With MGUG putting on the big GIS conference at Celebrations Dinner Theatre on September 30, I hearken back to the first GIS conference that was held in Manitoba. Yes it was that long ago we used terms like “hearken back”
Unfortunately, there is no written history, so you cannot Google “first GIS Conference in Manitoba” and get the information. It was a long time ago, so some of my facts are fuzzy. If anyone can add to, clarify or correct, I am extremely grateful. I would also be interested to know if you were there.
The first Manitoba GIS conference was actually called a “GIS Colloquium” and was the first of a series of annual colloquia. The term “colloquium” is academic, and fittingly, it was organized by Marci Faurer, then a PhD graduate student at the University of Manitoba Geography Department. It was 1987 (give or take a year) and GIS was still very new to the University. At the time, I was also a graduate student in the Geography Department, struggling to finish my thesis. The first Manitoba GIS Colloquium was held at the University of Manitoba and I volunteered to help out.
There were a number of business and government organizations within Manitoba that were already using GIS so the program was diverse. The talks, primarily on applications of GIS, were fascinating to a young graduate student about to go looking for a job. One of the more interesting presentations was from ID Systems, an environmental consulting company, who described their site selection work with the Manitoba Hazardous Waste Management Corporation. A year or two later I was lucky enough to get a job with ID Systems and begin my professional GIS career.
Marci Faurer moved on to become an Assistant Professor at the University of Winnipeg and moved the colloquia to UofW. Tragically, Marci passed away a few years later, but we should always remember that she was the first to bring the GIS community in Manitoba together and that we are following her vision. It’s hard to believe, but this vision is nearly 25 years old. Marci Faurer should be remembered as a pioneer in Manitoba GIS.