Gabrielle Roy is one of Canada’s literary giants and she was born right here in Winnipeg. I had a chance to visit her childhood home during the recent Doors Open event. Our first guide Adreanne was a college student from Quebec. She told us Gabrielle had lived in this house at 375 Deschambault in St.Boniface from her birth in 1909 till she left for Europe in 1937.
Gabrielle’s parents both moved to Manitoba from Quebec. Seven of Gabrielle’s siblings survived childhood. She was closest to her sister Bernadette who became a nun.
Gabrielle’s father worked for the Canadian government settling new immigrants in western Canada. He was nearly 60 when Gabrielle, his eleventh child was born.
Gabrielle’s mother loved fashion and dressing up. She bought material at the Eatons story to make dresses for her daughters. After her husband became ill and could no longer work Gabrielle’s mother earned extra money for the family by doing sewing.
Gabrielle became a teacher and taught in Manitoba for a number of years before leaving to move to Europe and then to Montreal. Gabrielle set her first and most famous book The Tin Flute in Montreal but several of her books have Manitoba settings including the two I am currently reading……
Gabrielle Roy’s house would be a great place to bring children. I went up to the attic of the museum and saw activity centres where young visitors could put on little dramas with costumes, write poems, listen to stories and play with toys from the time of Gabrielle’s childhood.
Gabrielle Roy won the 1947 Governor General’s Award for fiction. A quote from Gabrielle Roy “Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?” was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill from 2004 to 2012.
Other posts about Manitoba authors………