Category Archives: Canada

Ten Reasons Why I’m Glad To Be A Canadian

With my sister-in-law and a bison at the Fort Whyte Nature Centre

1. We have extraordinary wildlife.

Sporting a broken wrist that was professionally cared for at Winnipeg’s Pan Am Clinic

2. We have free quality health care.

My friend and I are having fun at the Portugal pavilion at Winnipeg’s Folklorama

3. We have a culturally diverse population

Sitting in the speaker’s chair in the House of Commons Canada

4. We have a democratic form of government.

Working in the kids’ art area at Winnipeg’s Fringe Festival

5. We have respect for the arts and we value creative expression.

Celebrating my birthday in Victoria, British Columbia with a Caesar cocktail available only in Canada.

6. We have fantastic uniquely Canadian food and drink.

Walking in Kildonan Park in Winnipeg

7. We have been responsible for many amazing inventions. Canada’s Inuit people invented the parka.

With my niece and her fiancee at a Blue Jays game in Toronto

8. We have our own professional baseball team.

With a class of my students at Mitchell School

9. We have free public schooling.

Hiking with my cousin in Gambo Newfoundland

10. We have spectacular scenery.

Other posts……….

15 Reasons I’m Thankful to Live in Canada

Happy Birthday Canada

Proud of My Country

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Bennett Buggy Anyone?

When I visited the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon a few years ago my grandsons took a ride in the Bennett Buggy that was on display.

My grandsons taking a simulated trip in a Bennett Buggy

Bennett Buggies became popular in Canada during the early 1930s when the nation was going through the Great Depression. A Bennett Buggy was a car which had its engine and windows removed and was pulled by a horse. The unique mode of transportation was named after Richard Bennett who was the prime minister and was blamed for the poor economy.

During the 1920s many Canadians purchased cheap cars for the first time only to find that during the Depression they couldn’t afford to buy gas for them. This was especially true in the hard hit prairie provinces. So they got creative and turned their cars into horse drawn carriages.

With the high price of gas these days it looks like we may have to be just as creative as those Depression-era drivers. Although horse-drawn cars aren’t an option anymore we can be creative in other ways.

My trusty bike is my main mode of transportation these days

We can use public transportation.

We can go as many places as possible on foot or by bicycle.

We can car pool, plan trips carefully so we use the least possible mileage, and drive a little more slowly.

My husband just bought a brand new e-bike which he plans to use for longer city drives. He took it to the Winnipeg Blue Bomber Game last Friday and it was much less hassle and expense than driving our car across town to the stadium and trying to find a spot to park.

I am seeing more and more people on the sidewalks using skateboards, roller blades and scooters to get around.

Just like our grandparents and great-grandparents had to think outside the box in order to deal with high gas prices in the 1930s…… we too will need to be creative to deal with them in 2022.

Other posts……….

An Inspiration For Our Time

They Wore Masks Too

Mom’s First Day of School in 1931

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Mandatory Voting

Should voting be mandatory?  In the recent Ontario election, only 43% of eligible citizens showed up to cast their ballots. It is one of the worst turnouts in a century for any federal or provincial Canadian election. Sadly, however, it is just part of an alarming downward trend in the number of people who care enough to vote in our country. 

What can we do about it?  Twenty-two countries in the world including Greece, Belgium, Australia, Argentina, Thailand, and Singapore have compulsory voting.  Citizens have to vote, or they pay a penalty. Should we be thinking about doing that in Canada too? 

When Canada became a country in 1867 only white men over the age of 21 who owned property could vote. Many people fought long and hard to get the vote for different segments of Canada’s population- women, Indigenous people, young people, incarcerated citizens, those who weren’t property owners, and those with intellectual disabilities. Now that every resident finally has suffrage why are so few using it? 

Perhaps Canadians don’t think their individual votes are important given the current first-past-the-post model of our elections.  Justin Trudeau in his first campaign for prime minister promised to reform our electoral system so citizens would feel their ballot made a difference.  Regrettably, he did not follow through on that promise. 

Perhaps people aren’t voting because of the poor quality of some of the candidates running.  But with all the no-holds-barred animus directed at politicians these days who would want to enter the political sphere and expose their families to the kind of toxic venom that is bound to come their way?  

When the trucker convoys were out in full force with their obscene Trudeau epithets splashed all around I kept thinking that the prime minister’s children were seeing those signs too. Why would quality candidates consider entering the political field when they know it means they and their families are going to be the objects of derision and hate? 

In 2015 former American President Barack Obama suggested that enacting compulsory voting in the United States would counteract the enormous impact of money in American politics and would diversify the voter pool.  

In a recent article in the Toronto Globe and Mail Andrew Coyne said mandatory voting would eliminate voter turnout as a factor in the way campaigns are carried out.  He feels much of the poisonous bile that is currently a part of politics is rooted in strategies by various parties to affect voter turnout either by riling up their own supporters or depressing their opponents’ supporters. 

I voted in the most recent provincial election and I can’t remember an election when I haven’t voted

Some proponents of compulsory voting say it would promote political stability and make people take elections more seriously. Of course, the biggest plus is that it would improve voter turnout. When Australia implemented compulsory voting less than half of its citizens were going to the polls. Now 80% do. 

I think other strategies could be implemented to improve voter turnout like making online voting an option and spending more time in school teaching young people about voting responsibilities. In Los Angeles, they have tried to get citizens to the polls by entering the name of everyone who votes in a draw for a huge cash prize. 

Compulsory voting has critics who say it violates people’s freedom of choice and forces even completely uninformed voters to cast their ballot.

Compulsory voting may not be the best answer to getting more Canadians to participate in the election process, but higher voter turnout is definitely something we should be encouraging and promoting so democracy can work the way it was meant to in our country.

Other posts………

Thanks for Voting

Canadians Need A Civics Lesson

Why Do Men and Women Vote Differently?

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Dog Transportation

Fort Garry 1879 by Lionel MacDonald Stephenson- Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

If you had been living here in Winnipeg in the 1870s there is a good chance you would have received your mail via a dog team. Mail from England came to York Factory by boat and then was transported by dog sled to Fort Garry.

Dogsled team carrying fursfrom the Glenbow Museum collection

Dog sledges were also used routinely in the fur trade here in the Red River Settlement beginning in the late 1700s. Dog sledges carrying furs travelled in convoys of up to twenty-five with each team following the track of the sled in front of it. Teams could pull loads of up to four hundred pounds.

In summer the dog teams were sometimes used to transport bison meat using a travois.

Dog sled team at the Fort Garry gate in 1879

The Metis who were the primary residents here in the Red River Settlement were very proud of their dog teams and often dressed them in an ornamental way.

A collection of ornate dog sledge regalia is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in their exhibit – A Hard Birth. Check out the gorgeous dog saddle with its intricate Metis beadwork and row of bells.

A Dog Cariole – 1825 by Peter Rindisbacher

Dog sleds could also carry people. Passengers sat in a cariole and passengers wrapped in furs glided in comfort over the prairie. Dogs could eat up to a pound of pemmican a day and were sold for as much as $20. A good dog could be more expensive than a horse.

In this 1848 painting by Paul Kane called Wedding Party a train of dog sleds are transporting guests for a prairie wedding.

Dogs responded to the driver’s whip for direction changes. In this alternate view of the Metis dogsled regalia currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery you can see the whip in the foreground and the driver’s gloves to the side.

If you had lived here in Winnipeg/The Red River Settlement a hundred and fifty years ago you might have seen dogsleds on the street instead of buses, cars, trucks or bikes.

Other posts………..

Between Dog and Wolf

Coop the Great- A Book That’s Not Just For Dog Lovers

10 Thoughts on Seeing the Movie- The Call of the Wild

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May 24th- An Important Day for Canadian Women

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.

My grandparents on their wedding day in 1917

It is hard for me to believe that when my grandmother got married in 1917 she still didn’t have the right to vote.

On a trip to Quebec City, I photographed this trio of Quebec suffragettes, Therese Casgrain, Idola St. Jean and Marie Lacoste Gérin-Lajoie who fought for 22 years to get women the right to vote in their province.

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.

Asian women only gained the right to vote in 1948- photo from the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Center

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.

Other posts……..

The Famous Five

Three Determined Women

What A Woman!

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Canada is TRYING to do the Right Thing About Abortion.

Ever since the United States Supreme Court indicated it might be poised to remove a woman’s right to have an abortion I’ve been thinking of a scene in the television series The Handmaid’s Tale. A young woman named Moira is trying to escape from the United States where women’s rights have slowly been eroded by the religious zealots who control the government.

Moira has run for days through fields and forests and has no idea where she is when she stumbles into an ancient barn that houses a beat-up old truck. She falls down on the ground in exhaustion and reaches up her hand to wipe the grime off the truck’s licence plate so she can read it.  It says ONTARIO and she weeps with joy and relief. She is in Canada!

Like the woman in the television series, I too am very grateful to be a woman in Canada and not the United States. Our country is at least TRYING to do the right things when it comes to making abortion safe and accessible for women who want it while at the same time TRYING to do the things that make women less likely to feel they need abortions.

Yesterday an editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press lauded the federal government for its plans to make abortion services more accessible nationwide but urged them to do even more to ensure reproductive health care is available to women in rural and remote communities.

Leah Gazan my member of Parliament (photo from her Facebook page)

Yesterday’s Free Press also carried an opinion piece by Manitoba economist Evelyn L. Forget on the legislation my member of Parliament Leah Gazan has introduced in the House of Commons asking Canada to implement a basic income for all citizens. Ms Forget says such legislation is the most compassionate choice, particularly for people with disabilities. But I think it would also make a big difference to women considering an abortion because a basic income would guarantee they had the financial means to care for a child.

Photo by Naomi Shi on Pexels.com

Canada’s new daycare plan will make affordable childcare available at a reasonable cost across the country. This could be a game-changer for women considering abortion due to worry they will have no one to look after their child while they try to build their careers.

Of course, Canada has universal health care and so pregnant women need not worry about getting prenatal care for themselves or pediatric care for their children, a worry that may lead American women to seek abortions. Soon we will also have a dental plan so all children will have dental care.

Canadian university tuition is on average $5000 a year compared to $32,000 in the United States. For female students considering abortion, the lower education costs must make the decision to keep their child easier for young Canadian women than it is for their American counterparts.

Image from Wikipedia

Since 2019 the Canadian Pediatric Society, The Canadian Medical Association and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada have recommended that birth control be available for free right across Canada. They claim universal access to no-cost contraception, particularly for young people will have long term benefits for the economy. Hopefully, provincial governments will heed their advice because we know access to free birth control helps lower abortion rates.

Photo by Laura Garcia on Pexels.com

Canada’s generous parental leave plan and child benefit payments are other things that provide the security women may need so they can choose not to have an abortion. In the United States, they have twelve weeks of parental leave. In Canada, we have parental leave plans that can last as long as 69 weeks. In the United States, their child benefit is $2,600 annually while in Canada it is up to $6,000.

We haven’t got there yet on all these initiatives but Canada is at least TRYING to do many of the things that will lower abortion rates even more than they already have in the last decade. At the same time, we are TRYING to make abortion safe and accessible for those who choose it.

I’m glad I live in Canada.

Other posts…………..

Sex-Selective Abortion

Three Things I Couldn’t Get Out of My Head While I Watched The Two Popes

Pro-Life or Anti Woman?

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Proud of My Country

I was very pleased to hear last week that universal dental care will soon become a reality in Canada. In its latest budget, the federal government promises to provide $5.3 billion over five years and $1.7 billion every year after that to provide free dental care for needy Canadians. This will start with children under twelve in 2022 and expand to those under eighteen, seniors, and people with disabilities by 2025. 

Almost a third of Canadians do not have dental insurance and about 6 million Canadians avoid dental care annually because they can’t afford it.  I have seen those people firsthand. 

I volunteer at a thrift store in one of Winnipeg’s most impoverished neighbourhoods.  Seniors come into the shop every day who obviously lack proper dental care.  The poor condition of their teeth is visible when they talk or smile, and I keep thinking how having rotted or missing teeth must cause them pain and impact their ability to eat properly and have a positive self-image.   

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I worked for nearly a decade as a university supervisor for education students doing their practicum placements in Winnipeg schools and I have noted the poor condition of many children’s teeth.  Some kids are fortunate enough to be served by a program of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority that goes into a select group of inner-city elementary schools to offer dental care to children, but there are children living below the poverty line in many other Manitoba schools who don’t have the benefit of that program. Dental problems can impact a child’s ability to pay attention in class and feel confident with their peers.  

 I also know first-hand just how expensive dental care can be.  During most of the time I worked for the Hanover School Division teachers did not have a dental plan as part of their benefits package, so my husband and I paid for our sons’ dental care as they were growing up. It wasn’t cheap and dental care prices have risen substantially since then. Luckily in our two-income household, we could afford good dental care for our children, but many families aren’t that fortunate.  

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Although the price tag for subsidized dental care may sound expensive we know that investing in it can have long term financial benefits.  Poor oral health has a negative effect on people’s overall health. Medical research has linked oral health problems to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and respiratory infections. In pregnant women, poor oral health has been associated with premature births and low birth weights. Some people who receive opioids for chronic tooth pain become addicted to them. Addictions can lead to all kinds of social problems that are expensive to solve.  Good dental care can help prevent other medical conditions that would be even more costly to treat. 

Visible dental issues can also negatively impact the self-confidence required to apply for and maintain a job and people may end up needing unemployment benefits another cost to society. 

Many additional workers will need to be hired to provide dental care under the new government programs. These added employment opportunities will be good for our economy too. 

A recent Oxfam report estimates the increased income of Canadian billionaires during the pandemic to be close to $111 billion dollars. Taxing those dollars at even a small increased rate would provide plenty of money for universal dental care in our country. 

 As Canada rolls out its program of dental care for citizens it joins more than a dozen other countries that have similar programs in place. It is something for Canadians to celebrate and be proud of. 

Other posts………..

The Lady From Saskatchewan, the British Dentist and Me

His Smile is Costing Us a Fortune

Is Laughter Really The Best Medicine

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Sheila’s Brush Is Coming

Sheila’s Brush by artist Dominique Hurley

Yesterday I was chatting with a group of friends about the storm headed Manitoba’s way. One of them remarked, “Sheila’s Brush is coming.” I asked her what she meant. My friend has a son-in-law from Newfoundland and when folks in that province are expecting a spring storm they say, “Sheila’s Brush is a-coming.”

Sheila’s Brush by artist Helen Gregory

According to folklorist Philip Hiscock, the term is used to reference the last snowstorm of the season, one that falls after March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Apparently, Sheila was a saucy girl St. Patrick met while wandering around driving the snakes out of Ireland. Patrick asked her for a drink of water and she threw her dishwater in his direction and the soap bubbles in it transformed into a snowstorm. There are many different versions of the legend but in each Sheila is said to brush out the winter season with a big snowstorm so the spring season can begin.

I just looked out the window and Sheila’s Brush is no longer a-coming……it’s arrived!

Other posts………..

A Perfect Afternoon in Gambo Newfoundland

Home Grown In Newfoundland

The Highest Snowbank- Grandma or Me?

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Have You Played Canuckle?

If you enjoy playing Wordle you might want to give a unique Canadian version of the game a try.

It’s played in exactly the same way as Wordle but all the answers have something to do with Canada. The only other difference is the correct letters are displayed in a red color instead of green probably as a nod to the red maple leaf on our flag.

When I solved the Canuckle puzzle for the word parka I thought of Canadian artist Karel Funk who paints these large unique portraits of people in parkas. I took this photo of his work when he had an exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

I’ve been playing Canuckle for about a week now and the solutions have been words like parka, rinks, fries, coast, order, moose, cabin and phone.

Wonder why some of those words are Canadian? A fun fact about the word appears just above the puzzle once you solve it or you can go to the Canuckle Twitter Page and get even more information about the day’s word there.

Morning walk with my brother Ken and brother-in-law Harvey along Canada’s west coast in Victoria, British Columbia

For example when the solution to the puzzle was coast I learned that Canada has the longest coastline in the world. On the Twitter page there was more information. Our country’s coastline measures 243,000 kilometres and it would take me about thirty years to walk all along it if I walked 20 kilometres a day.

Enjoying some great Canadian beer in a brewery in Calgary with my cousin Tim and his wife Jackie

When the solution to the puzzle was beers I learned that beer is the number one selling beverage in Canada by volume and dollar value. On the Twitter page I found out Canadians spend $9.2 billion dollars on beer every year.

There have been 47 Canuckle words so far and 2,500 people are playing the game. I think the plan is to continue Canuckle till Canada day on July 1, 2022 but maybe if more folks start following the uniquely Canadian word puzzle they will keep on going after that.

Here is some cool stuff I’ve learned just playing the game for about ten days

Curling with folks from my church

Canada is home to thousands of rinks. In the 2020/21 season, there were 2,860 indoor and 5,000 outdoor ice hockey rinks and 1000 curling rinks.

My cousin Lynne and I pose with a giant moose in an information centre in Newfoundland

Moose can be found in every Canadian province. The largest statue of a moose in the world is in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and some 150,000 people visit it every year.

This cabin at Moose Lake has been owned by three generations of my family.

Cabin is the word for summer house or cottage in Canada. Canadian pioneers built cabins from logs.

Why not join me in playing Canuckle and learn some cool stuff about Canada in the process?

Other posts………..

I Love A Walking Holiday

Ghost Town and A Fun Night

Moose on the Move

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International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day and so I thought I would see how many talented, dedicated and pioneering Canadian women I had featured on my blog since the last International Women’s Day. There were so many more than I had thought so I have chosen twelve to highlight here.

The colourful mural Yesterday Today by the amazing artist Elisapee Ishulutaq is reaching a wide audience because it is currently displayed on the showcase windows of Winnipeg’s Old Hudson’s Bay Store. Elisapee created her mural when she was 90 years old.
Walking by my old school Laura Secord I found a sign recognizing a pioneer newspaperwoman, playwright and suffragette named Lillian Beynon Thomas. It was so interesting to research her life and write about her.
Pegi Nicol Macleod a Canadian artist living in New York was asked by Canada’s Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson to use her talents to paint the first meetings of the United Nations.
Muriel Richardson was the first woman to run a large Canadian corporation. She was a pragmatic trailblazer who cared deeply about her family and her community.

Cindy Klassen is a speed skater who is the only Canadian to win five medals in one Olympics. She accomplished this feat at the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin Italy. She lives in Calgary now where she is a police officer.

Dr Jillian Horton author of the best selling book We Are All Perfectly Fine has become well known this past year for her newspaper articles and social media posts about the state of Canada’s health care system and the COVID-19 pandemic.
I was so surprised to find the former home of Canadian women’s rights activist Nellie McClung in a Winnipeg neighbourhood while I was on a walk with my granddaughter last March.
A new children’s book tells the story of world-renowned giraffologist Anne Innis Dagg, a dedicated scientist from Ontario who wrote the quintessential textbook about giraffes.
Mary Riter Hamilton gave up a thriving artistic career to travel to Europe and paint the battlefields where so many Canadian soldiers had died during World War I.
Olly Penner provided engaging radio programming for children in western Canada during the 1950s and 1960s
Thérèse Casgrain, Idola St. Jean and Marie Lacoste Gérin-Lajoie fought for 22 years to get women the right to vote in the province of Quebec.
Pitalose Salia died in July. This Cape Dorset artist provided us with a poignant glimpse into Inuit family life and culture with her stunning work

It is such a privilege and an enjoyable learning experience to profile noteworthy Canadian women on this blog. I hope to feature many more in the coming year. Happy International Woman’s Day!

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