Category Archives: Winnipeg and Hometown Goings On

Mid-Winter Mardi-Gras: Let the Good Times Roll!

Well, here we are again Winnipeg, mid-January with the cold and snow firmly entrenched and no end in sight. For those of you, like myself, unable to travel somewhere tropical, there is a reprieve in sight. The good folks in The Vatican came up with the idea of Lent a couple of centuries ago and wouldn’t you know it the industrious citizens of New Orléans know an opportunity to eat and carry on when they see it. Fat Tuesday, or Mardi-Gras to our Creole and Cajun friends to the South is just the excuse to let loose, eat and drink till you can’t do that no more.

Tom McGouran lampshade at the ready with Alix Michaels rocking out with an Aligator at Mardi Gras Media Night

Tom McGouran lampshade at the ready with Alix Michaels rocking out with an Aligator at Mardi Gras Media Night

Held at The RBC Convention Centre February 13th and 14th this Mardi Gras celebration marks the tenth anniversary of the event in Winnipeg. Fabulous food, entertainment and two themed nights are planned to please and surprise those who have a shine on their shoes and spring in their step.

Announcing the festivities for Mardi Gras at media night.

Announcing the festivities for Mardi Gras at media night.

Friday, February 13th is Zombie Night. The living dead will be roaming the room at the RBC Convention Centre. Come dressed as one of the living impaired and join the Undead Newlyweds as they seek fun, dancing and brains!! Those who dress to impress the undead get free admission to the Friday the 13th event.

Tom McGouran and the Zombie Bride 2

Tom McGouran better eat quick he’s being sized up for lunch by the Zombie Bride!

Don’t have a date or a mate to bring to Mardi Gras on Valentine’s Day Saturday, February the 14th? Don’t worry, you can wear your heart on your sleeve and maybe meet that special someone who will sweep you off your feet and rock the night away. Cut out hearts will be available at the door to pin to your outfit and mark yourself Looking for Love! I can personally attest to hearing some very heartfelt testimonials from people who were looking only to dance the night away and found that special someone to make the night magical.

Tom and Alix

Tom McGouran and Alix Michaels

Speaking of magic, back by popular demand, all the way from New Orléans, Louisiana is Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellrasisers. The perennial party band is a sweet treat for your ears and your feet. You’ll be jumping and shaking with music so good you’ll want to slap yo mama!

Even Country Girls like Mardi Gras. Leanne The Boss Lady Cater in full plumage at Mardi Gras Media Night

Even Country Girls like Mardi Gras. Leanne “The Boss Lady” Cater in full plumage at Mardi Gras Media Night

If that’s not enough for y’all, don’t forget The Lindsays will be performing throughout the night.  Featuring Sword Swallowing, Juggling and feats that will  amaze and surprise young and old alike!  Showgirls and yes ladies Showboys will be on display for your roving eye.  Of course we can’t forget Beads! Thank goodness it’s an adult party with no children to protect from the giving of Beads! Wink Wink Y’all!

Fresh shucked oysters

Fresh shucked oysters

Now all that moving and shaking is going to be putting a fierce hunger in that belly. Why not try some of the flavours of Louisiana. The menu this year includes fan favourites such as Deep Fried Pickles and Sweet Potato Fries, screamingly fresh P.E.I Oysters, shucked just for you and of course Peel and Eat Shrimp. New to Winnipeg Mardi Gras, sample Authentic Alligator Fritters, be careful though these may bite back!

Freshly flambéed Shrimp with Pasta

Freshly flambéed Shrimp with Pasta

Looking for something a little more hearty? Try the Louisiana Style Shrimp with Pasta, French Quarter Gumbo or Bourbon Street Creole Style Jambalaya! I’ve personally tried all the above and they are spectacular.

Jambalaya

Jambalaya! Need I say More?

Gentlemen, why not treat your own zombie bride to be or Valentine date to a sweet treat. This year’s desert special is Basin Street Pudding with Bourbon Laced Caramel Sauce.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

With all of this activity y’all are going to have a mighty powerful thirst going on. Don’t worry, they have you covered. Major drink sponsors include Fireball Canadian Whiskey, Wine O’ Clock, Diabolica, Molson/Coors and Heineken. Naturally, you can’t have a party Louisiana style without Jack Daniel’s or Southern Comfort so they’ll be there as well!

Come visit Kristjana the Fireball Girl at Mardi Gras

Come visit Kristjana the Fireball Girl at Mardi Gras February 13th at the RBC Convention Centre.

I know that personally I can’t wait for the chance to shake off these winter blues and dance till my feet can’t dance no more. Come join us, it’s going to be one hell-raiser of a good time.

Media Celeberties laugh it up at Mardi Gras Media Night

Media Celeberties laugh it up at Mardi Gras Media Night

Authors Note: I do have a few free passes to give away for both Friday and Saturday nights. So to win, leave a comment detailing what night you’d like and what you’ll do to get them. For example, if you want Zombie Night, tell me what your costume plans are. If Valentine’s Day is more your style tell me why you absolutely need to meet that special someone this year. Winnipeg and area only please, I will be in contact with the winners to arrange pick up of the tickets.

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Winnipeg Indie Music Lovers Rejoice: The Real Love Music Festival is Almost Here!

Real Love ButtonWinnipeg has always been a hotbed of musical innovation.  From the 60’s community club scene that saw The Guess Who and Neil Young dominating the Rock and Roll charts.  To smaller bands like The Jury who never quite got the big break they deserved.  Some music scholars have theorized that it’s all part of the isolation Winnipeg enjoys geographically and meteorologically.  Let’s face it although Winnipeg is in the center of the continent we’re in the middle of nowhere and our winters can be brutally extreme.

What this does to people is debatable but one thing is for sure it breeds creativity.  The Real Love Music festival, happening June 6-8th, is proof of that in spades.  Taking place at Gimli Motorsports Park in Gimli, Manitoba The Real Love Festival hopes to give people of all ages and backgrounds an affordable and memorable music experience.

Real Love Festival Poster
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I am Awesome and I know it: A Getaway for Girls.

Tonight I just found out about an awesome initiative for teenage girls that just happens to be located minutes away from my home town of Fort Frances, Ontario.   The I’m awesome and I know it retreat takes place at Sunny Cove Camp, a place I grew up at and know intimately.

sunny cove entrance

The Sunny Cove Entrance off the Highway

  Renée’s vision for the very first “I AM AWESOME! (And I Know It!)” Self Esteem Retreat for Young Women is a simple vision Renée wants every young woman to be confident, courageous, kind, strong, and compassionate.  She believes with her whole heart that every young woman has a gift to share with the world, and that they can achieve anything if they have the confidence to reach for their dreams.  Renée understands that teenagers today are facing many pressures; body image, peer pressure and bullying, school and academic stress, boys, family issues, and media manipulation.  She knows that the retreat will give each girl who attends the tools to make confident decisions, embrace their individuality, and the courage to follow their passions!

How Awesome is this! A place where our stressed out and bombarded female children can just relax and have fun in an awesome natural environment.   The location, Sunny Cove Camp, has been a Fort Frances staple for decades.  Comfortable sleeping cabins in a group setting, a main lodge that is as homey as it is practical and a sand beach where generations of  area children have learned to swim.

Sunny Cove at dusk

Sunset Country at its best, with the light dropping slowly over Rainy Lake.

To me this program is a home run, anything that empowers our female children to grow up strong and self-confident is right in my books.

For more information on this program please check out

http://www.i-am-awesome.ca/index.html

Also this review from the Fort Frances Times.

Godzilla: The Good, The Bad, and The Very Ugly.

Godzilla Movie Poster

Godzilla Movie Poster

I must admit something straight away, I have been a Godzilla fan for as long as I can remember.  Running home to catch the Matinee Money Movie on WDIO television out of Duluth, Minnesota.  They would play classic movies throughout the week.  Abbot and Costello, and the Toho movies were mainstays in my childhood film education.

roar

Godzilla Roars

 

Over the years I learned that Godzilla was a metaphor for the horrors of nuclear war.  A creature spawned from the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In that sense the first half of Godzilla 2014 works.  The film opens with an imaginative set piece showing nuclear testing in the 1950’s with documents being censored as the opening credits.  We also  learn that the so-called tests were actually trying to destroy the monsters that had been awakened from slumber at the dawn of the nuclear age.

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Christmas Giving: The Gift That Gives Back.

Hey folks, I know it’s been a while since I’ve been around.  But I decided to poke my head out of my hiding hole for a little while and get on my hickory stump for a bit of an old country lesson.

The theme of this message is… It never hurts to help.

Now people I am not saying that you have to give up the family farm or put yourself in hardship.  But given the things people all around the world are going through it hardly seems wrong to chip in a little in any way to help those that have less than yourself.

It could be a dollar into a Charity Hamper, or a nickel into the that Salvation army kettle with the singing Santa. It could be donating some time to a worthy cause, like serving soup for those less fortunate.  All I am saying is that in this economic climate everything helps.

You may ask Bob…What did you do to help those in need.  Well my friends I deliver hampers to the less fortunate in Winnipeg.
I take a few nights out of my year and grab some like-minded friends and go spread the Christmas cheer.

I throw on a Santa hat and knock on doors for a cause, I don’t do it to help me but in some way I do.  I give my time and my effort for free, and all I get in return is the smiling faces of children who would otherwise have no Christmas.  I get the respect and hearty handshakes of immigrant fathers who have fled war-torn countries in search of a better life.  Not understanding the generous ways of Winnipeg or even the tradition of Christmas.

In giving back to those who have less, we see more than just poverty.  We see the kindness of faith and the redemption of the spirit of charity.

I think that in giving back we can all grow, It does not have to be Christmas, but all faiths can give and become greater.

In the words of my faith Merry Christmas One and All

Bob

Winnipeg by Winnipeg: Exploring Winnipeg and Beyond gets picked for printing.

I write because I enjoy it, I’m not paid to craft these pages it’s a labor of love.  A few months ago local bookseller McNally Robinson issued a call in local newspapers for photo submissions for a book that would be about Winnipeg by locals. Thus the Winnipeg by Winnipeg project was launched.

McNally Robinson Store in Grant Park Shopping Center

McNally Robinson Store in Grant Park Shopping Center

 Over the course of almost five years of blogging I’ve amassed hundreds of photographs of my adoptive city, any number of which would be great for such a publication.  I spent hours digging through my archives looking for just the right shots for submission.  Lighting, composition, and content I knew were going to be judged to be worthy of inclusion in the book.  Last night was the book release event and I had made the cut with one of my photos gloriously reproduced and put into print for the world to see.

Photographers and guests crowd the store to capacity.

Photographers and guests crowd the store to capacity.

 Over one thousand photographers submitted photography and less than 100 were chosen to be included in the book, I was in rare company indeed.  Last night we all gathered together eager with anticipation to see the finished product in a swanky affair hosted at McNally Robinson’s flagship store in Grant Park Shopping Center.  Photographers were professional and amateur, young and old, from every strata of society, giving a true cross-section of life in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg by Winnipeg Cake.

Winnipeg by Winnipeg Cake.

 Photographs from the book were shown on a large screen as each artist was called to the front to receive congratulations and copies of the book.  Some of the shots were simply amazing, creative and revealing.  Showing not only the highlights of Winnipeg but also its darker and arguably more interesting sides.  Darkness and light, beauty and despair all coming together to make this city we call home.

St. Boniface Cathedral from the Red River.

St. Boniface Cathedral from the Red River.

 My shot shows Winnipeg relaxing on Canada Day, a single kayak paddles down the Red River in sight of the St. Boniface Cathedral.  One of many photographs taken at the Forks Market.  I am proud of my accomplishment in making the final product.  But my personal pride is secondary to the feeling I got last night when I saw so many Winnipeggers come together to celebrate our city with warts and all.

Celebrating with my copy of Winnipeg by Winnipeg. Check out my image on page 17 of the book.

Celebrating with my copy of Winnipeg by Winnipeg. Check out my image on page 17 of the book.

 Do yourself a favor explore Winnipeg; check out the back alleys and the boulevards.  Get to know its friendly citizens if not in person then in the pages of Winnipeg by Winnipeg.  You’ll be glad you did!

 

Winnipeg Meets Nunavut.

I’ve written these pages now for almost 5 years, since fate smiled upon Darlene and I and we were whisked away to New York City. Over the years I’ve covered many topics before finding my voice and becoming a cheerleader for my adoptive home town of Winnipeg. As any blogger will undoubtedly tell you writing is only half the job of running a blog, the other portion includes reading vast amounts of other people’s work and striking up constructive friendships that help hone the craft.

One such friendship that I cultivated is with the author of I’ll Have Nunavut, a blog by Suzanne Parm-Etheridge and her husband Ian.  Two people adapting to life in Canada’s far north.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that Suzanne was coming to Winnipeg as part of a conference and would be staying less than 10 minutes from our home.

Suzanne and I with Darlene enjoying a nice evening stroll on Corydon Ave.

Suzanne and I with Darlene enjoying a nice evening stroll on Corydon Ave.

We met at the Forks Market where Suzanne stayed and journeyed out to UnBurger in Osborne Village.  Suzanne frequently commenting on Winnipeg’s beautiful parks and neighborhoods.  In return Darlene and I asked questions about the far northern reaches of Canada.  It was like we had been old friends for years.

From Osborne Village to Corydon Avenue the three of us strolled, enjoyed Italian Gelato and shared stories of our lives.  As the sun dipped below the horizon a starlight tour of Downtown Winnipeg seemed in order.   Suzanne loved the stories of old Winnipeg and really seemed to get a kick out of visiting Portage and Main, Winnipeg’s most famous intersection.

Darlene and Suzanne ham it up for the camera at Portage and Main.

Darlene and Suzanne ham it up for the camera at Portage and Main.

Thanks for visiting Suzanne, I hope I didn’t bore you with my long-winded explanations and rambling stories.  It’s one thing to have made a friend though our writing but it’s an absolute joy to have met you in person.  Come back to Winnipeg anytime!

To wrap it up here’s a great song about Winnipeg by two hometown boys Randy Bachman and Neil Young with Prairie Town.