Founded in 1879, the Manitoba Historical Society is dedicated to preserving Manitoba’s past for future generations. The MHS hosts field trips throughout the province, lectures and films and has made significant contributions to the building of the Manitoba Archives, Winnipeg Public Library and the Manitoba Museum. Through its web site it offers many historical opportunities of which their Historic Sites of Manitoba feature is the source of much of the information in this Vignette.

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Brandon Winter Fair Building /

Brandon Arena / Manning Depot No. 2 (Eleventh Street, Brandon)

During the Second World War, the Manning Depot No. 2 was an integral component of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This building on Eleventh Street at Victoria Avenue in Brandon was where new recruits from all over Western Canada, some 1,000 to 1,500 at a time, came for their introduction to military life. They attended classes in precision drills, physical fitness, swimming, sun bathing, as well as general outfitting. At the end of their two- to four-week stint here, the prospective airmen were sorted into three training classes: Pilots, Air Observers, or Air Gunners.

Manning Depot No. 2 was the first such facility in Western Canada, supplementing the Manning Depot No. 1 at Toronto (Ontario). After securing a lease for the former Brandon Winter Fair Building (also known as the Brandon Arena) from the Brandon Winter Fair and Livestock Association (BWFLA), work began to convert the livestock-holding structure into a military facility. Winnipeg architect Cyril William Upton Chivers provided a renovation plan and starting in May 1940, a 60-man work crew began a thorough cleaning of the building. Cattle stalls on two floors of a large adjacent structure 

Group photo of 36 airmen. Inscription on back: ``Flight 122 #2 Manning Depot Brandon, April 1943, To my Sons - Dad.''

Postcard invitation to the Coca-Cola Victory Parade of Canada's Spotlight Band featuring Mark Kenney and his Orchestra. (Below) Explanation of this Coca-Cola event on back of postcard.

days between April 29 1940 and May 15 1944 at which time it was moved to Swift Current Saskatchewan where it was open for another 108 days until August 31 1944. Until No. 2 Manning Depot was opened, all Royal Canadian Air Force recruits were processed through No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto Ontario. Three additional manning depots were located in Canada during World War II at No. 3 Manning Depot – Edmonton Alberta, No. 4 Manning Depot - Quebec City Quebec, and No. 5 Manning Depot - Lachine Quebec. Manning Depots for Women’s Division recruits were located at No. 6 Manning Depot in Toronto and No. 7 Manning Deport in Rockcliffe Ontario.

An interesting archival item left over from No. 2 Manning Depot is the Barber Book. While open to the RCAF, a gentleman by the name of Jack Taylor operated a barber shop in the building. Jack asked everyone who received a haircut to sign their name and list their home town in a series of scribblers which became known as the Barber Book. He collected over 22,000 airmen names and home towns in the books which are on display at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. The names have been added to a searchable computer database making it easier for veterans and their families and friends to find their names. An amazing amount of veterans and families have joyfully taken advantage of this attraction.

Copies of the Airman’s Post, station magazine for No. 2 Manning Depot are available, along with some other station magazines, for viewing on the Commonwealth Air Training Plan web site:

020/150 Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Stations
No. 2 Manning Depot – Brandon Manitoba

No. 2 Manning Depot postcard postmarked February 1 1943​

were removed and replaced with sleeping quarters. The wooden annex building, formerly a stable, was converted to a recreation hall and sergeants’ mess, with a dining room (with seating for 450) in a former poultry building. In just two months, the renovations were completed at a cost of some $85,000. Finishing touches were mostly completed by mid-June 1940. The Campbell Building and Fergusson Buildings on Tenth Street were also pressed into service as part of the Manning Depot. Meanwhile, the Brandon Technical School was converted into a military hospital, while classes formerly held there were moved to the Provincial Buildings at the Exhibition Grounds.

In 1944, the Manning Depot was decommissioned. All buildings were vacated by the end of May and staff was relocated to Swift Current (Saskatchewan). The BWFLA was paid $80,000 to renovate the building back to non-military uses. Around August 1947, the venue was reseated, expanding its capacity from 2,800 to 5,100, and an artificial ice plant was installed. It was officially opened on 5 December 1947 prior to a hockey game between the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Winnipeg Monarchs.

The facility was later demolished and the site, near the Brandon Amoury, is now a parking lot adjacent to the headquarters of the Brandon Police Service.

No. 2 Manning Depot operated in Brandon for 1,477