Métis have lived in what is now known as Manitoba for over 200 years.
This Guide shares information sources about a Métis community known to its residents as Pakan Town, and which became known by many outside the community as Rooster Town.
In 1959 members of the community were displaced by the City of Winnipeg to make way for commercial and other development. Homes left standing were bulldozed and burnt.
The information available about Rooster Town shows that its boundaries shifted over the years. While that was the case, many of Rooster Town's residents lived either on or near the land now occupied by Grant Park Shopping Centre, Grant Park High School, the Bill and Helen Norrie Library and the Pan Am Pool complex.
While much of the published writing about the community reflects research looking at the years 1901-1961, Métis families occupied and cared for the lands that they came to call Pakan Town for many years prior to the early 1900s, having been pushed out of their previous Red River homes.
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Image: Fetching Water by Métis artist Ian August, located in Winnipeg at Beaumont [Transit] Station, Georgina Avenue at Parker Street.
Photo credit: Liz Tran. Source: Winnipeg Arts Council.
Have a local history or genealogy question? We are happy to provide you with suggestions for your research. We are also able to complete some searching for you. Examples of searches we conduct are: obituary clippings from select Winnipeg and Manitoba newspapers; city directories listings; Manitoba birth, death and marriage information (as publicly available), census data. *Please note: we may limit the amount of searching we undertake.
Melonville. Smokey Hollow. Bannock Town. Fort Tuyau. Little Chicago. Mud Flats. Pumpville. Tintown. La Coule. These were some of the names given to Métis communities at the edges of urban areas in Manitoba. Rooster Town, which was on the outskirts of southwest Winnipeg endured from 1901 to 1961.Those years in Winnipeg were characterized by the twin pressures of depression, and inflation, chronic housing shortages, and a spotty social support network. At the city's edge, Rooster Town grew without city services as rural Métis arrived to participate in the urban economy and build their own houses while keeping Métis culture and community as a central part of their lives.In other growing settler cities, the Indigenous experience was largely characterized by removal and confinement. But the continuing presence of Métis living and working in the city, and the establishment of Rooster Town itself, made the Winnipeg experience unique. Rooster Town documents the story of a community rooted in kinship, culture, and historical circumstance, whose residents existed unofficially in the cracks of municipal bureaucracy, while navigating the legacy of settler colonialism and the demands of modernity and urbanization.
You can find several reviews of the book "Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Métis Community, 1901-1961" in this database. Log-in using your valid Winnipeg Public Library card number. Select "Academic Search Premier". Enter "rooster town" into the search box.
SUMMARY: This website give you access to original records and other research documents compiled and produced by the authors of the book "Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Metis Community, 1901-1961." It is an excellent place to being learning about Rooster Town. You will find:
•building permits and drawings
SOURCE: University of Manitoba Press blog. author: Adrian Werner
SUMMARY: This blog post is written by one of the co-authors of the book "Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Métis Community, 1901-1961". He explains how research was done using maps, census data and city directories.
SOURCE: author: Lawrence J. Barkwell, 2012.
NOTE: "An update on the Metis community of Rooster Town that once existed in the bush south of Crescentwood in Winnipeg." This short piece was written in response to the Winnipeg Free Press article about Rooster Town titled "The Outsiders. The story of Rooster Town...". Researcher (and co-author of the book about Rooster Town) Lawrence Barkwell took issue with the way that the Free Press article depicted the residents of Rooster Town and wrote this piece in response.
SOURCE: The Winnipeg Free Press. author: Randy Turner
NOTE: This feature article appeared in 2012. Some individuals with knowledge of Rooster Town took issue with how this article portrayed the community. See "Rooster Town Revisited" by Lawrence J. Barkwell, above.