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Red River Apiarists' Association History

Celebrating 50 Years-A Historical look back

Jim Campbell, RRAA Exec

Red River Apiarists’ Association will be celebrating a major milestone during the early part of 2013.

Sometime during 2013, the Winnipeg and Area hobby club known as Red River Apiarists’ Association could be celebrating their 50th Anniversary. What a party that could be, as Beekeepers look ahead to marking this special event, and reminiscing about what has happened during the past years.

The Club was formed in 1963, partly in response to a need by the Manitoba Beekeepers’ Association, to have people serve as promoters of the honey industry. The Provincial Honey Show simply took place within the Winnipeg International Flower Show, traditionally held during the third week of August, at the Winnipeg Auditorium, in downtown Winnipeg. Honey displays seemed compatible with gladiola and other flowers.

Although, at this time, honey shows took place at the Dauphin Fair, and the Provincial Exhibition, in Brandon, RRAA was requested to organize and staff the honey show in Winnipeg. Don Robertson, Provincial Apiarist, along with Dave Smith, Extension Apiarist, approached a group of hobby beekeepers to determine interest in forming an association having a mandate to look after the Honey Show area.

The plan was to shift emphasis from having Honey Competitions at Beekeeping Conventions, to being more visible to the public. This public promotion started about 1951 with the Provincial Fruit & Vegetable Show, which later amalgamated with the Winnipeg Horticultural Society in 1955, getting renamed as the International Flower Show. With these shows occurring in August, commercial producers were usually busy extracting their crops and unable to do promotions.

At the organizational meeting on March 26, 1963, Mr. Don Robertson outlined the benefits of forming an association for buying packages of bees as a group, plus exchanging ideas about beekeeping and organizing field days. Later, on April 1, 1963 various committees were formulated. One of the last of the original members, Mrs. Anna Donkin, who passed away this past September 12, was appointed to the Refreshment Committee. This passion was reflected for many years, as Ken Rowes alluded to in the last RRAA newsletter.

The first regular meeting took place April 16, 1963 in the Beekeepers Room of the Manitoba Honey Co-operative, 625 Roseberry Street. At this time the first “constitution” was formed. All of this history leads us to reflect at the 50th anniversary during 2013.