The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent

Darren Bernhardt



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Watch the virtual book launch here!

Manitoba’s history is one of being carved. Ice sculpted the land before nomadic first people pressed trails across it. Southern First Nations dug into the earth to grow corn and potatoes while those in the north mined it for quartz used in arrowheads. Fur traders arrived, expanding on Indigenous trading networks and shaping new ones. Then came settlers who chiselled the terrain with villages, towns and cities.

But there is failure and suffering etched into the history.

In Winnipeg, slums emerged as the city’s population boomed. There were more workers than jobs and the pay was paltry. Immigrants and First Nations were treated as second-class, shunted to the fringes. Rebellions and strikes, political scandals and natural disasters occurred as the people molded Manitoba.

In The Lesser Known, Darren Bernhardt shares odd tales lost in time paired with archival images, such as The Tin Can Cathedral, the first independent Ukrainian church in North America; the jail cell hidden beneath a Winnipeg theatre; the bear pit of Confusion Corner; gardening competitions between fur trading forts and more.

Once deemed important enough to be documented, these stories are now buried. It’s time to carve away at them once again.

Interviews with Darren Bernhardt

A McNally Robinson bestseller!

Shortlisted for the 2021 Manuela Dias Book Design Award!

A 2021 Manitoba Day Award Honorable Mention!


“Bernhardt’s histories add depth and vibrancy to how we see our city and the surrounding areas” – Winnipeg Free Press

“Told in a conversational tone with lots of old photos, it will make you see your city anew” – Chris Hall, co-owner of McNally Robinson Booksellers

“In The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent, Darren Bernhardt excavates the bizarre and beautiful stories buried just below the surface of Winnipeg’s streets and consciousness. Deftly written with clear-eyed affection, Bernhardt links us to the past, present and future of this weird and frustrating and wonderful place we are lucky enough to call home.” – John K. Samson, Canadian musician from Winnipeg, Manitoba


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About the Author

Darren Bernhardt

Born-and-raised in Winnipeg, Darren Bernhardt has been writing as long as he can remember. He would scribble looping lines on a page and ask his mom what it said. When the skill was somewhat more refined, he filled pages of Hilroy notebooks with text and illustrations about weekend family outings and adventures with friends. Naturally, he became a journalist. He spent the first dozen years of his career working for newspapers in Saskatchewan before moving back to Winnipeg where he now lives with his wife, two kids and a dog in a 108-year-old house. He has been writing online for CBC Manitoba since 2009, specializing in offbeat and local history stories. He is the co-author of the 2005 JackPine Press chapbook, To Kerouac and Back and co-author of the play, Alison’s Leather Couch.