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Oh My Darling's favourite Winnipeg spots

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Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press 
Allison de Groot in the Nonsuch Gallery in the Manitoba Museum.

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Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press Allison de Groot in the Nonsuch Gallery in the Manitoba Museum.

Riverview Community Garden


THE sounds of crickets chirping and wind rustling the tree tops; a glorious bath of golden sunlight as the sun sets in the evening; a gentle breeze floating off of the Red River to cool the scorched land of the acres of fragrant and colourful vegetable plots -- this is one of my favourite Winnipeg places. The Riverview Community Garden, nestled in the Churchill Drive Parkway, is a thriving, beautiful and bountiful gathering place for gardeners and anyone who may need a place to wander for inspiration, refuge and peacefulness. Gardening is in my blood. Now, this doesn't mean I have the greenest of thumbs, but my grandparents' hands were well-worn in the Manitoba soil.

On both sides of my family lineage, gardening was not only a passion but a necessity. My Nanny Kuzina tells me stories of when taking a day off from working the land was not an option. Sometimes she wanted nothing more than to hop in the horse-drawn cart to the city from the family's Birds Hill homestead when Great-Grandpa was heading in to sell cabbage, carrots, eggs, and grain.

My Nanny and Grandpa Copp also worked land near Birds Hill Road as market gardeners through the 1940s into the early '50s. Their main market was the then-thriving North End Farmer's Market on Main Street.

When my mom, sister and I signed our names on the waiting list for the Riverview Community Garden, we were itching to get our hands dirty too. We were welcomed into the garden and enjoyed the challenges and gifts of the 20x40-foot plot for several years. We loved being there together. It became a place for us to connect, share and learn.

Each garden plot expresses the creativity and knowledge of the gardener. I love the unique and creative ways of using the natural surroundings to help the gardens grow. With no city water source each gardener finds a way to quench the roots. We would fill buckets down at the river shore. Although it is not mandatory to use organic practices, most of the gardeners do and there is a no-spray zone to help promote the dragonfly, bird and bee populations.

My partner and I love to dig in the dirt in our small backyard vegetable patch together. I have so much to learn from my wise and hardworking elders for my thumbs to become a darker shade of emerald. Until then I will continue to wander the rows by the Red River for inspiration and to connect with my roots.

-- Vanessa Kuzina


The Nonsuch


THE Nonsuch at the Manitoba Museum is one of my favourite places in Winnipeg. Maybe it's the nostalgia of climbing into the hull of the ship as a kid. I imagined what it was like to sleep above a wild, icy ocean in a tiny bunk with only a thin wool blanket for warmth. Or to play a card game by candlelight as the boat swayed from side to side, and hear the shouts above that land had been spotted. The scenarios were endless. A few years ago the museum opened its doors after hours for Nuit Blanche celebrations and people flocked to the Nonsuch. There is something captivating about the ship and its story. In 1668 it sailed from England to Hudson Bay in hopes of finding a more efficient route for the fur trade by heading north instead of through the Great Lakes. As a result, the Hudson's Bay Company was established two years later and the western part of the country had easier access to the trading hub. In 1970, the Nonsuch replica was built in England using traditional tools and methods, and then sailed throughout the Great Lakes and the Pacific coast of North America before arriving in Winnipeg. No matter the cut of your jib, I think it's a Winnipeg treasure worth a stop!

-- Allison de Groot

The Witch's Hut, Kildonan Park


MY favourite place to play outside in Winnipeg is Kildonan Park. As a life-long resident of the North End, it is has been the setting of many play dates for all seasons. In the winter, the pavilion pours music from old speakers as skaters hold hands and circle round the frozen pond. During springtime, parkas give way to short shorts and it's high time to dust off the roller blades and orbit the green space. When all the leaves are out and the gardens are in full bloom, one can hike off the beaten path to find the Witch's Hut surrounded by climbing trees. In fall, the air is cooling just enough for outdoor games in the grass, and walks along the river without mosquitos. And then the winter comes again and every hill is a toboggan run, the cross-country ski trails are set, and the pavilion is serving up hot chocolate. Kildonan Park is one of Winnipeg's best playgrounds for all ages.

-- Rosalyn Dennett


Oh My Darling is thrilled to be opening this year's Winnipeg Folk Festival with a Mainstage performance on Wed., July 10 at 7 p.m. and then hopping the pond for their fourth headlining tour of Europe. For more details, please visit

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 30, 2013 0

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