Pearl McGonigal has been many things in her life — mostly notably lieutenant-governor of Manitoba and a city councillor — but she remembers her time as a columnist with the Metro One as a wonderful experience.
Sitting in her spacious apartment, the St. James resident shared her experiences of writing her weekly column, "Frankly Feminine."
"Margot Chester was the editor (at the time)," McGonigal said. "She asked me if I would do a weekly column, and we tried it out to see if it would work."
McGonigal started out writing a general column, which gradually turned into a cooking column.
"I love to cook and bake, so that was what the column evolved into," McGonigal said.
McGonigal said people often commented on her recipes when they ran into her, and they still do to this day.
"I’d be shopping in Safeway and somebody would come up and say, ‘I still use your recipe for (so and so),’ which is rather nice," McGonigal said.
McGonigal said she and Chester travelled together as part of their jobs. They went on a couple of cruises, and Chester would write about their adventures in her weekly column while McGonigal incorporated recipes from different places into hers.
The column led McGonigal to write two cookbooks: Bringing It All Together: A Collection of Recipes and Frankly Feminine Cookbook.
Ten thousand copies of Bringing It All Together were sold at Safeway. Proceeds were donated to United Way of Winnipeg.
Proceeds from Frankly Feminine Cookbook created a scholarship fund for student nurses at Grace Hospital, where McGonigal was a volunteer for more than 30 years.
As a politician, McGonigal was first elected to St. James-Assiniboia city council in 1969, and later served on the Greater Winnipeg city council from 1971 to 1981. For the last two of those years, she was deputy mayor and chair of the executive policy committee.
McGonigal wrote the "Frankly Feminine" column for 11 years, all through her years as a councillor and had to leave her columnist position because of a life-changing event — she was named as the province’s first female lieutenant-governor in 1981.
As lieutenant-governor, McGonigal represented Her Majesty the Queen and the province of Manitoba, travelling across the province as part of her duties. She held the position until 1986.
"The experience was a chance to influence, a chance to learn, and a chance to have fun. And it met all three criteria," McGonigal said.
With her political career behind her, McGonigal remains active in the community. She is currently a volunteer with and board member of the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre. She’s currently working on putting together a couple of fundraising dinners.
She concluded her trip down memory lane by recalling the positive environment of the old Metro One office.
"It was a fun place to be, because there was a great sense of camaraderie in the office," McGonigal said. "It was a special time in my life, and one I remember with great fondness."