Category Archives: Winnipeg

An Unexpected Art Gallery

I had to be downtown for an early physio appointment yesterday and when I arrived at the clinic at the corner of Graham and Edmonton the door was locked. I was a little annoyed at having to wait but it gave me time to survey my surroundings.

Right in front of me was something that looked like a picnic table but as I examined it more closely I realized it was really interesting in both design and shape. It zigged and zagged and was long and narrow and it was looped together with these deep forest green railings.

I noticed a plaque on the table so I went over to take a look. The sign said the table was actually a work of art by Nicole Marion and Chris Wiebe and had been installed in 2020.

It was called PIICNIIC and had been made to look like a picnic table sliced in half and overlapped. The artists wanted it to be not only a piece of art but also a place for people to sit and rest or eat their lunch.

I had probably walked by that bench a hundred times in the past since it is right on the route I often use to walk to and from work but I’d never really noticed it before yesterday.

My eye travelled down PIICNIIC and there at the end of it was another artistic piece! I went over to take a look. Some kind of steel box had been painted in a modern and colourful way.

I did a little research when I got home and found out it was actually a transit box. It had been painted by an artist named Sarah Collard and she called it Bus Stop because it was right beside the bus shelter.

Sarah said she had painted actual people she saw on Graham Avenue walking by the bus stop or waiting to take the bus. She made blind contour drawings of them, which means she looked only at them and not at what she was drawing on the box till she had finished their outlines. It made them seem a little strange and abstract.

I took a couple of photos of the colourful box myself and then snagged a couple from the wonderful Murals of Winnipeg website.

After discovering these two art pieces I went over and tried the clinic door again. Still locked.

That’s when I spied ANOTHER piece of art on the wall of the clinic building right beside the door.

A plaque beside it said the work was called cloth, quill ghost worlds and was created by an Anishinaabe artist named Scott Benesiinaabandan. It had a deep black background and eight photographs of these colourful bits of cloth stuck together with porcupine quills.

There was a barcode on the plaque so you could listen to Anishinaabe songs while looking at cloth, quill ghost worlds.

While I was getting ready to do that the receptionist came to open the door to the physio clinic so I hurried inside.

I had been annoyed about not being able to get into the clinic but realized that had actually been a good thing because it had made me stop and really look at my surroundings.

Here I was in a kind of mini art gallery on a Winnipeg street corner and if the clinic door had been open I wouldn’t even have noticed.

It made me wonder what other beautiful little things about my city had gone unobserved because I was too busy thinking, or listening to a podcast to actually notice things around me as I walked.

It made me realize I needed to be more observant!

Other posts……..

Ten Historic Winnipeg Buildings

Living in an Art Gallery

Who is Dr. Rizal and What Is He Doing In Winnipeg?

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Who Will Be The New Writer in Residence?

The Winnipeg Public Library just put out a call for the Writer- In -Residence position for 2023-2024.

The Writer-In-Residence receives a salary to help people across the province with their writing projects and to spend time working on their own writing.

At the annual general meeting of Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library last month I gave a talk about my experience with the Writer-In-Residence position.

In 2011 I decided I wanted to try a new kind of writing.  I had been a freelance journalist for over twenty-five years and figured it was time to stretch my writing muscles and try something new……… writing fiction.

I took courses, went to workshops, read books about fiction writing, and began penning short stories.  I wrote dozens before I thought one just might be good enough to send to a literary magazine. 

But I was nervous.  I thought I needed a second opinion before sending my article away. I had recently learned about the Writer-in-Residence program at the Winnipeg Public Library and knew Joan Thomas, an author whose books I greatly admired, was the Writer-In-Residence for 2012.  I sent her my story.  

Joan Thomas

Joan could simply not have been nicer.  She returned my manuscript within days with lots of great suggestions, she chatted with me over the phone about my story, she responded to every question I asked promptly, and when she said my story was ready to submit I believed her.  I sent my story in and lo and behold it was accepted and published!

That was my first experience with the Writer-in-Residence program at the Winnipeg Public Library and it was first class.  I went on to write more fiction and have just launched my second published novel.

Miriam Toews

Did you know that the celebrated Canadian author Miriam Toews was a Winnipeg Public Library Writer-In-Residence in 2003?  Just the following year 2004 she won The Governor General’s Award, the Margaret Laurence Award for fiction and the Canada Reads competition for her book A Complicated Kindness.

David Bergen

David Bergen was the Writer-In-Residence in 2002 and went on to win the Giller Prize for his book The Time in Between and publish nine popular novels.  

And Joan Thomas, who was so helpful to me during her tenure as Writer-In-Residence, would go on to win the Governor General’s Award for her book Five Wives

During its long history, The Winnipeg Public Library Writer-In-Residence program has provided support to any number of authors who went on to become luminary Canadian literary figures. 

As the editor of the Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library newsletter NOTES, it has been my privilege to interview a number of the more current Writers-In-Residence.

Article I wrote about Carolyn Gray

During my interview with Carolyn Gray, in 2019, I discovered she was an accomplished puppeteer, had written the biography of local magician Dean Gunnarsson, and had a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Saskatchewan. 

Lauren Carter

I took an online course on character development with Lauren Carter the Writer-In-Residence in 2020.  Since her tenure was during the pandemic and she couldn’t come to an actual library office to work she told me her husband joked she was the writer in residence in their residence.  Lauren has just released a brand-new book of short stories called Places Like These.

When I interview our Writers-In-Residence I am always so impressed with how many people they have mentored during their tenure and all the different kinds of writers they have helped.  

Photo of Anna Leventhal by Kelsey James

Interviewing Anna Leventhal the Writer- In- Residence for 2021-2022, I found out she’d helped writers as young as thirteen and others in their seventies.  They were working on a fascinating variety of projects including short stories, novels, personal essays, children’s books, poetry, and even an opera libretto.

For the last three years, I have had the privilege of representing Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library on the committee that selects the Writer-In-Residence. Our organization provides some of the funding for the position.

I have been so impressed with the number of candidates who apply and their quality.  Many are very qualified academically with an impressive number of published works in a variety of genres to their credit.  

Among our applicants, we’ve had novelists, essayists, poets, sports journalists, comedy writers, book reviewers, newspaper columnists, romance authors, editors, memoir writers, creative non-fiction authors, and playwrights. 

Many have extensive teaching experience at colleges, universities and high schools and in other Writer-In-Residence programs.  In fact, it is always interesting to me to discover that some of the applicants have been mentored by previous Writers-in-Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library. Most candidates submit very innovative ideas for how they will reach out to library patrons.

Frances Roncan the most recent Writer-In-Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library

It is never an easy task to choose the Writer- In -Residence from a group of such excellent and diverse applicants, but the members of the committee are always very well prepared and have studied the lengthy application documents in detail.  We each nominate our top three choices and then we have a lively discussion before settling on the most suitable candidate.  

I really enjoy being a part of the Writer-In-Residence selection committee.

Mitch Toews reads from his work at a lakeside literary event

Recently a good friend of mine Mitch Toews announced the upcoming publication of his first book of short stories. I noticed he paid tribute in the announcement to four different Winnipeg Public Library Writers-In-Residence who helped him hone his skills as a writer.

Over the years the Writer-in-Residence program has nurtured so many aspiring writers.

I am proud of the support the Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library gives to the Writer-in-Residence program. It offers a  valuable service that helps writers of all ages…. from many different kinds of life experiences and backgrounds to realize their potential and tell their stories in a meaningful way.”

Other posts………

A New Writing Challenge

Writing As A Healing Art

I’m a Friend of the Library

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Filed under Winnipeg, Writing

10 Winnipeg Favourites

Assiniboine Park

In Assiniboine Park with my parents in the 1950s.

The Folk Festival

At the Folk Festival with my husband at Birds Hill Park in 2011

Noodle Express Restaurant

Enjoying the best won ton mein in Winnipeg at Noodle Express on King Street

Winnipeg Art Gallery

Doing art with children at the Winnipeg Art Gallery where I work

The River Skating Trail

With one of the warming huts on the trail in 2012


Having fun with my friend Merle at the Portugal Pavilion in 2016

McNally Robinson Book Sellers

Checking out a book I wrote on the shelf at McNallys in 2023

The Leaf

With my friend Marie at the new Leaf conservatory January 2023

Between Wolf and Dog Sculpture

With one of my most beloved Winnipeg public works of art by Joe Fafard at the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden on Provencher Boulevard

Fort Whyte

Making a beard with the hair shed by the bison at Fort Whyte

Other posts……….

A Personal Winnipeg Alphabet

A Love Letter to McNally Robinson Booksellers

Bison Safari

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I Wish I Could Have Met Helen Armstrong

The working class people of Winnipeg referred to her as ‘Ma’ a term of respect and affection for a woman who fought with such determination and passion to protect their rights.

Filmmaker Paula Kelly called her ‘notorious’ titling a 2001 documentary about her The Notorious Mrs Armstrong.

A CBC feature dubbed her the Wild Woman of the West because she was such a fiery and outspoken advocate for women’s labour rights.

The Toronto Star newspaper once labelled her The Business Manager of Women’s Unions.

This mural by Tom Andrich was destroyed in a storm in 2012. You can see Helen up in the left-hand corner just behind the sign Prison Bars Cannot Confine Ideas.

I first became curious about Helen Armstrong when I moved to Winnipeg in 2011 and saw a mural on a building near my home in the Exchange District that told the story of the Winnipeg General Strike. It featured only one woman. Who could she be?

Helen’s name is at the bottom of the leaders listed on the mural about the Winnipeg Strike of 1919. Her husband George is listed second.

A little research led to me discover that the woman in the mural was Helen Armstrong. She had been born in Toronto in 1875 the eldest of ten children and had grown up in her Dad’s busy tailor shop. He was a labour leader and so Helen often overheard men having fiery discussions about politics and workers’ rights.

It was in her Dad’s shop at a labour meeting that she met a young carpenter named George Armstrong whom she married. They settled in Winnipeg in 1904 and had four children.

The labour causes Helen eventually took on were legion. She vigorously advocated for the working women of Winnipeg whether they were store clerks, stenographers, telephone operators, waitresses or laundresses.

She fired off letters to politicians complaining of poor wages, unfair layoffs, unhealthy working conditions and abuse. She walked the picket lines and had no fear of the police or court officials.

Helen Armstrong between striking Woolworth’s workers- photo from the Manitoba Archives

In 1917 she became the president of the Winnipeg Women’s Labour League and in May of that year led a strike for the women who worked in Winnipeg’s Woolworth’s department store.

During the next two years, she organized a union for women working as hotel housemaids and others for biscuit factory workers and knitting machine operators.

But it was during the Winnipeg strike of 1919 that Helen really came into her own. Helen was only one of two women on the strike committee. Her impassioned speeches drew strikers to the cause. She stood out in front of businesses early in the morning when women were coming to work and convinced them to join the strike.

Advertisement about the cafe Helen organized for striking workers.

She established the Labour Cafe which provided strikers with free meals. Some days they served 1,500 meals to those who had lost their wages because they were on strike.

Helen was arrested twice during the strike for disorderly conduct and when it finally ended both she and her husband George were in jail.

In the early 1920s, Helen unsuccessfully ran for Winnipeg City Council twice but continued to work to protect women workers advocating for laws that would afford them better wages and working conditions. In 1921, Helen helped persuade the government of Manitoba to become one of the first two provinces to institute a Minimum Wage Act for women. The hourly rate for women was 25 cents per hour.

Helen and George Amstrong outside their home on Dunkirk Drive in Winnipeg in the 1930s- Photo from the Manitoba Archives

Helen and George eventually moved to California to be near one of their daughters. Helen died there in 1947.

Paula Kelly who documented Helen’s life on film says that Helen “didn’t mince words, didn’t pull punches and didn’t care what people thought of her. ” Kelly said. “Clearly, she was not concerned about consequences. She was concerned about action and making issues visible and making change.”

Helen Armstrong- Photo Manitoba Archives

I have been unable to find any tribute to Helen in Winnipeg. Does anyone know of a plaque or street name or building named in her honour?

In my latest novel Sixties Girl, I named an imaginary school after her, but I’d like to know if there is recognition of her contributions somewhere in the city. If there isn’t I think there certainly should be.

I wish I could have personally met Helen Armstrong the notorious, wild and warm labour organizer who bravely crusaded for the women workers of Manitoba.

But I’m glad that the mural near my home introduced her to me and I at least got to know her as an important Canadian historical figure.

Note: The mural pictured in this post was on the wall of the Whiskey Dix establishment. It was destroyed in a bad storm in 2012.

Other posts…….

Bloody Saturday

The Winnipeg Strike- Fact or Fiction

A Strike Mural

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“It Will Be Absolutely Beautiful!”

“It will be absolutely beautiful! There will be lights going up to the apex and gorgeous artwork in the granite that you will be able to see from the walkway. It will be such an enhancement to St. Boniface and the Forks area of the city.”

Indigenous artwork on the granite on the bridge

I am reading through some of my old journals and in one from 2002-2003 I’ve written about being the speaker at a women’s retreat in Winnipeg. After each meal during the weekend, I jotted down notes about what I talked about with my interesting table companions.

One dinner conversation was with a woman who worked as a secretary and receptionist for a company that was building the Provencher Bridge at the time.

She said she was constantly taking calls from Winnipeg citizens complaining about the building of the bridge- how it created traffic issues, looked ugly and was way too expensive.

She said people didn’t realize that her company’s bid to build the bridge had been very competitive and much lower than the others. They also didn’t know how beautiful the bridge was going to be.

The bridge is stunning! And it has become such an enhancement to the city. It has been featured in so many different photos and advertisements and media campaigns to showcase the beauty of Winnipeg.

That woman I chatted with twenty years ago spoke prophetic words when she said, “It will be absolutely beautiful!”

Other posts………..

The Park At the End of the Bridge

Too Young to Die

Autumn Cruise Fit For A Queen

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Who is Dr Rizal and What is He Doing in Winnipeg?

Last summer on a bike ride in northwest Winnipeg, my husband and I passed this life-sized bronze- statue we hadn’t seen before.

We stopped to look at the plaque on the statue which informed us that the gentleman depicted was Dr Jose Rizal and he had been a hero in the Philippines.

I wondered what heroic things Dr Rizal had done and how his statue came to be in my city.

Photo of Jose Rizal from Wikipedia

A little internet research revealed that Dr Rizal wrote novels in the late 1800s and those novels exposed the tyranny of the Spanish rulers in the Philippines. He advocated for representation for the Philippines in the Spanish Parliament, freedom of expression and assembly for his people, and equal legal rights for Filipino citizens.

He was eventually executed for being so outspoken about his political views. Just before his death, he wrote a famous poem called Last Farewell.

He is recognized as one of the first Asian advocates of democracy.

Since I now knew Dr Rizal had been a writer who had tried to bring about change through the written word rather than with violence, I guessed that perhaps he was holding a pencil in his hand in the statue.

I also discovered that the sculptor who had made the Winnipeg statue of Dr Rizal in 2020 was none other than Canadian artist Peter Sawatzky who also created a wonderful piece of art Seal River Crossing near my home in the Exchange District.

The Winnipeg chapter of an international organization called The Order of Knights of Rizal is responsible for Dr Rizal’s statue being in our city. Their organization’s members study the work of Dr Rizal and try to carry out projects that reflect the ideals he wrote about.

The Winnipeg group has opened a park, sponsored programs for youth and seniors, and plays a key role in the celebration of the city’s Philippines Heritage Week held every June.

Statue of Dr Jose Rizal in Airdrie Alberta

I also found out that Winnipeg isn’t the only Canadian city with a statue of Dr Rizal. You will also find statues of him in Calgary and Airdrie Alberta, in Toronto and Markham Ontario and in Montreal.

Nearly a million people of Filipino descent make their homes in Canada.

Some 80,000 Filipinos are right here in Winnipeg and represent 9% of our city’s population.

So it is only natural that someone who is a hero to them would be honoured in the place they now call home.

There is a quote on the Manitoba Tyndall stone base of Dr Rizal’s statue that urges us all to believe in something and make our lives count for something. That’s a sentiment that can inspire all Winnipeg citizens not only those of Filipino descent.

The statue is at the corner of Dr Jose Rizal Way and Old Commonwealth Path in the Waterford Green Common.

Other posts………

A Sad Memory at Winnipeg’s City Hall

Getting To Know Mr North

He Looks Kind

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What’s a Crankie?

Friends invited us to a Crankie Concert on Friday night.

What’s a crankie? It’s an old way of telling stories. You start with a long illustrated paper that is wound onto two spools. The spools are loaded into a box with a viewing window. The paper is then hand-cranked while a story is told or a song is sung.

A woman operates a crankie. This is from a blog post by William Hudson that clearly explains how a crankie is made and how it works.

I remember once making a crankie for a project at school when I was a child.

The concert Friday night featured several music pieces that were accompanied by crankies. Perhaps the most moving was a song performed by an Indigenous singer and drummer named Ray CoCo Stevenson and a musician from Gimli Kael Sauerborn. The song they shared with us was Comes to Light.

Kael Sauerborn and Ray Stevenson perform Comes to Light at the Crescent Fort Rouge Church on Friday night. You can see someone operating the crankie just behind Ray and the image has been projected onto the screen for the audience to see

The song Comes to Light is about the 215 children’s bodies that were found at the Kamloops Residential School in May of 2021. The lyrics recognize how tragic it must be for Indigenous families to learn about something like that. The song extends an offer of support and solidarity.

The lyrics that went with the images in this section of the crankie were……….. Up in the sky, they found a way to glow. Those northern lights I know are giving us the hope we need.

You can read the lyrics, listen to the song and see the crankie that goes with Comes to Light here.

A crankie can be a beautiful way to bring the lyrics of a song to life.

Other posts………

Afternoon Delight

Come From Away- A Musical for Our Time

Ten Things I learned about Carole King

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Filed under Art, Music, Winnipeg

Storied Land-Metis, Indigenous People and Mennonites

Miriam Rudolph has created a series of prints to tell a story of the Metis and Indigenous people of Manitoba and how it intersects with the story of her Mennonite ancestors. Miriam has called it Storied Land: Repmapping Winnipeg. It is part of the Headlines: The Art of the Newscycle exhibit currently on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Each print is accompanied by a collection of articles from local news sources including the Winnipeg Free Press which describe the subject of the print.

Miriam went to the Winnipeg archives to read old Winnipeg Free Press newspapers to find stories about Indigenous people. In older editions of the paper, which she photographed she found little mention of the Metis or First Nation People of the province.

Now there are many more stories about Indigenous people in the newspaper and the Free Press has Indigenous writers and columnists. Miriam illustrates this by having the Indigenous people with their ribbon skirts and drums appear prominently in this print.

Here Miriam shows the East and West Reserves in red ink- land near Steinbach and Winkler that was given to new Mennonite immigrants to Manitoba. But this was land that Metis families also claimed as their own.

The Metis were petitioning to have official rights to the land but the rights of the Mennonite immigrants were rewarded instead. See how the Mennonites are front and centre and the Metis family at the top is smaller and in the distance?

In 1881 a railroad was built right through Winnipeg. North of the tracks smaller cheaper houses were built for new immigrants coming to Canada from other countries and later for Indigenous families coming to Winnipeg from off their reserves.

Bigger fancier houses were built on the south side of the tracks for wealthier families. The railroad tracks continue to divide Winnipeg but some recent articles in the Winnipeg Free Press suggest that moving the rail tracks might be good for the city.

This is Miriam’s print of Rooster Town. It was a settlement of some sixty Metis families that was located where the Grant Park Shopping Mall is now situated. The people who lived there had jobs and were contributing citizens of the city but were treated very rudely and unkindly by other Winnipeg people. Their community came to be known as Rooster Town.

In 1959 the people who lived there were forced out of their homes. You can see the roosters, the Metis family and the small homes in Rooster Town compared to the larger homes of other Winnipeg residents.

Mennonite Settlement in the North Kildonan area of Winnipeg began in 1928 when a new wave of Mennonites immigrated to Canada from Ukraine. Some 20,000 arrived. Palliser Furniture is an example of a business that began in North Kildonan where one of the small houses became a woodworking shop.

The land was gardening land and was valuable because properly cultivated it could provide a good supply of food to the city. It was offered to the Mennonites. People built homes and raised chickens. This print provides a contrast between the Mennonite settlement in North Kildonan to Rooster Town where people couldn’t purchase land or homes and where amenities like electricity and water weren’t provided.

In this print, we see the powerful politicians who decided a hundred years ago that an aqueduct should be built to bring water from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg. Aninishanabe people were living on a peninsula on Shoal Lake but in order to make the water flow properly to the city the peninsula was turned into an island making it difficult for the Indigenous people to get supplies.

In June 2019, an all-weather road was finally built to connect Shoal Lake to the Trans Canada Highway. Miriam shows the aqueduct in red. The road is called Freedom Road. You can see the Shoal Lake families in the bottom left-hand corner. Some Mennonite churches were vocal politically in advocating for the building of the road.

Miriam is heartened about the future of positive Indigenous-settler relations by the possibilities offered by the Naawi-Oodena land grant which makes the former Kapyong Barracks located in the Tuxedo and River Heights area of Winnipeg a large urban First Nation reserve.

The plan is to develop it into a community with homes, businesses, sports facilities, and schools. In her print, the Indigenous people are front and centre and the settler people are off to the side.

Photo of Miriam Rudolph from the Winnipeg Art Gallery website

If you want to know more I suggest you watch the video of a lecture artist Miriam Rudolph gave at the Winnipeg Art Gallery about these prints. She links each one with many Winnipeg Free Press articles and pieces from other media sources including Mennonite ones that provide added insight into each of her prints. She explains them in much more detail than I have and it is just fascinating.

I am giving a tour at the art gallery this morning which will include these prints of Miriam Rudolph’s and writing this piece last night was a way for me to prepare. I hope you will enjoy learning about them too.

Other posts……….

Life’s Journey and Tea Parties

The Wheat Oracle Who Wore Pants

Art from Obituaries


Filed under Art, Media, Winnipeg, winnipeg art gallery

First Look at The Leaf

With my friend Marie by a stunning poinsettia tree

On Saturday we visited the new indoor horticultural garden in Assiniboine Park which opened recently.

The Leaf was all decked out for Christmas.

I was impressed with ………………….

………the waterfall you walk under as you enter the space

………the long wall covered entirely with plants

…………the stories you could read where people who had moved to Winnipeg from around the world talked about plants native to their country of birth

……….the amazing view from the walkway on the third floor

………….the beautiful flowers

.….. the colourful koi fish in the pond

…..the interesting plants like this one called The Rattlesnake

Although reservations at The Leaf are for two hours it is easy to see everything in less than half that time. On my next visit, I’m going to bring my book or sketch pad and sit down on a bench and just enjoy the atmosphere. I think I’ll also try to go at a time when there are fewer people there. It was pretty crowded and noisy on the weekend.

I have to say the Butterfly Garden was a little underwhelming. There weren’t many butterflies. I have visited Butterfly Gardens in other cities that were just teeming with thousands of different kinds of butterflies.

I was also disappointed that it was impossible to get into the restaurant since it was fully booked. I’ll have to go back for that another time.

I was a real fan of the old conservatory in Assiniboine Park and thought it was just a lovely venue. So it may take me a little time to develop the same affection for this very different and less intimate space. But I’m ready to try!!

Other posts…………

Assiniboine Park

Butterfly Wonderland

Discovering Peanut Park


Filed under Nature, Winnipeg

Cora Hind- The Wheat Oracle Who Wore Pants

In a new exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Headlines: The Art of the News there is a photographic portrait of Ella Cora Hind. Later she dropped the Ella from her name and came to be known as Cora Hind.

When I toured the Headlines exhibit with curator Riva Symko she told us Cora had been an agricultural reporter known for her uncanny way of correctly predicting wheat prices.

Cora often dressed in men’s pants, something quite shocking for a woman at the time, and tramped through Manitoba grain fields to collect information to write her agricultural stories for the paper.

Cora was born in 1861 in Ontario. Both her parents had died by the time she was five and so she and her two brothers went to live with their grandfather who taught Cora all about farming. Cora wanted to become a teacher but she failed the algebra part of her qualification exam. So together with her Aunt Alice, she decided to move to Winnipeg in 1882 where they’d heard there might be employment opportunities.

This photo of William Luxton who refused to hire Cora is in the Headlines exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Cora had always dreamed of becoming a journalist so when she arrived in Winnipeg she went to see William Luxton the editor of the Manitoba Free Press. He was a friend of one of Cora’s uncles and so welcomed her warmly to his office, but was shocked when she said she wanted to write for the paper. Luxton told Cora women didn’t write for newspapers. Being a reporter was rough work often involving interviewing less than-savoury people. It wasn’t for a woman.

This old typewriter is part of the Headlines exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. When the Free Press editor wouldn’t hire her Cora learned to type and got another job.

Cora wasn’t deterred. She heard about a new office machine called a typewriter. She rented one, learned to type and got herself a job working for the lawyer Hugh John McDonald. But she was still interested in farming and grain growing and in 1898 started making crop predictions. Farmers came to trust her expertise and knowledge and she would submit articles about farming to the newspaper under the name E. Hind.

This portrait of John Dafoe who hired Cora as a reporter is also in the Headlines exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

In 1901 the brand new editor of the Winnipeg Free Press John Dafoe, being a little more forward-thinking than Mr Luxton, hired her as an agricultural reporter.

Cora would go on to earn an international reputation as an agricultural journalist and her predictions about harvest yields soon were the accepted source for establishing the price of Canadian wheat. She became known as kind of an ‘oracle of wheat’ for her accurate crop predictions.

She was also famous for the way she strode through grain fields in riding breeches, high leather boots and a Stetson hat. She went across Canada inspecting farms. In 1924 she travelled more than 10,000 kilometres checking out crops.

Cora played an important role in getting the vote for women in Manitoba

Cora founded the Winnipeg branch of the Canadian Women’s Press Club and helped form the Political Equality League with other Winnipeg suffragettes campaigning for women to get the right to vote in Manitoba which they did in 1916.

This photo shows the vest made by a Cree woman from Norway House for Cora. The vest is in the collection of the Manitoba Museum and Cora is wearing it in the portrait on display in the Headlines exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. In an exhibition at the museum showcasing the vest visitors were reminded that while Cora helped win the vote for Manitoba women in 1916 Indigenous women would not be allowed to vote until 1952. – photo by Lyle Dick

Cora Hind was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Manitoba in 1935.

This sculpture of Cora Hind by Miguel Joyal is included in the Winnipeg Citizens Walk of Fame in Assiniboine Park

When Cora died in 1942 they halted trading at the Winnipeg Grain Exchange for two minutes in her memory.

Other posts……..

What a Woman!

Finding Nellie’s House

Grain is King

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Filed under feminism, History, manitoba, Winnipeg, winnipeg art gallery