We Are Sorry- Here and Down Under

we are sorry cathy busbyLast week I watched workers on tall ladders hang these huge banners in Eckhardt Hall, the two storey front lobby at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The art piece they were installing is a work called We Are Sorry and was created by Cathy Busby. She has chosen excerpts from 2008 speeches by both Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper and Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd.  The purpose of both speeches was to apologize for the tragedy created by the residential school system in their respective countries. Busby transferred the two prime ministers’ remarks onto 20′ x 45′ vinyl panels.

cathy busby we are sorryOriginally presented at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2010 at the invitation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada the artwork has also been displayed in other Canadian and Australian cities. 

Cathy Busby - photo by Luther Alexander

Cathy Busby – photo by Luther Alexander

Halifax artist Cathy Busby who has a PhD in communications and an MA in media from Concordia University in Montreal says about her work, “These apologies for the stolen generations in Australia and the Indian residential schools systems in Canada were of major significance when they were delivered, and yet each was a relatively fleeting moment. We are Sorry gives them a renewed and sustained presence highlighting the shared histories of these two British colonies.”

The Four Seasons of '76 by Alex Janvier

The Four Seasons of ’76 by Alex Janvier

It is perhaps fitting that Busby’s banners are being displayed again just as the Winnipeg Art Gallery prepares to open a new exhibit called Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. on May 10, 2014. 

Other related posts……….

Residential Schools- The Hiroshima of the Indian Nations

History Told in Pictures

Neechi Commons




Categories: History, Murals, Winnipeg Art Gallery | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

A Mural For Bill Norrie

bill norrie mural langside and ell iceI was walking to the West End Cultural Centre on Sunday night and went past this mural.  Unveiled in September of 2013 it pays tribute to Winnipeg mayor Bill Norrie who died in July of 2012.  Bill Norrie grew up not too far from its location at the corner of Ellice and Langside. 

bill norrie mural

Tom Lamb – A Sculpture by Leo Mol on the Bill Norrie mural

Bill’s wife Helen Norrie, whose photo is displayed prominently in the mural, said at the mural’s unveiling that she appreciated the way it pictured so many of the things her husband was passionate about and interested in. For example, the mural includes a sculpture of Tom Lamb by Winnipeg artist Leo Mol. Norrie officially opened Mol’s sculpture garden in Assiniboine Park during his last year in office. There is also a panda since Bill Norrie helped to bring the pandas to Winnipeg. 

bill norrie at his desk muralThe mural was painted by local artists Michel Saint Hilaire and Mandy van Leeuwen and shows the former mayor sitting at his desk surrounded by items that were meaningful to him. bill norrie's family home on banningThe artists have even included a likeness of Bill Norrie’s childhood home on Banning Street.

norrie cottage and panda

The Norrie cottage and a panda

Bill Norrie was the mayor of Winnipeg from 1979-1992 and at the mural’s unveiling current mayor Sam Katz characterized him as a kind and gentle man who loved his community. University of Winnipeg President Dr Lloyd Axworthy also paid tribute to Norrie saying, “he never forgot his roots.” 

Helen Norrie on Bill Norrie mural

Helen Norrie photo on Bill Norrie mural

Helen Norrie observed, “Bill loved Winnipeg and this mural shows that.”

Other posts about Bill Norrie…….

Words of Wisdom from Winnipeg Mayor  Bill Norrie

Other posts about murals……..

Gunn’s Bakery

The Winnipeg Strike

Other posts about Leo Mol…..

Visiting the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden

Tom Lamb Mr. North

Tree Children


Categories: Famous Citizens, Murals, Politics, West End | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Winnipeg Strike Mural

This mural is on the south wall of the very popular nightclub Whiskey Dix on Main Street. Painted by Tom Andrich it tells the story of perhaps the most memorable event in Winnipeg history, the strike of 1919.  In May some 30,000 workers walked off the job because of poor working conditions and a lack of employment opportunities especially for World War I veterans. Union organizers had been passionately advocating  for an eight-hour work day, collective bargaining and the need for employers to pay a living wage.  

The  artist has chosen to highlight eight of the strike leaders who were imprisoned, eight men and one woman. The woman right in front is Helen Armstrong. In 2001 a television documentary called The Notorious Mrs. Armstrong told her story. Nicknamed Wild Woman of the West she was a union organizer who championed the cause of working women. Born in Toronto and married to a carpenter named George she moved to Winnipeg with him in 1905 where Helen became the leader of the Women’s Labor League. Her leadership helped bring a minimum wage to Manitoba. 

During the Winnipeg Strike she organized kitchens to feed female strikers and harassed strike breakers who were crossing the picket line. She encouraged women to boycott stores where the workers were on strike and challenged them to join the men who were on strike. She was arrested and jailed for inciting people to strike, disorderly conduct and encouraging the abuse of strike breakers. 

Winnipeg business owners organized a Citizen’s Committee of One Thousand to oppose the strikers. They  blamed foreign immigrants for the strike and many were deported. The majority of the strikers however were British.

On June 21, 1919, war veterans organized a parade to protest the arrest of labor leaders. They were also upset at the government edict that the labor movement newspaper could no longer be published. 6,000 people gathered in front of City Hall. When a streetcar, operated by strike breakers came by the protesters overturned it and set it on fire.  

The federal government had sent out the Royal North West Mounted Police to help put an end to the strike. Carrying clubs and firearms the North West Police charged into the crowd after the street car was overturned. They began to fire their weapons. 

June 21, 1919 became known as Bloody Saturday, because the North West Mounties killed  two strikers, wounded thirty-four and made nearly a hundred arrests. The mural on Main Street has a portrait of one of the men who died. His name was Mike Sokolowski. After Bloody Saturday the strike organizers fearing more violence called the strike to a halt and the strikers went back to work on June 26th. 

I often catch the bus at a stop right by this Winnipeg Strike Mural.  I am glad that I understand more about it now and the important event in Winnipeg history it documents. 

Another post that might be of Interest is………….

1919 Winnipeg Strike- Fact and Fiction

Categories: Exchange District, Historical Events, Murals | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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. 

Categories: Businesses, Murals, North End | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at