I caught the bus at the end of my block to go to work. The bus was pretty full so I took the nearest available seat I could find near the front.
Across from me was a woman with a dirt-streaked face and tangled hair. She was speaking rather incoherently to no one in particular and drinking something and eating a piece of bread. As she reached down to pick up her bread from her lap a baseball bat which she had hidden up her sleeve fell out and clattered to the floor.
I was startled and a little frightened. I could tell from the looks on their faces that the people around me were scared too. The woman quickly retrieved the bat and pushed it back up her sleeve.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I call out to the driver or go up and talk to him? Maybe the woman needed the bat to protect herself if she lived on the streets. I didn’t want to get her into trouble. But what if the woman was struggling with issues that might make her lash out with the bat and use it on a fellow passenger. Might reporting the bat to the driver upset her? I just sat there afraid.
I was still considering what to do when the bus pulled up to the next stop and the woman got off. After she exited she took out her bat and whacked the glass of the bus shelter at the stop and swore loudly. Her actions showed me she was angry. What if she had expressed that anger on the bus?
I felt sorry for the woman. She was clearly struggling with all kinds of issues.
What could we do to help her, I wondered, and still maintain a safe atmosphere on the busfor the rest of the riders?
After work, it was cold and rainy but I couldn’t wait in the bus shelter at the stop where I needed to catch a bus home. A man had set up a temporary living space in the shelter and it was full of his possessions and littered with garbage.
I felt sorry for the man. He clearly had nowhere else to go.
What could we do to help him I wondered and still maintain a safe, warm and dry place for riders to wait for their bus?
I know the answers to my questions require solutions that are long-term and expensive and HUGE. I know we need more facilities to help people with addictions and more housing for people who are homeless and more support for people struggling with mental health issues.
But in the meantime how do we keep the public transportation system safe and user-friendly for everyone who relies on it?
What were bright yellow taxi cabs with New York City licence plates doing in the laneway behind my Winnipeg Exchange District condo building yesterday? It didn’t take long to find out.
A movie with a New York setting was being filmed in my neighbourhood.
Movie crews in Winnipeg‘s Exchange District were a common sight before the pandemic. The historical buildings in our neighbourhood many of which date back to the 1800s provided a perfect setting for all kinds of films.
Several times a month huge trucks would fill up the parking lots and side streets and we’d see lights and equipment everywhere. In 2019 movie production in Manitoba hit an all-time high with the industry bringing in over $200 million dollars annually to the province. But of course, the pandemic changed all that.
Now the movie industry is gearing up again and there was evidence all over my neighbourhoodyesterday.
Camera crews were filming and extras playing New York shoppers were waiting for their turn to be part of the action.
Equipment was being moved from one filming location to another. In the morning a scene was shot in Kevin’s Bistro on Bannatyne. In the afternoon the crew and cast migrated just down the street near the Manitoba Theatre Centreon Rorieto shoot another scene.
The sign boards in our neighbourhood had new posters.
There were costumes hanging in the alleyway behind my building
Just outside the backdoor to my building a canteen had been set up with food and beverages for the film crew and cast.
I’ll admit that in the past we Exchange District residents used to sometimes grumble about the way having a film crew in the neighbourhood inconvenienced us and we tried to ignore them.
But yesterday we were so happy to have them back that people were out and about checking out the cast and crew and sharing information about the film. A notice put up in our building said the movie will be called Love By Design.
Having movies shot regularly in your neighbourhood is one of the things that makes Winnipeg’s Exchange District such a vibrant, exciting and interesting place to live.
On a bike ride yesterday we stopped at the huge Red River cart that stands at the Assiniboine Park entrance to take some photos. Red River carts were invented by the Métis who were the primary residents in this area of Manitoba in the 1800s.
The hubs of the carts were usually made from elm, the wheel rims from white ash or oak, and the axle from hard maple. All these wooden pieces were held together by leather or rope.The huge wheels made the cart stable and easier to pull through the mud and marsh. They could hold up to 450 kilograms of goods.
The wood and leather of the carts made an ear-piercing squeal as they rubbed together so you could hear the carts coming from kilometres away. The Métis did not grease the axles to soften the sound because it would attract dirt, grass and insects that would eventually clog the parts and slow the vehicle.
The carts were buoyant and so they could float across a stream or river. In this painting which is on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, you can see the Red River carts are about to enter the river at Upper Fort Garry.
Yesterday’s Winnipeg Free Press had a story about a man named Terry Doerksen who is trying to relive history by making a journey from Lockport to Minneapolis in a Red River cart he built. In the 1850s some 600 Red River carts filled with items to trade were making that journey every year.
The Red River cart is an important symbol of the Métis culture and the history of Manitoba.
I know many people wish that parking at The Forks in Winnipeg was free but recently I saw these interesting signs on some of the parking meters there. They tell you what the money you put into the meter will pay for.
This meter explains that by paying for your parking you just helped keep part of the river trail open for walkers and skaters and cross-country skiers in winter.
We use the river trail often in winter so I’m glad it is being maintained.
This meter tells you how much grass can be cut at The Forks with the money you just paid for parking.
We like going down to The Forks in the summer and are glad the grass is cut.
I think it is a good idea to make people aware of how costly it is to maintain The Forks so they can visit and have fun there. The parking meters with information about upkeep expenses are a unique idea and just may make some folks feel better about having to pay to park at The Forks.
Yesterday afternoon we decided to brave the blizzard and walk from our Exchange District condo down to The Forks.
I could hear the Canada geese honking plaintively as soon as we reached Stephen Juba Park. They didn’t know what to make of the wintery world.
Despite the fact that I had my grips on the bottom of my boots I wiped out royally once and almost fell a bunch of other times. It was very icy under the snow and you had to be careful. We only met two other people on our walk.
Everything was beautifully and artistically etched in snow.
The neighbourhood statues all had a different appearance with their snow coverings. The young boy in the middle of the Selkirk Settlers’ sculpture at the end of our street looked like he was wearing a white coat.
We made it to The Forks but virtually no one was there. Only three businesses were open.
It wasn’t that cold on our walk to The Forks and it was kind of neat to check out the neighbourhood through a snowy lens.
On the way back home the wind picked up. At times I felt I’d be blown over or off the sidewalk onto the street. I was glad when we got back to our cosy condo.
I felt sorry for the Canada Geese who had no cosy refuge in the blizzard.
Did you know that today is officially Vimy Ridge Day in Canada? In 2003, the Government of Canada declared April 9th to be Vimy Ridge Day, to honour Canadians who fought and died in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in Vimy Ridge, France which began on April 9, 1917 during World War I. Four Canadian divisions of soldiers were instrumental in capturing Vimy Ridge from the Germans. Here in Winnipeg, we have a park named Vimy Ridge right on Portage Avenue. I find it both a sad and hopeful place to visit.
There are several memorials in the park that commemorate soldiers who died in World War I. One of the most striking is the sculpture of Andrew Mynarski a young man from Winnipegwho won the Victoria Cross for his courage in saving a fellow airman after their plane had been shot down.It is sad to think that this kind, quiet, hardworking young man died so tragically. What might he have contributed to our city had he lived instead?
A happier aspect of the park is this table which is used for eating and visiting and playing games but is also a work of art called Table of Contents. It pays tribute to the folks who live near the park and is engraved with their words and thoughts in as many as five different languages representing the diversity of the neighbourhood. The words on the table celebrate nature, remind people to be kind, and extol the virtues of love and joy. Artists Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanskiwho made the table said they wanted it to be a place where people could talk to each other and listen to each other.
Today on Vimy Ridge Day it is important to remember the tragedy and sadness of war but also to remain hopeful that as diverse people talk and listen to one another war in our world might become a thing of the past.
This might be a good day for people in Winnipeg to visit Vimy Ridge Parkboth to remember and foster a sense of hope.
Yesterday my husband and I were driving down Main Street on our way to the trail where we planned to do our afternoon walk. There is a pedestrian crosswalk just adjacent to the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter and we stopped our car there since the lights hanging over the crosswalk were flashing. I could see a man in a wheelchair was trying to make his way across the street but every time he moved his chair forward a bit he slipped back on the ice.
A Kindret Landscaping truck was waiting in the lane closest to the median. I saw the driver jump out of his truck, walk out into the intersection and grip the wheelchair handles. He carefully pushed the gentleman struggling to make his away across the street to the other side. Once the wheelchair was safely parked the truck driver ran back to his truck.
What a kind thing to do. Just thinking about it kept me smiling right through our walk. It’s good to remember that there are lots of caring people in our city whose first instinct is to lend a helping hand.
J is for Juba. Stephen Juba is a former mayor of Winnipeg and a park named after him is at the end of my street. It is a place of beautyin every season.
K is for Kildonan Park. On New Year’s Day 2022 my husband and I went on a walk-in Kildonan Park and saw a bald eagle, heard a pileated woodpecker and had a chickadee eat from our hands.
L is for Louis Riel who is often referred to as the Founder of Manitoba. His statue stands looking out over the river on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature. My favourite book about Louis Riel that really helped me to understand him better was a graphic novel by Chester Brown. In my retirement I have enjoyed learning more about Manitoba history from many different perspectivesand Louis Riel plays a major role in that history.
N is for Norrie. Bill Norrie was the mayor of Winnipeg from 1979 to 1992. A mural about him is at the corner of Ellice and Langside. Bill Norrie was the guest speaker when my son graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2003. He gave an inspirational address.
O is for old. The oldest building in Winnipeg houses the St. Boniface Museum. It is a former convent built in 1847. I have toured the building several times.
P is for the Provencher Bridge. It is in my neighbourhood and I have walked, biked and driven across it in my car thousands of times since I moved to Winnipeg.
Q is for the Qualico Centre located beside the duck pond in Assiniboine Park. My friends and I have enjoyed some very good times there.
R is for the old CPR railroad station. When my Dad was in medical school he helped support our family with a summer job as a porter for the CPR.
S is for Seal River Crossing. It is a giant sculpture by artist Peter Sawatsky just a block from my home between the Richardson Building and the Fairmont Hotel. I often stand and just marvel at it. I like studying it during every season and every time of day.
T is for trees. According to Ariel Gordon the author of Treed there are 3.3 million trees in Winnipeg. Old Market Square in the Exchange District is surrounded by them. This past year I adopted four Winnipeg trees and visited them regularly cataloguing their change through the seasons.
U is for University. I attended the University of Manitoba to get my teaching degree. My son and my husband are University of Manitoba graduates too. My father was also a University of Manitoba graduate.
V is for volunteers. Many Winnipeg cultural traditions like the Folk Festival, the Fringe Festival and Folklorama are possible only because Winnipeg has so many great volunteers. My husband is a long time Fringe Festival volunteer and also volunteers at the West End Cultural Centre.
W is for women. The Famous Five statue on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature pays tribute to the five crusaders who were instrumental in having women in Canada recognized as persons in their own right. A photo I took of this Winnipeg statue was once displayed in the Supreme Court Building in London, England.
X is for excitingsporting events. We attend many Winnipeg Goldeyes games since their ballpark is in our neighbourhood. My husband shares Winnipeg Jets hockey season tickets with friends and sometimes takes me with him. He attends Winnipeg Blue Bomber games regularly.
Y is foryesteryear. Winnipeg has done a marvellous job of preserving its history and because of that, it is often the site where movies set in yesteryear are made. This happens often in my neighbourhood in the Exchange District.
Z is for zoo. When I took my grandchildren who live in another Canadian city to the Winnipeg zoo they were fascinated with the polar bears.