Monthly Archives: October 2015

From ‘Pale and Weak’ to Platoon Commander

guide at the citadel in quebec cityWe took a tour of the Citadel in Quebec City with a charming young man named Sam. He showed us a time line to explain the history of the Citadel, built originally to defend Quebec City from an attack by the Americans. It eventually became the home of the francophone Royal 22 nd Regiment formed during World War I.  Sam provided us with a great deal of information as we tracked the military history of the regiment through World War I and II, the Korean War and the War in Afghanistan. I decided during the tour to focus on the references to women and photos of women at the Citadel. box-of-red-pills-for-pale-and-weak-womenThe 22nd Francophone Regiment was started because in 1914 a very rich pharmaceutical entrepreneur named Arthur Mignaut wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Robert Borden offering to make a donation of $50,000 to establish a solely French Canadian regiment. One of the ways Arthur Mignault had made his fortune was by selling little red pills for ‘pale and weak’ women.

women building-bombsDuring World War II women played an important role with their work in munitions factories building bombs. This poster encourages women to help the war effort, The woman says, “I’m making bombs and buying Victory Bonds.”eleanor-roosevelt-clemetine-churchill-and-princess-aliceThis photo of Eleanor Roosevelt, Princess Alice wife of Canada’s then Governor General the Earl of Athlone, and Clementine Churchill was taken in 1944 at the Citadel when their husbands were in Quebec City planning for a post war world. The Roosevelts and Churchills stayed at the Citadel, which was one of the two residences of Canada’s Governor General. sonya-butt-british-spySonya Butt was a British spy during World War II. At age 19 she parachuted into France where she worked as a courier and weapons instructor. Her photo is in The Citadel in Quebec City because just before they left on separate covert war missions Sonya married fellow spy French Canadian Guy d’Artois. They were reunited after the war and she came to live in Quebec where the couple raised six children together. Sonya died in 2014.

korean-nuns-and-orphan-girlsMembers of Quebec’s 22nd Regiment pose with Korean nuns and female orphans at a Korean orphanage in 1953. Three battalions of soldiers from the 22nd Regiment served during the Korean War with the Canadian Infantry. 

dispatches from afghanistanIn this video called Dispatches from Afghanistan Lieutenant Marie Christine Alamay talks about the women of Afghanistan she came to know during the time she was stationed in Kandahar as a platoon commander with the 22nd Regiment. 

I found it interesting that women moved from being ‘pale and weak’ to becoming platoon commanders as we toured the exhibit. 

Other posts……..

Times Have Changed

Are You This Determined to Vote?

A Train Introduces Me to a Fascinating Woman

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Filed under History, quebec city

Diana- Finding Greek and Roman Gods in Winnipeg

Where can you find Greek and Roman gods in Winnipeg?  Lots of places it turns out. Ever since the Olympus exhibit opened at the Winnipeg Art Gallery I’ve been looking for references to Greek and Roman gods in Winnipeg.  I found another one on Sunday night. bachtoberfest-cmu I was attending Bachtoberfest: An Evening in Leipzig at Canadian Mennonite University. A quartet of talented singers  performed excerpts from a hunting cantata composed by Bach to serve as dinnertime entertainment at the 1713 birthday party of a German duke. The celebration was held in the duke’s hunting lodge.

diana artemisGuess who the main cantata characters were?   Diana, goddess of the hunt performed by soprano Rose van der Hooft, Endymion, Diana’s lover whose part was sung by tenor Nolan Kehler, Pan god of nature sung by bass Matt Baron and Pales goddess of shepherds and flocks sung by Lynette Ens.  It was the first time I’d heard the cantata and it was delightful

The Olympus exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery has helped me become familiar with so many Greek and Roman gods.  It’s fun to see where else in Winnipeg I can spot them!

Other posts….

Poseidon- Finding Greek and Roman Gods in Winnipeg

Mercury- Finding Greek and Roman Gods in Winnipeg

Hercules- Finding Greek and Roman Gods in Winnipeg

Athena- Finding Greek and Roman Gods in Winnipeg

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Filed under Art, Music, winnipeg art gallery

A Pen or a Wing?

monument-to-teachers-qcThe hand holds the feather gently.  This artwork sits in the center of a round about in Quebec City.  Our walking tour guide Janet told us it is a tribute to teachers. The sculpture is a hand resting on a pile of books. There is a feather in the hand’s palm. Our group had a little discussion about the meaning of the art piece. Some said the feather alludes to the quill which teachers in the past used to teach children how to write. 

feather-in-the-hand-statueI said the feather represented a teacher giving children the confidence and learning they needed to “fly” off into the world and be independent and successful.  It is the job of a teacher to give children ‘wings.’ Not everyone agreed with me. 

Whatever the viewer thinks the sculpture means it is nice to see tribute being given in a public way to the work teachers do.

Other posts………

What Are Kids Looking For in a Teacher? 

They Remembered the Books

Its the Principal of the Thing

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Filed under Art, Education, quebec city

Co-Creation at the Art Gallery

In her book The Participatory Museum Nina Simon presents ideas for making art galleries and museums more relevant and dynamic. One chapter is called Co-Creating with Visitors. I saw a great example of co-creation when I visited the Musée de la civilisation à Québec.


Empty City near Tianjin – photo by Ninon Pednault – La Presse My photo taken at The Musée de la civilisation à Québec

A gallery featured photographs of Chinese Ghost Cities.  China has been trying to keep their economy vibrant with all kinds of building projects. They have created whole cities just to keep people employed but more than 90% of the buildings in these cities are uninhabited.


City of Paris recreated in Tiangducheng China. Many couples who can’t afford to go to Paris get married in Tiangducheng. Hardly anyone actually lives there however. Photo by Ninon Pedault- La Presse My photo taken at The Musée de la civilisation à Québec

Replicas of Paris, London, Manhatten, Dubai and Florence have been built in China by Chinese construction workers but no one lives in them. 

clay figures by patrons in quebec city museum

A Town to Populate by Karine Giboulo

In her installation A Town to Populate  artist Karine Giboulo has created her own ghost city of skyscrapers, roads, houses and shopping malls but they don’t have any people in them.  Visitors to the gallery are invited to take balls of modeling clay from bins near the exhibit and use the tools provided to create people for the town. 

clay figures by museum patronsLots of gallery visitors had taken on the artist’s challenge.  Here is the little person I created for A Town To Populate. 

exhibit in quebec cityKarine Giboulo has truly created a participatory installation that invites those who come to see her exhibit to be co-creators with her.  Participatory art is an exciting new way cultural institutions are trying to engage their visitors and make their exhibits more relevant and meaningful.  

Other posts……

Sunday Afternoon at the WAG

What Talent! Olympus Inspired Art. 

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Filed under Art, China, Education, quebec city

Inspiration in Quebec City

carriages-waiting-for-riders-in-quebec-cityWaiting is a peculiar state in which doing doesn’t cease; it is just restrained, like an impatient horse.

– Philip Shepherd 

stained-glass-window quebec cityWhy would the missionaries think that their religion provided a superior spiritual base and moral code to that of the natives?

–  Max Swanson 

rene-levesque-boulevardWhile it is well enough to leave footprints on the sands of time, it is even more important to make sure they point in a commendable direction.

– James Cabell

cranberries-at-the-farmers-market-in-quebec-cityIn  research published in the February 2014 issue of Experimental Gerontology, scientists have found that eating cranberries can extend your life significantly.

– The Toronto Sunmontmorency-falls-quebec-city

There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature.


lace curtains in window quebecYou are the window through which you must see the world.

– George Bernard Shaw

harpist quebec cityTime has laid his hand
Upon my heart gently, not smiting it,
But as a harper lays his open palm
Upon his harp, to deaden its vibrations.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

art gallery in old prison quebec city
As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.

― Nelson Mandela

fall-grasses-quebec-cityThe grass never sleeps.  

-Mary Oliver

church-and-fall-trees-quebec-cityMy religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.

― Oliver Sacks

Other posts………

Elegant Words

Hat Inspiration

Inspiration at Hecla Island Golf Course


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Filed under Inspiration, quebec city

A Black and White Religion

catholic-ladder-by-lacombeWill my religious beliefs seem this misguided to future generations? At the Musee de la Place Royale in Quebec City we saw a painting called The Catholic Ladder.  It was created by Albert Lacombe in 1895.  He used this visual depiction of salvation to convert people who were illiterate to Christianity.albert-lacombe Lacombe was a missionary to the Metis, Cree and Blackfoot across North America at the turn of the century. catholic ladderAccording to Lacombe’s theology there were only two ways to go in life. You walked the Way of Evil and led a life characterized by things like lust and envy or you walked the The Way of Good characterized by things like hope and charity. lacombe hell depictionLacombe had no problem making judgements about which path people were on. Here a priest leads First Nations people from the dark path to the light one. 

heretics by albert lacombeAnd here people like Martin Luther and Mohammed turn off the path of good towards the path of evil. Obviously Lacombe saw no value in any religion other than Catholicism. hell-lacombeAnd at the top of the ladder Jesus sits in judgement sending people either to this hell replete with crowned dragons, fire and snakes orpurgatoryto purgatory which doesn’t look that pleasant either although there are ways to get out heaven lacombeor to heaven where people are welcomed by Mary and Jesus and the angels. 

I spent a long time looking at this depiction of Christianity. It made me sad. It made me angry.  I’d like to think that over the last century Christianity has evolved into a faith that emphasizes forgiveness rather than damnation. I’d like to think we’ve gotten past frightening people into believing in the divine.  I’d like to think Christians realize they don’t have a corner on the truth and understand just how much they can learn from other faiths. I’d like to think we realize choosing the way of evil or the way of good isn’t always black and white and determining what is good or evil can be very difficult. Sometimes a choice we were certain was good can end up causing harm to ourselves and others. I’d like to think that we don’t live our entire lives just focused on what happens to us after we die but rather focused on what we can do to bring the good things of the Kingdom of God to the people around us in the here and now.  l’d like to think that but…… I know that  fundamentalism is growing in all three of the world’s major religions and fundamentalism gives rise to ideas like the ones depicted in Lacombe’s ladder. 

Perhaps it is good for me to consider Lacombe’s ladder because it reminds me that our theology needs to continue to change as we learn more about history and science, and as we learn more about ourselves as individuals and as a world community.  It also makes me think about the fact that perhaps my religious beliefs will seem just as unpalatable to future generations as the ones in the Catholic Ladder are to me today. 

Other posts……..

Parfleches for the Last Supper

I Remember When


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Filed under Canada, History, Religion

The Clapper

nuns-clapperDo you know what this is?  I do from personal experience at Marion School in Winnipeg.  This little wooden object  is called a clapper and nuns who worked as teachers years ago used them to keep order and discipline.  When the two pieces of hinged wood were ‘clapped together’ it made a sharp noise.  I remember the clapper signaling the beginning and ending of the total silence during which we ate our lunch at Marion School.  Making a noise could result in the clapper being ‘clapped’ quite close to your ear and perhaps even nipping a bit of skin. marion school winnipeg

I attended Marion School in St. Boniface when I was in grade one.  Marion School was predominantly French although there was one English class for each grade. Most of our teachers were nuns and they all carried clappers in the pockets of their habits. I was scared of the clapper and on at least one occasion when I had been sent to stand in the corner for some offence, remember a sister coming by and clapping it repeatedly right next to my ear. 

school teacher nuns belongingsOne of these clappers was on display at the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City along with other disciplinary tools used by teaching nuns. I don’t know if I had ever seen a clapper since those long ago grade one days. But here was one again.  Some people I have told about the clapper have declared it must be just a figment of my imagination. Now I have living proof that it was actually real .  

Other posts……..

Could I Have Been A Grey Nun? 

The Nun’s Christmas

Mennonite Nuns

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Filed under Education, History, Religion