Category Archives: Holidays

I Love My Province

Normally on Canada Day, I do a post with photos of some of the beautiful places in our country I’ve been privileged to visit. But since this year we are celebrating Manitoba’s 150th birthday I thought I would post photos of some of the great places right here in my home province I’ve enjoyed. I am passionate about travelling and seeing the world, but because of the pandemic that is not possible so it is good for me to remember that my own province is a fascinating, unique and wonderful place!

Tall Grass Prairie Nature Preserve near Gardenton and Vita with our friends Fran and Marge

Winnipeg Art Gallery with my niece Amanda

Altona Sculpture Park with my friends Esther and Debbie

Winnipeg Goldeyes Stadium with my husband Dave and our former student Ivan.

Moose Lake with my brother Mark

Red River Skating Trail with my husband Dave

Fort Whyte trying on a beard made of fur shed from a bison. My friend Tad is in the backgroundWinnipeg Jets game at the MTS Centre with my sister Kaaren Hillside Beach with my cousin LynneStatue of Gandhi near the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg with my friend Sandy
Neubergthal with women from my church
Lake Winnipeg shoreline walk with my aunts Louise and Nettie, my cousin Al and my husband DaveSteinbach on the balcony of the windmill at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum with my friends Meena and Beena

The Forks in Winnipeg just before doing the MS Walk in memory of my cousin Connie with my husband DaveWoodridge with my friend and lawn darts partner AlGnadenthal, the village where my grandparents lived with my Grandpa
River Heights in Winnipeg with my brother in his beautiful backyard.

As I was finding these photos I realized that it isn’t just the places in Manitoba I appreciate so much, it is the people I have been able to enjoy them with that makes them special. 

Other posts………….

A Walk At Hillside Beach

On My Grandparents’ Farm

The T-4s Go Mennonite in Neubergthal


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Sunday Morning Surprise and Thinking About Zoos

Thank you, florists!  On Sunday morning I was reading an article in the Winnipeg Free Press called Business is Blooming about how florists in the city had been flooded with an unprecedented number of requests for delivery of Mothers Day flowers on the weekend.  They were putting in long hours to make sure all the orders were filled.  A few even said they were going to be delivering on Sunday.  

Just then I got a text on my phone.  A flower delivery would be arriving at my door in a couple of minutes.  My children and grandchildren in Saskatoon had sent me a beautiful arrangement filled with lilies, tulips, roses, daisies, and lots of other gorgeous flowers.  I loved it! The Free Press article said although Mother’s Day is always busy for florists this year they were setting records.  One woman who had been in the business since 1972 said she had never seen anything like it. Since children could not invite their mothers to their homes for meals, or take their Moms out to restaurants, or drop in at their mother’s home with gifts they were sending flowers instead.  I know people might not consider florists essential workers but their extra efforts to connect mothers and their children yesterday were appreciated. 

Elephant I photographed at the Barcelona Zoo

On Friday Dave and I went to Assiniboine Park and decided to walk all the way around the outer perimeter of the zoo to try and see some of the animals.  It was pretty chilly so most of the zoo inhabitants were inside but we did catch a glimpse of a group of bison, a couple of antelope, and some llamas.  We saw a worker cleaning out a cage and Dave, who loves zoos, wondered when it would be possible to visit the zoo again. I wondered aloud how zoos around the world were managing financially during COVID-19. 

Lion I photographed in the Phoenix Zoo

Yesterday a segment on CBS’ Sunday morning talked about just that. There is a possibility some American zoos may have to close permanently. Even though no one is paying to see the animals they still need to be cared for and fed. This means zoos are “hemorrhaging money” as the CBS segment puts it and without government help, many may have to shutter their gates for good.

Our grandson checks out the polar bears swimming at the Assiniboine Park Zoo

A CTV story says the situation is very similar here in Canada. Zoos have laid off 60% or more of their staff but they must keep some essential workers to feed and care for the animals. At the Calgary Zoo, it costs $500,000 a month to buy food and provide veterinary care for all the animals.  Without the cash from visitor entry fees and purchases at zoo gift shops and food concessions, zoos across Canada are looking to private donors to keep them afloat.  Some say they will be bankrupt in just a couple of months. 

Giraffe I photographed in the  Taronga Zoo in Sydney Australia

I know zoos do a lot to educate us about animals and this, in turn, can inspire us to protect them and their habitats.  Some zoos take in animals that have been mistreated or abandoned and give them a safe home. Zoos do important research into animal behavior.  They support international breeding programs for endangered species and protect endangered animals from poachers. Many people, including my husband, think zoos are great, but……….

Hippo photographed at the Merida Zoo in Mexico

I have always been a little troubled by the fact that we cage wild creatures for our viewing pleasure.  Can that be good for their physical and mental health?  Zoos often separate animals from their families.  Scientists tell us orca whale mothers and their children suffer real and deeply felt grief after one of them has been captured for a marine exhibit.  I know many things are being done to make zoos places where animals can have more space and freedom and live in a more natural habitat but I still wonder if they are such a good thing.

The current crisis is making us rethink the way we do many things. The way we interact with the animal world will certainly be one of them. 

Other posts………..

We Saw the Polar Bears

Art in Bloom

The Life of Pi Argument

The Language of Flowers

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Mother's Day

The Important Thing About Easter

Easter Morning-La Petite Penitente, Brittany- by Mary Riter Hamilton- photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

The important thing about Easter is it reminds us that life can always begin again. 

It is true that Easter is a time when many families get together to eat traditional food, and laugh about memories from their shared past, and catch up on what is going on in their lives  

But the important thing about Easter is it reminds us that life can always begin again. 

It is true that at Easter children dye eggs in a rainbow of color and wait excitedly for the Easter bunny to come and eat lots of rich chocolate treats

But the important thing about Easter is it reminds us that life can always begin again. 

It is true that Easter is a religious holiday when people of the Christian faith celebrate the inspiring life of Jesus and his tragic death and the story of how he miraculously reappeared to his friends

but the important thing about Easter is it reminds us that life can always begin again. 

It is true that this Easter we will not physically share a meal with our families.  Grandparents won’t be able to hug their grandkids after they find their Easter baskets. People of faith will not be able to meet in their houses of worship

but creation rich with the sight of budding trees and the honking sound of returning geese and the warm embrace of the spring sun will be a sign

that the important thing about Easter is it reminds us that life can always begin again. 

Friends Rejoicing by Daphne Odjig- photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

With credit to The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. 

Other posts…………

The Easters of My Childhood

Easter a Time of New Beginnings

Easter Story at the Winnipeg Art Gallery


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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Holidays, winnipeg art gallery

Louis Riel In My Neighbourhood


For my readers who aren’t from Manitoba today is a special holiday in our province. Begun in 2008 it honours Louis Riel who was the leader of the Metis people on the Canadian prairies in the 1870s and 1880s. Louis Riel is considered the founder of the province of Manitoba and he was elected several times to Canada’s Parliament. He was also quite a controversial figure and led two resistances against the Canadian government and its first prime minister Sir John A Macdonald.  Louis Riel wanted to preserve and protect Metis land rights and culture from undue influence and direction from the federal government of Canada.   

I live in an area of Winnipeg where I am surrounded by reminders of Louis Riel.

Louis Riel statue at the St. Boniface Museum

Just a few blocks from my home is the St. Boniface Museum. There is a statue of Louis Riel on the front lawn.

Louis Riel’s coffin at the St. Boniface Museum

 Inside the museum, you can see the wooden coffin that transported Louis’ body back to Manitoba from Regina after our first prime minister Sir John A MacDonald ordered him hung. Louis was buried in another coffin made from rosewood.


Photo from Tourism Winnipeg website

His grave is right near the St. Boniface Museum. 

This statue of Louis Riel is even closer to my house.  It stands on the grounds of St. Boniface College. It used to be at the Manitoba legislative buildings but it was so controversial it was moved. It shows Louis Riel with his face contorted in anguish. His body is naked and twisted.  Artist Marcien Lemay who created the statue in 1970 said he wanted to show Riel as a martyr who had suffered for his people. Some people, however, found the rather grotesque statue an insult to both Louis Riel and the Metis people. They said Riel had been a great statesman, the founder of Manitoba and his statue should reflect that. In 1994 the statue was moved to the grounds of the college.

I have frequently taken a boat ride down the Assiniboine River which is just a block from my home and have seen this other statue of Louis Riel which faces the river on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature.  It is by artist Miguel Joyal.  He shows Louis Riel wearing his Metis sash and moccasins and holding the Manitoba Act in his hand. The act was based on a List of Rights Louis Riel wrote that included among many other things recognition of Manitoba as a province by the federal government, the right to representatives in the House of Commons and Senate and the use of both French and English in all government communication. 

This is a photo of my brother-in-law Paul and sister-in-law Shirley when they were visiting us in Winnipeg. They are on the Riel Esplanade which is the pedestrian walkway on the architecturally stunning Provencher Bridge just a short walk from our condo. The esplanade is named after Louis Riel.

Manitoba is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2020 so there will be lots of events both big and small that highlight Louis Riel’s contributions to our province and I am excited to be a part of one of themChester Brown wrote a fascinating graphic novel about Louis Riel in 2003. I will be leading a book club about the novel at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on June 9th. You can read more about that here.

Other posts……….

Louis Riel Had Three Coffins

A Controversial Statue

The Provencher Bridge



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Filed under History, Holidays, Winnipeg

A Different Kind of Nativity Scene

This afternoon I will be giving a group from my church a tour of the Kent Monkman exhibit Shame and Prejudice at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. One of the installations we will spend time looking at is a nativity scene that is part of an area of the exhibit called The Res House. In one of his lectures Kent Monkman explains how in this artwork he has set the birth of Jesus in a house on one of Canada’s First Nations’ reservations. Kent clearly shows the less than ideal condition of the housing. One of the first things you notice is that the Mary, Joseph and Jesus figures all have the same face and it is the face of artist Kent Monkman.  Kent explains that he was visiting the Natural History Museum in New York when he realized they had used one male face on all the indigenous mannequins in every single diorama, no matter what First Nation they belonged to, or even whether they were male or female.  So Kent thought “well, then I’m just going to put my head on everybody now.”

The baby is lying on a Hudson’s Bay blanket. The arrival of fur trading companies like the Hudson’s Bay in Canada changed the lives of Canada’s indigenous people forever. 

There is Coke in the baby’s bottle.  Could that be because the container of milk on the shelf costs nearly $20 on some reserves? Kent has food on the shelves in the house with their real prices.

In the background you can see a child being taken away to residential school.  Will that be the eventual fate of the new baby? 

There is bottled water in the house- a reference to the fact that there is still a boil water advisory in some Canadian communities and people have to drink bottled water because their water source isn’t clean or safe. 

Joseph is wearing a Chicago Black Hawks jersey and it can start a discussion about how professional sports teams have appropriated indigenous names and symbols.  Kent has replaced the face of the man on the jersey with his alter ego, trickster character Miss Chief who appears in many of Kent’s pieces in the Shame and Prejudice exhibit. 

The Mary figure is holding a rosary in her hand.  Instead of Jesus on the cross, there is a beaver. Beavers with praying hands look heavenward on the top frame of the exhibit which features Latin words that mean Love Conquers All.  

Adoration of the Magi by Jorg Stocker 1510

The placement of this installation is also interesting because just behind it in an adjoining gallery is another nativity scene that is very different from the one Kent has created.  

There are so many details in Kent’s nativity scene to notice and discuss. I think the tour I give my church will be the 15th one of the Monkman exhibit I have led and each time I learn something new from the visitors I show Kent’s work.  I am excited about what the people from my church may find this afternoon. 

Other posts………….


The Scream


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Filed under Art, Holidays, winnipeg art gallery

Christmas at New Years

We just wound up our family Christmas on the weekend. Our children and grandchildren came from their home in Saskatoon for three days to join the rest of us here in Winnipeg so our official Christmas was in January. Here are some things that happened.
1. We went sledding at the Forks. 
2. My Dad met his youngest great-granddaughter for the first time.
3. We had our traditional waffle breakfast and ate the better part of a 17-pound turkey.
4. We completed a jigsaw puzzle worked on by three generations.
5. My husband gave our oldest grandson his first chess lessons.
6. We sang carols.

7. My seven-year-old grandson read Margaret Laurence’s The Birthday Christmas Story aloud to us. 
8. Our daughter-in-law made two kinds of delicious homemade soup for one of our meals.

9.  We found out what was in everyone’s stocking. 
10. People read the Christmas memory stories I had written for them. 
11. Many games of crokinole were played on a crokinole board I inherited from my grandparents. 
12. We all shared a highlight from the previous year and one thing we wanted to work on in the coming year. 
13. My husband told his grandchildren lots of stories and I read them lots of stories. 
14. Our grandsons watched their aunt knit. I received a new winter hat she knit for me as a Christmas gift. 
15. We went on a sculpture walk in our neighbourhood and then warmed up at Forth coffeeshop. 
16. Board games and card games were played.  
17. A whole box of Christmas sweets made by my friend Debbie was consumed. 
18. We had fun at the playground behind the Children’s Museum. 
19. We had extended family over for faspa. 
20.  Many memories were made.

Other posts……..

Puzzling- A Family Christmas Tradition

Christmas 2013 is Over

The Nun’s Christmas

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Filed under Family, Holidays

Gifts or No Gifts?

Christmas 2019 with the T-4s

A couple of years ago the group of women I have been getting together with regularly for the last decade explored the possibility of discontinuing the practice of giving one another gifts at Christmas.  It was a very good thing to think about because all too often our homes and lives become so crowded with things there isn’t a whole lot of room, time and space for people and relationships.

Of course, as friends who have cared for and supported one another for years, we definitely knew what was important about our relationship wasn’t the gifts we gave each other but the time we spent together. We decided in the end to continue the tradition of giving each other presents and I have to say I love it.  Not because I need more things. I certainly don’t.  But because of the love and care my friends demonstrate as they select the gifts. 

This year I got a beautiful handmade card from my friend Debbie along with a box full of all kinds of different Christmas treats she had baked herself, including mincemeat tarts with a star design in the crust.  I can hardly wait to share them with my family. 

Esther went to Ten Thousand Villages, a store that sells fair trade items. Your purchase benefits artisans in developing countries who are trying to support their families.  Esther’s package for us included fair trade hot chocolate mix, some pungent and spicy cinnamon sticks to stir the hot chocolate and nuts from South America to nibble on as we did so. 

My friend Glenys had done some research and found out just how many  health benefits there are from having humidifiers in your home and so she had bought one for each of us. The small steamers were inside a lovely piece of glassware.  The gift was good for us and good- looking all at the same time. 

I had bought a book for each of my friends and spent a long time thinking about what would suit each of them.  Unfortunately, I chose a book for one friend that she had already read twice.  She accused me of knowing her reading tastes “too well” but happily traded books with one of the other women. 

It is certainly true people can go overboard with gift-giving and often we do receive things we don’t want or can’t use. I don’t have to get gifts from my friends to know they are my friends, but I have to admit a gift chosen with care by someone with whom you have a meaningful relationship is awfully nice. 

Other posts……….

What’s Happening With Those T-4s?

The T-4s Go Mennonite

Christmas Crafts with the T-4s

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Filed under Holidays, T-4s

An Eighty Year-Old Christmas Card

One of the things I love about writing this blog is the connections with people it affords me.  Recently I received a card and a letter from a woman who had known my grandparents.  She was going through her belongings and found this charming Christmas card my grandparents had given their friends and family.  It was not dated but from the apparent age of my mother and her siblings, I am assuming it was sent out between 1937 and 1939.  

The name of the woman who sent the card is Agnes Samson. She told me everyone calls her “Bunny” and she is the daughter of my mother’s older cousin Edna Penner. Edna’s mother Katie Ewert and my grandfather Peter Schmidt were brother and sister. Agnes was going through some of her belongings and found this Christmas card my grandparents had sent out in the late 1930s and thought I might like to have it. She got my address from Joanne Ewert another family member who is a musician at my children’s church in Saskatoon and a frequent reader of my blogs. Talk about connections!

The house my grandfather built for his family in Drake Saskatchewan where Agnes went to visit. 

Agnes writes about visiting her grandparents at their home in Drake Saskatchewan called Fairview Farm. It was just down the road from my grandparents’ house and when she was a little girl she loved to walk up to my grandparents’ farm to visit them.  She says everyone loved going to “Uncle Pete’s” and my grandparents’ extended family members were all very close to one another.  Agnes mentions how very fond she was of my mother and my Mom’s two sisters. 

Agnes sent me her phone number and said she would be very happy to meet with me on one of my visits to Saskatoon.  I will have to follow up on that.  

I love how my blog connects me to people in my extended family and helps me to learn more about my grandparents and parents. 

Other posts………

Two Stories About My Grandfather

Thirties Prairie Portraits

My Mom Starts School

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Filed under Family, Holidays

A Christmas Wish

Wishing a great holiday season to all my blog readers. Thanks so much for your support and interest. It means a great deal to me. I wish you peace and happiness this December 25th.

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God Rest The Children of This World

Arctic Madonna by Pitaloosie Saila

In December of 2001, I wrote a poem for my Winnipeg Free Press column inspired by Ogden Nash’s A Carol for Children which was published in The New Yorker in 1935. Although the references in my poem are clearly ones that relate to the news events of 2001, it is sad to note that its sentiments are as timely today as they were then.  

God Rest Our Merry Children– by MaryLou Driedger – December 2001

God rest our merry children, let nothing them dismay
Let nothing scar their pure young hearts, this blessed Christmas Day
May they still believe in magic, the tinsel and the tree
May nothing mar their happiness or taint their innocent glee.

Our children are the cherished ones, shielded from fear and pain,
We care for them and love them, their dreams and hopes sustain.
God rest our merry children, but may we not forget
Those little ones who have no hope, who only know neglect

The children of Afghanistan, so hungry and so cold
AIDS babies born in Africa who never will grow old
Teenagers in Ireland who’ve learned to fight and hate
The orphans of Sierra Leone, what shall they celebrate?
In Palestine and Kurdistan, the children cannot sleep
They fear the bombs and snipers, they hear their mothers weep
While earthquakes rock the cradles in El Salvador
Those growing up in Bosnia live with the scars of war.
Here in North America we need only look to see
The suffering of children who live in poverty
Little minds already numbed by their mother’s alcohol and crack
Homeless, hungry and abused, their future looks so black
And what about the boys and girls who watched their parents die
When the towers of New York City exploded in the sky?
God rest the children of this world, but may we feel dismay
That so many of our little ones are sad this Christmas day.
Let us pray that sometime soon all children everywhere
Will live in comfort and joy and never know despair.

God bless our merry children, but open our eyes to see
All of those who need our help, our generosity.
May each of us do our part, whether great or small
To let the children of this world, know that God loves them all.
We wish a peaceful rest this night for young ones far and near
A blissful bit of slumber free from doubt and fear
God rest the children!

Other posts……..

War is Hell Especially For Children

Standing Up For Children

9/11 Adding Stories to Names

Meeting the Street Children of Dehli

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Filed under Childhood, Holidays