St. Boniface

The Best of Fall – Of Geese and Other Creatures

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human rights museumLast week I spent a lovely fall afternoon with friends, chez sophiefirst at the restaurant Chez Sophie on the Provencher Bridgeat chez sophie having lunchT- 4's and checking out the river view dock fort whyteand then on a sun dappled stroll through Fort Whyte.  The current chilly temperatures make it hard to believe that it was so warm just a week ago. Canada geeseThe Canada geese had pretty much taken over Fort Whytecanada geeseThey were everywhere.
burrowing owlThe burrowing owls were fascinating to watch.burrowing owls fort whyteSo sad to realize they are on the brink of extinction on the Canadian prairies.prairie dogsThe prairie dogs entertained us for a long time with their antics.prairie dogsThey are such social animals and it’s fun to watch them interact with one another teasing and playing and fighting. prairie grasses fort whyte manitobaFort Whyte is the perfect place to connect with nature and enjoy the best of autumn. 

fall day fort whyteI’m glad I got to spend one of the last nice…

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Louis Riel- Are Two Statues Better Than One?

louis rielLouis Riel’s important role in the history of our city and province is recognized in a new music video by Winnipeg’s own Royal Canoe featuring Exodus of the Year- my favorite song by the band. exodus of the year video royal canoeThe video shows Riel’s statue on Broadway Avenue, his statue in St. Boniface and his grave.

LRpb.tifRiel’s contributions have been recognized in many ways- in an opera, in a terrific graphic novel by Chester Brown, in the name of a Winnipeg school division, and in the February provincial holiday named after him. Two statues of Louis Riel in Winnipeg- one in St. Boniface and one on the Manitoba Legislature grounds reflect the two sides of the man who is widely known as the Father of Manitoba but was hanged as a traitor. louis riel st. boniface statueI’ve blogged about one of the Riel statues already and thought it was time to write about the other. So I stopped at 450 Broadway on a bicycle trip last week to snap some photos of the Riel statue there by artist Miguel Joyal.

louis riel statue broadway winnipegIn this statue Riel isn’t naked as he is in the St. Boniface one. louis riel boat tripHe is  dressed in a suit and vest and bowtie -although he is wearing moccasins and a sash in recognition of his Metis heritage. 

louis riel statue

He is holding the Manitoba Act in his hand which was based on a List of Rights Louis Riel wrote that included among many other things recognition of this area of Canada as a province by the federal government, the right to representatives in the House of Commons and Senate and the use of both French and English in all government communication. 

louis riel st. boniface collegeThe statue of Riel in St. Boniface (which by the way used to stand on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature) does a better job of showing the tortured soul Riel was in many ways, and what a price he paid for his political activism, exiled for years to the United States as a wanted criminal and struggling with mental illness. 

louis riel legislatureThe statue on Broadway shows him as the great statesman, forward thinker and founder of the province of Manitoba.  It is probably good that we have both statues in our city. 

Other posts about Louis Riel…..

A Graphic Louis Riel

A Controversial Statue

The Provencher Bridge

Could I Have Been A Grey Nun?

We’re Living in a Piece of History

The Street Where I Live

 The Park At the End of the Bridge

Categories: Downtown, Politics, St. Boniface, Statues | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Quo Vadis- Talk About a Perfect Setting!

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st. boniface basilicaThe  St. Boniface Basilica was a brilliant choice as a setting for the musical Quo Vadis. I attended the performance on the night of  July 22 which just happened to be the forty-six year anniversary of the tragic fire that nearly completely destroyed the huge Winnipeg cathedral in 1968. dave at basilicaAll that remained of the old church after the fire was the majestic front piece. That stone facade which is now more than a century old, provided the backdrop for the Fringe Festival production of Quo Vadis. 

Quo Vadis Cast- Photo Winnipeg Free PressQuo Vadis Cast- Photo Winnipeg Free Press

This was not your regular fringe play. It had a huge cast with many trained and talented musicians among them. The story is taken from a Polish novel by Nobel Prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz. It is set in 64 AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. It recounts the love story of a military man…

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A Sculpture Garden Stroll in Winnipeg’s French Quarter

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front door ash down warehouseOn Wednesday my visitors Meena and Beena and I set off on a stroll through St. Boniface which is the French Quarter of Winnipeg. First Beena and I posed for a photo outside the Ashdown Warehouse where Dave and I live.selkirk settlers Meena and BeenaWe paused for another photo at the end of our street beside the sculpture of the Selkirk Settlers. I love this piece with the mother cradling her baby and looking back at her home in Scotland which she will never see again. The kilted father and son stride forward with confidence and determination towards their new home in Canada, the father’s guiding hand resting gently on his son’s back. human rights museumAs we crossed the Provencher Bridge we took a photo with Winnipeg’s New Human Rights Museum in the background. It doesn’t open till September so Meena and Beena will have to come back for another visit to Winnipeg so…

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Promenade Cafe

promenade cafe saint bonifaceDave and I had never been to the Promenade Cafe just across the Provencher Bridge and only a five-minute bike ride from our home. dinner at promenade cafe saint bonifaceLast week we  cycled over to meet our friends there for dinner. patio promenade cafe saint bonifaceIt was a rainy cold day so we couldn’t use the patio with its nice view of the river, the bridge and the New Human Rights Museum. However the atmosphere inside was pleasant and warm and we enjoyed our meal immensely. couple wine tastingDave and I opted for the restaurant’s unique ever-changing Prix Fixe menu which allows a couple to share a four course meal including a half glass of a different wine pairing with each course. It’s a great deal! You get more than enough food and our bill ended up being substantially cheaper than our friends who’d ordered in a more traditional way from the interesting menu.  pate trayOur first course was a butcher block with pate, spicy mustard, salad, pickles and herb seasoned toasted French bread. Of course paired with a nice white wine. goat cheese saladNext came a salad topped with creamy goat cheese. This is one person’s portion. chicken dish promenade cafe st. bonifaceThen a chicken dish with mushroom bacon wine sauce, creamy potatoes and brocoli. It was so good I was half done before I remembered to take a photo. chocolate dessert promenade cafe And finally a luscious chocolate dessert that quite literally melted in your mouth accompanied by a dessert wine.  It was a satisfying and throughly enjoyable dining experience. The waitress was friendly and informative and the restaurant obviously popular with the place quickly filling up for dinner. Now that we’ve been introduced to the Promenade I know we’ll go back. I’ve heard their breakfasts are excellent.

Other posts about restaurants visited…….

A Blast From the Past

Neechi Commons

The Best Won Ton Mein in Winnipeg

Cafe D Amour

Eat Like You Give a Damn

Categories: Food, Restaurants, St. Boniface | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Visiting the Home of a Canadian Author

Gabrielle Roy's childhood home in St. Boniface

Gabrielle Roy’s childhood home in St. Boniface

Gabrielle Roy is one of Canada’s literary giants and she was born right here in Winnipeg. I took a tour of her childhood home in St. Boniface.  Our first guide Adrienne was a college student from Quebec.  She told us Gabrielle had lived in this house at 375 Deschambault from her birth in 1909 till she left for Europe in 1937.

Our second guide shows us a photograph of Gabrielle’s family

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. 

Our guide explains how a stereoscope works

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 Roy’s mother’s sewing machine

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 Roy with her grade one class at Provencher School

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 Children of My Heart which is about a young school teacher and her students and Rue Deschambault about life in St. Boniface.

Toys in the attic of Gabrielle’s Roy’s home

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

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………

The Age of Hope

The Constructed Mennonite

A Children’s Writer Who Has Found the Magic Formula


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The Winnipeg Coffee Quest- Candidate #1

My husband Dave says we are going to have a coffee adventure in the next while.  He wants to visit all five coffee shops that were nominated for the best coffee in Winnipeg by the CBC.

cafe postal logoOur first stop was Friday morning at Cafe Postal on Provencher in St. Boniface.  I admit I was favorably swayed the minute I walked in the door and I heard the album playing on the speakers.  It was Today We’re Believers by Royal Canoe, my favorite Winnipeg band.

cafe postal by evan bergenPostal is small, just a half-dozen stools at a wooden bar that looks out at street level. The baristas were very friendly and from the way they chatted with their customers it was clear many are regulars and the baristas know them well. 

The Americano coffees we ordered were hot and flavorful. We shared a  saskatoon-oatmeal muffin which was so large it was plenty for two. The baking comes from The Tall Grass Prairie.   I overheard the one female barista comment that she was off to a barista competition in Vancouver. Impressive!

coffee at cafe postal by evan bergenMy husband who has worked on a coffee plantation in Laos is always curious where coffee comes from. The barista said they get their coffee from Toronto. According to an excellent article about Cafe Postal in the magazine The Rooster the owners chose the coffee supplier they did because ” amongst the 20 some roasters that we tried, they had a distinct chocolate caramel taste that was unique to Winnipeg and reflective of the French culture.”

I liked the Cafe Postal. The atmosphere was friendly, the coffee good and it’s close to our home. I’ll be going back. 

Other posts about coffee………..

Missing Pacific Coffee

Fair Trade Coffee and Hope For Laos

Categories: Restaurants, St. Boniface | Tags: , | Leave a comment

On a Carousel

carousel by BGL Cool Beach WinnipegYes. That’s my husband Dave riding on a carousel whose seat is made from an old shopping cart.  It’s actually a piece of cutting edge public art that’s part of the Cool Gardens installation being featured in  Winnipeg this summer. 

north face exchange district richardson buildingOne Saturday morning our friends Fran and Marge drove into the city to have breakfast with us. Before we tucked into our omelets at the Free Press Cafe we decided we needed some exercise so we went for a ninety minute walk to check out all the great public art in our neighborhood. 

carousel by BGL St. Boniface GardenAt the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden which I’ve visited often in the past, I noticed there were several new pieces of art including Carousel made from recycled crowd barriers, metal fences and grocery carts attached to an old light post. riding the carousel st. boniface sculpture garden cool gardens

The guys hopped right on to try out the interactive piece of art and pushed themselves around the carousel. Because we were on a long walk Dave still brought his cane but he didn’t need it on the carousel. carousel metal sculpture

The sculpture was designed by Jasmin Bilodeau, Sebastian Giguere and Nicolas Laverdiere known collectively as BGL from Quebec City.  Apparently at times acrobats perform in and around the carousel as an interactive feature of the art piece. 

One of the reasons I love living in this area of the city is that there is always some new public art work to see. 

Check out these other posts about garden art………..

Art in the Garden

Between Dog and Wolf

What is It?

La Promise


Categories: Parks, Sculptures, St. Boniface | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fort Gibralter

Fort Gilbralter St. Boniface

Fort Gibralter St. Boniface

I’d always wanted to visit Fort Gibralter, which is very near our home and on Canada Day I finally did. Admission was free because it was a national holiday.  While Dave was watching baseball at nearby Whittier Park I took a very interesting tour. 

The Blacksmith Shop

The Blacksmith Shop

Fort Gibraltar was built to show visitors what life was like in the area around Winnipeg in the early 1800’s. It was the home base for the North West Trading Company which was in direct competition with the Hudsons Bay Trading Company. The original fort was built in 1809 but captured and destroyed by the Selkirk colony in 1816.  Later the two companies amalgamated.

Fur trading at Fort Gilbraltar

Fur trading at Fort Gibraltar

The fort served as a supply depot and trade center for the voyageurs. The voyageurs were French Canadian transportation experts. They were seasoned woodsmen and fearless canoeists, known for their music making and love of life. Their job was to move  furs from one place to another.

These women were making baskets to hold voyageurs' supplies

These women were making baskets to hold voyageurs’ supplies

Look at her dress decorated with shells

Look at her dress decorated with shells

This young woman was curing cast iron cooking pots for the voyageurs. I loved the way the shells on her dress jingled and jangled as she moved around.

Packing a bison bladder with pemiccan

Packing a bison bladder with pemiccan for the voyageurs to take on trips

This fort worker was making pemiccan,  a paste of dried and pounded meat and maybe berries mixed with melted fat. It was good food for the voyageurs to take on their journeys and was stored in a dried out bison bladder.

Main Building at Fort Gilbralter

Main Building at Fort Gibralter

Voyageurs used Fort Gibraltar as a place to trade, rest up and restock their supply caches. 

Rental space at Fort Gilbraltar

Rental space at Fort Gibraltar

You can rent the main lodge for events. On Canada Day when I visited it was all set up for a wedding.

Guide explaining the willow china pattern

Guide explaining the willow china pattern

The guides at the fort were so helpful and answered all of my many questions.fort gilbralter
I know I’ll visit Fort Gibralter again.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like……

There must be 50 ways to use a Bison

Eating Bannock Voyageur Style

Red River Boat Tour

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The Provencher Bridge

I walk or drive across the Provencher Bridge almost everyday. What a stunning structure! Built in 2003 it is designed for both cars and pedestrians. I like to look way up at the top of the bridge where the side spar wires join together. I get deliciously dizzy, seeing all those pristine white cables create a perfectly spaced musical staff pattern in the blue sky. 

The bridge spans the Red River and is the third one built in the same place. The current bridge was designed by Etienne Gaboury and Colin Stewart. I admire their creativity and often wonder how they dreamed up the plans for such an unusual structure. The pedestrian part of the bridge is called Esplanade Riel. It is named after the Metis leader Louis Riel, the founder of the province of Manitoba. 

There is aboriginal art on the bridge. It is just a short distance from The Forks where the Red and Assiniboine rivers intersect. Canada’s First Nations people came to The Forks for over 6000 years to meet and trade with one another. Symbols for flying birds, the sun, flowers, fish, feathers, hills and water fowl are etched into the stone as well as some ribbons or ropes that are reminiscent of the bridge’s cables.On this section of the girders the art isn’t quite the same. A sun stylized in a unique way is the focal piece again, but this time there are butterflies and moths instead of birds and some crawling creatures that look like grasshoppers and beetles. Once again there are the winding pieces that resemble roads or paths or perhaps the back of a snake. An engraving explains that the artistic images on the bridge describe the creation of the world. The plaque tells the story in detail beginning with the words……….In the beginning all was stark and barren. Then on the dawn of the first day the earth came alive and offered its magnificent beauty in an endless cycle of seasons. There is a Salisbury House Restaurant on the bridge. Salisbury House is a burger and chips kind of chain owned in part by the famous Winnipeg singer Burton Cummings of Guess Who fame. When I walk across the bridge and view the sky, the tree line and the historic St. Boniface Basilica facade through the taut cables; I am struck by what I beautiful city I am living in, one that can rival the many famous cities of the world I have visited in the last six years.  

Categories: Bridges, St. Boniface | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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