Category Archives: Winnipeg

Walking on The Seine

We have been going for some lovely walks on the Seine River following its winding course for kilometre after kilometre. Apparently the river’s name comes from a Cree word Tchimâhâgânisipi which describes a certain kind of fishing net.

You can make your way down onto the river from plenty of different spots. The ice is thick and safe almost everywhere and lots of people are enjoying the river walk. We see runners and dog walkers, bikers, and snowshoers. We pass cross country skiers and skaters. There are parents of young children pushing strollers and pulling sleds.

Neighbours have created toboggan slides that coast down hills and out onto the river.

Families have set up all kinds of unique visiting spots on their yards that back onto the river like this little protected enclosure rimmed with pines. A perfect place for a fire, a beverage of choice, and some conversation.

Many folks have built skating rinks on the river.

Running along one section of the Seine is a beautifully groomed skating trail that must extend for over a kilometre.

People on the river are in a friendly mood and say hello and comment on the weather. One man engaged us in conversation by beginning with, “Can you believe we are in Winnipeg in January?” We discovered we were both snowbirds who for years had traveled to warmer climes during our province’s colder months. Enjoying such a marvelous day in the great outdoors in Winnipeg had us both wondering why we had fled south in years past.

Lots of families are usually out walking on the river and it is fun to listen to bits and pieces of their conversation. I heard one little boy ask, “are we going to walk along this river till it empties into the ocean Mom?”

We see artwork too.

Ice sculptures

and lots of Where’s Waldo markers almost as if they’ve been put at various spots along the river as part of treasure hunt of some sort.

Someone on a mission has made a special sign for dog owners who take their pets for walks on the river.

One day we made a short detour going up the steep bank and onto the St. Boniface Golf Course so we could trek down its fairways that run along the river. On one we saw a sign that was just a little scary.

It seems like by now we must have walked almost the entire twisted and meandering Winnipeg section of the river, accessing it in different spots each time. Walking on the Seine is great and something we’ve never done before. This article calls the Seine River ‘Winnipeg’s Hidden Gem’ and I’d have to agree.

I am constantly amazed at how the pandemic is providing an opportunity for us to explore our city in all kinds of new ways.

Other posts……….

Driedger Winnipeg Walking Adventures

Hiking the Virgin

Walking the Skerwink Trail

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Ten Things About Muriel

I’ve heard Muriel Richardson’s name hundreds of times but realized recently I didn’t really know very much about her.

Photo of Muriel Richardson from the Western Pictorial Index
 
I’ve been employed for eight years at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Our main auditorium is named after Muriel Richardson.

Muriel Richardson Auditorium at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

I’ve repeated Muriel’s name more times than I can count as I’ve directed guests to the auditorium named after her, or shown visitors the artwork in the auditorium’s foyer. But I’d never really stopped to think about who exactly Muriel was, and why the most frequently used room at the art gallery was named after her. So I decided to find out. I discovered that………..

1. Muriel was the first woman to run a large Canadian corporation. She took over the leadership of James Richardson and Sons Ltd. in 1939 following the death of her husband James Armstrong Richardson. She was fifty three years old at the time and continued to run the family company for the next twenty seven years.

2. According to an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail she was a trailblazer, pragmatic and full of common sense. She is credited with defining the essential character of both her family and the corporation.

3. She introduced a company pension plan and group insurance plan during her presidential tenure well before most other Canadian corporations had implemented such benefits for their employees. 

Photo of Muriel Richardson from the Richardson Wealth website

4. She believed that to those to whom much is given, much is also required. In keeping with this principle she established a charitable foundation for the family firm which continues to donate very generous sums each year to worthy causes usually in a discreet way.

5. She was born in Ontario as Annie Muriel Sprague in 1890 and moved to Winnipeg in 1919 after her marriage to James Richardson. According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography she was not only James’ life partner but also his business confidante which meant she was familiar with the complexities of the family business when her husband died.

An artwork showing five generations of the Richardson Family from the Winnipeg First website.

6. Muriel had four children George, James, Kathleen and Agnes. Agnes was the first female chancellor of Queens University. James served as a member of Canada’s Parliament. Kathleen accumulated a lengthy list of awards and honours for her charitable work most notably in support of the arts. George was his mother’s ultimate successor in the family business.

7. Muriel’s grandson Hartley who currently heads the family corporation tells a story about his grandmother’s pivotal decision to take over leadership of the family company. In 1939 just after her husband’s death she was on her way to a meeting to discuss the future of James Richardson and Sons. As she stopped to glance in mirror just outside the meeting room she overheard the men inside discussing how this would no doubt be the end of the company. How could they proceed without a leader? In an instant Muriel decided she would be the new president. She walked into the boardroom and announced her decision.

8. Muriel served on the Queens University board of trustees for nearly thirty years and was the honorary chair of many civic, provincial and national charities. She was the board chair of the Winnipeg Foundation a registered charity established in 1921 dedicated to the social improvement of the city. According to a Winnipeg Art Gallery timeline, in 1967 Muriel purchased the land where the current Winnipeg Art Gallery is located in order to help the building of the new gallery along.

9. In a June 1957 article Macleans magazine dubbed Muriel the shy baroness of brokerage. She was the first woman inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

10. Muriel died on January 8th 1973. She is buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.

Portrait of Muriel Richardson from a private collection

In the future when I am in the Muriel Richardson Auditorium with Winnipeg Art Gallery guests, I will be sure to take a moment to show them a photo of Muriel and tell them something about the successful and accomplished woman for whom the auditorium is named.

Other posts………

Women Soldiers

Her Worship

As Important As Her Husband

 

 

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Filed under History, Winnipeg, winnipeg art gallery

Marbles Lost and Found

About a year after I moved back to Winnipeg in 2011 huge marbles appeared on Portage Avenue. I walked by them every day on my way to work. Some were boldly centred in the median between the two way traffic on Winnipeg’s main thoroughfare but over time I found others tucked away in parks and flower beds and on street corners.  I started taking photographs as I discovered them and eventually located some twenty different marbles.  

Artist Erica Swendrowski polishing one of her marble creations- photo from Pinterest

I found out artist Erica Swendrowski had created the marbles from a gel-like resin poured into moulds and then covered with automotive paint. Erica wanted her marbles to be conversation pieces and hoped they would make people realize that ordinary objects can be looked at in extraordinary ways. They reminded me of the games of Chinese Checkers I played as a child. 

I liked the way the marbles brought colour and variety and playfulness to my Portage Avenue walks to work. I thought it was neat the way different views of Winnipeg’s skyline were reflected in many of the marbles.

Then about four years ago the marbles disappeared from Portage Avenue and I was a little sad. Were they lost?  No, I discovered later they had just been moved. I was glad to see them reappear again in front of the Mayfair Community Centre.  It was a place I drove by regularly as I made my way around the city for various commitments and obligations. It was nice to think the marbles hadn’t been discarded but were still a conversation piece and a bright spot in the landscape for Winnipeg drivers and pedestrians. 

This week in search of less icy paths to walk Dave and I have been traversing city streets and we walked by the marbles at Mayfair Place. I had to stop to take some photos.  Winnipeg is lucky to have lots of interesting public art.  Now that art galleries are closed it is great we can still enjoy creative work like Erica Swendrowski’s marbles as we walk and drive around the city. 

Other posts………..

Junk Drawer

Katherena Vermette on the Wall

The Paddock Restaurant

 

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Filed under Art, COVID-19 Diary, Winnipeg

More Driedger Winnipeg Walking Adventures

Dave by the Red River on the Macbeth Trail.

Tromping through a monastery, discovering an old mansion and finding a unique refrigerator are just a few adventures Dave and I had as we explored two Winnipeg walking trails that were new to us.

The stately Macbeth Mansion is at the head of the Macbeth Park Walking Trail.  The house which was built in 1912 for Robert Macbeth is located on land his family first received title to in 1817.   There are some other grand mansions, albeit more modern ones, visible through the trees as you hike along the river trail. We saw one enormous tree that had fallen across the path and had been cut in two.

Inside the split tree on the Macbeth Trail

To walk the Rivière Sale Trail we parked in the lot for the St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park.The park is the site of some old homes that have been preserved for summer visitors.  They are reminders of the history of the Metis community and Quebec immigrant settlement in the area. The trail is gorgeous. It is well marked with signs that explain the Indigenous history of the area where you are walking. We definitely saw signs that some enterprising beavers had been at work along the trail. The trail ends in the provincial park again and goes right by this building which is really a fridge often seen on pioneer farmsteads. It was called an ice house.  In winter huge blocks of ice were cut from the La Salle river and using pulleys were raised to the second storey of this building and packed with insulation like straw and sawdust.  The ice would remain frozen all summer and that way food could be stored on the bottom floor and kept cold. 

The Rivière Sale Trail was too short for us to get in our 10,000 daily steps so we headed over to the nearby Trappist Monastery Provincial Park. Of course we had been here many times to watch Shakespeare in the Ruins performances in summer but we had never visited the site in winter so we tromped all over the grounds considerably upping our step totals. 

Other posts………

There’s More to the Shakespeare in the Ruins Site Than I Thought

Throughly Enjoying Henry V at Shakespeare in the Ruins

Soaking Up the Last Days of Warm Weather

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A Romantic Site

515 Wellington Crescent in Winnipeg circa 1951

“That was where it all began,” my 92-year-old Dad said. He and I were sorting his things in preparation for a move when we came across a large photo of a beautiful old Winnipeg home. I asked Dad why he had a picture of the stately looking mansion.

“It’s where I met your mother,” he told me. He said the house had been at 515 Wellington Crescent and that it had served as a residence for students at Canadian Mennonite Bible College which is now Canadian Mennonite University.

515 Wellington in winter 1951- photo from the Mennonite Heritage Archives

When the college first opened in the late 1940s my parents were some of its first students. According to Dad, the male students lived on the second and third floors of the house at 515 Wellington and there was a piano on the main floor, where the college’s music students came to practice. One day my Dad was coming downstairs from his room and my Mom was practising at that piano. They struck up a conversation and Dad said, “the rest is history.”

They graduated from college in 1951 and got engaged in nearby Assiniboine Park that same year.

The student residence of Canadian Mennonite Bible College at 515 Wellington Crescent during the 1950 floodphoto courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives

Dad told me that besides meeting my mother at 515 Wellington Crescent another memorable experience happened while he was living in the house. All the students in the residence had to be evacuated during the great flood of 1950.

Students being evacuated from 515 Wellington Crescent in 1950

The students left the house in boats when the Assiniboine River overflowed its banks.

Residence at 515 Wellington circa 1910 – photo from Past Forward the Winnipeg Public Library digital history

I wanted to know more about the house at 515 Wellington Crescent so I did a little research. I found out the house was designed by architect J.H.G. Russell and its original owner was Frank Morton Morse the owner of a Winnipeg wholesale hardware business who was one of the founders of the St. Charles Country Club. He lived in the house at 515 Wellington from 1905-1920.

Sidney Thomas Smith- Portrait from Manitoba Historical Society

Then the house was sold to Sidney Thomas Smith a grain exporter and one of the founders of the Canadian Wheat Board. He was also a noted Presbyterian minister and on the board of directors of several large American theological institutions. He served as President of the Canadian Bible Society. So maybe it makes sense that after his death in 1947 his home would have been turned over to a faith-based institution like Canadian Mennonite Bible College.

I think this is where the house once stood.

According to Past Forward, a Winnipeg Public Library site the house was most recently owned by the Richardson family and was included in a land gift they made to the city so Munson Park could be created. However, this article says the Richardsons owned the home at 475 Wellington Crescent, not 515. An article from the Winnipeg Real Estate News says the former home of Sydney Smith was demolished at some point after World War II so I guess that means the house was torn down eventually because I couldn’t find it on Wellington Crescent this summer when I went looking for it.

The house may be gone now but I am glad I got to learn about its existence and its history. Without the romantic encounter that occurred there in 1950 I might not have been born.

Other posts…………

Weddings in the 1950s Were Community Events

Celebrating Our Marriage History in a Historical Building

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A Winnipeg Island Full of History

Did you know Winnipeg is home to an island where ancient hunters roamed and Victorian-era citizens picnicked? Dave and I hiked Pollock Island this last week. It is located at the end of Rue St. Pierre in St. Norbert.

Donated to the city by the Pollock family in 2006 the island is a 16-acre woodland plot. The Red River flows on one side and the LaSalle River on the other. In spring when the waters rise, road access is often cut off by floods, making the forested acres an island. Hence the name Pollock Island.

I don’t think many people know about Pollock Island. The day we hiked it we were all alone.

But a plaque at the site lets you know that in the past it’s been a busy place. 6000 years ago woodland hunters stalked deer here and in 780 traders came to broker deals with treasures from as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. The Assiniboin, Cree and Ojibwa did battle with the Dakota Sioux here from 1600 to 1800 and fur traders began regular visits in the late 1700s. Metis families farmed along the rivers and Selkirk Settlers rested nearby when they first arrived in 1812.

The Selkirk Settlers stopped at the nearby house of Baptiste Charet in 1812 on their way to Pembina to wait out their first winter

Buffalo hunters used to rendezvous on the island before a hunt and in the 1800s picnickers from Winnipeg came out to Pollock Island in their horse and buggies.

Learning about the rich history of the Pollock Island area made us feel like we were walking back through time as we did our hike.

An information board introduced us to the flora and fauna and wildlife on Pollock Island. Even in winter, the island has plenty of natural beauty for walkers to appreciate.

There are many cottonwood and basswood trees on Pollock Island.
You can see the Red River Floodway gates in the distance

The trail on Pollock Island is only about a kilometre loop so you might choose to hike it twice or do what we did and visit a couple of other walking trails nearby. I’ll write about them in future posts.

A great cycle, walk and paddle we’ve had in Winnipeg …….

Into the Wild in Winnipeg

Looking in the Woods for Spirits

The Great Assiniboine River Canoeing Adventure

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Looking For The Spirit of the Woods

One of our walking adventures this week was exploring the Bois -de-esprits trail which begins at 650 Shorehill Drive in Winnipeg.   The trail is named for the wooded area it winds through. Translated its name means Woods Where the Spirits Dwell. According to the Save our Seine website Bois-de-esprits is one of the largest pristine urban forests in Canada. I learned that two decades ago this forest was scheduled to become part of a housing development but concerned citizens stepped up to save 117 acres of it.  The trails were created in a way that required as few trees as possible to be taken down. The woods are full of wildlife and we must have seen more than twenty deer during our 5-kilometre walk. The Bois de espirts trail is well known for this sculpture in a tree trunk. The tree had died from Dutch Elm disease.  It was carved by Walter Mirosh and Robert Leclair from Les Gens de Bois Woodcarving Club. The sculpture was given its name Woody in English or Mhitik in Ojibway at a special Indigenous feast and ceremony in 2006.

There were carvings on both sides of the tree but unfortunately, arsonists have damaged the one side. 

There are several lovely paths to follow, one that runs through the heart of the forest and another along the Seine River. We walked both. I just loved the colours of the golden grasses against the stark brown branches. Besides Woody, there are all kinds of other sculptures in tree trunks in the woods made by various artists.  I don’t think we found them all but we discovered quite a few.

I’d love to go back sometime and find more carvings. We won’t be getting together with our grandchildren this year for Christmas but another year I think it would be lots of fun to go looking for the ‘spirits’ in the woods on this trail with them. 

Other posts………..

A Bird On My Hand

Living Beings Just Like Us?

The Stranger in the Woods

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Filed under Nature, Winnipeg

Imagine Van Gogh- Thumbs Up or Down?

I’d heard some really great things about the Imagine Van Gogh exhibit currently installed at the Winnipeg Convention Centre and I’d read some fairly critical things as well. Yesterday I went to see for myself.

I will readily admit my opinion of  Imagine Van Gogh was coloured by the fact that I was excited about attending an actual cultural event with other people, something that is all too rare during the time of COVID.

All precautions were taken. We were in a huge space and no more than five people were in a group. We wore masks, sanitized our hands and guides made sure we stayed six feet apart.

 Some entertainment writers and culture critics have given Imagination Van Gogh a thumbs down because viewers are not in control of when they see the art. If you visit Van Gogh’s work in person in a more conventional gallery you can look at each painting for as long as you like. During Imagination Van Gogh the images change at the will of the exhibit designers. 

There is a bit of historical information about Van Gogh to read before you enter the projection room but critics say people really learn very little about Van Gogh and his life from the exhibit. Cynics claim most visitors are just there to take photos to put on Instagram. Van Gogh’s original works are quite small but the projections in Imagine Van Gogh are huge and some viewers feel like they are trapped or drowning in the images. Others say Imagine Van Gogh is just a kind of crass commercialization of art.  

With Starry Night at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

I have seen the work of Van Gogh in art galleries around the world. For me, Imagine Van Gogh wasn’t a lesser experience it was just a different one.  Van Gogh’s work was displayed all around us, including on the floor, and I liked the feeling of being surrounded by the colours and shapes and magnified brush strokes of Van Gogh. I could see his works from different perspectives, angles and distances. Sometimes it was almost as if Van Gogh was creating in front of my eyes as the paintings grew and changed while I watched.

All the classic pieces were there. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Irises, his Bedroom at Arles and Starry Night. We saw his famous self -portrait painted after he had severed his ear. I think my favourite piece was First Steps which showed a child learning to walk. I found it particularly poignant because it portrayed an endearing moment in family life that VanGogh never got to experience himself  because of his troubled personal relationships and struggles with mental health. I was intrigued by Van Gogh’s painting of a Japanese woman in traditional dress. I knew many of the French impressionists had been influenced by Japanese prints as had the American artist Mary Cassatt but hadn’t been aware of the Japanese influence on Van Gogh’s work.

 The classical music pieces that had been selected to accompany the show added to my enjoyment of the experience. Although I am glad I have had the opportunity to see Van Gogh’s work in person in the past, most galleries only have one or two paintings. Here I was treated to dozens of them at once.

I am glad we went to see Imagine Van Gogh.

Art can be appreciated in all kinds of ways and finding new methods of making art interesting and inviting to a wider audience especially during a global pandemic is something to be applauded. I’d give the experience a ‘thumbs up.’

Other posts……….

Is It Art? 

Works of Art of Historical Documents?

Hutterite Artists

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Filed under Art, Winnipeg

My First Home

Today’s my birthday and I decided yesterday to go and find my very first home in Winnipeg.  The address given on my birth certificate was 44 Dundurn Place. I wondered if the house would still be standing after 67 years. It was! I took a bunch of photos. My mother had told me quite a bit about what our life was like on Dundurn when I interviewed her for a biography I wrote about her. Mom and Dad moved into the second floor of the house at 44 Dundurn Place in September of 1953.  They had celebrated their first wedding anniversary in May.

My Dad second from the right with his college friends Frank, George and Bill outside the Misericordia Hospital where they all had part-time jobs as orderlies while they completed their university degrees

 My Dad who was just about to begin medical school at the University of Manitoba had a part-time job as an orderly at the Misericordia Hospital only a few minutes walk away from 44 Dundurn.  I was born at the Misericordia Hospital. Despite being a medical student and a hospital orderly Dad was not allowed in the delivery room with my Mom. 

The first part of my name MaryLou is a tribute my Aunt Mary who stayed with my Mom during my delivery. 

Luckily Dad’s sister Mary was a nurse at the hospital and she was in the delivery room to support Mom and hold me just after I was born.  Auntie Mary was writing her final nursing certification exam on my birthday but she stayed up all night on October 15th with Mom anyway. I was born at 5:38 in the morning on October 16th. Dr Hartley Mathers was the attending physician in the delivery room.

This is the only photo I have of me outside the Dundurn house. I recognize the round sort of pillars bracketing the door which are still there.  But I have three photos taken inside our Dundurn apartment that I love. 

My Dad feeding me while studying for his medical school classes. Don’t you just love the Home Sweet Home doily on the back of the chair?

Mom holding me in our Dundurn house

My parents admiring me in the Dundurn house

The house on Dundurn was a perfect location for my parents. Besides its proximity to the hospital where Dad worked, it was only a six-minute walk away from Bethel Mennonite Church where my parents were members. Although the church is now at Stafford and Carter in 1953 it was located at 103 Furby Street.

My mother and Millie in Winnipeg during their college days

My Mom also loved it that her best friend since childhood Mildred lived nearby on Westminster with her husband and two little girls. So it was easy for Mom to visit her.

Mom put me in my carriage to go to the little corner store near our Dundurn apartment. She remembers the kindness of the owner who let her charge all her groceries and then pay at the end of the month when my Dad got his cheque from the Misericordia for his orderly work. Mom bought her meat at the store and then took it to an establishment on Broadway Avenue that had huge public freezers where you could rent space, since most people didn’t have freezers in their homes. I am not sure if in this photo on Dundurn Dad is trying to see how heavy I am or if he is trying to rock me in a little makeshift hammock. I do remember the Blue Boy figurine on the table behind Dad as being a precious keepsake for Mom and there is a photo of my cousin Connie who was nearly a year older than me beside it. 

We only lived on Dundurn Place for one year and then we moved to a house my grandparents helped my Mom and Dad buy on Home Street.  I have found that house too and was surprised at its current beauty.  You can read about that in my post It’s So Beautiful. My Old House.  

My first home at 44 Dundurn Place looks like it has been well taken care of.  I am so glad I found it and I love the memories it evoked 67 years after it was my very first home.

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Filed under Family, Winnipeg

Between Dog and Wolf

As we navigate the pandemic I have been thinking about a statue in the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden on Provencher Boulevard in Winnipeg. It’s rather eerie and is titled Between Dog and Wolf.  Unveiled on May 26, 2011, Between Dog and Wolf is by Canadian artist Joe Fafard. 

Between dog and wolf in French is entre chien et loup. The expression first became popular in the 13th century and describes a time of day in the morning or evening when the dim light makes it impossible to distinguish between a dog and a wolf.

Between Dog and Wolf by Joe Fafard

Fafard has made his sculpture look ghostly. I kept trying to focus my camera to get a better shot because my photos seemed a little blurry. If you look closely at the empty cut out spaces in the piece, you can see all kinds of silhouettes–a church steeple, a man’s face, a woman carrying a basket, angels, birds, a cocoon, a shoe and tree branches. I’m sure each viewer can pick out their own unique images. 

One translator says the phrase entre chien et loup can also be used to express the sometimes blurry line between the safe and familiar and the unknown and dangerous, between the domestic and the wild. It expresses the uncertainty between hope and fear.

That seems a perfect description of our current time. Many activities that were safe and familiar before COVID-19 can now be dangerous. The pandemic has placed us all in that space between hope and fear. We hope an end to the pandemic will come soon but we also live in fear that it may go on for a long time or even worse never end.

Living in a entre chien et loup kind of space whether by necessity or choice, might not be comfortable but I wonder if we don’t learn the most when we are in entre chien et loup situations.

Other posts……….

The Pandemic Story Behind a 105 Year Old Photo

The Pandemic in Six Words

The Pull of the Stars

 

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Filed under Art, COVID-19 Diary, Winnipeg