Category Archives: Winnipeg

Winnie the Pooh Day

Today is Winnie the Pooh Day.  January 18th is the birthday of A. A. Milne the author of the Winnie the Pooh books.  Many people don’t know that Winnie was named after the city of Winnipeg. This statue in the Children’s Nature Playground at Assiniboine Park shows Winnie with his owner Harry Colebourn, a Winnipeg veterinarian.  During World War I Harry joined the army. On his trip to his barracks in Quebec his train made in stop in White River Ontario.  Harry bought a female bear cub there for $20 from a hunter who had killed the cub’s mother. Harry named the bear Winnie after his hometown.

Harry Colebourn and Winnie

Harry was sent overseas to England and took Winnie along where she quickly became the mascot of Harry’s regiment The Fort Garry Horse. Later when Henry was sent to France for three years he put Winnie in the London Zoo.

A. A. Milne and his son Christopher

Author A. A. Milne visited the London Zoo with his son Christopher, who decided to name his teddy bear after Winnie.  That teddy bear became the main character in a series of stories his father wrote about Winnie the Pooh.

My friend Meena with the Winnie the Pooh statue in Assiniboine Park

After the war, Major Colebourn decided to leave Winnie in the London Zoo. He went back to Winnipeg where he practised veterinary medicine till his death in 1947.

A. A. Milne’s books about Winnie the Pooh became beloved pieces of children’s literature read around the world. Later Walt Disney turned the stories into a movie and television series.

Other posts……..

James Bond is From Winnipeg

Kent Monkman is From Winnipeg

Sadia- A Muslim Girl From Winnipeg



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Filed under Books, Winnipeg

What Are All These Bicycles Doing At the Forks?

If you have been down to The Forks lately you will probably have seen this amazing bicycle sculpture by the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei. Called Forever Bicycles it contains 1254 bicycles. The Forever brand of bicycles was available in China when Ai Wei Wei was a child but was way too expensive for most people to afford.

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

Ai Wei Wei said he used bicycles in his sculpture because they are still an important means of transportation in China. We certainly learned that ourselves when we traveled in China dozens of times over a period of about six years. This is not the first time Ai Wei Wei has used bicycles in a piece of art. We saw a bicycle installation of his at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2013.  That piece was said to be a commentary on how some people in China were beginning to abandon their bicycles in favour of cars.

I pose with a statue of Ai Wei Wei at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Ai Wei Wei often makes art with a very political message and it has got him into lots of trouble with the Chinese government.  After being arrested and then released in China in 2011 he moved to Berlin where he lives and works and travels internationally to install and talk about his art.

Our family on the sledding hill at the Forks

The Ai Wei Wei sculpture is at the top of the sledding hill at the Forks so you can have some winter fun while you enjoy this unique piece of art. 

Other posts………

Ai Wei Wei- Giving the Finger to His Home and Native Land Through Art

The Children of Sichuan

Canada Day At the Forks

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Filed under Art, Winnipeg

So Excited About This!

royal canoe on ice

On January 31st my favourite Winnipeg band Royal Canoe will be performing a concert called Glacial at The Forks. The band will be working together with ice artist Luca Roncoroni to create instruments made from ice.  Roncoroni who grew up in the Italian Alps and is currently an Oslo resident is the creative director of the Icehotel Group in Sweden which has an ice hotel and art exhibition and engages in ice design projects like Glacial around the world. According to a Winnipeg Free Press article Royal Canoe will be reimagining their own repertoire of music for the event. 

Images on Instagram yesterday show the group has already begun their ice instrument creation and the recording of ice sounds for their exciting show. If the weather conditions allow the concert will be performed on the river.

A Royal Canoe Facebook post indicates Glacial is being produced in association with The Forks and Sputnik Architecture Inc.  The show production team will also include instrument designer Andy Rudolph, projectionist Stephanie Kuse, and sound technician, Elliot Filbert.

In an Instagram video, band member Matt Schellenberg indicates some of the inspiration for the show may have come from an experience the band had at the National Music Centre in Ottawa where they recorded an ‘icy’ version of one of their songs. Another band member Matt Peters says Royal Canoe will work on the unique project for the entire month of January. He describes it as  “another crazy thing that will challenge the band in exciting ways.”  

Our family posing outside the Burton Cummings Theatre before the release of Royal Canoe’s album Something Got Caught Between Here and the Orbit in 2016

I have seen Royal Canoe perform in many places and on many different kinds of stages, at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Texas, at the University of Manitoba, in front of a gigantic crowd at the Summer Games in Winnipeg, at the Centennial Concert Hall with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, at venues in Toronto and New York, at the West End Cultural Centre, at the Burton Cummings Theatre, at the Regina Folk Festival and I could go on and on.  But I think Glacial will be something completely new when it comes to my Royal Canoe experiences. 

Royal Canoe performing at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

And if for some reason you don’t get a chance to take in Glacial, which by the way is a free show, you can also catch Royal Canoe in another winter show in Winnipeg in February when they will be performing at the Festival du Voyageur. 

Full disclosure- my son Bucky Driedger is a member of Royal Canoe. 

Other posts…………

Waver- A New Album From Royal Canoe

A Fun Evening in Toronto

The Regina Folk Festival


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Filed under Music, Winnipeg

The Bombers Grey Cup Victory is Exciting But…………..

Photo by Johany Jutras from the Blue Bomber website

“Did you watch the Grey Cup?” A man in the bus shelter yesterday morning struck up an immediate conversation with me about the Bombers Grey Cup win. People at my gym were chatting about the game in every corner. During the course of the day, I overheard many excited and positive conversations between strangers as I made my way around the city. It was nice to see people connecting and talking over their common love of football and Winnipeg. I went to a Grey Cup party on Sunday where there was great food, good friends, and people enjoyed cheering the Bombers on together. 

But………. despite all that good feeling I have to say that I have quite a number of doubts about the value of having a professional football team in Winnipeg.  Here are just a few. 

blue bomber victory

Photo by Frank Gunn Canadian Press

The risk for traumatic brain injury while playing the sport is significantly high. Does all the hoopla about the Bombers encourage more local kids to participate in a sport that we know can be extremely dangerous?

Investors_Group_Field_2014Our province under the leadership of Brian Pallister forgave almost 200 million dollars in loans used to build Investors Field in Winnipeg, where the Blue Bombers play. Winnipeg is facing all kinds of challenges right now.  The city is thinking about curtailing bus services, closing libraries, decreasing funding for police services, shutting down parks and swimming pools. The province isn’t stepping up to help ………….yet they had 200 million dollars available to provide support for a field where an elite group of men throw a ball around in an entertaining fashion. 

Photo of Zach Collaros from the CFL website

The average salary for a Manitoba teacher in 2019 was $53, 302.  Zach Collaros the Bomber’s quarterback makes around $500,000. When one compares the contributions teachers and football players make towards the betterment of society and its future things seem just a little skewed. 

Photo from the Winnipeg Cheer Team Facebook page

Football is a male-only sport.  Shouldn’t we be promoting sports that give women an equal opportunity to excel and a chance to make the same kind of money men do?  The most visible role women seem to have in the Bomber franchise is as cheerleaders.  They wear skimpy outfits, don’t get paid and “cheer” the men on.  Although I am sure the cheerleaders are really nice young women they don’t necessarily present the kind of equal opportunity role model I’d like to see for young girls. 

I don’t mean to be a wet blanket.  I won’t even complain too much this afternoon when the Grey Cup Parade is going to cause delays in my bus trips between work and volunteer commitments.  It’s great to see Winnipegers feeling positive about something and maybe that positivity will give us the energy to tackle some of the big challenges our city is facing and work towards the kinds of changes it is important for society to make. 

Other posts…………

The Shady Area Between Violence and Non-Violence

Super Bowl Ads- A Woman’s Perspective

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Filed under Sports, Winnipeg

This Was Crazy Wonderful!

I counted nearly 250 people lined up to enter the Grant Park Highschool gym for the Friends of the Library book sale when the doors opened at 10.

On Saturday I volunteered at the annual Friends of the Library book sale at Grant Park Highschool. The sale has been a Winnipeg tradition for more than a decade and a half.

My job was to sit at the door and count the people coming in.  We opened the doors at 10:00 and ten minutes later 331 folks were in the gym engaging in a book buying frenzy.

The calm before the storm. Volunteers worked hard on Friday night to set up more than fifty tables full of books

For a whole year dedicated volunteers had been sorting and pricing and boxing books in the basement of a Winnipeg library and now another raft of volunteers was helping customers find books, acting as cashiers and keeping all the tables stocked with merchandise.

Books are organized into more than twenty categories.

The money from the sale all goes to support programs at Winnipeg’s public libraries. In 2018 the sale raised $23,000.  At 1:30 when my shift ended 1047 people had passed through the doors.  I wonder how many more visited Saturday afternoon and Sunday?

Look at all these eager book buyers!

I couldn’t believe how many of the folks I recognized as they came through the door.  I saw former students of mine, people from my church, my children’s friends, a fellow blogger, colleagues from the art gallery where I work, members of other boards I serve on, a resident of my condo, a former Winnipeg Free Press colleague, a player on my husband’s ball team, a good friend and a university colleague.  People left with boxes and carts and huge bags full of books.

I said good-bye and thanked people for coming as they exited.

Sitting at the door as they left many book buyers engaged me in conversation or made comments I overheard.

“This was crazy wonderful.”  

“I come to this sale every year.  I wouldn’t miss it. ” 

“I’m a teacher and now my classroom is stocked with books.” 

“I’ve been here browsing for hours. It’s awesome.”

“Large print books are so hard to find, but I found some here.”

“As you can see from this stack I’m a biography man.”

“I’m ready for eight months of winter reading now.” 

“I found all these lovely huge art books and I am going to frame the pages to make a classic art wall in our house.”

“I hope there is enough room in my car for all these books.” 

“I got Christmas presents for all my grandkids.”

“A big thanks to the volunteers for doing this.”

“This is my second visit today and I’ll be back again tomorrow.”

“I found a bunch of new authors I want to try.” 

“I wish I had three or four more hands so I could carry more books.”

“I hate to go home and leave so many beautiful books behind.”

“I found some really nice surprises.”

“What great fun I’ve had.”

Anyone who thinks people are no longer passionate about books and reading should have been at the Friends of the Library sale last weekend when Winnipeg book lovers of every age indulged voraciously in their love of literature. 

Other posts……….

My Childhood Reading Heaven

Winnipeg’s Millenium Library

There’s A Waterfall on the Library

A Bottomless Vortex of Books


Filed under Books, Winnipeg

Bus Chat

“He’s just human too.”  I was taking the bus to work the other day and about halfway down Portage Avenue the bus pulled over at a stop and the driver hopped out.  He was gone for several minutes and I looked at my watch a couple of times hoping I wouldn’t be late for work.  

The woman sitting beside me, who appeared to be about my age said, “Don’t worry.  He will be right back.  He just had to go the washroom.  These drivers have long shifts and sometimes they need to pee. He’s just human too you know.”  She told me a public washroom nearby was one frequently used by drivers.  She pointed out that our bus was actually a bit ahead of schedule and so that meant the driver had a few minutes to use the washroom. 

I was curious why the woman seemed to know so much about bus drivers’ habits.  She told me she had recently retired after working for several decades in a cafeteria that catered to bus drivers. She had come to know many drivers very well.  She had heard plenty of first-hand stories from bus drivers who had been abused or treated poorly by riders and how tough it can be to keep your cool, remain respectful and be friendly to folks throughout a long shift. She maintained that almost all the drivers she had come in contact with while working in the cafeteria were ‘really nice, hardworking people.’

The woman and I continued to chat.  She told me who she had voted for in the Canadian election the day before and why.  She asked me about my work and when I told her I was a retired school teacher and now worked with young teachers in training she thanked me for doing the work I do.  She said school had been boring and tough for her as a kid.  She was hit with a ruler if she did something wrong. But she is so impressed with the kindness and care her grandchildren get from their teachers now and the way their teachers try to make school enjoyable and interesting for them.  

As I got up to exit the bus my seatmate said good-bye and thanked me for chatting with her.  “My pleasure,” I said. 

I have been thinking about our conversation quite a bit these last couple of days wondering how much better a place our world would be if we all could remember that phrase “they’re just human too,” every time we want to criticize people.  

Other posts…………

Riding the Bus Alone At Age 5

Another Friend For the Moment

I Almost Broke My Arm Again

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Filed under Reflections, Winnipeg

Walking Back in Time

I walk to the gym via Lily Street each day and have always been intrigued by these small pieces of metal art that you find all along the street. One morning I stopped to inspect and photograph some of them.  Each one represents a building that used to stand in the Lily street area.   When looking through the viewfinder the silhouette of the building aligns with where it once stood in the distance. A metal disc under each building silhouette tells you the name of the building and the date it was constructed. This piece, for example, shows Biggs Terrace. It was a housing unit on James Street in 1888.

In this photo from the Manitoba Archives, you can see how it looked over a century ago

Here are two buildings that stood side by side in 1903- Pellissier and Gobeils Soda Waterworks and Clark and Hughes Undertakers.

In this photo from the University of Manitoba Archives, you can see exactly how the buildings looked at the turn of the century.

A couple of the metal art pieces show the location of railroad lines. Looking through this sculpture’s viewfinder you can see where the Galt Avenue Spur Line of the Winnipeg Transfer Railway stood. This one shows housing in the area in 1890And here is the Amy Street Steam Plant in 1924. 

The lovely metal sculptures on Lily Street help us go back in time. They provide a link between present-day Winnipeg and pieces of Winnipeg’s downtown fabric that are long gone.

I searched in vain online for a description of these lovely little silhouettes or their history. I couldn’t find anything not even the name of the artist who made the pieces or when they were erected.  I’d love to hear from any blog reader who may have more information about these gems of public art.   

Other posts

Half-Empty or Half-Full?

A Thirty Foot Pregnant Woman

Bloody Sunday

Cocktails in a Stable



Filed under Art, History, Winnipeg