Saturday night when we came home around midnight after our Fringe Festival show we saw all these bleachers up and down our street draped with American flag style bunting. The next morning when we went outside to go to church there were American flags flying on every light standard and pole in the neighborhood. American flags were plastered on billboards, hydro boxes, and buildings. What was going on? Had the Americans invaded Canada? Considering the wacky president who currently resides in the White House even the most unbelievable scenarios can seem possible. No, an American invasion hadn’t happened overnight. Instead, we discovered that some parade scenes from an American movie called Flag Day were being shot in our neighborhood. The film stars and is directed by two- time Oscar-winner Sean Penn. Two of Sean’s children also have roles in the production which is based on the book Flim Flam Man a true story of a girl who finds out her father is a bank robber and career counterfeiter. Maybe I should have stayed outside all day to wait for a glimpse of Sean Penn but I had other things to do. The Winnipeg Exchange District is a popular location for movie makers. I’ve jokingly told people we live in the middle of a movie set. And sometimes, like yesterday, it certainly feels like that.
I Live in A Movie Set
In the Middle of a Movie Set
Winnipeg in the Movies
Filed under Movies, Winnipeg
My friend told me she was going to take me to what she thought was the most beautiful park in Winnipeg. It’s called Peanut Park and true to my friend’s word it was a lovely little green space. There are nice benches to sit in all around the park. Many of them have been donated in the memory of loved ones. The park is also filled with special flowerbeds. Each is unique. There is a rose garden, a white garden, a butterfly garden and herb garden, two blended gardens and a deep shade garden.Most of the gardens are dedicated to people as well. We met a man out walking his Yorkshire Terriers in Peanut Park and my friend who used to have two Yorkies herself just had to pet them. As she engaged in friendly conversation with their owner we discovered he lived nearby and was one of an organized group of citizens called Friends of Peanut Park who had helped make the park into such a beautiful space.
He told us that although initially, the citizens themselves did lots of work to care for the park, now they have two fundraising events every year which allows them to pay for a professional gardener to look after things. Their neighborhood group has planted dozens of maple, crabapple and lilac trees to replace trees that have died and dead grassy areas have been restored with new sod. Many local residents have made private donations that have helped to create the six raised flower beds and install the winding limestone path through the park. A sign in one of the flower beds led me to a website that told me more about the park’s history and what the Friends of Peanut Park organization has accomplished since they formed in 2007.
The park which originally was named for Charles Enderton, a real estate agent and land developer, is over a hundred years old but by 2005 had become an eyesore, full of weeds, dying trees, overgrown paths, broken benches, and a dilapidated playground. People who lived near the park got together and asked a landscape architect to come up with a vision for the park. At their request and supplemented by some of the money the group had raised, the City of Winnipeg installed proper drainage, added picnic tables built a new playground and readied the flower beds for planting. Peanut Park is bordered by Harvard and Yale Avenues, Ruskin Row and Avonherst Street. My friend and I walked up and down some neighbouring streets admiring all the stately heritage homes that surround the park. I’d love to go back to the park sometime for a picnic and I am wondering how the park got the nickname, Peanut Park. Have you been to Peanut Park? What did you think of it? How do you think it got its name?
A Quick Visit to Assiniboine Park
The Park at the End of the Bridge
Welcome to Our Amazing Neighborhood
Filed under Nature, Winnipeg
As someone who bikes all over Winnipeg I am thrilled to see so many new designated bicycle lanes like this one on Sherbrooke being built. Another thing we need in the city however are more bike racks and stands where cyclists can lock their bikes as they shop or dine or visit public spaces and buildings. Last week we joined our children for dinner at The Grove restaurant on Stafford. There were no bike racks in sight and all the street signs around already had a couple of bikes locked up to them. We ended up walking a few blocks to find a street sign that we could use for locking up our bikes. On Saturday morning we went to Hildegard’s for coffee and right in front of the bakery and coffeeshop was a bike stand. Perfect! I am not sure who is responsible for putting up bike racks and stands- the city or businesses or community groups. But if we want to encourage more people to cycle it is important to give them places to lock and leave their bikes.
Biking the Beach in Costa Rica
The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island
I went on a field trip last week with a group of women from my church. We all volunteer at the Selkirk MCC Thrift Store together. Marj is our leader. Her weekly news reports via e-mail keep us in touch with each other. That way even if we miss a week of volunteering we still know what’s going on with the others in our group. In one of her newsletters Marj proposed a field trip. We all agreed it was a great idea. So last Wednesday we headed off on our little adventure.
First stop of course was another Thrift Shop. This one in Morris. A staff member who originally hailed from Newfoundland gladly took us ‘behind the scenes’ to get a better idea of how the place worked. We checked out their slick price marking system. And took note of how they organized things that came in as donations. We poked around the aisles looking for bargains and…. even tried on a mink stole that was for sale. Then it was time to head for the Jasmine Tea Room in Altona. We were in two different vehicles and each car took a bit of a detour through the town, since both drivers had Altona roots and wanted to show us sites that had been important to them when they had lived in Altona. Our lunch at the Jasmine Tea Room was delicious and since we finished eating a little early…… we headed off to Altona’s Gallery in the Park to wander among the sculptures there
Next we dropped in at the Altona Thrift Shop. It is of historical significance because it was the first MCC Thrift Shop in North America and was founded by four energetic and philanthropic women from Altona.
Altona residents Selma Loewen, Sara Stoesz, Susan Giesbrecht, and Linie Friesen started the first Thrift Shop in 1972 to raise funds for MCC’s work in developing countries.
The store staff was ever so nice to us and gave us a tour of their facilities. We marveled at the beautiful quilt room where material is saved and cut and sewn and stitched by many groups of volunteers. Then the quilts are displayed and sold.On the way home we made a stop in Neubergthal, a Canadian historic site where homes and other buildings, are maintained as they might have been in a traditional Mennonite village. Here we pose on the driveway of a home that belongs to fellow members at Bethel Mennonite Church.
After our Neubergthal stop we headed back to Winnipeg and said good-bye, but not for long since we will meet again next week on the second storey of the Selkirk Thrift Shop where once again we will be unpacking, organizing, cleaning, and pricing donated items. Of course we will also be chatting about our memorable field trip.
I’m A Shop Girl
The T-4’s Go Mennonite In Neubergthal
I read in the Winnipeg Free Press on the weekend that Roland Penner had died. He was a high-profile lawyer, a professor at the University of Manitoba, member of the Manitoba legislature, and served as the province’s attorney general. I knew him however as a storyteller.
Photo by Joe Bryska/Winnipeg Free Press
In 2012 I took a course from Roland at the McNally Robinson Community Classroom called Winnipeg Fact and Fiction where he told stories about events from Winnipeg history and then introduced us to books that had those same events as their focus. I remember three of the classes in particular. One in which he taught us about the Winnipeg strike and we looked at Margaret Sweatman’s novel Fox. Another where he described famous criminal cases tried in Winnipeg and introduced us to Heather Robertson’s biography of robber Kenneth Leishman The Flying Bandit and another where we examined the Winnipeg immigrant experience and Fredelle Maynard’s memoire Raisins and Almonds.
In 2012 I had just moved to Winnipeg and taking the course from Roland was a great way to connect with the history of the city that was to be my new home. He made every class so interesting. He was 86 at the time. In one of the blog posts I wrote about the course I described Roland as an ‘octogenarian story teller extraordinaire’. It is clear from his obituary Roland Penner lived his life story to the fullest and left an extraordinary mark on our province’s and city’s histories. He was 93.
Winnipeg General Strike
The Flying Bandit
Winnipeg Mennonite Immigrant Fiction
I smelled them before I saw them. I was walking down Selkirk Avenue yesterday, deep in thought, when all of a sudden I was overwhelmed by the heady scent of lilacs. One of the houses I was passing by had a huge lilac bush lining its front yard. It was covered in blossoms.
Selkirk isn’t necessarily the prettiest street in Winnipeg. Lots of the buildings are kind of run down and old, some abandoned. But those lilacs made the block they were on a thing of beauty.
For some reason I was reminded of the lines from an Alfred Noyes poem. I don’t know where I learned them. The lines just popped into my head as I inhaled that lilac smell. I had to look up the poem when I got home so I could find out who wrote it. The chorus of the poem goes……..
Go down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!)
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland;
Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!)
And then I thought of……….
Walk down Selkirk Street in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;
Walk down Selkirk Street in lilac-time (it’s at the heart of Winnipeg)
And you shall see such blossoms there, in a place where beauty’s sometimes rare
Walk down Selkirk Street in lilac-time (it’s at the heart of Winnipeg)
The Palace Theater
I’m a Shop Girl
Filed under Nature, Winnipeg
I was walking by the Salvation Army Hostel on Monday and saw a young woman looking at a map printed out from a computer. “Can you help me?” she asked. “I’m not a city girl. I feel like a lost tourist.”
She wanted to find the Salvation Army Thrift Shop in St. Boniface. I told her she could walk with me and once we got to my street I’d show her the direction to go. I told her I volunteered at a Mennonite Thrift Shop.
“I’m a Mennonite,” she said. She told me her name. Her first name was Biblical and her surname definitely Mennonite. “Where are you from?” I asked. She named my hometown and as we talked she told me about the schools there she had attended. I had attended all three myself and taught at one of them. When I asked about her parents she described her father with an expletive and said she never wanted to see him again. Her Mom had left her Dad and moved to a distant Manitoba town.
I asked her what she was going to buy at the Thrift Shop. “Clothes,” she said. “I just got out of prison and all I have are the clothes on my back.” I asked how she’d landed up in jail. “I assaulted someone,” she told me and then quickly added, “you don’t have to worry, I am not a violent person. I was attacked and just defended myself.”
We kept talking till we reached my street. I found out she’d been kicked out of high school, had no one in the city she knew, and had no money. There was a limited amount of time she could stay at the Salvation Army. “I’ll have to find a way to make Winnipeg my home,” she said.
When we reached my street I pointed her in the direction of St. Boniface, gave her some money to buy clothes, wished her well and waved good-bye. I can’t stop thinking about her. I know there is probably lots more to her story than she told me. But………what will happen to her? What chance does she have?
My Husband and the Pope Are On The Same Page
Called to Court
Filed under People, Winnipeg
I’ve walked down Main Street from Bannatyne to Selkirk literally a hundred times since I moved to Winnipeg. Yesterday I decided to REALLY look and take some photos of the street I’ve walked so often.
Aren’t You Scared to Live in the Exchange District?
I am just wrapping up a month of visiting Winnipeg schools in my role as a supervisor for education students practicing their craft in the classroom. This year I had the privilege of spending time in three different mixed grade one and two classrooms. I saw amazing things happening in all of them.
My student teacher was doing math problems with her six and seven-year olds that involved addition. These kids didn’t have pencil and paper. They were adding three digit numbers to three digit numbers in their heads! They had been taught ten different strategies for figuring out addition problems and not only could they complete the calculations mentally they could tell you which strategy they had used and why they had used it. Different kids used different strategies and that was applauded. It was amazing. They got it!
My student teacher had introduced her six and seven-year olds to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. First they made a pyramid for themselves. What did they need to feel healthy, safe, loved, good about themselves, to be learners and have fun? Then the teacher read them stories and showed them videos about joeys (baby kangaroos) and they made a pyramid for them. One day I watched them work together as a class to make a pyramid for baby emperor penguins after seeing videos and reading books about them. It was amazing! They got it!
My student teacher is Metis and she did a social studies unit introducing her six and seven-year olds to her culture. She used a medicine wheel with them. A medicine wheel has four sections emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. I watched one day while the children took special items they had brought from home or had drawn pictures of and they placed them in the “correct” spoke on their own personal medicine wheel. They could explain why they had made the choices they did. A book might go in the mental section because it made them think. A feather might be placed into the spiritual spoke because it reminded them of creation. A picture of a favorite food might go in physical because it filled them up and a photo of a grandmother in emotional because they loved her. It was amazing! They got it!
Our schools are often criticized because they aren’t deemed to be doing a good enough job. I wonder how many people who criticize actually visit to see the great needs as well as potential particularly in Winnipeg’s inner city schools, to see the great work being done by so many teachers and to see the great kids who are being stretched and challenged to be the best they can be.
Teachers of Their Own
Rap, Reimagining Winnipeg and Fish Nets
That’s a former student of mine! Mike Koop was my grade one student many, many years ago. I remember how full of energy he was and how he often had something very important to tell me. Mike, who is a professional musician was featured on the front page of Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press to illustrate a great story about the history of the West End Cultural Centre. It was so interesting to read about all the people who have given selflessly of their time and energy and money to found and then keep this cultural hub of Winnipeg’s music industry growing.
My husband is one of those people since he volunteers regularly at the West End Cultural Centre helping to take tickets, usher or sell merchandise at events. We attend concerts there often and I love the different ways the venue is used to showcase all kinds of musical experiences.
Just a few weeks ago we were there to see jazz musician Amber Epp (a former student of my husband’s) perform her versions of all the songs on Joni Mitchell’s album Blue.
Last December our son’s band Royal Canoe provided the music for an intriguing version of Shakespeare’s Richard II called Am I Not King? It was performed at the West End Cultural Centre. The production is nominated for six awards at the upcoming Winnipeg Theatre Awards event taking place at The West End Cultural Centre on November 12.
Garden City Collegiate Jazz Vocal Group directed by my daughter-in-law
Last June within one week I heard a concert by 70-year-old Canadian musician Valdy at the West End Cultural Centre and attended a wonderful show of jazz music performed by teenagers from the Seven Oaks School Division.
One of my favorite shows at the West End was The Last Waltz A Celebration of The Band. I could sing along with almost every number.
As the headline in the Winnipeg Free Press said…. the music really does live on at the West End Cultural Centre.
Young and Old At the West End Cultural Centre
Nathan Rogers A Story That Tugs At Your Heart Strings
The Last Waltz
Filed under Music, Winnipeg