October 16, 2017

Winnipeg
7° C, Clear

Full Forecast

Special weather statement in effect

It's a Manitoba thing

As Canada marks its sesquicentennial anniversary, we celebrate 150 places, events and people unique to this province

In honour of Canada celebrating its 150 birthday on July 1 — and the province’s 147th, which was officially marked on May 12 — we take a look at 150 uniquely Manitoba people, places and things that have made our country a better place.

From writers to musicians, from political trailblazers to sights off the beaten paths, and from the serious to the whimsy, here is our list — in no particular order — of made-in-Manitoba moments.

Sunshine: Winnipeg boasts an average of 2,353 hours of sunshine per year, second only to Calgary at 2,396 hours.

For those who despise cloudy, rainy weather, that’s 2,353 reasons to want to live here. And with that sunshine comes spectacular sunsets.

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 10910 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

Hope you enjoyed your trial.

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 10910 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

In honour of Canada celebrating its 150 birthday on July 1 — and the province’s 147th, which was officially marked on May 12 — we take a look at 150 uniquely Manitoba people, places and things that have made our country a better place.

From writers to musicians, from political trailblazers to sights off the beaten paths, and from the serious to the whimsy, here is our list — in no particular order — of made-in-Manitoba moments.

Sunshine: Winnipeg boasts an average of 2,353 hours of sunshine per year, second only to Calgary at 2,396 hours.

For those who despise cloudy, rainy weather, that’s 2,353 reasons to want to live here. And with that sunshine comes spectacular sunsets.

 

Gabrielle Roy in 1945

COURTESY OF THE ESTATE OF GABRIELLE ROY

Gabrielle Roy in 1945

Gabrielle Roy: Born in St. Boniface, Gabrielle Roy is considered to be one of the most important Francophone writers in Canadian history.

She wrote Bonheur d’occasion in 1945, later translated into English and published as The Tin Flute, which is looked at as the novel that laid the foundation for Quebec’s Quiet Revolution in the 1960s.

It won the Prix Femina and the Governor General’s Award for fiction in 1947.

She also wrote Children of My Heart/Ces Enfants de ma vie and The Hidden Mountain/La Montagne secrète.

 

Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon: In the early 1900s, Winnipeg’s Gordon was one of the most successful novelists in the world.

Under the pen name Ralph Connor, he wrote 43 books, including The Sky Pilot, Black Rock, The Man from Glengarry and Glengarry School Days, some of which are still in print.

His house was saved from demolition by the University Women’s Club, and it has since been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

 

The swinging bridge in Souris. (Colin Corneau/Brandon Sun)

The swinging bridge in Souris. (Colin Corneau/Brandon Sun)

Souris Swinging Bridge: Stretching 604 feet across the Souris River in southwestern Manitoba, it is Canada’s longest suspension bridge.

It was initially built in 1904 but, because of flooding, has been rebuilt several times, most recently in 2013 at a cost of $4.5 million.

 

Ed Schreyer: In 1958, at age 22, he became the youngest MLA ever elected to the Manitoba legislature.

Eleven years later, he would lead the NDP to its first provincial victory, forming a government that phased out Medicare premiums and introduced public auto insurance.

He later became Canada’s 22nd governor general and the first ever from Manitoba.  

 

Winnipeg thrash-punk band Propagandhi performs a sold-out show at the West End Cultural Centre as part of the Ellice Avenue venue's 25th anniversary celebration. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

Winnipeg thrash-punk band Propagandhi performs a sold-out show at the West End Cultural Centre as part of the Ellice Avenue venue's 25th anniversary celebration. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)

Music scene: It’s long been known by artists in the biz that Manitoba, and Winnipeg specifically, has a dynamite and exceptionally talented crop of musicians cycling through every generation.

There was Neil Young, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, and then came John K. Samson with Propagandhi and the Weakerthans, just to name but a few.

And now, there’s a new class of singers and songwriters currently blowing everyone away, which includes Joey Landreth and Begonia (Alexa Dirks), among many others.

The Manitoba music scene is akin to the best mix-tape of people and genres ever compiled, ranging from the twangiest of country to the heaviest of metal to the bleepiest of electronic and everything in-between.

Most credit the long, cold winters to the abundance of talented musicians (nothing much to do but make music when it’s -40 C out), so we can claim it is a uniquely Manitoban effort. 

 

A WHA Jets hockey program from 1978 features the Hot Line. (University of Manitoba)

A WHA Jets hockey program from 1978 features the Hot Line. (University of Manitoba)

The Hot Line: Bobby Hull signing a $1-million contract at Portage and Main gave the Winnipeg Jets and the World Hockey Association instant credibility.

Paired with Sweden’s Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson beginning in 1974, the line revolutionized the game with its skill, style and potency.

 

International Peace Garden: While there is little peaceful about the Trump White House, this park that straddles the 49th parallel puts Manitoba literally at the centre of an enduring nation-to-nation relationship unlike any in the world.

Boasting of gardens filled with more than 150,000 flowers each summer and sports and music camps from both sides of the border, there is much to contemplate peacefully in this piece of Manitoba shared with North Dakota.

 

James Bond: Writer Ian Fleming’s daring and debonair spy is based on none other than Sir William Stephenson, a legendary Second World War spy who hailed from Winnipeg.

 

Photograph of the 1920 Winnipeg Falcons Hockey Team. (Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame & Museum Inc.)

Photograph of the 1920 Winnipeg Falcons Hockey Team. (Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame & Museum Inc.)

Winnipeg Falcons: The team featuring players of Icelandic heritage served notice Canada was a hockey powerhouse by winning the sport’s first Olympic medal in 1920. 

 

Under a spell: Winnipeg is the founding city of the world’s largest organization for professional and amateur magicians.

The International Brotherhood of Magicians was founded in 1922 in a seventh-floor office of the Union Bank Building, now Red River College’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, by businessman — and magician — Melvin McMullen.

McMullen, whose stage name was Len Vintus, was member No. 1, while Harry Blackstone Sr. was No. 12, and Dean Gunnarson is member No 37,469.

The organization is now based in St. Louis. Today, the torch has been passed to Winnipeg illusionist Darcy Oake.

 

1919 Winnipeg general strike street car streetcar overturned on Main Street in front of the old City Hall building (Winnipeg Free Press)

1919 Winnipeg general strike street car streetcar overturned on Main Street in front of the old City Hall building (Winnipeg Free Press)

Winnipeg General Strike: In a nation that has seen plenty of labour unrest, the Winnipeg General Strike stands alone as the best-known battle in Canada’s history of collective bargaining.

While 30,000 strikers took to the streets in 1919, the landmark conflict was about much more than wages and working conditions as it spoke to the post-war challenges facing the nation amid rising unemployment, inflation and fears of the spread of communism triggered by the Russian Revolution.

 

Winnipeg artist Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald's paintings and drawings are well-known throughout Canada. In later years of the Group of Seven, he was invited as a member to represent the Canadian West. (Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery)

Winnipeg artist Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald's paintings and drawings are well-known throughout Canada. In later years of the Group of Seven, he was invited as a member to represent the Canadian West. (Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery)

L. L. Fitzgerald: By definition, there aren’t too many Canadians painters who were members of the famed Group of Seven. And based on Canada Post’s standards, not too many Canadian painters have had their works of art celebrated on a stamp.

L. L. (Lionel LeMoine) Fitzgerald did both as his detailed observations of the simpler aspects of Winnipeg’s landscape not only earned him praise but also framed the Prairies in a way that helped the nation better understand the region. 

 

Inuit Art: The Winnipeg Art Gallery, which is about to begin construction on its ambitious $65-million Inuit Art Centre, is home to the largest Inuit Art collection in the world. The WAG, which is Canada’s oldest civic gallery, has more than 13,000 pieces, representing half of the gallery’s total permanent collection.

 

RAW:almond: A pop-up restaurant that is erected on the frozen Red River every January, the brainchild of chef Mandel Hitzer of deer + almond and designer Joe Kalturnyk of RAW: Gallery is a testament to both the heartiness of Manitobans and the kind of creativity only cold winters can inspire.

 

For more than a decade, Winnipeg has proudly flown the banner of being the Slurpee Capital of the World. (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

For more than a decade, Winnipeg has proudly flown the banner of being the Slurpee Capital of the World. (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

Slurpee kings: When it comes to all things icy, it’s not just our winter streets and frozen pipes that make us famous.

For more than a decade, Winnipeg has proudly flown the banner of being the Slurpee Capital of the World.

Sure, there are 7-Eleven stores from coast to coast, but Winnipeggers lead the way when it comes to crushing Slurpees and enduring painful brain freezes.

 

The Winnipeg Folk Festival: It started in 1974 as a one-day event to mark Winnipeg’s centennial but has grown into one of the world’s oldest and largest folk festivals in the world.

 

BTO: One local band did a good job of Takin’ Care of Business around the world in the 1970s.

Randy Bachman (left) and Burton Cummings of The Guess Who.(Aaron Harris / The Canadian Press)

Randy Bachman (left) and Burton Cummings of The Guess Who.(Aaron Harris / The Canadian Press)

Bachman-Turner Overdrive, formed by former Guess Who member Randy Bachman and also known as BTO, was one of the top-selling bands in the world in the 1970s, with five Top 40 albums and six U.S. Top 40 singles — 10 in Canada — and selling almost 30 million albums.

Besides Takin’ Care of Business, their hits include You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Hey You and Roll On Down the Highway.

 

The Guess Who: The iconic Winnipeg rock band laid down some of the greatest tracks of the 1960s and ’70s, with songs such as American Woman, These Eyes, No Time and Clap for the Wolfman.

Even now, turn on FM radio in the city for a few hours just about any day of the week and you’re bound to hear one of the group’s hits.

The band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987, and 15 years ago band members Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Garry Petersson, Donnie McDougall and Bill Wallace received the Governor-General’s Performing Arts Award for their major contribution to the Canadian music scene.

 

Université de Saint-Boniface: Established in 1818, it is the first educational institution in Western Canada. It initially offered Latin to French-speaking boys of the Red River Colony.

It was incorporated in 1871, becoming one of the first official institutions  of the province of Manitoba, which joined confederation a year earlier.

 

Winnipeg Jets fans, when they still had hope for a post-season run, cheer during first period NHL action against the Pittsburgh Penguins, on March 8. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

Winnipeg Jets fans, when they still had hope for a post-season run, cheer during first period NHL action against the Pittsburgh Penguins, on March 8. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

Winnipeg Jets 2.0: Regaining an NHL team put Winnipeg back on the hockey map. Millions of hockey fans are now aware of the city, thanks to its beloved hockey team.

Especially if they happen to live in Finland, home to arguably its most famous player ever (Teemu Selanne) and its star of the future (Patrik Laine).

 

Harlequin romances: Be still my beating heart, Harlequin Enterprises Limited was founded in Winnipeg in 1949.

Although the company is universally known for its romance novels, things didn’t start out that way.

For the first few years of its existence, Harlequin reprinted literary works that had previously been released, including books written by Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

 

Miriam Toews: Few writers have chronicled the complicated kindness of southern Manitoba quite like Miriam Toews.

Carol Loewen / The Canadian Press</p><p>Winnipeg author Miriam Toews.</p>

Carol Loewen / The Canadian Press

Winnipeg author Miriam Toews.

The Steinbach-born author won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction for 2004’s A Complicated Kindness, which tells the story of a 16-year-old girl itching to escape her oppressive Mennonite town.

Throughout all her works, Toews uses humour and tenderness to paint nuanced portraits of those most complex of subjects: hometowns and families.

There are many other Manitoba literary legends — from Katherena Vermette to Tomson Highway, from David Bergen to David Arnason to David Alexander Robertson and beyond, who have also helped shape Canada’s literary landscape and continue to blaze a trail of tales that enthrall, enlighten and delight.

 

Le Musée de Saint-Boniface: It is the oldest building in Winnipeg, built for the Grey Nuns between 1846 and 1851, and served as the first convent and hospital in Western Canada.

It now is a showcase of Métis and French-Canadian history.

 

Visitors stopped for pictures amount the brightly coloured lilies in a field south of Neepawa during their annual Lilly Festival. (Bruce Bumstead/Brandon Sun)

Visitors stopped for pictures amount the brightly coloured lilies in a field south of Neepawa during their annual Lilly Festival. (Bruce Bumstead/Brandon Sun)

Lily Capital of the World: Although Neepawa’s annual lily festival — which brought visitors from far and away— has ceased to be, the town continues to foster the cultivation and breeding of these popular Prairie flower bulbs sought after throughout the world.

 

Metis leader Louis Riel is shown in a photo circa 1876. (Manitoba Archives)

CP

Metis leader Louis Riel is shown in a photo circa 1876. (Manitoba Archives)

Louis Riel: He’s known as the Father of Manitoba, and he was the political leader of the Métis people here.

He led the Red River Rebellion in 1869, which resulted in Manitoba becoming a province and joining Canada. But Riel was forced to flee to the United States to avoid prosecution for ordering the execution of Thomas Scott.

While in the U.S., he was elected to Parliament but never actually sat there. He came back to Canada to organize another Métis resistance, this time in Saskatchewan, which led to the North-West Rebellion in 1885.

This time, after the federal government sent in soldiers, he was arrested and convicted of high treason and executed.

 

Robert Houle: An Ojibway contemporary artist and art curator from Salteaux First Nation, Houle has become one of the leading figures in Canada’s aboriginal art community.

Robert Houle (The Canadian Press)

Robert Houle (The Canadian Press)

As the curator of Contemporary Indian Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Houle fought against descriptions of aboriginal art as either artifacts or anthropological works, and he began using ceremonial objects such as medicine bags or spears in his abstract works.

Houle was named to the Royal Academy of the Arts in 2000 and, in 2015, he received the Governor General’s Award for Visual Arts.

His works are part of collections at many museums, including Winnipeg Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada and the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art in Phoenix.

 

York boat: The vessels were the main mode of transportation between inland trading posts and Hudson’s Bay Company’s York Factory, located at the mouth of the Hayes River on Hudson Bay.

They quickly replaced the canoe for freight because they could carry more than three tons of goods.

 

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Esther Warkov in her exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Esther Warkov in her exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Esther Warkov: A child of the North End and Winnipeg’s Jewish community who became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art.

She began her career in the 1960s as a figurative painter before edging towards surrealism, often using multi-panelled works with subjects derived from magazine advertisements.

In the 1980s, she traded in her paintbrush for three-dimensional drawings and installations and has had exhibitions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada and throughout the United States and Europe.

The quick-witted artist has lived in the same house on Matheson Avenue since her childhood.

In 2003, a biography, Magic off Main: the Art of Esther Warkov, by Beverly J. Rasporich was published.

 

Former Winnipeg Jet Teemu Selanne (13) waves to the crowd at Investors Group Field prior to the first period of the NHL Heritage Classic Alumni game in Winnipeg on Saturday, October 22, 2016. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)

Former Winnipeg Jet Teemu Selanne (13) waves to the crowd at Investors Group Field prior to the first period of the NHL Heritage Classic Alumni game in Winnipeg on Saturday, October 22, 2016. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)

Teemu Selanne: He spent the bulk of his NHL career with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, but he remains Winnipeg’s No. 1 hockey son after his four glorious seasons here in the 1990s.

In the 1992-93 NHL season, the Finnish Flash took the NHL by storm by scoring 76 times, obliterating the league’s rookie goal-scoring record by 23 goals.

It’s a record unlikely to ever be matched, and a record set wearing a Winnipeg Jets jersey.

 

Manitoba film scene: Winnipeg has masqueraded as other places in the last few years: It substituted for turn-of-the century New York in The Assassination of Jesse James; it’s been Chicago for Shall We Dance; it’s been any number of cities and decades for the recent feature, A Dog’s Purpose; and any time a production is in need of a miserably cold and desolate locale, they’ve got our number.

The film and television scene in Manitoba is booming because that versatility — combined with a stellar crop of filmmakers, writers, actors and production staff — is becoming well known to those outside our inner circle.

The fact we are a lower-cost option to Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal also helps because entertainment folks, like Manitobans, love a good bargain.

 

A man checks out Fringe Festival signs while walking along Market Avenue towards the Royal MTC. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A man checks out Fringe Festival signs while walking along Market Avenue towards the Royal MTC. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival: Winnipeg can claim all it wants to be an arts hub for the country, but the proof is in the pudding, or rather the big blobby blancmange that takes over the downtown for one and a half weeks every July.

The second biggest fringe fest in the country (after Edmonton) is arguably the best, far outstripping rival fests in larger metropolises in Toronto or Vancouver, with local theatre-mad audiences bravely taking a shot at, say, a one-woman show about phone sex, or a musical about taxidermy.

 

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre: It is Canada’s oldest regional theatre. Under founding Artistic Director John Hirsch and inspired by the breadth and quality of programming, it became a model for regional theatres throughout North America.

Since 1958, MTC has produced more than 600 plays featuing hundreds of actors, including Len Cariou, Graham Greene, Martha Henry, Judd Hirsch, Tom Hulce, William Hurt, Tom Jackson, Robert Lepage, Seana McKenna, Eric Peterson, Gordon Pinsent, Keanu Reeves, Fiona Reid, R.H. Thomson, Kathleen Turner and Al Waxman.

 

Comic-book heroes: On a daily basis, Doug Sulipa’s inbox is inundated with emails from Canadian comic-book lovers, looking for a particular copy of Spider-Man, Batman or Archie.

JEN DOERKSEN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Hope Nicholson is a local publisher and organizer for the Prairie Comics Festival.</p>

JEN DOERKSEN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Hope Nicholson is a local publisher and organizer for the Prairie Comics Festival.

In the late 1970s, Sulipa, the owner of Comic World, now an online comic and pop culture store located near Steinbach, was the subject of a National Film Board documentary titled His First Million: Tales of A Comic Czar — a reference to his hobby, which he got into at the tender age of 12.

"There are a few people who have more (comic books) than me, but those numbers include a lot of duplication," Sulipa said in a 2015 interview with the Free Press.

"As far as different comics go, mind you, I don’t think there is a person on the planet with more different comics than me." 

Meanwhile, Winnipeg publisher Hope Nicholson has been using her super powers to promote gender equality in the comic-book industry.

Among her accomplishments, she co-published the 2014 release of Nelvana of the Northern Lights, the complete anthology of Adrian Dingle’s Nelvana of the North, who’s dubbed Canada’s first superheroine. 

 

Mosquitoes: People throughout this country complain about mosquitoes, but they are mere posers, because only Manitoba is home to the kind of skeeters that can wear disguises and carry off sheep should they set their tiny minds to it.

There are three topics of conversation in Winnipeg: 1) How the Jets are doing; 2) How cold the weather is; and 3) Whether it’s better to spray for mosquitoes, slap them to death, or slather your body in organic repellent.

Also, we’re home to the world’s largest mosquito statue in Komarno.

 

Speaking of which... Roadside attractions: From Sunny the Banana in Melita to the Happy Rock of Gladstone, from Flintabbatey Flonatin of Flin Flon to Gilbert the Golf Ball in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba has a deep, some may say unusual, obsession with these giants of the roadways.

 

A replica Red River Cart sit on display at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park on Monday April 4, 2016. The Metis-designed device was capable of hauling loads up to 400kg, and the wheels could be removed and attached to the bottom, allowing it to float across rivers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

CP

A replica Red River Cart sit on display at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park on Monday April 4, 2016. The Metis-designed device was capable of hauling loads up to 400kg, and the wheels could be removed and attached to the bottom, allowing it to float across rivers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

Red River Cart: Pulled often by oxen or horse, these two-wheeled carts — constructed out of only wood and animal hide — dramatically changed transportation and the fur trade across the Prairies. It’s believed they first appeared in the Red River area around 1800.

 

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Jennifer Jones</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jennifer Jones

Jennifer Jones: Manitoba is steep with curling history. But only one rink has stood atop an Olympic podium, which Team Jones — Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen — achieved at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

 

New Bothwell Cheese: Since 1936, this company in Manitoba’s dairy belt has been producing artisanal cheeses that have literally put this tiny village — and namesake — on the map by winning international competitions.

 

Phil Fontaine: The former Grand Chief of Manitoba, a three-time National Chief with the Assembly of First Nations and residential school survivor was instrumental in crafting the multi-billion dollar residential schools settlement agreement, the largest lawsuit settlement of its kind in Canada, in 2007.

A year later in 2008, Fontaine played a leading role in negotiating Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s national apology for Canada’s role in that dark chapter.

 

Cinematheque: Sure, it’s just a modest, 100-seat theatre in the heart of the Exchange in the Artspace building.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / Mar. 12 2008 -  080312  no  VIDEO OFFERED - Randall King story - Cinematheque celebrates 25th Anniversary  as the cities premier art house theatre  , in pic  Dave Barber Cinematheque  programer

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / Mar. 12 2008 - 080312 no VIDEO OFFERED - Randall King story - Cinematheque celebrates 25th Anniversary as the cities premier art house theatre , in pic Dave Barber Cinematheque programer

But in a world where stand-alone theatres are getting as rare as drive-in movies, the compact venue boasts qualities that evade the homogenous multiplex auditoriums that dominate Winnipeg movie-going.

It has 31 years of history. Revered local filmmakers such as Guy Maddin first screened their work here before enjoying greater international acclaim.

Longtime programmer Dave Barber recalls having to confiscate eggs and tomatoes from zealous moviegoers intent on unsavory audience participation during screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

It also has prestige. It is still the most reliable venue to see acclaimed international films.

But local filmmakers, such as Tyson Caron, can experience the conflicted joy of seeing crowds turned away from his modest rom-com Lovesick.

"Go big or go home," said the ads for Cineplex Imax theatres, making the common assumption that bigger is always better. But for discriminating local moviegoers, the choice has always been: "Go big... or go to Cinematheque."

 

Bruce Bumstead / Brandon Sun</p><p>Juno Award winning violinist James Ehnes.</p>

Bruce Bumstead / Brandon Sun

Juno Award winning violinist James Ehnes.

James Ehnes: The Brandon-born virtuoso started out as a violin prodigy, becoming the youngest musician to win the First Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Competition as a 12-year-old in 1988.

He’s since become one of the top players of the instrument in the world.

Touring with the 300-year old Marsick Stradivarius, Ehnes has packed concert halls around the world, in more than 35 countries on five continents, including such famed venues as the Royal Albert Hall in London.

He received a Grammy Award in 2008, has taken home 11 Juno Awards and is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music, which is limited to 300 living musicians.

 

Leo Mol working in 1994. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press files)

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Leo Mol working in 1994. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Leo Mol Garden: The garden, located in Assiniboine Park, features the work of the Ukrainian-born master sculptor who came to Winnipeg in the 1940s.

The garden includes a gallery, a studio and hundreds of his bronze sculptures in a natural setting.

The Officer in the Order of Canada was a prolific artist who also designed and executed more than 80 stained-glass windows for Manitoba churches.

The most impressive include a Last Supper scene at Westworth United Church and 16 windows illustrating the history of Ukraine’s people at the Sts. Vladimir and Olga Cathedral.

 

Alpine Club of Canada: We may live in an area flatter than a pancake, but our Prairie city is where this mountain climbing club was founded.

Arthur O. Wheeler, a land surveyor in the Canadian Rockies with the Canadian Pacific Railway and federal government, and Elizabeth Parker, a Winnipeg Free Press columnist who wrote columns denouncing the idea of just having a Canadian branch of the American Alpine Club, founded the organization in Winnipeg in 1906.

 

Little Limestone Lake, the lake that changes colour. (Jeff de Booy / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Little Limestone Lake, the lake that changes colour. (Jeff de Booy / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Little Limestone Lake: Although located north of Grand Rapids, its appearance would be more fitting in the Caribbean.

It is the world’s largest and most dramatically colour-changing marl lake.

The colour of the turquoise body of water changes to robin’s egg blue as the calcite in the water chemically reacts to the sun’s heat. 

 

First Royal Canadian Legion Branch: After the First World War ended, numerous groups representing veterans popped up, some good, some unsuccessful.

In Winnipeg in 1925, the Royal Canadian Legion was founded as The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Services League.

The first branch, located on Sargent Avenue, closed just a few years ago.

 

David Steinberg poses with his star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto Wednesday June 25, 2003. (CP PHOTO/Aaron Harris)

CP

David Steinberg poses with his star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto Wednesday June 25, 2003. (CP PHOTO/Aaron Harris)

David Steinberg: Winnipeg’s most notable comedy export is also one of Canada’s most important contributions to North America’s comedy landscape; born and raised in the North End, Steinberg left home in the ’50s to pursue rabbinical studies but took a sharp detour – via Chicago’s famed Second City troupe – into showbiz.

In his subsequent career as a standup comedian, Steinberg was a formidable and often-controversial performer, making more than 130 guest appearances on Johnny Carson’s version of The Tonight Show.

As a writer and performer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968, he served up satirical sermons that outraged CBS network censors and contributed to the show’s abrupt cancellation.

Steinberg has also been a successful TV director for several decades, working on such high-profile U.S. sitcoms as Newhart, Seinfeld, Mad About You and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

His appearance at the inaugural Winnipeg Comedy Festival in 2002 gave the fledgling event instant credibility.

 

The Manitoba social: It’s a lot more than just a fundraising bash held at a community centre to raise money for charities and soon-to-be-married couples.

It’s nothing short of a Manitoba cultural icon. The music is cheesy, the cheese cubes are cheesier, and more than one person will leave the place with a piece of salami stuck on their shoulder.

They don’t hold these events elsewhere, and if they do it’s a blatant case of copycatting. For young Manitobans, attending a social is a rite of passage.

If you haven’t been to one, you are an out-of-towner, regardless of how long you’ve lived here.

 

Carol Shields poses for a photo at Government House in Victoria, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2002, after she was presented with the Campanion of the Order of Canada Award. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam)

CP

Carol Shields poses for a photo at Government House in Victoria, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2002, after she was presented with the Campanion of the Order of Canada Award. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam)

Carol Shields: While American by birth, Carol Shields rose to literary fame by way of prairie themes running through her most well-known books penned here in Manitoba.

Her 1993 epic, The Stone Diaries, is the only book to ever win the American Pulitzer Prize and the Canadian Governor General’s Award.

 

Juliette: born Juliette Sysak in St. Vital in 1927, one of Canadian TV’s early stars began her musical career as a child, winning singing contests in Winnipeg before her family relocated to Vancouver when she was 10.

Her talent eventually led her to radio, and later to the fledgling medium of television, where she began hosting her eponymous nationwide show, Juliette, in 1956.

Only Hockey Night in Canada and CBC’s national newscast had higher ratings.

She married musician Tony Cavazzi, who became her manager, in 1954, and remained a constant presence on Canadian TV until the mid-’70s.

Her folksy style and beautiful voice made her a beloved figure across Canada, as evidenced by the nickname by which everyone identified her: Our Pet Juliette.

 

Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin.</p>

Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin.

Guy Maddin: By and large, English-Canadian cinema tends to be a cultural Slough of Despond, a place where dour, serious filmmakers create humourless stories about lives lived in quiet desperation.

Offering a cure for virulent social realism, the films of Winnipeg’s Guy Maddin, by contrast, possess an uncharacteristic Canadian joy towards fevered passions, perverse sensibilities and glorious, jury-rigged artifice.

No less a critic than Roger Ebert placed Maddin’s 2007 "docu-fantasia" My Winnipeg as one of the top 10 films of the aughts decade.

"Guy Maddin’s films are like a silent movie dreaming it can speak," Ebert wrote. "No frame of his work could be mistaken for anyone else’s."

 

Winnipeg restaurant scene: For a city of less than one million, Winnipeg boasts a sizzling food scene that rivals those of much larger centres.

From trendy brunch spots to small-plate bistros and tony steak houses, the city’s kitchens are home to innovative top chefs who consistently turn out plates that turn heads across the country.

The cultural diversity of the city can also be found in its culinary offerings, with many chefs offering localized twists on the traditional.

 

Photos of the Prince of Wales in Churchill, where Raw:almond will set-up a pop-up restaurant for three days in March. Supplied by Joe Kalturnyk, founder of Raw:almond for Winnipeg Free Press

Photos of the Prince of Wales in Churchill, where Raw:almond will set-up a pop-up restaurant for three days in March. Supplied by Joe Kalturnyk, founder of Raw:almond for Winnipeg Free Press

Churchill: This is a place that still exists largely in the imagination of most Canadians due to its remote nature.

When we think of Churchill, images of polar bears and belugas come to mind. But beyond the calling cards for international tourists, Churchill is a place that speaks to the history of the nation from its fur-trading days through to Cold War strategic considerations to even our research into outer space.

As for the country’s future, this outpost on the shores of Hudson Bay will serve as barometer of what impact climate change is having on all of us.

 

Riding Mountain National Park: Unlike Banff, there are no Rockies or hot springs here. But it is a national park that protects and promotes three different ecosystems that have helped define our province and our country.

And unlike Banff, this is a place where one can enjoy the beauty of the park without being surrounded at every turn by a crush of tourists.

 

Typical slithery spring snake activity at the Narcisse Snake Dens (Manitoba Conservation)

CP

Typical slithery spring snake activity at the Narcisse Snake Dens (Manitoba Conservation)

Red-hot snake sex: Every spring, something like 75,000 red-sided garter snakes get busy in the limestone pits of the Narcisse Snake Dens in a mating ritual that makes other reptiles green with envy.

Tourists who long to see snakes making like rabbits flock to the viewing platforms on gloriously sunny spring days.

 

Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence: From small-town Neepawa to the big screen, Margaret Laurence left her mark on the nation with her prose that drew deeply on her Prairie roots.

Novels such as The Stone Angel and A Jest of God — which Hollywood adapted under the title Rachel, Rachel — are essential Canadian reads.

The Exchange District: Thanks to the city’s plodding pace on downtown development in the 1960s, the architectural legacy of Winnipeg’s boom years during the turn of the 20th century remains standing.

Today, the district is a National Historic Site.

 

Assiniboine Park: It’s not the biggest urban park in Canada, but there’s nothing in North America that compares with this sprawling showpiece — home to everything from the world’s finest polar bear habitat to the only known oil painting of Winnie the Pooh to three stainless steel icebergs that recall the prehistoric time when glacial Lake Agassiz covered most of the province.

Not to mention endless fields of grass and trees where Winnipeggers eradicate their stress with family barbecues and games of Frisbee.

 

Folklorama: It is the largest and longest-running multicultural festival of its kind in the country.

At a time when forces want to divide the world into "us" and "them," Winnipeg’s Folklorama brings the world closer together.

 

Sharon Carstairs: In 1988, Carstairs  became the first woman elected leader of the Opposition in any legislature in Canada when the Manitoba Liberal party finished second in the provincial election. She later became a senator.

 

The Forks: Before the market, museums and skating trail — all of which attract millions of visitors annually to the heart of Winnipeg — there was simply the fork of two rivers, a culturally significant meeting and trading place for indigenous people dating back 6,000 years. The location also has a rich history with the fur trade, advent of the railway and immigration.

 

It's hoped Pimachiowin Aki will be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (J.J. Ali)

It's hoped Pimachiowin Aki will be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (J.J. Ali)

Pimachiowin Aki: It is a huge stretch of boreal forest the Anishinaabe are hoping to have recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Not only is the forest one of the few places left in the world where nature is left untouched and ecosystems are intact, boreal forests store carbon by locking it up in soils, bogs and peat, providing an invaluable ecological benefit.

 

Cliffs of Steep Rock: On the eastern shores of Lake Manitoba, the lakeside stone has eroded into a series of picturesque cliffs, caves and crevices reminiscent of some of the more modest badlands in the Dakotas or Alberta.

 

Stanley Knowles: Knowles represented Winnipeg North Centre for 38 years, first for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and then the NDP.

A longtime social-justice advocate, Knowles was instrumental in pushing governments to increase Old Age Security benefits and for the introduction of the Canada Pension Plan.

 

A scene from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Dracula at the Centennial Concert Hall in 2016. (Winnipeg Free Press)

A scene from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Dracula at the Centennial Concert Hall in 2016. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Royal Winnipeg Ballet: Founded in 1939, the RWB holds a double distinction.

It is the premier ballet company in Canada and is the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America.

It received its royal title in 1953, making it the first granted under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Sure, the arrival of the NHL (both Jets 1.0 and 2.0) marked a seismic shift in the province’s professional sports landscape, but no team has deeper, richer roots in Manitoba than the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

A staple in the community since the club was formed in 1930, the organization has produced legends from Fritz Hanson to Leo Lewis to Ken Ploen to Bud Grant — in the days of old — to modern-day Hall of Famers Cal Murphy, Joe Poplawski, Tom Clements, Charles Roberts, Milt Stegall and Doug Brown.

The Blue and Gold have won 10 Grey Cups, although the club championship drought is now a record 27 years. But even through the leanest years, the Bombers remain synonymous with Manitoba’s sports history.

 

Flanked by some of her large canvasses, Winnipeg artist Wanda Koop nuzzles her cat George. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Flanked by some of her large canvasses, Winnipeg artist Wanda Koop nuzzles her cat George. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Wanda Koop: The Winnipeg contemporary artist has shown her works all over the world, starting with an exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Since then, her landscapes have graced the walls of the National Gallery of Canada and are part of major museum collections in Iceland, China and the Netherlands.

In 2016, she received the Governor General’s Award for Visual Arts. Not only has the Winnipeg-born painter been a key member of Canada’s art scene for four decades, she’s also been an organizer for others’ artistic dreams.

She’s helped with and formed several city art organizations, including Art City, an initiative centred in the West Broadway neighbourhood that encourages people, especially youngsters, to try create their own art.

 

Rising from the forest: When nickel was discovered in Northern Manitoba 60 years ago by Inco prospectors, the city of Thompson did not exist.

Building the nickel complex — one of the world’s first integrated mine-mill-smelter sites — and the city that became the province’s third largest was the biggest capital project in the Manitoba’s history.

 

Elijah Harper (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Elijah Harper (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Elijah Harper: With an eagle feather in his hand and a quiet ‘no’ in the Manitoba legislature, the late Manitoba MLA and MP played a key role in defeating the Meech Lake Accord.

The constitutional document left out indigenous peoples, who, with the French and the English, are the founding peoples of Canada.

The success of Harper’s soft-spoken resistance was only possible because the accord required ratification by Parliament and all 10 provincial legislatures.

 

The Winnipeg Comedy Festival: Founded by local comedian Lara Rae and CBC Radio executive Tom Anniko as a late-winter addition to the city’s extensive festival schedule, the event has become one of Canada’s most successful comedy events and for many years has been CBC’s top-rated live comedy showcase.

In addition to David Steinberg, the festival’s roster of high-profile Canadian talent has included the likes of Dave Broadfoot, Cathy Jones, Gavin Crawford, Colin Mochrie, Bill Richardson, Andrea Martin, Russell Peters, Shaun Majumder, Brent Butt, Ron James, Don Ferguson, Scott Thompson, Gerry Dee and Caroline Rhea.

 

Media mavericks: Thanks largely to the chutzpah of the late Izzy Asper and his offspring, Winnipeg was once the headquarters of Global TV, one of Canada’s three television networks and the centre of a burgeoning broadcast television industry.

 

Roses at Agriculture Canada's experimental farm in Morden. (Mary Herd)

Roses at Agriculture Canada's experimental farm in Morden. (Mary Herd)

Morden roses: Although now closed, this rose-breeding station in Morden garnered worldwide attention for producing hardier, more colourful and more frequent blooming roses for nearly 80 years. Its signature piece was the Parkland series.

 

Doug Henning: The legendary magician was born here in 1947.

The magician starred in Spellbound, a rock musical produced with Ivan Reitman in 1973, and went on to premiere the show, renamed as The Magic Show, on Broadway. Henning won a Tony award for his performance.

He starred in TV magic specials, but in 1986 he gave up magic, selling many of his illusions to David Copperfield and others.

 

Chief Peguis: While his name lives on by way of a reserve in the Interlake, that honour hardly seems enough to capture all this native leader did to shape the course of what would become Canada.

From signing the first treaty with Lord Selkirk to sheltering Louis Riel’s grandparents to the spread of both farming skills and Christianity, Manitoba and Canada would look very different in the 21st century without his leadership in the 19th century.

 

Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Fred Penner</p>

Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press

Fred Penner

Fred Penner: For a generation of children, beloved entertainer/national treasure Fred Penner was the man who crawled through a log and into their living rooms on the hit CBC show Fred Penner’s Place.

At 70, he’s still as culturally relevant as ever, performing songs about sandwiches and wayward cats on the campus pub circuit to those same kids — and creating new music for a new generation.

 

Money management heft: As a mid-tier Canadian city, Winnipeg has always punched above its weight in the business world.

The city boasts the head office of a couple of the country’s largest financial institution, Great-West Life and IGM Financial, which combined are responsible for assets under administration of more than $1 trillion.

 

Tommy Douglas: Celebrated as Canada’s father of medicare, the boy who grew up in Winnipeg would have a lasting impact on the political shape of the country, from his time as Saskatchewan’s premier to first leader of NDP.

On the 40th anniversary of his arrival in the House of Commons, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said this of Douglas: "He pleaded the cause of the common man from one end of Canada to the other."

 

The Goog.  (Mike Aporius / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Goog. (Mike Aporius / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Goog Special: If you are a real Manitoban and not some sort of out-of-province poser, at least once every summer you will voluntarily join the insanely long lineup outside the Bridge Drive-In and demonstrate your Manitobaness by ordering the legendary Goog, a now infamous mash-up of an upside-blueberry shake, hot fudge sundae, banana and whipped topping.

Only in Manitoba, you say? Pity!

 

Canada’s heart: Located in the heart of Canada, Manitoba has some of the most compassionate hearts in the country when it comes to helping people around the world.

The Mennonite Central Committee and Canadian Lutheran World Relief, with headquarters in Winnipeg, provide aid to those in the most desperate circumstance.

Charities such as Hospitality House Refugee Ministry — Canada’s largest private sponsor of refugees — have rescued thousands of people who were forced to leave their countries and now call Canada home.

Places such as the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba provide supportive transitional housing and programs for newcomer families, and Marie Rose Place downtown offers safe and secure permanent housing to single moms and their kids.

 

Honey dill sauce with chicken fingers (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Honey dill sauce with chicken fingers (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Honey dill sauce: It was invented by mistake — that’s right, it was a honey booboo — more than 30 years ago at Mitzi’s Chicken Finger restaurant, 250 St. Mary Ave.

Peter Eng, the husband of Mitzi’s owner Shirley Eng, was in the kitchen trying to duplicate a sauce he’d sampled at another dining spot.

He may not have been successful — he hadn’t asked about ingredients and was simply winging it — but the sauce he came up with has since become a coast-to-coast sensation.

 

North Forge Technology Exchange Fabrication Lab: It is the largest fabrication lab in North America. Tinkers and inventors and – even manufacturers – can get their hands on the latest 3-D printers, laser cutters and whatever else you need to make your prototype for only $150 per month.

 

(Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press)

(Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press)

VJ’s Drive-inn: Located directly across the street from Union Station at 123 Main St., VJ’s Drive-in gets more than its share of out-of-town rail travellers popping by for a quick bite while they’re stretching their legs in downtown Winnipeg.

Co-owner John Calogeris is known as much for his trademark bandanas as his cheeky disposition.

When a woman from Prince Edward Island once told him she had 10 minutes until her train left for its next destination and asked if her fat boy and fries would be ready in time, he jokingly said sure, if she stopped talking and he started cooking.

 

Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>A late bloom lingers in the Spirit Sands at Spruce Woods Provincial Park.</p>

Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press

A late bloom lingers in the Spirit Sands at Spruce Woods Provincial Park.

Spirit Sands: It’s often mistaken for a desert — it’s not because it receives too much annual precipitation — but the sandy landscape a short drive south of Carberry is an ecological marvel.

It’s also where renown nature writer Ernest Thompson Seton often took a stroll.

 

Terry Fox in 1980 at the end of a daily run near North Bay. (Boris SPREMO)

Terry Fox in 1980 at the end of a daily run near North Bay. (Boris SPREMO)

Terry Fox: It’s not by coincidence Manitoba’s August long weekend is named after this national hero. Fox was born in Winnipeg before moving to British Columbia at the age of eight. Fox’s dream of running across Canada on an artificial leg to raise money and awareness for cancer research in 1980 sadly ended when the disease returned later that year. More than $650 million has been raised in his name since 1981. 

 

Access to power: Winnipeg may be big enough to support an NHL team, but it’s small enough that it doesn’t take much to get a meeting with whomever you need for your business.

And chances are your kids will be on the same hockey team as the CEO’s kids.

 

The Provincial Nominee Program: Manitoba has been a trailblazer in immigration programs. It has quadrupled the number of newcomers to the province in the past 15 years — mainly through this program that chooses skilled workers with family ties and connections here so the vast majority have a reason to stay in the province after they arrive in Canada.

Retention has been a problem for many provinces, especially in Atlantic Canada where aging populations are in decline.

 

Monty Hall: Maybe it’s because Winnipeggers are legendary in finding a bargain that the biggest deal maker of all is from here. Monty Hall, who was born Monte Halparin in 1921, grew up in the North End, graduated from the University of Manitoba, and then went on to host, help develop and produce Let’s Make a Deal on television.

He has received the Order of Canada and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2013.

 

Kelly Klick polishes her 1975 Boler camper (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Kelly Klick polishes her 1975 Boler camper (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Boler trailers: The distinctive fibreglass ‘egg-on-wheels’ trailer, designed by Ray Olecko and Sandor Dussa, was first built in 1968 in Winnipeg.

Production ceased in 1988, but a 50th anniversary caravan is planned for next year.

 

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network: Based in Winnipeg, it is Canada’s only indigenous people’s cable network, staffed by and broadcast for indigenous people, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples.

Its launch in 1999 set a milestone for programming and marked the first opportunity indigenous peoples had to share their stories and perspectives on a national platform.

 

National Microbiology Laboratory: In its 18 years in Winnipeg, the laboratory has developed a portable laboratory for field deployment in the heart of an outbreak of disease, a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies — called ZMapp — to treat Ebola, as well as groundbreaking research in the fight against HIV.

 

Tina Fontaine (Handout)

Tina Fontaine (Handout)

Tina Fontaine: Her brutal 2014 death reignited calls that led to the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

At 15, Fontaine was in the child-welfare system when she ran away. Days later, her body was pulled from the Red River.

"The murder of this child — let’s not forget she was a child – has shocked and outraged our community. And I think that outrage has resonated across the nation," said Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth, then deputy chief, when he announced the arrest of Raymond Joseph Cormier on second-degree murder 16 months later.

 

Lot Shafai: This professor in the U of M electrical engineering department developed the technology allowing for small, portable satellite phone systems to be used by journalists, scientists and others working in remote areas of the planet.

r

Former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Glen Murray: First elected to city council in 1989, Murray became the first openly gay mayor of a major North American city in 1998, serving as Winnipeg’s mayor until 2004.

He was a major advocate of heritage buildings and downtown development.

 

Global breadbasket: As the exclusive agent for Canadian Prairie grain producers, the Canadian Wheat Board was one of the largest exporters in the country for many years, creating a brand for Prairie grain that continues to stand for superior quality even after the CWB was wound down in 2012.

 

George Knudson: The kid from St. James got his start in golf caddying at the St. Charles Country Club when he was only 11.

No one could have predicted back in the late 1940s that he would become Canada’s greatest golfer – until a chap named Mike Weir grabbed a share of that title years later.

Knudson won eight PGA events from 1962-72, including back-to-back tournaments in 1968. That same year, he won the World Cup two-man team championship with Al Balding.

A year later, he missed winning a green jacket at the Masters by one shot. 

 

The 13th hole of the Granite Hills Golf Course near Lac Du Bonnet.</p>

The 13th hole of the Granite Hills Golf Course near Lac Du Bonnet.

Golf courses: Manitoba golf enthusiasts — particularly those living in the capital region — are blessed with many public and semi-private options that are challenging and accessible… and affordable.

Unlike other metropolitan areas across Canada, where the average cost of a walking weekend round can top $100, green fees at popular courses within an hour’s drive from Winnipeg — Steinbach, Quarry Oaks and Links at the Lake in Gimli come to mind — keep their rates under $50.

And spectacular layouts — Granite Hills, Minnewasta, Grand Pines, Hecla and Falcon Lake — are also priced reasonably and are less than a two-hour drive.

Of course, none of that makes up for the sadistically short Manitoba golf season.

 

Gold medalist Clara Hughes (left) and bronze medalist Cindy Klassen salute the crowd during medal ceremonies at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games (Paul Chiasson / the Canadian Press)

Gold medalist Clara Hughes (left) and bronze medalist Cindy Klassen salute the crowd during medal ceremonies at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games (Paul Chiasson / the Canadian Press)

Speedskaters: Cindy Klassen, Clara Hughes, Susan Auch and Sylvia Burka. Klassen, Hughes and Auch have combined to win 13 Olympic speedskating medals.

But before them there was Burka, who, in the mid-1970s captured two world titles.

Winnipeg female speedskaters have been among the world’s best for decades.

 

New Music Festival: Co-founded by Glenn Buhr and Bramwell Tovey, this signature Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra event has been challenging audiences for more than 25 years with its "crazy, audacious" boundary-breaking musical programs that often features world premieres.

 

The first snowfall of the season is seen dusting the elm canopy on Lipton Street in the city's West End. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press)

The first snowfall of the season is seen dusting the elm canopy on Lipton Street in the city's West End. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press)

Elms: Winnipeg boasts approximately 200,000 American Elms, making it the largest concentration of mature elms in North America.

 

And that's why we need... Vern Hildahl: It was 1965 and elm trees were dying mysteriously across North America. Forester Vern Hildahl, with no formal scientific training, demonstrated that native bark beetles, not the Dutch beetle as first believed, were causing the disease.

He persuaded local authorities to launch programs to control Dutch elm disease through an aggressive sanitation regime that involved pruning dead branches, removing dead trees and properly disposing of elm wood.

Hildahl’s efforts reduced the loss of elm trees here to two per cent a year.

 

Maurice Strong: He was a businessman, diplomat and environmentalist. He was president of Power Corporation of Canada and later became the first CEO of Petro-Canada.

He was the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and the first executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

He was president of the Council of the University for Peace from 1998 to 2006 and helped found the Canadian International Development Agency.

He commissioned a report on the state of the planet in 1971, now known as the world’s first ‘state of the environment’ report, which was used in preparation for the first UN meeting on the environment held in Stockholm in 1972.

 

Delta Marsh (Supplied)

Delta Marsh (Supplied)

Delta Marsh: Is considered one of the greatest freshwater marshes in the world.

The 18,000-hectare marsh, located along the southern end of Lake Manitoba, has been recognized internationally for its ecological significance. Migrating songbirds number in the thousands at the marsh.

 

Employees for life: Manitoba has consistently ranked near the top of most surveys when it comes to workforce loyalty. New tech firms can worry less about their best employees getting poached.

 

Frank Gunston: Born in Flin Flon, the Order of Canada recipient was first an engineer before becoming a surgeon. He was able to combine both his career passions when he developed the first artificial knee replacement.

 

Patrick Doyle / The Canadian Press</p><p>Justice Murray Sinclair.</p>

Patrick Doyle / The Canadian Press

Justice Murray Sinclair.

Murray Sinclair: A pivotal figure in shaping the national indigenous agenda, Sinclair was the first aboriginal judge appointed in Manitoba.

He was still new to the bench when appointed as co-commissioner to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in 1988, and he would go on to become the head of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the residential school era.

The TRC issued 94 calls to action on reconciliation in 2015, the same year Sinclair was appointed to the Canadian Senate.

 

Martin Cooper: He is credited with developing the first cellphone in the early 1970s while working for Motorola. Cooper lived in Winnipeg for 10 years of his youth.

 

Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Etienne Gaboury</p>

Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

Etienne Gaboury

Etienne Gaboury: He’s hailed as Manitoba’s greatest architect.

From the Royal Canadian Mint, to the Eglise Du Precieux Sang (Precious Blood Roman Catholic Church) in St. Boniface, and from redevelopment of the St. Boniface Cathedral ruins to Esplanade Riel, Winnipeg is architecturally richer thanks to Gaboury’s unique vision.

 

A welcoming place: Canada is being looked at as a model of diversity and acceptance and it has in large part Manitoba to thank.

It doesn’t just welcome a lot of newcomers — almost 130,000 people from all over the world in the last decade — it helps them get settled and integrate through programs such as Manitoba Start and the Entry Program, which have served as models for other provinces.

The programs assess and direct immigrants and refugees to services and classes to help them get settled.

For children, there is the NEEDS Centre that prepares them for the Canadian classroom and picks up on any issues the student may need additional help with.

Manitoba has shown other provinces that the more help newcomers get when they arrive, the more smoothly they adapt to life in Canada.

 

Mark Humphrey / The Associated Press</p><p>Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews.</p>

Mark Humphrey / The Associated Press

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews.

Jonathan Toews: Few hockey players can match this St. Vital product’s resume: three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, two Olympic gold medals, two world junior titles and one world championship.

In 2010 alone, Toews won Olympic gold, the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the MVP of the NHL playoffs. 

 

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye: The whiskey distilled and aged at the Crown Royal plant in Gimli is the first Canadian product to be named whiskey of the year. In fact, all of the world’s Crown Royal whiskey is distilled in Gimli.

 

A kite has plenty of room to roam in the prairie sky above Westview Park (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

A kite has plenty of room to roam in the prairie sky above Westview Park (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

The prairie sky: Obviously, no one can lay claim to the sky, but Manitoba’s skies are special.

Whether dotted with stars, painted by Northern Lights, or filled with towering, telltale cumulonimbus clouds, the skies here are breathtaking in their vastness.

 

Garbage bags: Winnipegger Harry Wasylyk co-invented the green polyethylene garbage bag in 1950. The bags, now ubiquitous, were initially designed for commercial use and first sold to the Winnipeg General Hospital.

 

Le Cercle Moliere: Winnipeg’s French theatre company has operated continuously since it was founded in 1925, making it Canada’s oldest permanent theatre company.

 

Bobby Clarke: Born in Flin Flon, Clarke was reportedly the last NHL player chosen to represent Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, which pitted Team Canada against the Soviet Union.

Clarke tallied six points in the eight-game showdown and Paul Henderson, who scored the series-clinching goal with 34 ticks left on the clock in Game 8, said of Clarke afterwards, "The best thing that could have happened to... me was to get this young kid making plays for us. He was terrific."

 

Legendary receiver Milt Stegall thrills fans by officially opening Investors Group Field (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press )

Legendary receiver Milt Stegall thrills fans by officially opening Investors Group Field (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press )

Milt Stegall: He was born 47 years ago in Cincinnati and played high school and college football in Ohio, but Winnipeggers will always consider Milt Stegall one of their own.

He played 14 seasons (1995-2008) with the Blue Bombers.

Arguably the greatest receiver in CFL history, Stegall holds several CFL records, including most career touchdowns (147), most TD receptions (144), most major scores in a season (23) and most yards per catch in a season (26.5 in 1997).

He is a CFL hall of famer and also a member of the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame.

Football fans still get the privilege of hearing his expert analysis during the season on TSN.

 

Sheldon Kennedy and Theoren Fleury: The two NHL players, from Elkhorn and Russell respectively, have made a lasting impact long after leaving the game of hockey.

Kennedy and Fleury, who were both repeatedly sexually assaulted by junior hockey coach Graham James, have made it their mission to speak out and stand up for sex assault victims. 

 

Winnipeg Free Press archives</p><p>Baldur Stefansson, the man who developed canola, stands in Canola field.</p>

Winnipeg Free Press archives

Baldur Stefansson, the man who developed canola, stands in Canola field.

Canola: In 1974, Baldur Stefansson and Keith Downey, researchers in the University of Manitoba department of agriculture, took their first step toward creating a crop worth billions to the global economy.

Their "Tower" began the process of re-engineering rapeseed into a source for plant-based cooking oil. A few short years later, canola would change the face of the oilseed industry.

 

Friendly Manitoba: That’s what it says on our licence plates, and that’s what it says (Sniff!) in our hearts.

Forget those cheesy slogans — "Spirited Energy" and "Canada’s Heart Beats" — because this province takes being friendly to an entirely new level.

We may not have mountains and oceans and multi-million-dollar homes by the score, but we will gosh darn bake you some delicious cookies and pour you an ice cold glass of milk just because we want to see you smile.

And you’ll enjoy it!

 

Festival du Voyageur: Hé ho, in case you didn’t know, this annual event in Feburary is Western Canada’s largest winter festival.

 

Duff Roblin (The Canadian Press)

Duff Roblin (The Canadian Press)

Duff Roblin: He will forever be remembered by a grateful province for championing the Red River Floodway, better known as Duff’s Ditch.

The longtime MLA was Tory premier from 1958 to 1967, heading a government that improved social services and education in Manitoba, and later became a senator.

The floodway has paid for itself in spades. Construction of the 47-kilometre channel cost $63 million and took six years to build in the 1960s.

It has been used more than 20 times since 1968, preventing more than $100 billion in flood damages.

It’s a National Historic Site, recognized as an engineering marvel.

 

Winnie the Pooh: On his way overseas to fight in the First World War, veterinarian and soldier Harry D. Colebourn came across a female black bear cub for sale for $20.

He bought it and named it Winnie, after his adopted hometown of Winnipeg.

The bear then travelled with him across the Atlantic and was eventually donated to the London Zoo, where a young boy, Christopher Robin Milne, was so smitten with the bear that he named his own toy teddy bear after her.

His father, A.A. Milne, was then inspired to create the bumbly, fumbly, honey-loving character Winnie the Pooh, which has since become one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature all over the world.

 

Shahina Siddiqui (Winnipeg Free Press files)

Shahina Siddiqui (Winnipeg Free Press files)

Shahina Siddiqui: When a wave of anti-Islamic sentiment began to spread after the terror attacks of 9-11, Muslim Canadians and anyone who looked Middle Eastern felt targeted by those looking for someone to blame and hate here.

Rather than lying low and staying out of the media spotlight, this Winnipeg woman wearing a hijab — the most visible expression of her Muslim faith — started speaking up for members of her community and their place in Canada.

Siddiqui became the public face of Muslim Canadians and a national spokeswoman promoting understanding of Islam.

She helped found a number of national organizations since then — the Islamic Social Services Association of Canada, the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute, and the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute.

 

Tyndall Stone: The cream-coloured and highly fossiliferous limestone quarried near Garson is a distinctive building material used around the world.

It was first used in constructing the warehouse and walls of Lower Fort Garry in 1832 and has since been featured notably in the Canadian parliament buildings, Manitoba Legislative Building and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.  

 

Generosity: Statistically, Manitobans contribute more to charitable organizations than residents in other provinces. Manitobans are making Canada a better place not just with words but with our pocketbooks.

 

Colin Corneau / Brandon Sun</p><p>A woman cheers at Dauphin's Countryfest.</p>

Colin Corneau / Brandon Sun

A woman cheers at Dauphin's Countryfest.

Dauphin’s Countryfest: Since 1990, this event held just outside of Dauphin draws the biggest names in country music. It is Canada’s longest continuously running country music festival.

 

Prehistoric postage: Canada Post in 2005 introduced a cool stamp paying tribute to "Bruce," the world’s largest Tylosaurus pembinensis skeleton, on display at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden.

A giant sea-dwelling creature that could open its jaws as wide as a snake to swallow large prey, Bruce is technically not a dinosaur, but a mosasaur, a gigantic marine lizard that paddled around the inland sea that covered Manitoba about 80 million years ago.

The centre in Morden is home to the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada.

 

Diana Thorneycorft (Hadas Parush / Winnipeg Free Press)

Diana Thorneycorft (Hadas Parush / Winnipeg Free Press)

Diana Thorneycroft: A contemporary artist and art instructor living in Winnipeg, Thorneycroft’s provocative works have been hailed and derided, but rarely ignored.

She sparked an outrage in 1999 with the work Monstrance, which featured dead rabbits being nailed to trees with photographs inside the carcasses.When they decayed, the photos were revealed.

And in 2009, she had a hit with Canada, Myth and and History, which spoofed the works of Group of Seven artists.

One of them was a photograph of figurines of Bob and Doug McKenzie, the SCTV hosers, swigging beer amid Tom Thomson’s Early Snow, a painting that’s part of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s collection.

 

Wheelchair rugby: In 1977, a group of Winnipeg quadriplegic athletes were looking for an alternative to wheelchair basketball that would allowed players with reduced arm and hand function to participate equally.

Their game was originally called Murderball, but is now known as wheelchair rugby.

It became a full medal sport for the first time at the 2000 Paralympic Games.

 

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>Winnipeggers enjoy the Red River Mutual Trail on the Assiniboine River at the Forks. </p>

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeggers enjoy the Red River Mutual Trail on the Assiniboine River at the Forks.

The Red River Mutual Trail: Length varies from year-to-year depending on weather and ice conditions, but in 2008, the skating route along the Red and Assiniboine rivers set a Guinness World Record for longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world.

It draws tens of thousands of visitors to the Forks during the winter months.

 

Lower Fort Garry: This former Hudson’s Bay Company fort, built in 1830, is a national heritage site.

Visitors can explore Canada’s oldest collection of stone fur trade buildings and experience the life of trappers and traders as they lived in the 1850s.

It is where the first of the numbered treaties was made between the Crown and area First Nations, it was home to Western Canada’s first prison, first asylum for the mentally ill and first training facility for the North-West Mounted Police.

 

WinRho(D): There are people walking around the world thanks to Winnipeg doctors.

Dr. Bruce Chown, along with Dr. John Bowman and Dr. Alvin Zirpursky, processed plasma from Rh negative women to develop an Rh antibody to produce an Rh immune globulin.

After this development, pregnant mothers could receive treatment for Rh disease before giving birth.

Bowman, who co-founded the Winnipeg Rh Institute in 1969, went on to contribute to the development in 1980 of the Rho(D) immune-globulin used around the world.

 

Canadian Museum for Human Rights: Located at The Forks, the first national museum to be located outside the national capital region is an architectural landmark and a focus for debate on human rights issues.

It is the only museum in the world solely devoted to human rights awareness and education.

 

The Métis: Right back to the beginning, Manitoba started out as a province with an indigenous heart. Consider Louis Riel, the Manitoba Métis leader who brought this province into Confederation.

Even if we’re still working out how to honour the deal we made back in 1870, Manitoba is the acknowledged Métis homeland, and the heartland of the Red River Métis. 

 

Nellie McClung (National Archives of Canada, C.Jessop)

Nellie McClung (National Archives of Canada, C.Jessop)

Nellie McClung: Manitoba women have her to thank for the province becoming the first in the country to grant them the right to vote.

She came to Manitoba when she was seven and later began teaching near Manitou. She wrote her first bestselling book there, Sowing Seeds of Danny, before her family moved to Winnipeg.

There she joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union to fight against alcohol abuse, and also was a founding member of the Political Equality League.

In 1914, the league staged a mock parliament, at what is now the Burton Cummings Theatre, with McClung playing the part of Premier Rodmond Roblin and satirizing the danger of letting men vote.

She moved to Alberta where she was elected as a provincial politician. In 1927, she became part of the ‘Famous Five’, which sent a petition to the Supreme Court asking the persons definition in a section of the British North America Act be clarified.

Known as the Persons Case, the section, which had excluded women from being named to the Senate, was upheld by the court, but later overturned by the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

 

Lakes, lakes and more beautiful lakes: The land of ‘100,000 lakes’ is no idle boast.

From sandy beaches in the south to crystal-clear waters in the north, Manitoba is blessed with lakes. And that makes cottage ownership more affordable and more practical than in most any other province.

It also leads to lake culture, which means you can only hold weekend Blue Bombers’ games after the September long weekend because, you guessed it, seemingly everyone is at the lake.

 

Lake Agassiz: Manitoba was the epicentre of the last ice age in North America.

No place had more ice and for as long as this region, and no area had as much water from melting ice afterward.

Glacial Lake Agassiz was once the world’s largest lake.

 

Adam Beach: From the North End to the silver screen, the aboriginal actor’s life reads like a Hollywood movie script.

The Saulteaux actor from Manitoba’s Dog Creek First Nation has appeared in more than 60 television shows and films, notably Windtalkers, Flags of Our Fathers and Suicide Squad, and is an inspiration for many aboriginal youth.

After his parents died when he was still at an early age, he moved to Winnipeg to live with relatives and began taking drama classes.

 

From left: Tommy Douglas, Andus MacInnis, A.A. Heaps, J.S. Woodsworth, and M.J. Coldwell in an early CCF strategy meeting on Parliament Hill in 1935.  (The Canadian Press)

From left: Tommy Douglas, Andus MacInnis, A.A. Heaps, J.S. Woodsworth, and M.J. Coldwell in an early CCF strategy meeting on Parliament Hill in 1935. (The Canadian Press)

J.S. Woodsworth: He was a Methodist clergyman who later became a politician and the first leader of what later became the federal NDP.

He became convinced, from what he saw happening in the North End of Winnipeg as superintendent of All People’s Mission, that socialism was the best way to get rid of poverty.

He was elected federally for Winnipeg North with the Independent Labour Party in 1921, and held the seat until he died in 1942.

While serving, he was able to convince Prime Minister Mackenzie King to introduce the old-age pension plan, the country’s first social security legislation.

He helped found the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and became its first leader in 1932.

 

Canadian Foodgrains Bank: From its humble beginnings four decades ago, this little Manitoba sucess story has turned into one of the most significant humanitarian aid programs in the world.

Seven years after it began as a Mennonite Central Committee project tackling famine in Bangladesh, it transformed into the Canadian Foodgrain Bank comprised of 30 denominations and 15 church-based agencies.

Since that first shipment, more than $800 million in food aid and agricultural training has been delivered to 70 countries, and the bank is zeroing in on $1 billion. More than 3,000 farmers across the country donate part of their harvest each year.

 

While it isn't much to look at, the linear burial mounds site south of Melita represents the best remaining example of this local mound tradition in Canada. (Matt Goerzen/Brandon Sun)

While it isn't much to look at, the linear burial mounds site south of Melita represents the best remaining example of this local mound tradition in Canada. (Matt Goerzen/Brandon Sun)

Burial mounds: The mounds at this site, near the town of Melita in the Municipality of Two Borders and along the Souris River, are remnants of the largest concentration of ancient burial mounds in Canada.

Known as the Sourisford Linear Burial Mounds, they date to 800 AD, and are believed to be where the Sioux buried their winter casualties as they followed the spring migration of bison herds.

The mounds range from the southeast section of North Dakota to Saskatchewan, but this is the only group of mounds that wasn’t flattened by farm expansion.

The site, which was listed as a National Historic Site of Canada, is protected by Parks Canada, but accessible to the public.

 

Ducks Unlimited: Since 1938, the wetland conservation group has restored more than 127 million acres of habitat across Canada.

That first project, known as Duck Factory No. 1, was at Big Grass Marsh near Gladstone.

 

The Nonsuch, a full-size 17th century sailing vessel in the Manitoba Museum. (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Nonsuch, a full-size 17th century sailing vessel in the Manitoba Museum. (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Nonsuch: There you are, wandering aimlessly through the impressive halls of the Manitoba Museum when you casually round a corner and – BLAMMO!!! – there it is: an 80-foot replica of an actual 17th-century sailing ship smack dab in the middle of what appears to be an English port town.

You can spend hours crawling over the polished wooden decks of this ketch, whose 1668 voyage led to the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company and opened the Canadian West to commerce.

Also, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez had dinner on it once.

 

Child Find Manitoba: An unspeakable tragedy — the 1985 murder of 13-year-old Candace Derksen — gave birth to a national organization that provides intervention, education and prevention programs related to the disappearance of children.

The organization was renamed the Canadian Centre for Child Protection in 2006 to better reflect its national role in protecting children.

In 2011, it launched MissingKids.ca, a national online resource centre to provide information and support to families and others searching for missing children.

 

Camp Hughes

Camp Hughes

Camp Hughes: It’s now mostly rolling fields of grass and clusters of trees but at its peak in 1916, Camp Hughes housed 40,000 soldiers who were being trained in trench warfare for the battlefields of the First World War.

Here, after the war in Europe bogged down into a battle for inches with soldiers huddled in dugouts on both sides, troops were trained how to attack and defend the trenches.

The area, next to CFB Shilo, was named a National Historic Site last year.

 

James Armstrong Richardson: There’s a reason why our airport is named after James Armstrong Richardson. Richardson founded Western Canada Airways in 1926, to pioneer aviation service to the North.

It later merged with others in 1929 to become Canadian Airways Ltd., a company of which Richardson became president, that was a forerunner to a transcontinental air service.

 

Nia Vardalos: The Winnipeg actress wrote and starred in 2002’s runaway sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Despite being an independent film with only a US$5-million budget, it became the highest-grossing romantic comedy film of all time, earning more than $350-million worldwide.

It also earned an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. 

 

Portage and Main, 1913. (Archives of Manitoba / Rembrandt Studio)

Portage and Main, 1913. (Archives of Manitoba / Rembrandt Studio)

Portage and Main: It is the nation’s most iconic intersection, often dubbed the windiest corner in Canada.

The "crossroads of Canada" was around long before Winnipeg became a city. The intersection’s land was purchased in 1862, while Winnipeg was incorporated in 1874. 

 

Marshall McLuhan: Sure, everyone knows about his famous pronouncement "the medium is the message."

But we had to put the visionary academic on this list for his observation: "People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them like a hot bath."

 

The seasons: Not only do we experience four distinct seasons in Manitoba, we experience them in their harsh, beautiful extremes.

Manitobans are defined and shaped by their climate.

 

The world's first U-Turn light (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press)

BORIS MINKEVICH

The world's first U-Turn light (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press)

U-turn light: To help solve a traffic connundrum at Kingsbury Avenue and McPhillips Street — namely avoiding sending traffic the wrong way down a one-way street — Winnipeg’s public works department designed the world’s first U-turn light.

 

K-Tel: 'But wait, there’s more' became an almost ubiquitous saying on television thanks to this Winnipeg-based company.

The company, which brought you the Miracle Brush, the Veg-o-matic, and millions of hit compilation albums including 25 Country Hits and Hooked on Classics, was founded by Philip Kives in 1962.

The company went on to sell 28 million Miracle Brushes while Hooked on Classics became a bonafide platinum classic by tallying 10 million record sales.

But even if you never bought a K-Tel product, generations of people still remember the company’s commercials, featuring the voice of Bob Washington, saying, "But wait, there’s more."

 

This list is far from being definitive, as many others are deserving of recognition. And that’s where you can help. Please send your thoughts — to feedback@winnipegfreepress.com  — on the most notable Manitoba moments and Manitobans who helped make Canada a better place. We will publish a selection at a later date.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.