Exchange District

Selkirk Settlers- Matching Canada and Scotland

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Selkirk Settlers by Gerald LaingSelkirk Settlers by Gerald Laing

This statue called Selkirk Settlers stands at the end of Bannatyne, the street where I live. I did a blog post about the statue and recently I received a message from a blog reader who told me that the very same sculpture stands in Helmsdale Scotland.  Helmsdale was the departure point for the Scots thrown off their land during the Highland clearances. Tenant Scottish crofters were evicted from their homes by the rich lairds so they could use the land for grazing sheep. Many of these exiled Scottish families ended up immigrating to Winnipeg. Michael was kind enough to send me a photo of the sculpture in Helmsdale.

Photo by Michael Forbes of the Selkirk Settlers sculpture in Helmsdale ScotlandPhoto by Michael Forbes of the Selkirk Settlers sculpture in Helmsdale Scotland

The sculpture in Scotland was created by artist Gerald Laing, the same artist that made the sculpture in Winnipeg. I found out that Laing is…

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Meeting with the Mayor- The Arts Are A Priority

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Last week the members of the Residents of the Exchange District  here in Winnipeg had an opportunity to meet with Mayor Brian Bowman. He told us about some of his visionary ideas for  the city and we talked to him about our concerns and questions.

Mayor Brian Bowman met with members of the Resident's Association of the Exchange District at the  Gurevich Art GalleryMayor Brian Bowman meets with members of the Residents of the Exchange District at the Gurevich Art Gallery

One priority for the mayor is increasing funding to the arts. Since many galleries, studios and performance venues are located in the Exchange District this could be particularly important to our area of the city.

Winnipeg Exchange District painting by Caroline Dukes at the Millenium LibraryWinnipeg Exchange District painting by Caroline Dukes at the Millennium Library

Mayor Bowman  told us  for every dollar you invest in the arts you get an $18 economic return. The average Canadian city invests $35 per person annually in the arts. Winnipeg invested $5 when Mr. Bowman took office. His first budget…

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Categories: Art, Culture, Exchange District, Winnipeg Art Gallery | Leave a comment

Wisdom on a Tree

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annie dillard quote on a tree on bannatyne avenueWalking home from the gym this morning I saw this sign on a tree on my street. Reminded me to appreciate this day and make it count.

Other posts…….

The Writing Life

The Street Where I Live

Two Trees- Forty One Years

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A New Book Set Right Here in Winnipeg

One of the reasons I enjoyed Suzanne Costigan’s new young adult novel Empty Cup, is because it is set in Winnipeg and the places its young protagonist Raven frequents are all within walking distance of my home. 

ghandi

Gandhi at The Forks in Winnipeg

Raven works at a coffee shop at the Forks. The statue of Gandhi near Winnipeg’s new Human Rights Museum plays a significant role in the story. Raven often walks along Henderson Highway and Waterfront Drive and has a romantic moment with her boyfriend on the Disraeli Bridge. It was easy for me to visualize many of the scenes in the book because they take place in my neighborhood, in the places where I walk everyday.empty_cover_cover_finalEmpty Cup shouldn’t be a feel good novel, yet strangely it is. Raven is dealing with some big problems. Her mother, who admits to Raven she doesn’t love her,  lives with a sleazy man named Trevor who Raven rightly fears. Raven’s kind biology teacher turns out to be anything but the white knight Raven longs to have ride into her life. Cole, the boy Raven lives with when her mother kicks her out of the house, has emotional problems that only the regular use of marijuana seem to ease.

 Raven makes some poor choices in the novel but also some courageous ones. She graduates from high school, holds onto her part-time job and resists the temptation to become involved with drugs. Given all the things she has going against her how is that possible?

kevin chiefRecently I heard Kevin Chief speak. He is the representative in the Manitoba Legislature for the constituency where both Raven and I live. Kevin faced some significant challenges in his youth but says he managed to rise above them because he was fortunate to always have at least one adult that cared about him, often a teacher or a coach. He also was a good athlete with a passion for the game of basketball and that was a key to his salvation.

Raven too has one person in her life that genuinely cares about her. Sarah is the mother of Raven’s long time best friend Lyla, and Sarah is there for Raven when she really needs it, offering the affection Raven’s own mother can’t provide. Raven also has a passion that is a key to her salvation. She loves art and she gets into an art class where the instructor helps her realize just how talented she is.

So although Raven’s life is tough and sometimes almost unbearable to read about, her story is also one of hope, not in an idealistic impossible kind of way, but in a realistic, ‘it can be done’ fashion. Young people who read this novel, and who may feel their own lives are hopeless, will get a real sense that they too can survive and move forward.

emptyful sculpture Winnipeg Millenium LibraryThe theme of the empty and full cup that Costigan weaves beautifully through the novel will especially appeal to readers. It reminded me of another Winnipeg landmark- the emptyful sculpture at the Millenium Library garden.

If I were still a high school English teacher Empty Cup would definitely be on my class reading list. Winnipeg high schools would do well to add a copy of Empty Cup to their libraries. It’s a young adult novel with a positive message and realistic characters set right in our home city.

Other posts about books set in Winnipeg…….

There is Winnipeg Mennonite Fiction

Fox

The Wittenburgs

Categories: Books, Exchange District | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Icy Inspiration

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icicles on the Royal Albert Hotel Winnipeg

The city is caught in the grip of ice–
Trees, walls, snow, are as under glass

by Anna Akhmatova

hoar frost winnipeg exchange district

Job 37:10 By the breath of God ice is givencrossing seal river sawatsky statue  winnipeg

Winnipeg has been caught in the grip of ice for the last few days.  It is almost impossible to walk safely on the slippery sidewalks and yesterday we had a minor accident with our car trying not to slide into two other cars that had just collided on an icy street.  I thought it might be inspirational to remember that ice can be beautiful too. 

“Ice contains no future , just the past, sealed away. As if they’re alive, everything in the world is sealed up inside, clear and distinct. Ice can preserve all kinds of things that way- cleanly, clearly. ”
― Haruki Murakami

Other Inspiration posts…….

Thoughts About Children

Wild Flower Inspiration

Eagle Inspiration

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The Christmas Spirit

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A couple of days ago I put up a sign in the lobby of our condo building asking if anyone had an extra parking spot we could rent over the holidays. Our son and his family are coming from out of province for a visit over Christmas and we needed a place for them to park their car. We live in a busy downtown area where there is only metered parking on the street.  Within twenty-four hours we had received lots of calls from people in our building willing to let us use their spot because they would be gone over the holidays or had two spots and were willing to let us use one.    Not a single fellow resident who called was willing to take money for the favor. “You can just use our spot,” they volunteered. Now that’s the Christmas spirit!  I put this sign up in…

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10 Interesting Things About Bessie Smith- The Greatest Blues Singer in the World

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Miche Braden plays Bessie in The Devil's MusicMiche Braden plays Bessie in The Devil’s Music

This week we saw The Devil’s Music, a play at the Warehouse Theatre in Winnipeg about the famous 1920’s songstress Bessie Smith.  I learned some interesting things about the Grammy Award winner. 

1. She was born in abject poverty in Tennessee in 1892,  but was so beloved when she died that some ten thousand people walked by her coffin to pay tribute to her.

grave of bessie smith2. 1960’s rock star Janis Joplin once told friends she felt like she was Bessie Smith reincarnated.  It was Joplin who saw to it that a headstone was provided for Bessie Smith’s grave 35 years after she was killed in a 1937 car accident. Joplin chose an epitaph that named Smith- The Greatest Blues Singer in the World. 

3. During an outdoor performance in North Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan surrounded Bessie’s tent. She confronted them angrily…

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Living In An Art Gallery

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Winnipeg is a breath away from Canada’s heart. I live at the city’s center in The Exchange District. In 1887 when wheat was prairie gold, savvy entrepreneurs organized a grain exchange and turned this area into a thriving business district. We own a condo in a century old warehouse built by hardware merchant and Winnipeg mayor James Ashdown.

Many of the Exchange District’s corporate residents have been devoted art patrons, so our streets are studded with larger than life public art pieces. I see three when I walk out my front door.

caribou crossing portage and mainStraight ahead eleven massive caribou ford a river. A trio scales the steep bank while the others battle for their lives in the rushing water. Their antlers sprawl like bony tree branches in silhouette against the downtown skyscrapers. The sculpture Seal River Crossing by Peter Sawatsky reminds me that my city stands on land that was once home…

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Up on Our Roof Top

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roof top ash downOur condo,the Ashdown Warehouse added a brand new roof top patio this summer. We’ve been using it quite a bit, taking guests up there before dinner for drinks and after dinner for dessert. rooftop patio ashdown warehouseMy sister-in-law in Ontario asked why I hadn’t put some photos of our roof top patio on my blog. She was anxious to see it. fran and marge rooftopLast weekend the weather was much nicer than it is today.Our friends Fran and Marge were over and we not only had appetizers, but our dinner up on the roof top. I took my camera along and got some photos. view from ash down warehouse roofIt was a beautiful fall evening. We have some great views from our roof top. seating area ashdown warehouse roofThere are a half a dozen little meeting and sitting areas that afford different groups privacy.roof top ashdown warehouse The furniture is unique and attractive. view from ash down warehouse roof topReal estate agents tell us the roof top area has added value to all our…

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Food From the Land and Shakespeare in the Ruins

marylou and meenaOur friends Meena and Anil are visiting us from Hong Kong and we took them out to the Peasant Cookery, a favorite Exchange District restaurant of ours.window ledge peasant cookery The window ledges are decorated with artistic fowl sculptures in wood or ceramics and jars of canned fruits and vegetables.interior peasant cookery winnipegThe Peasant Cookery boasts that it offers ‘real food from the land’ and we knew from our past visits that the food would be excellent and the service friendly. 

dave and anilWe decided to order five different dishes from the eclectic menu and share them all.  meal at peasant cookeryOur meal was first rate. beet salad peasant cookery

A beet salad with toasted seeds, goat cheese, arugula and a  caramelized honey vinaigrette dressing

tourtierre at peasant cookery winnipeg Tourtiere- a French meat pie with thick cut  fries

gnocchi at peasant cookery winnipeg

aged cheddar gnocchi  with sun dried tomato, spinach, red onion, piquillo peppers and basil oilmahi mahi at peasant cookeryLightly breaded mahi, mahi with fresh vegetablesbread pudding at peasant cookery

and bread pudding with Guinness ice-cream and a caramel sauce for dessert.waiter peasant cookeryDespite his look of concern in this photo our waiter was attentive and very pleasant and earned extra bonus marks from us when my husband asked him who his favorite Winnipeg band was and he replied, “Royal Canoe,” the band our son plays in. trappist monastery shakespeare in the ruinsAfter dinner we were off to the Trappist Monastery in St. Norbert to see this years’ Shakespeare in the Ruins production of The Comedy of Errors. anil and daveIt was a near perfect night. The rain held off and it was just cool and windy enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay. We had warm blankets provided by the theatre troupe. audience shakespeare in the ruinsWe moved around the monastery grounds to see the different scenes from the play. It was done in such an entertaining fashion, the humor bawdy and the acting a bit ‘over the top’ in a good way.  comedy of errors shakespeare in the ruinsThe actors made it so easy to follow the rather complicated plot of mistaken identity that near the end of the play when it was revealed that identical twins had been mixed up throughout the drama, a little boy about three or four years old in the audience blurted out, “Why there’s two of them.”  Even he understood the plot resolution. marylou and meenaThe Peasant Cookery staff and Shakespeare in the Ruins company helped us show off our city to our Hong Kong friends in first class style. 

Other related posts……

Shakespeare in the Ruins- 2012

Are You Speaking English

Devour the District

Categories: Culture, Exchange District, Food, Restaurants, St. Norbert | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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