Seeing the Property Brothers

What Next?

the property brothers winnipegWhat was going on?  On Monday when I walked into Winnipeg Square on my way home from work there was a long line of people blocking my way.  Turns out they were waiting to have their photos taken with The Property Brothers.  the property brothersI recognized the two fellows immediately since I’d seen them interviewed on a City Line television show I watched during one of my gym workouts.   The Property Brothers are Drew and Jonathan Scott and they have a television show where each week Drew, a real estate agent helps families find just the right fixer-upper house  and then Jonathan a contractor transforms the fixer-upper into the house of their dreams. the property brothersScotia Bank had brought the brothers to Winnipeg and if the length of the line in Winnipeg Square was any indication they were going to be posing for photos with hundreds of people during their public appearance. …

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Brrrr! It’s Cold

It seemed awfully cold in Winnipeg yesterday, our first day back in sub zero temperatures after spending two months in sunny Arizona. The events of the day really warmed me up though.

A snuggle in our familiar bed under our thick duvet and quilt.parlour coffee window

A hand-made Americano with Dave at the Parlour Coffee Shop just down the block accompanied by freshly made bannock slathered in home-made berry jam.

A nice long talk on the phone with my Dad.

Afternoon coffee in our sunny livingroom with an interesting couple who are exploring buying a condo in our building.

Hot pho soup at a local Vietnamese restaurant with my brother.tickets to pippin

Watching the Garden City Collegiate musical Pippin. What talented young performers! One of the directors of the production was my daughter-in-law and it was great to hug her again after two months away

The Modern Family cast was up to their usual funny antics

The Modern Family cast was up to their usual funny antics

And before bed a glass of wine and laughing at the Modern Family episode my considerate husband had PVR’d for me.

Despite the freezing temperatures it is possible to have a nice heart- warming day in Winnipeg.

Other related posts……….

Eating Bannock Voyageur Style

Parlour Coffee Shop Visit

Winter in Winnipeg

Best Soup in Winnipeg



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Letter to the Editor

WFP-Logo-Black11Winnipeg is proposing some changes to its laws about acceptable behavior for bus riders using the city’s transit system. These proposed changes were outlined in a recent news story in the Free Press. Since I am a frequent rider of city buses I wrote a letter to the editor of the paper giving a suggestion for making one of the proposed changes more effective. It was published on July 9 and can be read on the Have Your Say page. 

Other posts about city issues…….

I Think I’m Going To Be On Television Tonight

I Was On the Radio

Aren’t You Scared To Live In Winnipeg’s Exchange District?

Residential Parking

Categories: Miscellaneous, Politics | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Brundibar- More Than It Seems

“The children’s opera Brundibar was performed in the Terezin concentration camp no fewer than 55 times. It was a useful propaganda tool for the Nazis to show the world how ‘well’ they were treating its inmates but…….. the world was unaware that the cast had to be replenished constantly as virtually all the children who performed in the opera were exterminated shortly after they did so.”

-excerpt from the program notes for the Winnipeg Brundibar performance

Cast of Brundibar-Terezin Concentration Camp- Jewish Museum of Prague

Cast of Brundibar-Terezin Concentration Camp- Jewish Museum of Prague

On Tuesday night I saw the children’s opera Brundibar performed at the Westminster United Church by the members of the Pembina Trails Voices and the Winnipeg Chamber Orchestra. Brundibar was written by Czech composer Hans Krasa who died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz. The musical tells a simple story with an underlying message of freedom from a tyrant. 

My daughter-in-law is the assistant director of one of the choirs that make up the Pembina Trails Voices organization and she invited me to the Winnipeg performance of Brundibar.  The story has been retold in a colorful picture book by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner.

Brundibar by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner

Brundibar by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner

 It is about a young boy and girl singing as buskers in the street to try and earn money to buy milk for their sick mother. Their efforts are thwarted by an evil organ grinder named Brundibar who claims he is the only one who can busk on his street. With the help of some kind animals and a large group of friendly children the brother and sister manage to drown out Brundibar’s music and collect the money they need to buy milk for their mother.

Brundibar at the Chicago Opera Theatre- photo by Liz Lauren

Brundibar at the Chicago Opera Theatre- photo by Liz Lauren

The Winnipeg performance was excellent and even when there were some sound system problems the accomplished young actors and singers continued the show with confidence and poise. The girl who played the part of the sister  had a powerful voice inside her tiny frame. The children looked like they were having a good time. 

I read  in a Philadelphia Inquirer article that as many as 15,000 children came through the concentration camp at Terezin, and only 100 survived. Brundibar has a happy ending. However the sad fate of its intial performers’  as well as the murder of its composer adds a somber tone to any performance of Brundibar.

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Categories: Culture, Historical Events, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Middle of A Movie Set

They’re filming a movie in our building! When I got home from the gym yesterday morning I could barely get in the front door of our condo.  The Ashdown Warehouse was serving as a set for a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation movie about political leader Jack Layton . I asked some of the crew about the film and they told me the foyer, front steps and two suites in our condo were being used in the movie. They were very apologetic about any inconvenience caused to the tenants and were extremely polite and courteous. 

Later in the day when I left the condo to buy groceries I saw tons of equipment at the end of our hallway. Turns out the two condos where interior scenes were being shot were on our floor. A film crew member I rode down with in the elevator told me one condo was being used for the livingroom of Jack Layton and his wife Olivia Chow’s home, and another condo was where the bedroom scenes would be shot. When I got back from the grocery store, I rode up in the elevator with a filming assistant carrying Chinese take-out food in a bag. Turns out it was being used in the next scene they were filming. 

It took most of the day for the them to do the shooting. When I was taking the trash out in the late afternoon, Sook-Yin-Lee the woman who plays Olivia Chow and an older Asian woman who I assume must be playing Olivia’s mother, came out of an apartment near ours with a make-up artist following behind with bags full of cosmetics. 

I couldn’t believe how many people and trucks and pieces of equipment it took to film a few scenes from a movie. A whole block of the street adjacent to our front entry was closed off for movie vehicles and personnel. One of the crew told me they were moving on to Selkirk, Manitoba to continue filming. 

I know that Winnipeg has become a popular spot for making movies, especially in the Exchange District where so many historical buildings have been preserved. I’ve seen film crews in action before, but had never noticed any on our street. It was pretty exciting! Although we had to use the back doors for a while during the day, the inconvenience was worth it just knowing the place where you live was being used as a movie set. I can hardly wait to see the film when it comes out!

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It’s Not A Good Idea

The City of Winnipeg is making lots of changes to it’s parking regulations in the downtown area where we live. 

Some of these changes may be necessary but there is one change that isn’t a good idea. The Residential Parking permits are being discontinued.  These permits which can be purchased for an annual fee allow residents of the Exchange District to register a personal vehicle with the city. They are then given a pass which allows them to park that vehicle anywhere in the Exchange without paying parking meter fees or moving their cars after time limits for parking have expired. 

We have used this pass when our children come to visit us from Saskatoon. It is very inconvenient for them to park their car and keep running outside every two hours to plug a parking meter during a four or five day visit. It is also very expensive. So we park our car on the street and let them have our parking spot. Residents of the Exchange pay taxes just like everyone else in Winnipeg and most other Winnipeg residents can have guests park on the streets in front of their home. Why can’t we have the same privilege? We also used the pass on a cold evening when my elderly parents came for a visit. My mother is in a wheelchair so having them park in our indoor condo garage was much more comfortable and convenient than parking outside. We parked on the street using our residential pass and let my parents have our spot. 

The city wants to encourage people to move into the Exchange District. Cancelling the residential parking passes will definitely deter and not encourage more people to move downtown. Right now we pay $25 annually for our residential parking pass. I would be willing to pay more if it meant the program would continue. 

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I Think I’m Going To Be On Television Tonight

The water park the mayor of Winnipeg is proposing be built right across the street from the new Humans Rights Museum has been soundly criticized by the museum’s architect Antoine Predock. The Winnipeg Free Press reports today that Predock has sent a letter to city council saying the water park will trivialize the historic nature of The Forks district and be at odds with the cultural ambience of the area. 

My husband Dave posed in front of the Human Rights Museum last October. We’ve been watching its progress carefully.  I am a member of the Residents of the Exchange organization and when the water park announcement was first made our chair John Giavedoni sent out an e-mail asking us to  contact our city councilor to express our opinions about the construction of a water park in our area. At a meeting on Tuesday night of the residents association it was clear the majority of people present had not been excited about the water park proposal and had conveyed that message to City Hall. They were happy their voices had been heard and the project had been tabled for the time being. I had not sent a letter because I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about the project. 

Today I had just walked over the Provencher Bridge on my way home from visiting my Mom at St. Boniface Hospital when I was approached by a news woman with a microphone and her camera man.  After asking a few questions and realizing I was an Exchange District resident the woman requested an interview. I agreed somewhat hesitantly. When the camera started to roll she asked me how I felt about the proposed water park. Was the architect right that it would interfere with the cultural and historic nature of the area? 

I had to think fast. I said I wasn’t sure. I would need to see the plans for the water park before I could decide whether it would be an eyesore or fit in with its surroundings.  I said I was a grandmother and when my grandson came to visit me in Winnipeg in the future I’d look forward to taking him both to the Human Rights Museum and the water park. I said there was already lots of culture in the Exchange District– museums, art galleries, concert and drama spaces and perhaps other kinds of venues might add variety. I’d said I’d also like to know what plans were being made to insure the water park was accessible to as many Winnipeg citizens as possible. Perhaps having a water park down town would encourage people to visit the Human Rights Museum  before or after their visit to the water park. 

After the interview the news woman asked me to walk away down the sidewalk  so they could film me as I made my way past the museum  and I forgot to ask her what television channel she was from and when the news item might be aired. So if you see me on television tonight would you please let me know! 

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Cleaning Up My Neighborhood

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Categories: Exchange District, Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

Car Share

20,000 people in Canada are part of car share initiatives. Citizens share a fleet of 700 cars in Montreal. Twelve Canadian cities, including Winnipeg have car shares. 

On Tuesday night I attended a meeting for residents of Winnipeg’s Exchange District about car sharing. Beth MacKenzie from the Peg City Car Co-op explained how their organization works. They own three cars which are parked at different spots in the Osborne area. People who have memberships in their co-op can register and pay online to reserve the cars.  A special electronic key fob lets them into the car and when they finish using the car they return it to the parking spot. Safeway has donated space for parking two of the cars on their grocery store lots in the area. 

Although people pay $500 to join the co-op and 40 cents per kilometer and $3 per hour to use the cars, they still save plenty of money compared to owning and maintaining their own cars. The $500 is refunded when you leave the co-op. Co-op staff makes sure the cars are clean, full of gas and serviced. 

Car sharing is for people who like to walk, take the bus or bike but occasionally need a car. It can also be for families who have only one car, but from time to time need two cars. A short CBC documentary about car sharing says many developers of condominiums and apartments are now giving a car share membership to people who buy units in their buildings. They provide a car to share and reserve spaces in their parking lots for the car share vehicles. 

There are 89 members in the Peg Car Share Co-op in the Osborne area which first began operating in June of 2011.  If we want to have our own co-op here in the Exchange District we would need at least thirty interested people to get started with one car.  To become a member you must be 21, have had a clean driving record for 3 years and no DUI charges. All drivers go through an orientation to familiarize them with the car co-op and there are penalties for not returning the car on time. 

Although in 90% of cases cars are reserved within four hours of being used, you can reserve them up to thirty days ahead of time.  An added bonus is that the Car Share Co-op has a deal with a car rental agency for a 15% discount for co-op members if they need to rent cars for longer trips. Beth MacKenzie from the Peg Car Share showed us videos about some of their users; an artist who uses the car to pick up canvases, someone who reserves the car to go and visit his parents in the suburbs, go out on dates and buy groceries and a woman who decided to car share rather than purchase a vehicle so she could save money to buy a house. 

I think car sharing is a great idea, not only is it economical but it is a way to do our part to reduce emissions that contribute to air pollution. According to Car Sharing Canada each vehicle in a car share co-op replaces eight private cars on the road.  As they say on the Halifax Car Share site –car sharing is lean, green and easy!

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Finding A Family Doctor in Winnipeg

I just had my first visit with my new family doctor on Friday and I am very pleased. She was friendly, asked questions that showed a genuine interest in me, and told me she would never be too busy to help me if I had a critical health concern. This was just my initial ‘meet and greet’ session with the doctor but I was encouraged. After nearly four months of searching for a female family physician in Manitoba, I was so relieved to have finally found a doctor, and a cordial, caring one at that.

A few weeks after moving to Winnipeg from Hong Kong I began asking people how to find a family doctor. Most shook their heads and gave me dismal odds on having luck in my search for a physician who would actually be taking new patients. My sister-in-law told me to call The Family Doctor Line operated by the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons. That was how she’d found a doctor for her son. I tried this. The first thing they told me was there were no female doctors in the city taking new patients, but they did recommend two male doctors who were. 

Out of curiosity I looked the two gentlemen up on the internet. The Rate the Doctor website gave both uniformly bad reviews. One respondent said he always arrived two hours after his actual appointment time and had never missed an appointment yet. Others mentioned waits of three to four hours and emphasized that these doctors were ‘two question’ doctors. You could only ask two questions per visit. 

I decided to strike out on my own. I began calling clinics in the city asking if they had female family doctors taking new patients. After about the 10th call I struck it lucky. Yes, one clinic had a female doctor taking new patients, but I would have to wait a full three months before she’d have time in her schedule for our ‘meet and greet.’  The receptionist mentioned three times that this doctor would not prescribe narcotics. I checked this out with a medical professional later, and they told me perhaps the doctor had been in trouble in the past for over prescribing addictive medications so her licence to prescribe certain drugs had been removed. This did not instill much confidence in me. 

Someone  suggested I go to the Winnipeg Regional Health Access Clinic on Main Street near my home. They said a clinical nurse specialist would see me there, assess my needs and recommend a physician as necessary. I went and began filling out a registration form. I asked the receptionist what would happen when the form was filled out. “We file it”, she said ” and call you when we have someone available to see you.”  I asked how long that would be. “At least six months” , she replied, “but perhaps up to a year.” I left without filling out the form. 

Then while lunching with friends from Steinbach,  a city about 40 miles away, I talked about my problem finding a physician, and one mentioned she had found a female family doctor at the Green Crest Clinic on Pembina Highway. She had gone to the Winnipeg walk -in clinic with bad cold symptoms, because she had been unable to get on with a physician in Steinbach. At Greencrest she had been seen by a friendly and competent woman. “Are you taking new patients?” she asked. When the female doctor said she was, my friend signed on immediately as a patient. 

I didn’t waste any time. The very next morning I was at the Greencrest Clinic when they opened and not only could I get on as a patient with a female physician, I would only have to wait a week to see her. Amazing!! I looked the doctor up on the internet and her reviews were satisfactory, with a few patients singing her praises and a few others calling her competent but curt. By this time I was more than happy to take competent but curt. 

I saw her on Friday and she wasn’t curt at all. She spoke with a slight accent, but I could easily understand her and she asked questions not only about my health, but my family and background. She was interested in the fact I had taught in Hong Kong and even complimented me on my outfit and asked where I’d got the necklace I was wearing. She told me some doctors only let you ask them two questions a visit, but she wanted me to know that she would never be too busy to listen to any critical health concern I had. She took my blood pressure, gave me a flu shot and told me to make an appointment for a complete physical at my convenience. “Tell the receptionist to set aside at least 30 minutes, so I have enough time for you”, she said.  

It took a bit of doing – it certainly wasn’t the efficient and speedy process by which I found an excellent and unbelievably thorough family physician in Hong Kong –but I finally have a female family physician here in Winnipeg!

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Joanne Gullachsen, Maud Lewis and Me

Sitting on the Bales With Cats — by  Joanne Gullachsen

On Friday my friend Esther invited me to visit the Mayberry Fine Art Gallery just one block over from my home to see an exhibit of paintings by Joanne Gullachsen. Esther thought we would enjoy the exhibit because Joanne, who is having her first public show as an artist at age 68, is a retired teacher just like we are, and she has been compared to Canadian artist Maud Lewis.  Esther and I used to be teaching partners and we crafted a multi-subject learning unit on Maud’s life story and work for our students. 

Catching Frogs by Joanne Gullachsen

Joanne’s paintings at the Mayberry Gallery are certainly ‘happy’ as Bill Redekop reports in his Free Press article about the exhibit. They are also reminiscent of Maud Lewis’ work and perhaps that of Grandma Moses, an American folk artist who like Joanne, only became well-known later in her life. Grandma Moses was ‘discovered’ when she was 78.

Watching My Dad Shave by Joanne Gullachsen

Joanne grew up on a dairy farm in Manitoba’s Interlake region and her paintings which were all drawn from memory, and not from photographs, provide an intimate portrayal of her childhood. She painted the pieces over a period of 27 years while pursuing a busy teaching career and caring for her growing family.

He Stole the Milk Pail- by Joanne Gullachsen

Each painting in the Gullachsen exhibit is accompanied by a short story the artist has written about what is going on in the scene portrayed. In this painting a neighborhood thief has taken off with the family’s milk pail and Joanne’s grandma is trying to flag him down as he whips his horse to speed away. 

Playing on the Table While Mom Irons- by Joanne Gullachsen

What I loved about the Gullachsen collection were the personal connections and memories the paintings evoked for both Esther and me. As we ambled through the Mayberry Gallery with its bleached hardwood floors and high sunny windows, we shared stories from our childhood and family life, each story prompted by one of Joanne’s paintings.

Dad Reading While Watching the Baby —by Joanne Gullachson

This painting reminded me of a photograph my mother took of my father looking after me as a baby, and managing to still read and study while he was doing so. Dad had to multi-task  because he was supporting and caring for a young family at the same time as he was in medical school at the University of Manitoba.

Dad Studying While Watching the Baby in 1953

Looking at the Eaton’s Catalogue by Joanne Gullachsen

This painting brought back memories of the dress my mother bought me from the Eaton’s catalogue to wear on my first day of school. Mom always sewed all our dresses but because she wanted me to have something special for the first day of grade one, I got to order a dress from the catalogue. I still remember the excitement of the package arriving from Eatons. The dress was grey and red plaid.

Dress From the Eaton’s Catalogue For the First Day of School

Milking Time by Joanne Gullachsen

This painting reminded me of going out and helping my Grandpa Peters with the chores in the barn when I was staying at his farm in Gnadenthal Manitoba. It is winter in the painting above and it is winter in the photo below. I am all bundled up to go out to the barn to milk the cows, pick eggs from the chickens and feed the pigs. 

Time to Do the Chores in the Barn with Grandpa

Just before we left the gallery the affable owners, father and son Bill and Shaun Mayberry, stopped to chat with us. Esther mentioned that the reference to Maud Lewis in Bill Redekop’s newspaper article about  Joanne Gullachsen, was what had brought us to the gallery since we were avid Maud Lewis fans. Bill told us they were in the process of putting together a collection of Lewis’ work to be part of an exhibition this fall. “I think four Maud Lewis paintings just came in today. Would you like to see them?” Bill offered. 

Sleighs and Covered Bridges by Maud Lewis

The Mayberrys unwrapped the Lewis paintings and laid them out on a table at the back of the gallery. Bill told us one of the pieces came from a woman whose mother had bought the painting for five dollars from Maud Lewis because she felt sorry for her. Bill  pointed out some unique features in the paintings that aren’t found in Maud’s other works with similar themes.

What a treat for us to see Maud’s paintings up close and to have our own little private viewing of some of her work, courtesy of the congenial Mayberrys. The last time I had seen any of Maud’s paintings in person was when I visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia nearly ten years ago. 

I will definitely visit the Mayberry Gallery to see the Maud Lewis exhibit when it opens. I am inspired by Joanne Gullachsen who is earning money and becoming recognized as an artist at 68. I read in her biography that she took art classes and was mentored by other Manitoba artists. Taking writing classes and finding a mentor or writing group to work with, is something I need to do as well,  if I want to find a wider audience for my writing and turn it into a source of income. But I am only 58 so I still have a whole decade left to attempt to emulate  what Joanne has done. 

Categories: Exchange District, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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