December 7, 2019

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Fond wedding memories sparked by hotelier's troubles

Growing up in Winnipeg, Carla Siemann's childhood dream was to get married and have her reception in the historic Hotel Fort Garry.

"It looked like a castle. It was all fancy and beautiful and majestic. I just always said that's where I wanted my reception to be."

John Perrin's family lost the Fort Garry hotel in a seizure and tax sale in the 1980s and has been fighting in the decades since to restore his family name. (Mike Sudoma / Free Press files)

John Perrin's family lost the Fort Garry hotel in a seizure and tax sale in the 1980s and has been fighting in the decades since to restore his family name. (Mike Sudoma / Free Press files)

But those dreams were dashed just four days before her Jan. 31, 1987, wedding when the hotel was seized for a tax sale. And, with having paid 80 per cent of the cost for the reception just days before -- and now needing to move the whole affair somewhere else -- Siemann and her parents rushed down to the building to see if they could somehow get their money back.

"I remember being on the front stairs of the hotel and everything was padlocked shut," Siemann said. "There were chains around the door handles. No one would let us in. We were just on the stairs helplessly wondering what we were going to do. And this was January -- it was pretty cold."

That's when a car pulled up.

"I remember Mr. (John) Perrin approached us and we told him why we were there. He took us inside and wrote us a cheque for the full amount. I know with a bankruptcy there is a long list of creditors, but we didn't have to go through that."

Siemann's memories of those times were sparked by a recent Free Press article which referred to Perrin's long battle

Knowing that Perrin has been fighting with the province to restore his family name, and to get compensation for their loss, for as long as her 33-year marriage, Siemann said "I hope everything turns out for Mr. Perrin in the end.

"I feel for him and I hope it does work out in his favour."

Perrin himself says "I do not remember the specific incident you have related, those sad days for us and our customers remain a blur almost 33 years later, as you can well imagine.

"But I do recall the shock and dismay of our patrons and guests."

You can read about the Perrin family's saga on our website. Today, the hotel is up for sale again with the ballpark price estimated above $40 million.

As for what happened to Siemann's wedding, in just four days they found a caterer, called all their guests about the venue change, and moved the reception into the fellowship hall of their church near the Health Sciences Centre.

"It's just such a great story to tell now," she said. "Once everything was sorted out, it didn't matter to me that my reception wasn't going to be in the Fort Garry. It just took a back seat to knowing I would marry my best friend.

"Looking back now, it is so insignificant in the whole scheme of life and marriage."

Kevin Rollason


Bombers - and Winnipeg - celebrate Grey Cup win 

  • Winnipeg Blue Bomber head coach Mike O'Shea with his wife, Richere, and daughters, during the Grey Cup parade. (Mike Deal / Free Press files)

    Winnipeg Blue Bomber head coach Mike O'Shea with his wife, Richere, and daughters, during the Grey Cup parade. (Mike Deal / Free Press files)

    Who doesn't like a parade? And when you've waited 29 years for this one, people are ready to celebrate.

    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers paraded through the downtown last week just two days after winning the team's first Grey Cup this century.

    Thousands of cheering fans were there to celebrate with the team.

    "It's super exciting to show some city spirit," said Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary School teacher Sara Litz, who brought 40 students to the festivities after the principal green lighted the trip to learn about civic pride. "We were really hoping that it would be during the school day so we could go. We're glad it worked really well for us."

Christmas light displays 

  • The Zoo Lights Festival at Assiniboine Park Zoo. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

    The Zoo Lights Festival at Assiniboine Park Zoo. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

    Also, who doesn't like a great Christmas light display? 

    Free Press reporter Eva Wasney found five places you can see the lights including the Assiniboine Park Zoo, the Legislature, Canad Inns Winter Wonderland at Red River Exhibition Park and Lights of the North inside the downtown Bay building.

    But you can also join a three-hour tour with Heartland International Travel and Tours, which starts and ends at the Travel Manitoba Information Centre at The Forks, which will take you to residences and businesses with displays outside.

Music in the sky 

  • Lucien Spence is one of the artists you will find in the skywalk. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files)

    Lucien Spence is one of the artists you will find in the skywalk. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files)

    You walk past the various buskers and others in the downtown Skywalk system — here's a chance to learn a bit more about some of them.

    The Free Press took a closer look at a few of the people who regularly spend some time or play some music in the system a floor above the street.

    "I would rather be here than just playing at home — people probably just think I’m a bum," said musician Anita Issaluk. "But there’s more to me than just being out here."

Boutique owner realizes dream

  • Tara Davis knew from an early age she wanted to own a boutique. (Mikaela MacKenzei / Free Press files)

    Tara Davis knew from an early age she wanted to own a boutique. (Mikaela MacKenzei / Free Press files)

    Tara Davis owns Tara Davis Studio Boutique in the Exchange District, but she had to travel a long way in distance, years, and health before she realized her dream.

    Davis was a child when she first started playing 'shop' and when she was a bit older she was the first to sell her old toys in the driveway of her home.

    But it was after living in England, taking a jewelry art course here, battling a mental illness, and opening a boutique in Nelson, B.C., that she decided to open up another store here in 2012, and it has been a success ever since.

Inclusion fight was his life 

  • Walter Kisil was a local pioneer for inclusion and independence for both himself and for his wife Lorraine. (Supplied photo)

    Walter Kisil was a local pioneer for inclusion and independence for both himself and for his wife Lorraine. (Supplied photo)

    Walter Kisil got married, worked for years, and owned and maintained his own home for more than two decades.

    But what makes Kisil's life inspiring is he did all this while living with special needs.

    Kisil, who was profiled in the Free Press' A Life's Story feature on the front page of the newspaper's Passages section, was a local pioneer for inclusion and independence for both himself and for his wife Lorraine.

    "Wally and Lorraine remind us that they had no disability in their persistence, their vision, their self-advocacy," said Oly Backstrom, president and CEO of SCE LifeWorks. "And as for their love for each other, there isn’t anyone who couldn’t learn something from Wally and Lorraine."

YOUR WEEKLY SQUEE

  • Strawberry Milkshake! (Supplied photo)

    Strawberry Milkshake! (Supplied photo)

    Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue is a 100 per cent foster-home based, not-for-profit, charitable rescue. Every two weeks they highlight animals up for adoption in Canstar Community News and this week was Strawberry Milkshake's turn, along with Trudy, a sweet dog who needs a special, loving home.

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