made his famous voyage to Hudson's Bay to trade furs in 1668, proving that this was practicable, basically that somebody could come from England bringing trade goods, trade with the First Nations, primarily Cree people in Hudson's Bay, take the furs back, and it would be a viable trade. Based on this, the Hudson's Bay Company was formed in 1670 under British authority.
In 1920 the Hudson's Bay Company was celebrating its two hundred and fiftieth anniversary, and, as part of this, decided to try and celebrate, commemorate its own heritage, its own history, and its role in Canadian development, As such it began to develop the Hudson's Bay Company museum collection. It called it the “historical collection” originally, and it was designed to reflect the activities of the company: Indigenous populations, the fur trade itself, the heroic efforts of the various fur traders.
Fifty years later, in 1970, the three hundredth anniversary was coming up and looking for something special to commemorate this event, the Hudson's Bay Company decided to commissioned a replica of the ship Nonsuch that started the whole business.
Coincidentally this was at the same time that Manitoba, the province of Manitoba, was celebrating its centenary in 1970. These two things came together, the convergence meant that the Hudson's Bay Company decided to gift its replica of the Nonsuch to the Manitoba Museum, to the province of Manitoba.
The gallery was actually built around the ship. The ship was trucked here from Seattle, where it was based the previous year. It was reassembled, re-erected on site. The building was built around it and ever since the Nonsuch has provided one of the core features or one of the central features of the Manitoba Museum.
It's been estimated that about 4 million people have trod its decks since it's been established in the museum, many of those schoolchildren on tours. It's amazing how many people remember having visited the Nonsuch in their schooldays. Often that's something that impels them to bring their children back to the Manitoba Museum many years later.
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