Category Archives: Winnipeg

Too Tough or Not Tough Enough?

A drunk driver who may not receive a tough enough sentence and a mother who has received a sentence even the judge feels is too tough .  Those were the two contrasting cover features in the City section of the Free Press on Saturday.  free press city section

The first story was about a young Steinbach man found guilty of dangerous driving causing death.  Columnist Gordon Sinclair seems worried the convicted man may not receive the sentence he deserves because he’s had a religious experience and his recorded testimony of repentance  is popular on the website of Steinbach’s largest church.  Will this influence the court to be too lenient? The mother of the girl killed by the intoxicated young man behind the wheel, says if he was truly sorry  he would have pled guilty and not put the girl’s family through the grief of a trial. True repentance should have motivated him to ask the family of his victim for forgiveness.  

The second story is about a young mother convicted of smuggling painkillers into Stony Mountain prison for her boyfriend, a gang member with a criminal record. A victim of childhood abuse she was susceptible to the manipulation of her boyfriend who demanded she smuggle the drugs. She has no prior criminal record and court evidence suggests she is a good mother.  Her kids will have to be placed in care while she is in prison. The judge wanted to be lenient saying the woman’s story had ‘touched his heart’ but mandatory sentencing introduced during the Harper era means he must send the woman to jail for two years, a sentence he feels is too tough. 

So two young people.  One may receive what some worry will be too light a sentence and another has received what even the judge feels is too harsh a sentence.  Both stories are heartbreaking. How sad for all the families involved.  One story makes you wonder if the courts have too much discretion in deciding on sentences and the other makes you wonder if they have been given enough discretion. 

I’m assuming Free Press editor Shane Minkin purposely chose these two contrasting stories for the front page of Saturday’s city section.   Their juxtaposition was thought-provoking. 

Other posts about court cases………

A Novel So Long It Took Us Through Eight States

Red Bows for Michael’s Geese


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Filed under Media, Winnipeg

See You At The Concert Hall

high school christmas choir

Our daughter-in-law conducting one of her high school choirs.

May is a big month for our family at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall. This Thursday May 18  a couple of choirs directed by our daughter-in-law will be singing in the MTS Rising Stars performance  of Carmina Burana. The Garden City Collegiate school choir and the Pembina Trails boys choir are two of the eight choral groups that will be joining the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for the concert. 

Royal Canoe performing at the Winnipeg folk festival.

Then the following Thursday, May 25 our son’s band Royal Canoe will be doing a full concert with the Winnipeg Symphony featuring music from their latest album Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit. There are still a few tickets left. After the performance there is a fun party planned in the lobby.  Our son will be doing some of the disc jockey duties for that. 

Would love to see you at the concert hall on both May 18 and May 25.  

Other posts………

Music to Soothe the Soul

Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit

Fun Evening in Toronto


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Filed under Music, Winnipeg

A Manitoba Boy Learns to Brew Beer in Korea

peg city co.Scott Sawatsky was a young man teaching English in Korea when he met a German brewmaster living there who taught Scott everything he needed to know about making beer.   That’s the story we heard when Scott gave us an interesting tour of the beer making process at the Peg Beer Co.  just down the street from our home. Scott really did learn to make beer while teaching in Korea and now works as a brewmaster himself here in Winnipeg. See the bags of rye malt used in some of the beers beside Scott?  It comes from Bamberg Germany.  Dave and I spent Christmas Day in 2010 in Bamberg.  One of the things we did was sample beer from the nine different breweries in Bamberg. 

peg city co. breweryWe had a fun Monday night at the Peg Beer Co. with three other couples.  First we took a tour of the brewing facility and learned so many interesting things from Scott about how the beer at Peg Beer Co. is made.  One fascinating thing I remember is that after the barley has served its purpose flavoring the water for the beer, a Manitoba farmer comes and picks up the mashed barley to feed to his pigs. The kitchen at Peg City Beer Co.  buys some of those pigs back from that same farmer to use for the pork items on the Peg City Beer Co. menu. Talk about recycling!  

We learned from Scott that the different craft brewers in Winnipeg help each other out and share information and expertise with one another, even though in some ways they are competitors.   Isn’t that great? 

After our tour we enjoyed some of the excellent items on the Peg Beer Co.  menu.  You can go to the establishment any time for the food and craft beers, but if you want a tour they are offered on Mondays.  

Other posts………

Visit to a Colorado Microbrewery and the Barry Manilow Concert That Wasn’t

Tasting Toronto


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Filed under Food, Restaurants, Winnipeg

The Godfather of Winnipeg Theatre

The street behind Winnipeg’s Ashdown Warehouse where I live, is named after an orphan from Hungary whose father was shot in Germany and whose mother and brother were gassed at Auschwitz.

john hirsch place signJohn Hirsch Place honors one of the  founders of the Manitoba Theatre Centre.  John Hirsch came to Winnipeg in 1947, at age 17 as a war orphan and was taken in by Alex and Pauline Shack . He remained a close member of their family till the day he died of AIDS in 1989. 

john hirsch statue manitoba theatre centreHirsh who is immortalized in this statue outside the Manitoba Theatre Centre was in the drama club at St. John’s High School and directed plays at the University of Manitoba.  John’s adoptive family, the Shacks were skeptical when he said he wanted to have a career in theatre, but he got a grant from the Junior League of Winnipeg and created a puppet show to take to schools and community clubs.  He and a friend convinced the City of Winnipeg to sponsor them to put on three musical comedies at the band stand at Assiniboine Park one summer, and then John landed himself a gig as the first paid artistic director of Winnipeg’s amateur Little Theatre. This led to a job with CBC television when it was launched in 1954. 

tom hendry and john hirsch statueAfter studying in London John came back to Winnipeg in 1957 and founded the Manitoba Theatre Centre (MTC) with Tom Hendry. Hendry is sitting on the chair in front of Hirsch in an art piece called Imagine created by Ruth Abernathy. manitoba theatre centreIt can be found just outside the present day MTC building. MTC is where well-known Canadian actors like Martha Henry, Len Cariou and Gordon Pinsent had their start.

john hirsch statue ruth abernathyGlobe and Mail writer Keith Garebian quotes Hirsch as saying he was part of four mafias, Jewish, Hungarian, homosexual and Winnipeg.  Garebian says  Hirsch often behaved like a ‘godfather’. He had hot-tempered outbursts, bullied his actors and skillfully manipulated events for his political and financial advantage. Despite this some actors admired him. In an interview for the Theatre Museum of Canada, actress Martha Henry calls Hirsch a genius. 

john hirsch plaque at the manitoba theatre centre winnipegJohn Hirsch eventually went on to jobs at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, The Lincoln Center Theatre in New York and directed plays at the Shaw Festival, and at theatres in many Canadian and American cities.  He was accorded numerous honorary doctorates and was an officer of the Order of Canada. 

john hirsch banner manitoba theatre centreThe main stage of the Manitoba Theatre Centre is named after John Hirsch. 

Other posts……..

Trip Down Memory Lane

Kill Me Now


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Filed under Theatre, Winnipeg

Plants That Talked to Me

in the greenhouse plugged in gallery“How are you? Are you having a good day?  What have you been up to?  What kind of personality do you have?  Are you a plant person? Do you think you can talk with plants? 

a greenhouse. eveningThose are some of the questions I was asked as I  sat inside an art installation in Winnipeg’s Plug In Gallery that looked like a greenhouse.  inside the greenhouse plug in galleryAs I settled into a wooden chair a voice started speaking to me.  It was kind of eerie.  I think it was a recorded voice but it seemed to be responding to what I was saying, so after a  few minutes I wasn’t sure. It was as if the plants were listening to me and  talking to me. 

animated roof of the greenhouseThe greenhouse had a roof with an animated film playing on it. Plants were growing and dying and growing again. animated roof of greenhouse 2

I am not really a plant person.  I’ve given up having house plants because eventually they all die. I do have a father and a sister with very green thumbs.  My parents had a greenhouse on their property where each spring they started all the plants for their many flowerbeds.  My mother-in-law grew beautiful roses and my father-in-law was a greenhouse farmer. I told the plants in the greenhouse at the Plug In all about my family plant connections. They seemed very interested and understanding.  

The greenhouse installation will be at the Plug In until June 4.  If you’d like to talk to some plants I’d highly recommend it. 

Other posts……

He Hasn’t Lost His Green Thumb

Dorothy Garden

Art in Bloom

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Filed under Art, Nature, Winnipeg

Katherena Vermette on the Wall

the breakKatherena Vermette came away from the Manitoba Book Awards with three prizes for her novel The Break.  She received the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction as well as the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award.  Although I would encourage you to buy her novel as well as her book of poetry North End Love Songs a taste of Katherena’s wordsmithing skill is available to everyone even if they can’t afford her published work. 

I pass one of Katherena’s poems almost everyday as I walk through Winnipeg’s downtown area.  It is called pieces and is inscribed on a wall at the north end of Portage Avenue flanked on either side by the work of local artists. 

pieces by katherena vermette

Other posts………..

Spring and Love

Fifteen Dogs and Writing Poetry

The Comfort of a Poem 

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Filed under Poetry, Winnipeg

Thanks Terry MacLeod

Terry MacLeod interviews Pat Barter Cook

In the weeks leading up to the 2017 Manitoba Book Awards gala, Terry MacLeod who was co-hosting the event, roved the aisles of McNally Robinson Booksellers interviewing people about the books they were reading. Videos of the interviews were posted on the Writers Guild Facebook page.  One woman Terry interviewed was Pat Barter Cook and she talked about the book  A Man Called Ove.  She said it was a story about an older grief-stricken man named Ove who got up every morning with a plan to kill himself.  If that wasn’t enough to hook future readers Pat also told us despite the fact Ove was pretty curmudgeonly she had grown to love him almost immediately.  On Thursday when I was at McNallys for my writers’ group meeting I walked past the book  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman displayed at the end of an aisle and couldn’t help but buy it based on Pat’s intriguing interview with Terry.  

I wasn’t disappointed.  The book tells the story of how Ove is forced, despite himself, to engage in relationships with his neighbors and that engages him in life again. This all happens in a very funny touching way.   The book reminded me of a Ted Talk by Harvard researcher Robert Waldinger who describes an in-depth 75 year study of the same people’s lives.  The results clearly show relationships keep us happier and healthier.  Social connections are good for us and loneliness kills.  People who have good social connections live longer, are physically and mentally healthier, and are happier. 

A Man Called Ove makes that point in spades!  I throughly enjoyed the novel.  Thanks Terry MacLeod and Pat Barter Cook for the prompt to buy it. 

Other posts……….

A Glamourous Evening at the Manitoba Book Awards

Getting to Know Emma Donoghue in Person

A Novel That Took Us Through Eight States

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Filed under Books, Winnipeg