Category Archives: Winnipeg

Glacial, A Letter From the Premier and Coffee

royal canoe glacial

Royal Canoe performing at the Forks on January 31

Last night we joined the online premiere events for the documentary Glacial.  On January 31 and February 1 Winnipeg band Royal Canoe performed a concert at the Forks on instruments made of ice.  Every musical sound they made was created with ice in some way.

royal canoe by jonathan dyck

Drawing by Jonathan Dyck used with his permission

The documentary film shows how the ice for the instruments was harvested from the lake at Fort Whyte. We get an inside look at the process of the band figuring out how to design and build the instruments. We see how they rehearsed in an unheated train car down at The Forks.

royal canoe ice show

Our son with his band Royal Canoe just before their phenomenal show on ice instruments at The Forks in Winnipeg in January 2020

Prior to the documentary premiere last night, the Royal Canoe Band members interviewed the different people who helped them stage and plan and design their show.  It was a phenomenal effort by lots of really creative people.  The Winnipeg Free Press had a great article about the documentary. You can see Glacial here. 

letter from brianMy $200 cheque and a personal letter from the premier of Manitoba arrived in my mailbox yesterday.  Everyone over the age of 65 in our province received this money to help us weather the COVID-19 crisis.  I understand that some seniors are struggling financially but many of us receive pensions and no longer have to worry about house payments or the expenses of children and their educations. We have health plans to help us cope with medical expenses. I do wonder if these cheques shouldn’t have been targeted at seniors who have a lower income level and the rest given to young people struggling with job loss, late rent payments and child care stresses, but perhaps it was easier to just send them to everyone over 65.  The premier suggests in his letter that if we think others could use the money more than we can, we should donate the money to charity.  I will do exactly that!

black pearl coffeeOur bike ride yesterday morning was freezing but we did make one stop.  We were driving down Dufferin Avenue and we smelled COFFEE! We discovered the Black Pearl Coffee Company where they roast about fifteen different kinds of coffees.  Dave who is the coffee maker and coffee connoisseur at our house just had to go inside. He bought two kinds of Black Pearl Coffee for us to try. 

Other posts………

So Cool

Waver- A New Album From Royal Canoe

Cowboy’s Coffee Hour

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Music, Winnipeg

Hope In a Song, The Toilers, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice

basketball team

Dave with a girls basketball team he coached at the Steinbach Junior High in 1981

My husband Dave was a basketball coach throughout his 35-year teaching career.

dave basketball team steinbach

Dave played on men’s basketball teams in Steinbach for some twenty years.

He has played on many different basketball teams.  Our sons inherited his love of the sport so basketball has been a big part of our family’s life. toilers park winnipegIt’s not surprising then that one of the spots Dave took me to on our daily pandemic bicycle adventures was a Winnipeg Park dedicated to a basketball team. 

toilers basketball teamThe Toilers were Winnipeg’s provincial champions in basketball more than a dozen times during the 1920s and 30s.  They won the Canadian title three times during that period. toilers basketball team memorialIn 1933 they were travelling home from international competition in Tulsa Oklahoma and their plane crashed. Two team members died. 

dave cycling toilers parkToilers Park is on a piece of property that was once owned by a team member.  He had a cottage on the site and the team spent so much time there it became known as Toilers Camp. toilers parkIn 1965 the city designated the location as Toiler Memorial Park.  In 2004 the team was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and in 2015 the park was refurbished, securing its river banks, improving drainage, and adding a memorial art piece. 

I am really appreciating how our cycling rides are teaching me new things about Winnipeg. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic these rides wouldn’t have happened because Dave and I would have been busy with our jobs and our many family and community commitments. That is one small silver lining to our current crisis. 


Demonstrators, one pro-choice, the other, pro-life, hold up signs during a protest in reaction to South Dakota’s new anti-abortion law, outside the Federal Court building in downtown Sioux Falls, S.D., Thursday. March 9, 2006. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

I have been noting that many of the opinions about our freedoms being violated by the mandatory COVID-19 restrictions seem to be coming from the same segment of society that calls themselves pro-life.  Yet loosening up on our current restrictions is sure to end the lives of many people. At the same time, I call myself pro-choice but right now I believe that people shouldn’t have a choice about remaining in isolation. Too many lives depend on it. It’s interesting how circumstances can influence our interpretation of our important principles. We need to start thinking of ways to help those with these seemingly polarized opinions on these issues find some common ground. 

To end his interview with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night Michael Moore sang the chorus from a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter called Why Shouldn’t We?  You can hear Mary singing it here. The words of the song are very appropriate for our time.  Mary writes about believing in things we cannot see, believing in things that give us hope, believing we can change things that we are told can’t be changed and believing in the things that make us all the same.  She ends with a statement of faith. 

So come on darling, feel your spirits rise
Come on children, open up your eyes
God is all around, Buddha’s at the gate
Allah hears your prayers, it’s not too late
Why shouldn’t we? 


Other posts………….

Discovering Peanut Park

Basketball, Gender, Hoop Dreams and Art

Pro-Choice and Pro-Life. What Might We Have in Common? 


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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Sports, Winnipeg

Life’s Journey and Tea Parties

On Tuesday our bike ride took us down the Chief Peguis section of the Greenway Bicycle and Walking Trail. I have to admit it’s not the most scenic section of the trail but we came across this marvellous artwork!  It was created jointly by girls from Hampstead Elementary School and Valley Gardens Middle School, as well as young women from Kildonan East Collegiate and senior women who live at Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home. They worked together with artist Denise Prefontaine on this intergenerational art project called Life’s Journey. What a beautiful story of joint creativity by women at all different stages of life’s journey. I loved the photo on the nearby plaque where the hands of girls and women of all ages are spread open on the artwork they are creating together.  I found the piece particularly poignant because right now young girls and octagenarian women would not be allowed to meet and work together on a project like this. 

Yesterday during our FaceTime call with our two grandsons they taught us to do some of the yoga poses they have been learning during the quarantine.  Our one-year-old granddaughter can’t do yoga yet but she has learned to point to her nose, her eyes, her hair, her leg and other body parts when you say “Show me your…….”

Seeing one of those normal little steps of progress on life’s journey taking place for the youngest member of our family made me deliriously happy and nearly brought me to tears. Later I was telling my ninety-one-year-old Dad about our granddaughter’s achievement during a phone call, and he asked me to remind him again how many great-grandchildren he had. I told him he had six and named each one for him. “Well I guess that’s something to keep living for,” he said. My friend Marj sends out these weekly newsletters to a group of women from our church.  We all volunteer together at a Mennonite Central Committee thrift shop. This week Marj invited us to share pictures of treasures we may have unearthed while doing some COVID cleaning of our homes. I sent a photo of this tea set I found in a drawer in my bedroom. It belonged to my mother and I took it home when I helped my Dad clean up my Mom’s things after she died in 2013.  I’d always meant to photograph the tea set and write about it because I have this wonderful old photo of my mother and her two sisters taken around 1930. They are having a tea party with the set on their farmyard near Drake Saskatchewan. My Mom is farthest to the left in the picture. Tea parties used to be such a big thing. I have this photo of my sister and me having a tea party outside our grandparents’ house in Drake Saskatchewan in the late 1950s.

Afternoon Tea or The Gossips by John Everett Millais

One of my very favourite paintings at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is this one showing three girls having a tea party with their puppy. Colour the Collection is a feature the gallery is offering while it is temporarily closed. You can print up a version of Afternoon Tea to colour at home. 

I normally don’t do very much baking mostly because I don’t want to have things around in my house I won’t be able to resist eating. But yesterday I succumbed and made some chocolate chip raisin oatmeal cookies and they taste pretty fabulous if I do say so myself.  My husband who makes all the tea and coffee at our house steeped cups of tea for us to enjoy with our cookies in the evening. On one of our bike rides last week I took a photo of this large tea kettle at the Beaumont Bus Station at the corner of Georgina Avenue and Parker Street. Called Rooster Town Kettle it was created by artist Ian August in 2019. The public art piece stands on the former site of Rooster Town a tight-knit Metis community that housed some 250 folks between 1901 and 1961.  The artist says that a tea kettle like this one would have had a permanent place on the woodstove of every home in Rooster Town.  You can read more about it here. 

An old Irish proverb says………..”Life is like a cup of tea. It’s all in how you make it.”

Other posts………….

Butterfly Photographer

Butterflies in Nunavut? 

Trying Kombucha

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Winnipeg

Into The Wilds of Winnipeg

Where am I?  In an art gallery?  In Canada’s north?  No. I am right here in Winnipeg.  Lately, Dave and I have been going on almost daily cycling trips for 90 minutes to two-hours.

This is what a pandemic cyclist looks like on a frosty April morning in Manitoba. I have so many layers of clothing on it might be hard to pedal my bike.

Even on the coldest days we bundle up and head out.  The temperatures are chilly and sometimes it even snows on our bike rides but the road is clear, the fresh air feels so wonderful and we get some much-needed exercise.  Most people are polite and proactive about keeping their physical distance.  Dave has cycling maps of Winnipeg and he looks for interesting places to ride.  

A few days ago we visited a kind of outdoor public art gallery created by artist Kal Barteski in the alley behind her house in Wolseley. Called Back Alley Arctic it is located between Ethelbert and Canora streets, south of Westminster Avenue. A Winnipeg Free Press article notes that Barteski was inspired by the wildlife she saw on her many visits to Churchill Manitoba.

Check out the snow goose above Dave’s head

 In 2017 she created a gallery of Arctic animals on the garage doors and fences of her neighbours. She began with her own garage door and it wasn’t long before her neighbours inquired about having paintings on their properties as well. You can see puffins, wolves, snowy owls, beluga whales, snow geese and all kinds of polar bears at different stages of their lives and in different seasons. 

Kal Barteski from her Instagram page

Barteski predicts the outdoor artworks should last for about a decade. 

Riding my bike on a beach in Tamarindo Costa Rica

Dave and I have been on cycling adventures in Bali, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Costa Rica, China’s Guangxi province and Croatia.

Dave and me bicycling on the city wall in Xian China.

We’ve bicycled through the cities of New York, Toronto, Detroit, Xian, Sydney and Florence. The pandemic means we can’t go cycling in more exotic locales right now but we are finding there are some pretty interesting places to explore right here in Winnipeg.

Other posts……………

The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island

Biking in Yangshou- Faithless? Definitely Not!

Cycling in Croatia- The Best of Times and The Worst of Times

A Perfect Way to End Our Portugal Adventure


Filed under Art, COVID-19 Diary, Winnipeg

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 New Writing Challenge

I became a member of the Winnipeg Friends of the Library Board this past fall.  I helped to found the Friends of the Library group in Steinbach many years ago and as I contemplated retiring from my part-time job at the University of Winnipeg I was looking for other ways to get involved in my community. The board has been a good fit and a good challenge so far.  Friends of the Library groups located in North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa fund all kinds of special programming in libraries. One of the ways I thought I could support the Winnipeg group’s work was by writing articles for their newsletter called NOTES which is printed several times a year. The most recent issue just came out and I wrote four articles for it.  Each provided an interesting experience for me.  

For my first article, I had the privilege of interviewing Carolyn Gray the current writer in residence at the Winnipeg Public Library and recently appointed editor of Prairie Fire magazine.  Carolyn and I  met at a local coffee shop and had a wonderful chat.  Among other things, I found out she was an accomplished puppeteer, shared her home with a Golden Retriever named Minnie and had recently completed a Masters degree in Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan. I also was assigned to write profiles of four new Friends of the Library board members, including myself.  I learned such interesting things about the people who sit around the board table with me.  I found out Rita loves the Bombers and the Jets almost as much as she loves ballet and the theatre. I discovered Kim loves to cook, is a marketing and communications consultant and has a family cottage.  The interview questions Chelsea answered revealed she loves playing board games and her favorite writer is a Japanese author named Haruki Murakami.  The editor of Notes asked me to contact the latest winner of Governer General’s award for English language fiction Joan Thomas to see what books were on her nightstand and write a short What Is She Reading piece. Joan was so gracious when I contacted her and quickly sent me a message about what she was reading. Finally I collected comments from folks who attended our group’s annual fundraising book sale at Grant Park High School. They were excited about their experience at the sale.  These were incorporated into an article by the book sale manager. 

I have all kinds of ideas about how we can make our newsletter an even better vehicle of communication with our members.  I am looking forward to perhaps implementing some of those ideas in the future.  In the meantime I am finding it interesting and challenging to be a kind of roving reporter for NOTES.

You can learn more about The Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library here.   And you can read the NOTES newsletter online here. 

Other posts……….

Five Wives by Joan Thomas

This Was Crazy Wonderful

Winnipeg’s Millennium Library

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Filed under Retirement, Winnipeg, Writing

So Cool!

waiting for royal canoe show to startWhile we were waiting for the Royal Canoe show appropriately named Glacial to start down at The Forks on Friday night I thought to myself, when my son was born who would have thought that someday I would be watching him play in a well known Canadian band performing a concert for thousands of people in a kind of glacial fortress creating music on instruments made of ice? How ‘cool’ is that?

crowd at the forks royal canoe show

The crowd at The Forks on Friday night. -photo by Les Brandt

I have to admit when our son first told us what his band was undertaking with this concert I wondered, as they themselves admitted in several media interviews, if perhaps they had accepted a challenge for something that was a little too ambitious.

les brandt set for glacial show

Instruments in ice- Photo by Les Brandt

But with lots of ingenuity and creativity and support from their friends in the music industry who helped them in a variety of ways and expert advice from ice architect Luca Roncoroni they pulled it off wonderfully.

I was curious which of the songs from their large repertoire they would perform and I was very pleased that among the wide variety of music they played they chose my very favourite tracks from each of their recordings Exodus of the Year from their album Today We’re Believers, Walk Out On the Water from Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit and Rayz from Waver

getting set up for the glacial show

The band getting set up before the show

We got down to The Forks early and had dinner with friends. inside the forks before royal canoe showThe place was packed with people enjoying food and drink before the free performance at 7 pm. royal canoe getting ready for glacial show It was neat to see families there and people from every age category out to enjoy a Winnipeg evening that was just cold enough so the ice instruments and beautiful stage set didn’t melt but not so cold that standing outside for just over an hour to listen to the music didn’t freeze your toes. 

bucky at glacial showDuring the show, the band members explained how the various instruments had been constructed and how the sounds of ice breaking, scraping and smashing had been created and recorded in the garage at our son’s home. According to a CBC article, our son’s drum pads were hooked up to guitar pedals embedded in ice blocks.  It was cool to see the ice blocks light up whenever he hit them. 

light show on buildingsThere was a light show on the walls of the Johnson Terminal behind the band and the ice set designed by Luca Roncoroni was stunning!

band toronto

Royal Canoe performing to a full house in Toronto

I’ve been to Austin Texas to watch Royal Canoe play in the South by Southwest music festival.  I’ve been to New York to see one of their shows.  We had a family reunion in Regina when Royal Canoe performed at the Folk Festival there. I’ve been to Toronto’s  Mod Club to see them perform during Canada Music Week and I’ve watched them play to a sold-out concert hall with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

concert hall royal canoe

Royal Canoe performs with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra- photo purchased from the Winnipeg Free Press

I’ve been to album releases at the Burton Cummings Theatre and seen Royal Canoe at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. I’ve watched them on the stage at the Forks in summer performing for a massive audience in a show with the Crash Test Dummies but I have to say Glacial was in a class all its own.  

moonlit night for glacial show

It was a clear moonlit night for the show. Many people had climbed up the tower at The Forks to get a better view.

It was an amazing evening. So creative and so cool!

You can watch a great video here where the band members explain how the ice instruments work and then sing Walk Out On the Water one of their hit songs. 

The Winnipeg Free Press did an in-depth feature on the show they headlined The Icemen Cometh with lots of photos.  You can read that here

Other posts………..

A Fun Evening in Toronto

Waver- A New Album From Royal Canoe

My Husband is Famous


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Filed under Music, Winnipeg