Wednesday night we had a group of friends over to dinner. Before our meal, we took them to a bar called Patent 5 near our home in the Exchange District. We wanted to treat them to a celebratory cocktail to mark the fact that we will celebrate our wedding anniversary this weekend. Patent 5 is located in a former stable.
The Dominion Express Company, whose name you see over the front door of Patent 5 was a parcel delivery business. It was founded in 1873 in Winnipeg and built its headquarters at 108 Alexander Avenue in 1904. The stable area for the company’s horses and wagons has been converted into the Patent 5 Distillery and Bar.
Patent 5 offers a menu of interesting and unique cocktails using vodka, whiskey and gin they make on-site. The name is a reference to the kind of still they use to produce their alcohol. It is based on an 1869 design by James Wilson who was issued Patent #5 for his invention.
The interior of Patent 5 is steeped in history as well. All the oak paneling, doors, window frames, chandeliers, and stained glass were taken from the fabled Oak Room at the St. Regis Hotel built in 1911. The hotel closed in 2017 but the beautiful interior of the Oak Room has been preserved in the design of Patent 5. The chairs in Patent 5 come from an old Presbyterian church in Melita, Manitoba and your cocktails are served in vintage crystal glasses.
A former Eaton’s Warehouse built in 1926 is across the street. You can see the signature letter E above the door. We had a great time at Patent 5. It was very fitting to drink a toast to the history of our marriage in such a historic place.
I found this photo when I was helping my Dad do some downsizing for an upcoming move. My grandfather is braiding my grandmother’s hair. They are both in their 90s at the time. At first glance, this is a rather tender picture. Grandma was no longer strong enough to braid her long hair so her husband was helping her.
My grandmother had beautiful long hair. Sometimes she let me comb it for her. Grandma only told me after my grandfather died that she had always wanted to have her hair cut. But my grandfather insisted she leave it long. So she did until he died.
Shortly after Grandpa died Grandma got her hair cut and permed. When I visited her and complimented her on her new hairstyle she said she had always admired my other grandmother who had beautiful short, white wavy hair.
It is lovely that my Grandpa braided my Grandma’s hair when she needed help. But if Grandma had been able to make her own choices about her personal appearance she wouldn’t have had hair long enough to braid in the first place. Photos can often have a deeper meaning than what we might think at first glance.
This is a photo of my Dad with the interns who worked together with him in 1959 at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. There is only one woman in the photo and even her presence would have been highly unusual for the time. According to an article in Maclean’s magazine by 1970, only seven percent of physicians in Canada were women. In 1959 that percentage will have been much lower. Presently around 40% of physicians in Canada are women. Those numbers could change in the near future since nearly 60% of Canadian medical students are women.
Although approaching equality in numbers female physicians are not earning equal pay. An article in the National Post looks at Ontario where female physicians only make 73 cents for every dollar male physicians earn. This is partly because the specialty medical fields that women tend to choose are the more poorly paid ones. Some research shows that female physicians spend more time talking to their patients, consequently they see fewer patients and so get paid less. Also, men still assume the majority of the more highly paid leadership positions in medicine.
It is great to see the gender gap closing when it comes to the number of female physicians in Canada. We need to continue to work at closing the wage gap too.
So what do you think about what’s going on in Hong Kong? I get asked that question at least once a day now. Since we lived in Hong Kong for many years people want our perspective on the recent protests by millions of citizens advocating for greater autonomy and democracy. As of this morning, the Hong Kong airport is still shut down. I admit it is a bit surreal to see photos of an airport I visited at least a hundred times packed with thousands of passionate protesters. I have traveled to many places and in my mind, there is no airport as efficient, pleasant and easy to navigate as Hong Kong’s. Not so this week, when most flights have been canceled.
When we first moved to Hong Kong in 2003 it was just six years after the return of Hong Kong to China from British rule. People who had left the country in 1997 fearful of what the Chinese take over might mean were returning. They were fairly confident that the promises the Chinese government had made to allow Hong Kong to carry on as a special area region for fifty years were being kept. Despite their fears, it seemed like it was business as usual in Hong Kong.
That confidence that things would stay the same was beginning to change by the time we left in 2011. The free democratic elections China had promised Hong Kong in 1997 had still not become a reality and there were other signs that China was exerting more and more influence in Hong Kong. That came to a head with the recent extradition ruling that caused the initial protests this year.
One thing we certainly learned while living in Hong Kong was what an international city it is. We were part of the international school community and it included some 50 institutions that catered to children whose families came to Hong Kong from all over the world to work, do business, study and carry out diplomatic missions. I can see how the protests might make some of these families nervous about staying in Hong Kong. I think any attempt by Beijing to deal with the protests in a military fashion will scare away people in the international community and their business.
Hong Kong is also a tourist hub. Nearly a hundred people from Canada visited us during our years in Hong Kong. Obviously, the current protests will do little to promote tourism or encourage folks to come and explore Hong Kong.
We had friends from Hong Kong visit us here in Winnipeg this summer and they said while many people quietly support the protesters and hope they will be successful in bringing about democratic reform they are also worried how the political unrest will impact business and the economy.
What do I think about what is going on in Hong Kong? I guess I worry because a city I came to know as a beautiful, vibrant, interesting and welcoming place is in the process of difficult change. Will those changes be positive or negative and will they come about violently or constructively? I don’t know. I just hope that a city I grew to love with all my heart isn’t damaged too much in the process.
Other posts about Hong Kong……..
The time just flew by! On Friday I had a delightful morning chatting with Donna Janke, another Winnipeg blogger. Donna has a blog called Destinations, Detours and Dreams where she writes about the places she has been on her travels and also about interesting sites to visit right here in Winnipeg and Manitoba. I’ve been reading Donna’s blog for quite some time now and so it was great to meet with her for a couple of hours over breakfast and compare notes on our blogging experiences. I love the look of Donna’s blog and so many people take an interest in it and make comments about her posts. I was glad to have the opportunity to ‘pick her brain’ for ideas about blog design, photography, social media connections, and increasing readership. Donna has attended several conferences for travel bloggers. I have never been to a blogging conference. That’s something that might be fun to do in the future.
Donna and I both grew up in small Manitoba towns. We both love to travel and journal about our experiences. We both have an interest in a variety of writing genres. I am exploring writing for children, and Donna dabbles in mystery writing. We have both had articles published in magazines and newspapers. We have both spent time living in Arizona for part of the year. We both have traveled with our sisters. We both are officially retired. We both love learning new things. We are both mothers. We both blog. Kindred spirits?
One of the things I love about writing my blog is that it has provided connections to all kinds of new and interesting people. I don’t get to meet most of them in person, so the fact that this time I did, was just delightful.
Peter Wohlleben, author of the book The Hidden Life of Trees describes how trees cooperate and communicate with one another, have memories, make decisions, have distinct personalities, support their sick neighbors, nurture their children, make friends, and fight off predators.
Wohlleben wants us to start thinking about trees as living sentient beings. He believes if people can do that they may become more passionate about preserving our forests. There are so many ways in which trees enrich our lives and indeed make human life possible on earth. Trees, Wohlleben contends, deserve our respect and protection.
Free Press columnist Niigaan Sinclair makes much the same argument in his recent column about Lake Winnipeg. He believes if we can officially recognize the lake as a living being in need of protection and respect, it may be possible to overcome the many political barriers in place that are currently stymying efforts to save the lake from an algae problem threatening to destroy it. Sinclair points to other countries like India, New Zealand and Ecuador who have given ‘right to live’ and ‘personhood’ status to items in the natural world.
Both Sinclair and Wohlleben have critics who say their ideas aren’t scientific enough and more practical solutions are needed to protect nature. There may be truth to that, but I think if their efforts can draw attention to an environmental problem and make people understand and properly appreciate the value of trees and lakes and other living things then I’m all for it.