Businesses

Embrace the Movement

What Next?

They came from all over Canada. A couple of weeks ago when I volunteered at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop on Selkirk Avenue we were inundated with two bus loads of visitors.  selkirk thrift shop visitors

These were Thrift Shop administrators, volunteers, board members and executive members from other cities. They had come to Winnipeg for a conference called Embrace the Movement where they could share ideas about how to run thrift stores more effectively and efficiently and to receive information and inspiration from guest speakers. visitors to thrift shopI talked with people from Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario and other places in Manitoba. They were touring Manitoba Thrift Stores after spending a number of days attending workshops that addressed such things as recruiting volunteers, creating safe shopping and working environments, dealing peacefully and in restorative ways with shop lifters, quick merchandise turn around and handling conflict. visitors to thrift store

The people who came to tour were different ages, had…

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Mother’s Day Kitsch

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It’s the day after Mother’s Day and mothers are trying to find places to put all those lovely little gifts they received. Their hearts were touched by the sentiment the presents conveyed but what will they do with all those sweet knick knacks? I was working at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg last week and Mother’s Day kitsch was flying off our shelves. I took some photos before it was all gone.

If Mother's Were Flowers I'd Pick YouIf Mothers were flowers I’d pick you

Mother's Day Teddy BearsMother’s Day Teddy Bears

A Mother's Love Makes All Things Bright and BeautifulA mother’s love makes all things bright and beautiful

Plaque for Mother's DayPlaque for Mother’s Day

You who bears the sweetest nameTo one who bears the sweetest name

Mother's Day poem and Canada souvenir all in one ornamentA Mother’s Day poem and Canada souvenir 

What to do with your Mother’s Day kitsch? Bring it back to the Thrift Store and we’ll sell it again next year. Profits from our sales help to provide food, clothing, medical care and other…

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Chocogasm

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T-4's at chocolate eventSaturday day night I was in chocolate heaven for a few hours. Along with three good friends and former teaching colleagues, I attended a chocolate dinner at the McNally Robinson Community Classroom. ChocolatourHosted by Doreen Pendgracs the author of the book Chocolatour A Quest For the World’s Best Chocolatewe not only enjoyed a delicious meal where every course featured something chocolate, we also learned so much about chocolate from Doreen and her special guest Constance Popp who is a chocolateur with her own shop here in Winnipeg on Provencher Avenue. 

The menu included………

strawberry spinach salad

A strawberry, almond spinach salad with a dressing made from quince and dark chocolate balsamic vinegar

bittersweet chocolate beef ribs

Bittersweet chocolate beef ribs for the main course

caramel pepper chocolate mousse cake

and caramel chocolate pepper mousse cake for dessert. waitress mcnally's

A lovely surprise was having a former student of ours as our server. doreen chocolatour

Doreen is a chocolate expert and in between each course she shared…

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Tom Lamb-“Mr. North”

Every morning on my way to the gym to do my work out I pass by this statue of Tom Lamb on the main floor at the Lombard Place entrance of the Richardson Building. Many people rest their belongings on the statue’s base now in winter to give themselves free hands to secure their scarves and hats before stepping out into the snowy cold air. I’ve done it myself. Today I took time to read the plaque on the statue that told me who the pilot in the statue was, and why he merited a bronze likeness by the famed Canadian sculptor Leo Mol.   I was curious to learn more about Tom Lamb.  I found out he’d been born in 1898 in Grand Rapids Manitoba. His British father and mother were Anglican missionaries in the north. His Dad did many different jobs but was primarily a school teacher. He  moved his family to Moose Lake in 1900. 

Although Tom would later be awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Manitoba his formal education ended at grade three. In 1935 he  bought an airplane and learned to fly it so he could go fly fishing in the north. Four years later he had founded Lambair.

The airline hauled fish and furs, trappers and fishermen. They transported Inuit families and equipment for oil rigs. They handled emergency and medical evacuations. The motto of the airline was “Don’t ask us where we fly! Tell us where you want to go.”

Tom, also known as the “Babe Ruth of bush pilots” married Jennie and they had eight children.  The Lamb kids all started flying by sitting behind the steering wheel of a plane on their Dad’s lap in the cockpit. 

Their six sons all became career pilots as well and went into business with their Dad. By 1959 Lambair had logged more than 1,500,000 air miles, owned twenty planes and employed 40 pilots. In 1960 Tom, who by now had earned the nickname “Mr. North” let his sons take over most of the airline business since he still had his fur trading operation to run, a 7,240 acre cattle ranch to maintain and 24 grandchildren to keep him busy. 


Tom Lamb died in 1969 and his sons kept running the business till 1981. A 1981 Free Press article notes that Lambair is bankrupt and Calm Air is trying to buy the company. Only one of Tom’s  grandchildren, a granddaughter Tracy took up flying. Tom’s son Jack has told the family’s story in his book My Life in the North. 

 Although the Leo Mol statue in the Richardson Building bears the date 1991, the original piece was poured in 1971. There is another copy of  the Tom Lamb statue in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Assiniboine Park. A fibre glass version sits in the airport at The Pas and there is another copy in the Canadian embassy in Washington DC. 

Leo Mol said he wanted to show Tom Lamb as a young pilot and he made the propeller in his hands look a bit like a clock because he wanted the statue to take people back in time to the era when Mr. Lamb helped open up the north as an aviation pioneer.

In September of 1977 at a ceremony where Tom Lamb was posthumously admitted to the Honor Roll of the Aviation Council he was lauded as an individualist, humanitarian, multi-skilled, community minded businessman.

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Gunn’s Bakery

Today Dave and I stopped by Gunn’s Bakery on Selkirk Avenue to get some pumpernickel bread and crusty rolls for our lunch. 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 it is run by Morris and Florence’s sons Arthur and Bernie. Arthur who has his Masters Bakers Certificate is in charge of the producing all the baked goods, including the 25 kinds of bagels Gunn’s is famous for. Bernie, who is an accountant and business administrator takes care of the finances. Morris passed on everything he knew about baking to Arthur before he died in 1973. Florence lived till 1998, long enough to see her family’s business expand to a 24 hour a day operation that employs some 80 people. 

Nothing at Gunn’s is mass-produced and many of the products are still being made with Florence and Morris’ original recipes. Devout Jews, Florence and Morris wanted to have a kosher bakery and sought rabbinical supervision to insure that was the case. Morris and Arthur have maintained that tradition. Although they have introduced many new products they continue to make the European breads and pastries that were familiar to their parents’ neighbours in the North End of Winnipeg in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

 Gunn’s is famous for its wedding cakes and in a radio interview Arthur said people come in to the bakery to order wedding cakes for their children and tell him their own wedding cakes were made by Arthur’s father Morris.

It wasn’t easy to walk out of Gunn’s with only our bread and rolls. We spent a fair bit of time eyeing all the luscious looking pastries but managed to have enough self -control to leave without buying any. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like anything else?” the friendly clerk asked as Dave pointed to various desserts.  “We’ll be back,” he said as I led him out of the store. I’m sure we will. 

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