May 24th is a very important date because, on this day in 1918, the women of Canada were given the right to vote in federal elections.
It is hard for me to believe that when my grandmother got married in 1917 she still didn’t have the right to vote.
Prior to 1918 women in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Manitoba had earned the right to vote in provincial elections but it would take women in the other provinces longer to win that right. In Quebec, women couldn’t vote in provincial elections until 1940.
It is also important to remember that Asian women, Indigenous women, Inuit women and incarcerated women would have to wait much longer to achieve suffrage.
The right we Canadian women have to vote should never be taken for granted. Many women worked long and hard and made great sacrifices to obtain suffrage for us. We need to remember that rights can be repealed. By responsibly exercising our right to vote we can ensure that women’s rights are respected and advanced.
Since today is Victoria Day I thought I would post about some connections I have with the name of the monarch Queen Victoria whose birthday is being honoured today.
I once went to a church service at Westminster Abbey in London. Queen Victoria’s coronation service was held there in 1838.
Last October when we visited British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria which is named for the Queen, my brother and his partner who make their home in Victoria took us for a walk along the ocean.
During the six years I lived in Hong Kong I took this tram up to the top of Victoria Peak countless times. You could walk all around the mountain named after the Queen and have marvellous views of the city of Hong Kong.
Keeping birthday books was made popular by Queen Victoria. I have my grandmother’s and my great aunt’s birthday books both more than a century old.
A wonderful young woman named Victoria was our walking tour guide in the city of Kyiv during our trip to Ukraine. Funny, smart, knowledgable and well-spoken I often think now about Victoria and hope she is okay.
In 2013 we visited Victoria Beach named for the Queen. Victoria Beach is 100 kilometres or so north of Winnipeg. We walked through the interesting community.
When we lived in Hong Kong we took many our guests down to Victoria Harbour to see the light show there at night. Here we are on the harbour named for the queen with my sister and brother-in-law.
This beautiful 1997 wall hanging by Victoria Mamnguqsualuk Kayuryuk is one I have talked about with many visitors to the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Outside a wine store on Queen Street in Toronto while on a walking tour of the city. Queen Street was named after Queen Victoria.
Our family once attended the Regina Folk Festival. Regina is Latin for ‘queen’ and the city was named after Queen Victoria when it was founded in 1903.
So many things have happened with my novel Lost on the Prairie since it was announced as the nominee for two awards earlier this month that I needed to do a blog post just to draw everything together so I don’t forget about anything.
When Lost on the Prairie was published a year ago it made the bestseller list at McNally Robinson Booksellers for thirteen weeks in a row. Yesterday thanks to the news about my award nominations it was there again.
When I was shopping at McNally Robinson Booksellers last week I stopped to take a photo of Lost on the Prairie in a special display with some of the other Manitoba Book Award nominees. I feel honoured to be in their company.
I had such a good time on May 12th when I was invited to talk about my novel in a presentation to a group of seniors at my church Bethel Mennonite. I brought along some family memorabilia related to the novel and was delighted at all the folks who came over to chat with me about the various items and buy my book.
Esther Matz a successful novelist in her own right wrote this lovely article for our church newsletter about the event.
May 16th was British Columbia Book Day and my publisher Heritage House which is based in Victoria included Lost on the Prairie in one of the graphics they used to publicize the day.
Bob Armstrong was kind enough to give my award nomination a mention in his weekly column in the Winnipeg Free Press.
My wonderfully supportive publisher Heritage House created this graphic to announce the news about my award nominationsand ………….
the Manitoba Book Awards created a great graphic as well to announce my nomination for the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award.
Jordan Ross from The Carillon did a feature about poet Sarah Ens and myself. Both of us grew up in the regional area the newspaper serves and both have been nominated for Manitoba Book Awards this year.
I have been learning how helpful becoming an award nominee can be. Prior to my awards nominations being announced The Winnipeg Public Library had only three copies of my book. But………. now they have 22 copies of Lost on the Prairie and those copies have 18 holds on them.
I am so grateful to my publisher Heritage House and in particular my marketing manager Monica Miller for all the work and effort they put into creating the submission documents for these awards, and to all the great organizations and groups who fund both the Manitoba Book Awards and the Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards.
I am grateful to McNally Robinson Booksellers, Common Word Bookstore, and the gift shop at the Steinbach Heritage Village Museum for selling Lost on the Prairie and of course to all the people who have bought my book.
I’ve passed this statue hundreds of times as I walk through the Richardson Building on my way to work so I decided I wanted to find out more about Tom Lamb the man whose name is on the statue’s plaque.
Tom, who would eventually earn the nickname Mr North was born in 1898 in Grand Rapids Manitoba. His British parents went to the north as Anglican missionaries. Tom’s family moved to Moose Lake in 1900where his Dad built a log cabin and began a fur trading business with local traders.
Tom grew up with Cree children as his companions and learned to speak their language fluently. Tom quit school at the end of grade three to help his Dad with a fish hauling operation he had started.
Tom married Jean Armstrong in 1924 and together they raised six sons and three daughters. Eventually, his children helped operate the fur trading and fishing businesses Tom took over from his Dad.
Tom instituted a conservation and development plan to increase the declining muskrat and beaver population in the north and in 1935 bought an airplane to help haul fresh fish. He hired a pilot who soon was as busy doing charter work for the government, the RCMP, geologists, oil rig operators and medical evacuations as he was transporting fish.
In 1937 Tom became a pilot himself and a decade later had purchased a fleet of aircraft with floats and skis that became a thriving northern airline called Lambair. All six of his sons got their pilot licences and flew charter operations throughout the Arctic including Greenland, the Yukon and Alaska.
By 1959 Lambair had logged more than 1,500,000 air miles, owned twenty planes and employed 40 pilots.
At the same time as his airline flourished Tom maintained the fishing and shipping business, his Dad had founded. In the photo above one of the Lamb’s boats is transporting lumber as well as cattle for a ranching operation another one of Tom’s initiatives in the north.
Tom Lamb was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Manitoba and has been inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame. He died in 1969 and his children carried on his airline business for another decade. He had twenty-four grandchildren. His son Jack chronicled his Dad’s life in the book My Life in the North.
Although the Leo Mol statue in the Richardson Building bears the date 1991, the original piece was poured in 1971. There is another copy of the Tom Lamb statue in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Assiniboine Park. A fibreglass version sits in the airport at The Pas and there is another copy in the Canadian embassy in Washington DC.
Leo Mol said he wanted to show Tom Lamb as a young pilot and he made the propeller in his hands look a bit like a clock because he wanted the statue to take people back in time to the era when Mr Lamb helped open up the north as an aviation pioneer.
A gorgeous beaded jacket is part of the current exhibit A Hard Birth or Kwaata-nihtaawakihk at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. According to the Twitter feed of Will Goodon a representative of the Manitoba Métis Federation he found the jacket for sale on Etsy a few years ago and bought it from an estate collection in the Cotswold area of England. It has been dated to between 1870 and 1910 and is from the Red River area.
One can only speculate as to how the jacket landed up in England. We know hunters came to Manitoba to shoot bison for sport in the 1870s. Did one of them buy it while they were in the area?
Many people from England came to settle in Manitoba. Did visitors from their home in Great Britain come to see them in the Red River Settlement and buy the jacket as a souvenir or receive it as a gift from a relative living here before heading back to England.
We know that after reaching an agreement with the provisional government in the Red River Settlement to make Manitoba a province, the Wolseley Expedition was sent here to enforce federal authority. There were British regular soldiers who were part of that group. Did one of them take the jacket back to England when their military service was over?
When I show this jacket to the people on my tours at the Winnipeg Art Gallery I ask them to speculate on how the jacket got to England and they come up with all kinds of stories.
Since being purchased by the Métis Federation the jacket has been professionally restored by trained staff at the Manitoba Museum. The leather has been brushed and cleaned and every single bead has been cleaned by hand with small tools and brushes.
Eventually the jacket will be on display at the new Métis Heritage Centre, but for now visitors to the Winnipeg Art Gallery have a chance to see this treasure which after almost a century and a half has found its way back to its home.
Now that travel seems to be opening up I have started thinking about where our next travel adventure should be. We have never been to Africa or South America so I’d like to head somewhere on both those continents as soon as it seems safe. We had plans for a trip to Tanzania in the works when COVID hit so maybe we will have to resurrect those.
Recently I have heard quite a few people tell me they are off to Sicily and that’s a place we’ve never been. We have often talked about going to The Galápagos after hearing rave reviews from friends and family who have been there.
Greece, Ireland, Botswana, and a cruise among the Norwegian fiords remain on my bucket list.
But this weekend we are off to Saskatoon to celebrate our grandson’s sixth birthday and this summer we head to southern Ontario for our niece’s wedding. For now, Canada and our family will be the focus of our travel and we will have to wait and see what happens in our world before we venture further afield.
On a bike ride yesterday we stopped at the huge Red River cart that stands at the Assiniboine Park entrance to take some photos. Red River carts were invented by the Métis who were the primary residents in this area of Manitoba in the 1800s.
The hubs of the carts were usually made from elm, the wheel rims from white ash or oak, and the axle from hard maple. All these wooden pieces were held together by leather or rope.The huge wheels made the cart stable and easier to pull through the mud and marsh. They could hold up to 450 kilograms of goods.
The wood and leather of the carts made an ear-piercing squeal as they rubbed together so you could hear the carts coming from kilometres away. The Métis did not grease the axles to soften the sound because it would attract dirt, grass and insects that would eventually clog the parts and slow the vehicle.
The carts were buoyant and so they could float across a stream or river. In this painting which is on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, you can see the Red River carts are about to enter the river at Upper Fort Garry.
Yesterday’s Winnipeg Free Press had a story about a man named Terry Doerksen who is trying to relive history by making a journey from Lockport to Minneapolis in a Red River cart he built. In the 1850s some 600 Red River carts filled with items to trade were making that journey every year.
The Red River cart is an important symbol of the Métis culture and the history of Manitoba.
I told some people we were going crocus hunting in the Sandilands area yesterday but in actual fact very little hunting was necessary.
There were crocuses a-plenty in the woods and ditches.
We were the guests of our friends Bill and Marie who have a cottage in the area and invited us out for a day of crocus spotting that included great wine, great food and great conversation.
We went for a ride on Bill and Marie’s pair of ATVs.
It was a sunny calm afternoon and Bill led us on a sightseeing trip in the area. It was great to be out in the woods and in the fresh air.
We stopped to check out some beaver dams.
There were lots of crocuses and Dave hopped off the ATV at a couple of spots to take some photos.
The crocus which brings colour to the landscape after a long, dreary winter is often viewed as a symbol of positivity, joy and youthfulness.
We’ve certainly had a long dreary winter in Manitoba and spending a day in the cool but sunny outdoors yesterday and finding crocuses in amongst the still brown and bare woodlands gave me a positive feeling that the green and warmth of spring may be just around the corner.