History Lab Reopens August 13, 2006
In 1914 a small laboratory, not much bigger than the size of the Criddle-Vane Homestead just south of CFB Shilo. The little laboratory was the first entomology lab in Western Canada. It was here that the world-renowned entomologist Norman Criddle studied all manner of insects.
Norman was a poor farm boy who loved to explore the natural world. His detailed paintings of prairie flowers and butterflies won him recognition with the science community in Eastern Canada and launched his career almost 100 years ago.
While an outstanding entomologist, who corresponded and traded insect specimens with scientists around the world, Norman struggled to make ends meet. His superiors in Ottawa begrudgingly paid the one hundred and fifty-one dollars to build the laboratory but would not pay the additional fourteen dollars for the concrete floor. It was another era.
The Criddle-Vane Homestead became a Mecca for scientists of all stripes. They came great distances to study prairie plants, animals and insects at the homestead. Norman worked as an entomologist until his death in 1933. He is buried in the little cemetery at the homestead.
But entomologists and other scientists still come to pay homage to Norman and study the flora and fauna. Because of the records that Norman, and his brothers and sisters kept, the homestead is a unique and invaluable site to study such things as climate change and specie changes over time.
The homestead was sold in 1960 but was eventually bought by the Province. Today it is the Criddle-Vane Homestead Provincial Park. A group of volunteers, called the Criddle-Vane Homestead Heritage Committee, are responsible for the upkeep and restoration of the buildings in the park. Through fund raising and hard work they have restored Norman Criddle’s first laboratory. Norman’s superiors would have been surprised at today’s cost of restoring just the exterior of the small laboratory. This homestead is also the site of what could be the first golf course in Manitoba, and nine holes have been re-created, complete with sand greens.