Category Archives: Winnipeg

Rubbing Mr. Eaton’s Foot

This statue of Timothy Eaton stands in the concourse of the MTS Centre where the Winnipeg Jets play hockey. I remember this statue well from my childhood because it was located on the main floor in the old Eaton’s Store which used to stand where the MTS Centre is now. When my family was shopping at Eatons, we would often rendezvous at Mr. Eaton’s statue. The Eaton’s store went bankrupt in 1999.  Later the statue was officially deemed a part of Manitoba’s history and a decision made to display it in the MTS Centre.

Timothy Eaton came to Canada from Ireland and built a retail empire with department stores in Toronto and Winnipeg. Mr. Eaton also had a nation wide mail order business. I remember how excited I was as a little girl when the Eatons’ catalogue came out, especially the Christmas edition. I looked through it many times picking out things I dreamt about getting for Christmas. My mother remembers during her childhood in the 1930s longing for an Eaton’s Beauty Doll for Christmas.

This statue was a gift to the Eaton family from the Eatons’ employees. It was presented in December of 1919 on the store’s 50th anniversary. The employees wanted to express gratitude for the company’s generosity during World War I.  Eatons’ employees who enlisted were promised their jobs back after the war and continued to receive a salary while they served overseas.  Military employees received care packages of store products during the war. The company had lucrative government contracts as a result of the war but donated those profits to the war effort.

Although I am sure some Eaton’s workers did appreciate their employer enough to donate money for this massive statue, I am somewhat skeptical if they all did, because during the Winnipeg Labor Strike in June of 1919, just six months before the presentation of the statue, Eatons tried to bribe their workers with a $4.00 a week raise so they wouldn’t go on strike. Despite this five hundred walked off the job. Eatons also supplied horses and baseball bats for the police force dealing with the strikers.

The 3,500 pound statue was made by Ivor Lewis, a Welshman who worked in the Eaton’s advertising department.  A replica was placed in the Eaton’s Store in Toronto. It is now in the Royal Ontario Museum.

I’ve learned recently it is good luck to rub the left foot of the Timothy Eaton statue. I’ll have try  that the next time I walk by.

Other posts …….

Michael’s Geese

Celebrating in an Historic Building

Photographed Just In Time



Filed under History, Winnipeg

My Husband And The Pope Are On The Same Page

When my husband Dave encounters someone on the street asking for money he almost always stops to chat with them and then gives them some cash. pope_francis_photo_2-wiki-commonsThis is exactly what the Pope recently recommended we do during Lent. The pontiff urges us to smile and talk to beggars and homeless people and then give them money. He says we are not to worry what the needy person spends the money on. He stresses the importance of making a personal connection with them.

Pamphlets available at various downtown Winnipeg businesses suggest a different strategy. They say we should donate to local charities like Siloam Mission and the Salvation Army and then refer panhandlers to those places.

I often encounter four or five people asking for money on my way to work downtown. Since I’m usually in a hurry I give the first one I encounter coins and then say ‘sorry’ to the others.

My husband’s strategy and the one the Pope suggests are probably more compassionate and in keeping with Christ’s example. Perhaps I should try it during Lent. If I make sure I leave in plenty of time for work I’d have enough minutes to stop and say hello to each person I meet who is asking for money. It certainly wouldn’t hurt me financially to give everyone I meet some change. I could even make sure I have change in my pocket each time I leave the house to facilitate this. I’m going to try and get on the same page as my husband and the pope. 

Other posts…….

Questions at the Vatican

My Former Church and the Pope

Beggars Everywhere

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Filed under Reflections, Religion, Winnipeg

Her Worship

her-worship-coverShe was the recipient of abusive threats and bomb scares. Political cartoons routinely made fun of her physical appearance and a critical newspaper editorial was published about her late arrival at a budget meeting.  She had been at her dying mother’s bedside. Once an effigy of her was burned right outside the window of her office.

Susan Thompson’s autobiography gives you some insight into just how tough a politician’s life can be and when you are the first female mayor of your city, in charge of thirty departments headed almost exclusively by men things can be even tougher.

Susan Thompson

After I finished reading Her Worship I felt respect for Susan Thompson. She believed being the mayor of Winnipeg was her calling and she pursued the office and carried out her duties with dedication.

I learned many things about Susan Thompson from her autobiography I didn’t know. Here are just three.

  1.  She was at the helm of our city during some of its finest as well as darkest hours.  During her two terms in office Winnipeg won the bid to host the Pan Am Games and hosted the International Winter Cities Conference and Showcase.  Susan was also mayor when Winnipeg lost the Jets hockey team and during the flood of 1997. 
  2. Susan left a promising career in Montreal as the principal jewelry buyer for a large department store chain where postings to Hong Kong or Florence waited in the wings for her,  in order to return to Winnipeg and take over her father’s struggling saddlery business when he was diagnosed with cancer. 
  3. As part of her election platform Susan said she would not accept a city pension. Her saddlery business closed down while she was in office.  So Susan continues to work to support herself and to honor her commitment to be of public service.  Since her time as mayor she has had positions as an executive consultant for the Winnipeg Airport Authority, as Canadian Consul General in Minneapolis, chief executive officer of the University of Winnipeg Foundation and in 2014 accepted a contract as fundraising consultant for the new Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

You will want to read Susan Thompson’s book yourself to find out even more about our city’s first and to this point only female mayor. Clearly she has many friends and supporters and she is generous in giving them credit both for her political victories, personal achievements and as the sponsors who made the writing of her autobiography possible. 

Other posts…….

A Simple Thank You Makes My Day

Words of Wisdom From Winnipeg Mayor Bill Norrie

Meeting With the Mayor

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Filed under Books, Winnipeg

What I Saw in A Classroom Yesterday

welcome to our school different languagesI was visiting one of my student teachers in a junior high classroom in the inner city yesterday.  I started jotting down things I saw. 

  • Labels in both Arabic and English for items in the room like the pencil sharpener and clock. 
  • A numbered treaty document signed by all the students and their teacher which listed their responsibilities. Some of the treaty items the teacher had agreed to were listening to kids and giving them time to think. Some of the treaty items the students had agreed to were trying their best and showing up for class on time. 
  • A piece of chart paper that recorded the results of a class brainstorming session about bullying. 
  • A series of posters for the seven sacred teachings- courage, honesty, respect,wisdom, truth, love and humility.
  • A large sign providing the number of hotline children could call for help if they were experiencing abuse. 
  • A poster with the United Nations Rights of a Child in kid friendly language. 
  • A colorful poster on the door that featured an acrostic for diversity D-different I-individuals V-valuing E-each other R-regardless of S-skin I-intellect T-talents or Y-years. 
  • Boxes of granola bars for kids to eat if they had missed breakfast. 
  • A Canadian flag right beside a poster that read We Are All Treaty People. 
  • A map of all the treaty lands in Manitoba and the communities in them.  Some of the students had put their names on sticky notes and attached them to the map at the spot where their family came from. 
  • Shelves filled with board games and books. 
  • Students with skin color, language and dress that indicated they came from many different countries. 
  • Plastic containers filled with supplies like pencil crayons, scissors, pens and notebooks for kids that didn’t have their own. 
  •  A poster that declared… Always determine what’s right instead of who’s right. 

As I looked around I thought most of these things would not have been in a classroom I was a part of as a child.

Other posts……..

The Children are Watching and Listening and Wondering

Counting on Their Fingers

Crossing the Line

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Filed under Education, Winnipeg

Gunn’s Bakery

What Next?

I often walk by Gunn’s Bakery on Selkirk Avenue on my way to work at the Thrift Store. It’s hard not to stop in to get some pumpernickel bread or crusty rolls. Gunn’s is a Winnipeg landmark founded in 1937 by Florence and Morris Gunn, the couple featured in this mural on the building beside Gunn’s Bakery. Morris,whose father was a baker, immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1926 and worked hard in a Winnipeg bakery to save enough money so in 1930 he could bring his fiancée Florence to Canada and they could get married.  The couple had three children and eventually gathered enough resources to open their own bakery at 247 Selkirk Avenue . At first they lived in the back of the bakery, but as their business and their family grew they had to buy a separate home. Gunn’s Bakery is still at 247 Selkirk and now…

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Filed under Winnipeg

How Diverse!

We heard the Buffalo Gals drumming and singing aboriginal songs.   We heard a French choir, a Ukrainian choir and a Mennonite choir.  We heard a children’s choir, a teen choir and an adult choir.  We heard an Inuit throat singer, a family of singing sisters and a men’s a capella group.  We heard choirs from as far away as Flin Flon and as close as Winnipeg. 

choral-concertLast night we went to a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Manitoba Choral Association at the Centennial Concert Hall.   It was great to see what diversity there is in the choral music community here in our province.  At the end of the concert the hundreds of performers of all ages, cultures and communities gathered on the stage together to perform a piece called Hope for Resolution which was chosen to express the hope that our province can address the injustices of the past and look forward to a more equal and inclusive future for all. 

It was so moving to see all those diverse performers on stage making beautiful music together. It truly did give one hope! 

Other posts……………

I’m So Tired of You America

A City of Music

The Arizona Opry



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Filed under Music, Winnipeg

A Sad Story

My husband Dave is a regular volunteer at the West End Cultural Centre. It provides affordable rehearsal and performance space for local and touring musicians and offers free arts programs to inner city youth.
On Friday night he rode his bike to the West End Cultural Centre as he always does, and locked it up before going inside for his volunteer shift. When he came out at the end of the evening his back bike tire had been stolen. A kind fellow volunteer gave him and his crippled bike a ride home. 
bikeI know there have been lots of bike thefts in the city this summer, including folks who have had bikes stolen right out of their locked garages.
It is unfortunate. I wonder what’s behind the rash of thefts and what might be a practical solution to the problem.  Dave will be taking his bike inside in the future when he volunteers at the West End, that is after he gets a new tire for his bike. 
Other posts…….
The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island

Biking the Beach in Costa Rica

Biking in Florence

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Filed under Music, Winnipeg