Issue 01, Vol. 01 Fall 2008
|WELCOME FROM ALEXANDER||FALL SUPPER SEASON ARRIVES||ANTIQUING IN WINNIPEG|
|PARIS OF THE PRAIRIES||TOURS, MUSEUMS & HISTORICAL SITES||IT'S MY MOMENT|
|Welcome from Alexander|
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
Welcome. As the music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra I want to give you a little overview of the arts offerings in our city. And I think you will be quite amazed.
If you have never experienced the sounds and excitement of a full symphony orchestra or if you are classics connoisseurs, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and myself would love to see you. You will hear over 150 musicians play and sing in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the famous Ode to Joy or in the inspiring sounds of Handel’s Messiah or the ethereal worlds of Holst's The Planets.
Our gala opening, featuring the music of Richard Strauss (which you might recognize from Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001: A Space Odyssey) and Manitoba's own violin virtuoso James Ehnes will perform September 26 and 27 at the Concert Hall!
You are in the mood for dance? Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers are kicking of their season in co-presentation with the Urban Shaman Gallery: "Santee Smith - Here on Earth." The audience will be captivated by this spiritual exploration as performers move along a shifting path from shaman to human to animal. Dates: Sept. 18 & 19, Location: Gas Station Theatre
You most probably have heard already of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and you might have seen them touring in your home town. Now it's time to see them in their own home with: Carmina Burana, a sensual powerhouse of modern ballet based on manuscripts that were found in an ancient German monastery and written by Christians who abandoned their faith in pursuit of sins of the flesh.
Dates: Oct. 22 - 26, Location: Concert Hall
How about some opera? The Manitoba Opera will be performing one of Verdi's most beautiful works:
Il Trovatore, a tale of tragedy, doomed love, brave men and passionate women, swordfights, and last-minute rescue attempts. Dates: Nov. 22, 25 & 28, Location: Concert Hall
If you rather like intimate spaces and groups the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra or Virtuosi are definitely something you should check out. Virtuosi will present an evening of Mozart for 2 and 4 hands with Sara Davis Buechner & Jane Coop, pianists. Dates: Sept. 13 Location: Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall, The U of W, 515 Portage Ave.
And the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra's first concert of the season will be with brass virtuoso "Guy Few." There are many reasons Canadian trumpeter Guy Few has been called "thrillingly fearless" and "outrageously gifted" - he takes chances on stage and his charisma charges the proceedings! Dates:
Location: Westminister United Church
How about some Jazz? The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra will perform with Jennifer Hanson. Her sultry voice is one of Winnipeg’s finest exports. Dates: Oct. 5,
Location: Winnipeg Art Gallery
As the music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra I am of course a musician first and had to tell you about all the musical events in my town.
BUT, we have such a flourishing and creative theater scene that I would need much more space to tell you all about it. Here a short, yet passionate overview.
When your teenage daughter is struggling with drugs, boys and the law, it’s probably not the best time to start dating. But after suffering through a messy divorce, Al is looking for a new start. This is the idea behind the first production of the Prairie Theatre Exchange titled "How it Works."
Dates: Oct. 16 - Nov. 2, Location: Prairie Theatre Exchange
The Manitoba Theater Center will start out with a classic, Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen’s beloved novel is brought to life in an exciting adaptation. Dates: Oct. 16 - Nov. 8, Location: MB Theatre Centre
In September each year, Winnipeg welcomes writers from Canada and around the world for a week of readings, lectures, interviews, conversations, book launches, and other events. That week of literary indulgence (which reaches out into the rural areas of the province as well) is THIN AIR, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival. Dates: Sept. 21 - 28, Location: Various
The celebration of Aboriginal music and culture, international First Nations competition Pow Wow, music festival, indigenous marketplace, Metis celebration, visual arts and the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards will all be at the center of the Manito Ahbee Festival. It is one-of-it's-kind in Canada and you shouldn't miss it. Dates: Oct. 31 - Nov. 9, Location: MTS Centre & Convention Centre
Every November, the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival (WAFF) showcases the best in indigenous film and video from across Canada, the U.S. and the world. Held over 5 days, WAFF’s wide array of films are complemented by nightly events such as post-screening receptions and informal mixers between artists and audiences. Dates: Nov. 19 - 23
Location: Various downtown locations
There you have it! As you might have guessed it, there is a whole bunch more, but every overview is just that, an overview. Well, time to get back to learning and conducting music, I hope to see you soon.
Winnipeg: Paris on the Prairies
St. Boniface in Winnipeg has one of Canada’s largest French-speaking communities. Throughout 2008, it will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Boniface. And along with French culture comes fabulous French food.
During the annual Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada’s largest winter festival, every year in February, sample classic French-Canadian cuisine, including pea soup, tourtière (a warm, meat pie) and sugar pie. Walk across the stunning Esplanade Riel footbridge to St. Boniface to sample Croque Monsieur, cuisses de grenouille (frog legs) or Coq au Vin. Take in a play at the oldest French theatre in Canada, Le Cercle Molière. Built in 1846, the St. Boniface Museum displays the life of the Métis and French-Canadians in the largest existing oak-log structure in North America.
Fall Supper Season Arrives
Down-Home Cooking, Local Ingredients, Regional Delicacies Are the Recipe for a Century-Old Autumn Tradition. It’s suppertime in Manitoba. From now through mid-November, dozens of traditional community-based "fall suppers" - buffet feasts of down-home cooking, locally grown ingredients, and family recipes - are being served throughout the central Canadian province.
These annual grass-roots get-togethers offer garden-fresh produce and main courses often prepared from locally raised poultry, beef, and pork. Home-baked pies and cakes draw crowds year after year.
In St. Francois Xavier, diners are greeted by the aromas of roast turkey and hot "fresh air buns" - light, satin-smooth dinner rolls made from handed-down recipes by members of the local Hutterite religious colony, founded by settlers from central Europe.
Visitors are always welcome at Manitoba’s fall suppers. The October supper in rural Stonewall, about a 20-minute drive from the provincial capital of Winnipeg, expects to cater to nearly 1,200 out-of-town guests during a three-hour period.
At the Stonewall supper, most vegetables, including potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cabbage, are locally grown, and even the pickles are homemade, according to a representative of the local veteran’s group that organizes the event.
Autumn has been a season of super suppers for more than a century in rural and small-town Manitoba. The harvest-time meals were originally called "fowl suppers" because the main course was typically duck or goose.
Over time, the culinary concept broadened, and the term "fowl suppers" morphed into the more appetizing-sounding "fall suppers."
Nowadays, the fowl is typically turkey. But a fall supper amid Manitoba’s multicultural prairies, plains, and lake lands is hardly a typical American-style Thanksgiving dinner.
Depending on the locale and a community’s ethnic heritage, supper-goers might find sweet and sour meatballs, roast beef, pierogies (filled dumplings), and cabbage rolls - all homemade by local volunteers. Ham, pork loin, and breaded chicken are other supper staples.
In some areas, visitors might find a wall-to-wall Ukrainian smorgasbord or a spread of delicacies from other European cultures, prepared according to family recipes.
The October fall supper in the French-Canadian enclave of St. Pierre Jolys will be serving hearty, if not particularly French, roast beef, baked chicken, meatballs, mashed potatoes, several salads, and a large selection of homemade pies and cakes, according to Luc Dandenault of the local Knights of Columbus.
Why no tourtière, the signature French-Canadian meat pie? "Because we have it all the time," Dandenault says, adding that the dessert table might offer tarte au sucre - a creamy maple sugar pie - "depending on who’s baking this year."
Manitoba’s fall suppers pride themselves on desserts. These can include Saskatoon berry pie, a regional specialty of the Northern Plains made from a sweet purple prairie berry with a complex flavor that includes a hint of almond.
Local residents donate the food and labor for these seasonal fundraising events. Proceeds benefit community and social service organizations, veterans groups, churches, and other nonprofit causes.
The typical per-person charge at fall suppers is 10 Canadian dollars for adults - about $10 at current exchange rates - and $5 for youngsters.
Nobody will complain if a guest returns to the buffet tables for second and even third helpings. "You’re gorging for a good cause," according to a Travel Manitoba representative.
Travel Manitoba’s website has a database of fall suppers (www.travelmanitoba.com). Type "fall suppers" into the search box at the top of the home page to display a rundown of towns and organizations hosting suppers, along with phone numbers for information.
Fall supper listings are also available by calling Travel Manitoba toll-free at (800) 665-0040.
Manitoba Boasts a Wealth of Heritage Offerings
Walking tours, museums and historic sites reveal the stories of Manitoba’s rich past. From fossils of an ancient sea to a re-vitalized 1920s warehouse district that's the envy of historians around North America, we Manitobans have a lot of history—going as far back as half-a-billion years in some cases—you might never have expected to find here. And we're still discovering surprising new ancient treasures. Come see some of our great old stuff.
Plunges into the Past
Antiquing in Winnipeg - a collector’s tour
For collectors who don’t know Winnipeg or its history, the biggest surprise will be the tremendous variety of antiques and collectibles you’ll find. I left more than 30 years ago, but love to return to check out the antiques scene. This city has been a magnet for people and their possessions since the 1860s when so many steamships plied the Red River that it was known as the “Mississippi of the North.” The railway arrived in 1881 and by 1920 Winnipeg was the “Chicago of the North” – the hub for shipments of grain from the West to the world. Great fortunes were made in grain and financial services, and this spawned a design and cultural legacy that thrives to this day.
Winnipeg was a centre for mid-century design. According to Virginia Wright in her book Modern Furniture in Canada, “domestic architecture was more energetically modern in the prairie and western provinces than elsewhere in Canada.” The interior design program offered at the University of Manitoba School of Architecture was the only degree program of its kind in Canada, and the evidence of that design tradition is everywhere. The “Canadian Coconut” chair was designed by A.J. Donahue – a Winnipeg architect and professor at the school – and manufactured in his basement by his students.
The Winnipeg International Airport and the City Hall had Mies van der Rohe chairs in the 1960s and every school and public building seems to have bought Eames stacking chairs at the same time.
So, whether you are looking for a William Morris carpet, a seventeenth century pair of candlesticks, a resolutely modern design chair or a piece of “funk” style, this suggested route will turn up some great finds.
A great place to start your tour is The Forks. Situated at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, this vibrant riverside area with old warehouses and storage yards housing theatres, markets, and restaurants occupies land that was a railway marshalling ground when I was growing up here in the 1960s. At the heart of the Forks, the four-storey Johnston Terminal – once a cold storage railway warehouse – now has offices, shops, restaurants and in the basement, the Johnston Terminal Antique Mall with over 5000 square feet of antiques and collectibles. There are forty plus dealers in this mall and a wide range of merchandise. My favourite mini shop within the mall was Bud & Betty’s Vintage Living, specialists in “vintage lifewares.” Kandia Desrochers, the manager of the antique mall, suggested we head to the newly opened Village Antique Mall at 197 Osborne Street.
The Village Antique Mall tries to stock as many examples of modern design as they can along with a good selection of dishes including Shelley, Solian Ware, Susie Cooper, Kathie Winkle, and Royal Albert and a showcase full of Sherman jewellery.
A few blocks further south on Osborne, take a look in Simplify at 513 Osborne Street. Owner Kim Collins moved to Winnipeg from Toronto ten years ago and opened this shop about a year ago. She specializes in the “shabby chic” look made so popular by Rachel Ashwell but her prices are definitely Winnipeg and not California-style. Kim and her partner Kathy Benham have a great eye and the shop is filled with vintage linens, distressed furniture and shabby-genteel accessories. Next stop is always Antiques to Go at 717 Osborne Street South. Dennis Downey has an eclectic assortment of guy stuff, advertising ephemera, First Nations beadwork and primitive furniture.
Children’s books are an increasingly sought-after collectible. I don’t know if prairie children took better care of their books than other children but there are a number of places to buy vintage children’s literature in Winnipeg. Nerman’s Books & Collectibles at 721 Osborne Street has mostly books and paper ephemera but children’s books are their specialty. With over 25,000 children’s books in inventory, I was not surprised to find over 40 Nancy Drew books from my youth ranging in price from $4.00-$25.00.
From Osborne Village continue south to Jubilee Avenue and head west to Pembina Highway. Go north on Pembina a short distance and then take the left fork to Stafford Street. This will bring you to Corydon Avenue and another small cluster of antique shops.
Don’t miss Abbey Antiques at 914 Corydon Avenue. Dr. Cooper is a retired geneticist with a passion for antiques and research. He gives lectures, does antique road shows and will happily chat with you about the provenance of any of the treasures in his shop. He says he buys well in Winnipeg but does most of his sales in Toronto and Calgary.
Selim’s Antiques, at 801 Corydon Avenue, is bursting with sterling, crystal, dinnerware, Moorcroft and high quality antiques and collectibles. Be prepared to ask for prices.
Star Vintage at 807 Corydon will interest any collectors of vintage clothing. Do not miss the Royal Winnipeg Ballet shop Things, north on Stafford and east on Grosvenor. The shop is filled with both donated and consignment goods—mainly crystal, silver and dishes--and I bought several signed Barbara Vernon Bunnykins nursery pieces at knock-down prices.
Downtown on Edmonton Street, The Curiosity Shop is Winnipeg’s oldest antique store. Faye Settler started selling antiques in 1949. These days much of the shop is an art gallery but you will still find a room full of antique ceramics, glassware and furniture. I know a couple of Toronto antique dealers who flew to Winnipeg once a year to buy stock from Settler in the 1980s and 90s.
From the Curiosity Shop it is less than a ten-minute walk to the Exchange District. The Exchange District – declared a national historic site in 1997 — is a 30-block area of downtown Winnipeg just north and west of Canada's most famous corner – Portage and Main. The Winnipeg Grain Exchange — the centre of the grain industry in Canada — and the other exchanges developed in Winnipeg from 1881-1918, were all here. Today, cobblestone streets and terra-cotta and cut-stone buildings make this district a perfect backdrop for the movie industry as well as the perfect venue for antique shops and antiquarian book dealers.
We started off at Antiques & Funk at 474 Main Street. Owner Margery Carruthers gave us a sheet listing the ten antique shops with a locator map in the Exchange District. I was looking at a Vladimir Tretchikoff print and Margery explained that the “master of mass produced art” had broken the rules and signed all kinds of his prints during his visit to Winnipeg in the mid 1960s. These signed prints turn up regularly in the Winnipeg antiques scene.
If you are interested in design--whether “classic or cool”-- head over to McDermot Avenue. De Ja Vue/Metaphysical had 1940s dresses mixed in with vintage cowboy collectibles. Hoopers Bazaar was filled with vintage clothing, antique furniture and costume jewelry. I bought a 1950s red bowling shirt with the nametag Ed from Hoopers for much less than I would pay on Queen Street West in Toronto. Across the street Ragpickers Anti-Fashion Emporium offered to rent me a vintage bowling shirt since they had none for sale but they did have an eclectic mix of vintage and antique fashion as well as books and art for sale. Nearby, Le Zoma had a mix of what owner Marilee Fréchette calls “vintage furnishings, accessories & stuff.”
Favoured by movie rental companies, The Old House Revival Company at 245 McDermot Avenue, a 1893 Romanesque Revival style building, is filled with bits of Winnipeg’s history. Church pews priced at $450 and railings at $1100 sit amid other pieces of architectural salvage, antique furniture and folk art. If you are interested in Victorian or Edwardian furniture, the Antique Exchange on Donald Street and the Antique Warehouse on Princess advertise themselves as full six-storey warehouses of Winnipeg’s largest furniture collection.
Heirlooms Antiques at 124 King Street is one of Canada’s largest stockists of discontinued Royal Albert. The Wood family moved to Winnipeg from London, England more than twenty years ago, opened an antique shop ten years ago and bought the building on King Street four years ago.
Winnipeg’s Exchange District reminds me of Toronto’s Queen Street West some years ago. New-to-the-market artists and antique dealers often seek out interesting, down-at-the-heel urban areas with low rent and few amenities.
For anyone interested in antiquarian or collectible books, Winnipeg merits a visit. A group of book dealers have put together a walking map of Winnipeg’s so-called Book District in and adjacent to The Exchange District. The Winnipeg Association of Secondhand Booksellers have just printed the 24th edition of “The Book Hunter’s Map of Winnipeg.”
Several shops outside the Exchange District are worth finding. Mike’s General Store at 52 St. Anne’s Road is crammed with old advertising signs and tins, Coca Cola memorabilia, vintage toys, woodworking tools, books, china cabinets, roll top desks, books, postcards, and collectibles of every description.
A more recent addition to the Winnipeg antique world is Vintage Veruca Antiques at 1803 Main Street. Nine years ago Monique Buckmaster was heading home from college and stopped in Winnipeg. She met avid Victoriana collector and Volvo mechanic Andy Siveri. Married some time later, they opened their first antique shop five years ago and bought the building on Main Street a year and a half ago. “We have very few walk-in customers on north Main Street. People come here specifically to buy decorative and useful objects,” Monique said. She showed me a Navajo Chief’s Wearing Blanket circa 1900. An ex-employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad had bought it in 1919 in Arizona and brought it to Winnipeg some years later. His daughter consigned the blanket to Monique; a month later I saw the blanket hanging pride-of-place in her booth at the Calgary Antique Show priced at $9500.
There are always Americans at the Calgary shows and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this blanket had gone back over the border to the southwest United States.
Winnipeg was the gateway to the south as well as the west from the 1880 through to the 1920s. You simply never know what will turn up in this city—a rare William de Morgan tile, a Navajo chief’s blanket, an early nineteenth century mahogany sideboard or a piece of American art pottery. A Canadian Ebay seller recently offered a jade green Sony TR-55 transistor radio; the top bid of $11,100 was not enough to meet the reserve! According to the seller only a handful were made for consumption within Japan but fifty were shipped to Canada to Sam and Albert Cohen’s Winnipeg-based General Distributors – the first company to import Sony products into North America.
Next time I am in Winnipeg you can be sure I will be searching for one of the forty-nine TR-55 radios that may be sitting in a flea market or junk store priced at $5.00.
Isn’t that what antiquing is all about?
Mulvey Market (204-478-1217) is at the corner of Mulvey and Osborne as you head south on Osborne Street. The market is a mixture of flea market and mainly smalls--I bought a 1940s Belleek catalogue as well as a couple of Susie Cooper cups and saucers and paid $3 for an out-of-print art book I had been seeking for years.
Thirsty’s World Antiques & Collectibles Emporium (204-783-9800) at 1111 Ellice Avenue is a recent addition to the Winnipeg scene. Part flea market, part antiques & collectibles, Thirsty’s is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
I bought a couple of McCoy planters as well as a Carlton Ware cruet very reasonably.
It’s My Moment - Your Story Could Win!
RAINBOWS & STAGES
My best memory of Winnipeg is the last performance I attended - of The Wizard of Oz - at Kildonan Park, which was sold out. It was a very warm summer night, I will always remember the stage lights, wonderful scenes and beautiful music, surrounded by lush plants and flowers - and thankfully very few mosquitos!
We all went out to Lockport for icecream afterwards in the heat of the August night. Great memories of a great city and wonderful friends. My daughter is moving to Winnipeg in April, so I am very much looking forward to visiting - especially the incredible Forks, and spending some time with her exploring my old haunts and checking out ballet performances, as well as MTC productions.