Category Archives: Winnipeg

What a Sash!

Shooting the Rapids 1879 by Frances Anne Hopkins

I learned so much about voyageur sashes when the Winnipeg Art Gallery education guides toured the St. Boniface Museum recently.  Voyageurs were French workers employed to transport furs for the Hudsons Bay Company. 

sash fringe st. boniface musuemOur guide Bailey told us the sashes could be up to three meters long and were used for many purposes including providing support to prevent voyageurs from getting hernias when they lifted the one hundred pound bales of furs Bailey is standing beside in the photo. 

sashes st. boniface musuemThe sashes made of brightly colored wool could also be used……. for carrying belongings, lashing a canoe to your head during portages, tucking objects like a knife behind when the sash was around your waist.  It could serve as…….. a torniquet for broken bones, a belt, a scarf, a wash cloth, a towel, a saddle blanket or as a tumpline worn on the head to help carry heavy objects.  The fringes on the end might have important keys tied to them or be used for mending clothes.  

louis riel's sash

Louis Riel’s sash

The Metis, a people with both a French and aboriginal heritage, adopted these sashes from the voyageurs and called them ‘un ceinture fleche’ or ‘arrowed belts.’  Nowadays the sash is worn by members of the Metis nation as a symbol of pride.  The sash in the photo above belonged to the founder of Manitoba Louis Riel, a Metis man who was certainly proud of his heritage and his people. In this statue of Louis Riel on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature you can clearly see his sash tied around his waist. 

Other posts……..

An Award Winner Inspires Teens

Eating Bannock Voyageur Style

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Filed under Canada, History, Winnipeg

A Study in Contrasts

winnipeg window.jpgThis is me walking home after work yesterday on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg.  I’m taking a photo of a snowflake artwork featuring the Provencher Bridge on the windows of the Portage Place Shopping Center.  If you look at my reflection I’m wearing my winter coat.  I needed to because the temperature was -7 degrees. dave-driedger-on-bike

This is my husband Dave yesterday riding his bike and golfing in Gold Canyon Arizona where he’s on a little holiday with his friend Rudy. Notice he is wearing shorts and sandals and the flowers are blooming and the grass and trees are green. The temperature is 24 degrees. 

A study in contrasts. 

Other posts……..

Widow For a Week

Streets of Gold Canyon Arizona

Gold Canyon Days

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Filed under Arizona, Family, Winnipeg

Hildegard’s- A New Winnipeg Coffee Shop Named For a Saint

Saturday we tried a new Winnipeg coffee shop and bakery that just opened!  It is named after Hildegard of Bingen a German composer, poet, writer, mystic and abbess who lived from 1098 to 1179 and was canonized as a saint in 2012. In some of her writings Hildegard extolled the benefits of a grain called spelt.  Hildegard’s Bakery specializes in spelt goods.  

Hildegard’s is on the corner of Portage and Maryland and is housed in an old building with huge windows that let in tons of light. There are plants everywhere.  I was intrigued by a cool living art piece on the wall. 

The Hildegard’s website says their baked goods are handcrafted and healthy and made from local products.   We chose the delicious lemon saskatoon scone and the apple muffin to go with our coffee.  

Saturday was opening day at the bakery and it was busy!  We know we will be going back.  Maybe we’ll see you there. 

Other posts……….

Gunn’s Bakery

Meet You At the Folio

Different Daily Bread

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Filed under Food, Winnipeg

Louis Riel’s Three Coffins

Last week the education staff from the Winnipeg Art Gallery had an opportunity to visit the St. Boniface Museum.  Our animated guide Bailey led us on an interesting and informative stroll through the galleries.  louis riel st. boniface musuemAfter introducing us to Manitoba’s founder Louis Riel she showed us Louis Riel’s coffin. If you’re like me the first thing you’re thinking is, “Why is his coffin here? Wasn’t he buried in it?”

louis riel's coffinTurns out Louis had three coffins.  Coffin number one is this pine box.  It was how his body was transported back to Winnipeg from Regina where he died by the hangman’s noose. Coffin number two was made of metal and had a window so mourners could view him as they came to pay their respects during the two days Louis Riel lay in state at his mother’s home.  The third coffin was made of rosewood and it is the coffin in which he is buried on the grounds of the St. Boniface Cathedral. 
riel's coffinThe pine coffin was kept in the Riel family home and filled with papers and photographs about his life. Later the family gave it to the St. Boniface Historical Society and it was on display in the basement of the St. Boniface Cathedral. When the cathedral burned in 1968 the coffin was charred but saved intact which is why visitors to the St. Boniface museum are able to still see it today. 

louis riel at grey nun's museum

Louis Riel statue on the grounds of the St. Boniface Museum

Other posts……….

A Graphic Louis Riel

Manitoba is Metis

A Controversial Statue

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Filed under History, Winnipeg

The Break

There’s a whole world just down the street from me I know so little about.  Much of the action in Katherena Vermette’s book The Break takes place in Winnipeg’s north end in a neighborhood  just a few blocks from where I live, on streets where I walk regularly.  Selkirk Avenue is mentioned frequently.  I walk down Selkirk every time I go and volunteer at the MCC Thrift Store.  I’ve had lunch at the Windmill Restaurant where one of the characters takes refugee for a few hours. Although it isn’t named I think I work as a faculty supervisor at the high school some of the characters in the book attend. One of the young narrators in the novel is a patient at the Health Sciences Centre. I walk past it en route to a couple of other schools I visit regularly. 

There is a whole world in and around those streets where I walk and work and volunteer that I know little about- a world where gangs wield control and people live in fear of their retaliation, where some young adults are hardened and vicious, where a sentence can’t be uttered without throwing in the ‘f’ word a couple of times, where abuse and violence are everyday occurrences, where drugs are sold, and almost everyone smokes, a world where kids are neglected and hungry.

It’s a place where families are torn apart…. by sudden death, the child welfare system, a transitory life that shifts between Winnipeg and the reserve, by the criminal justice system, a century of discrimination, a desire for a different life but a strong emotional attachment to the old one, and by drug and alcohol dependencies.

It is also a world where there is love and family connectedness, hope, strong women, innocence, loyal friendships, sweetness,  a longing for roots, a nostalgia for tradition, a sense of community, artistic gifts, and a respect for elders.  

In Katherena Vermette’s book The Break the fact that world is brought to life by an author who has lived in it makes it all the more poignant.  The Break is not an easy read. But I am so glad I read it.  I will walk the streets brought alive by Katherena’s novel with both my mind and heart opened just a little wider now.

Other posts…………….

A Blast From The Past

The Palace Theater

Katherena Vermette on the Wall

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Filed under Books, Winnipeg

Winnipeg’s Palace Theatre

palace theater winnipegI go by the Palace Theatre every time I walk down Selkirk Avenue to do my volunteer work at a thrift shop. The theatre building is all boarded up but it looks like it was a grand place once and I wanted to know more about it. 

palace theaterI found out the Palace was designed by Max Zev Blankstein a Jewish architect trained in Odessa, Russia who emigrated to Canada in 1904.  He drew up plans for a number of Winnipeg theatres. The theatre was built by Jacob Miles whose family would become one of the biggest movie theatre operators in Manitoba. 

The Palace Theatre in 1930- photo by Jim Fustey from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

The Palace Theatre in 1930- photo by Jim Fustey from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

The Palace opened in 1912 and was initially a venue for vaudeville performances. According to Russ Gourluck the author of Silver Screens on the Prairie it was also used for meetings of the Ukrainian community as well as the viewing of motion pictures. 

exterior palace theater selkirk avenue

Detailed design on the theater’s exterior

An addition was built in 1927 adding a balcony and increasing the capacity of the theatre to 800. 

Michael Koster in the Palace Theatre -photo by Raymond Koster- from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

Michael Koster in the Palace Theatre -photo by Raymond Koster- from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck

Michael Koster worked in the projection room and it was sometimes so hot in the room that he wore only underwear, socks and shoes.

the-green-hornet-serialJack Baturin a North End resident recalls kids attended Saturday shows that began at 10:00 am and many kids sat twice through the cowboy movies, mysteries, serials and cartoons bringing lunches that consisted of chunks of bread and kubasa sausage from home. The Green Hornet was a favorite serial. 

The theatre was a haunt of the Dew Drop gang who liked to run a variety of scams to avoid paying for their movie tickets.

palace theater winnipegThe Palace Theatre closed in 1964 and was in turn an auction house, furniture warehouse and bargain store. Now it stands empty- a reminder of a time when the North End of Winnipeg was a very different place. 

Other posts about the North End………

Gunn’s Bakery

I’m a Shop Girl and I Love It


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Filed under History, Theatre, Winnipeg

Did You Enjoy the Game?

With my sister at the Jets game

I went to a Winnipeg Jets game on Friday courtesy of my generous brother-in-law and sister.  My brother-in-law who thought a professional sporting event might not be my first choice of entertainment asked me after the game whether I had enjoyed it.  “Of course I did,” I replied. 

I may not notice the same things others do at a Winnipeg Jets game but I’m still engaged and fascinated with the experience.

I loved, loved, loved watching that huge screen over the ice that shows the camera panning to different people in the crowd. I love the moment when they finally realize everyone in the arena can see them.  At the game I attended I saw a mother and father with tiny black haired twins waving and smiling. The little girls’ ears were covered with huge headphones to muffle out the roar of the arena crowd. Of course I saw Winnipeg’s iconic Dancing Gabe having a great time.  He wasn’t the only spectator that broke into a unique victory dance when they realized they were on the big screen. I loved the little boy whose eyes grew huge as the moose mascot approached him and the two guys both dressed as Elvis look alikes who tried to act so cool when the camera focused on them.

I loved hearing the talented Stacey Natrass’ voice soar during the two national anthems. She is so talented and does such a professional job. I also liked listening for the different kinds of music they played during different situations in the game and wondered how the organist decided when he was going to chime in with his own contributions to the sound track.

I loved watching the players fly across the ice, guessing who they were going to pass to, keeping track of the goalies’ little rituals and watching how the different teams celebrated when they scored a goal.

I loved visiting with my sister, catching up on family news and grandchildren’s latest exploits.

I loved watching the people around me and how they interacted with each other during the game, parents and children, people and their partners, grandparents and grandchildren, groups of female friends, groups of male friends and folks I guessed must be work colleagues. 

I loved reading the story printed in the Jets program about Nikolaj Ehlers a young player from Denmark.  It was very inspirational the way the modest young man paid tribute to his mother and father and his sister and brother, giving his family credit for much of his success as a hockey player.  He is most appreciative of their support and openly acknowledges he wouldn’t be where he is without them.  It was also refreshing to read about how seriously Nikolaj takes his responsiblity as a role model for young hockey players, especially those in his home country of Denmark. 

Did I enjoy attending a Winnipeg Jets game?  I loved it! 

By the way the Jets beat Las Vegas 7-4. 

Other posts……..

My First and Last Jets Game of the Season

White Noise

Rubbing Mr. Eaton’s Foot


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Filed under Sports, Winnipeg