St. Vital Museum's Own Resident Historian: John Dempster

Fredrick Hulton
As resident historian of the St. Vital Historical Society, John Dempster loves learning, and speaking, about the area his family helped settle. Dempster’s grandfather, Frederick Hulton, was the fourth non-Métis to settle his family in St. Vital following Fredrick Hulton the Riel Rebellion of 1870.

“I try to make St. Vital history come alive,” recalled Dempster as he prepared material for a speaking tour of another St. Vital School.

“I hope to stimulate interest in how St. Vital evolved.”

Since November 2008, Dempster has shared his knowledge with more than 300 young St. Vital residents including Brownies and Sparks. A life-long resident of the Norberry area, where his family ran a market garden, Dempster went to the same building for all of his grade schooling.

“I went to Norberry,” recalled Dempster. “At that time, Glenlawn Collegiate was in the basement of Norberry.”

The school is now home to the offices of the Louis Riel School Division, created with the amalgamation of the St. Vital and St. Boniface divisions. Molgat Avenue, which runs from St. Mary’s Road to Norberry Community Centre, was once Margaret Avenue, named after Dempster’s grandmother. Frederick Avenue is named after his grandfather. Grandfather Hulton donated the land on the west side of St. Mary’s for the road, which was later changed to Norberry Drive.

Frederick Avenue still runs from St. Mary’s, east to St. Anne’s Road.

Hulton House, c. 1895
The Hulton House, circa 1895

John Dempster
St. Vital Museum's John Dempster in front of one of our displays