As the leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives, I have had the opportunity to visit some truly great places, but of all of these my favourite place remains Woodhaven Park in St. James.

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This article was published 1/10/2011 (3709 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 
Hugh McFadyen on the bridge leading into Woodhaven Park, his favourite part of the city.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Hugh McFadyen on the bridge leading into Woodhaven Park, his favourite part of the city.

As the leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives, I have had the opportunity to visit some truly great places, but of all of these my favourite place remains Woodhaven Park in St. James.

I was born in Selkirk but I grew up in St. James. My family lived in the Woodhaven community and my brothers and I were lucky to have such a great park so close to home. I spent a good part of my childhood and young adult life hanging out at Woodhaven Park.

The park is tucked away between the communities of Woodhaven and Birchwood, just off of Portage Avenue. Sturgeon Creek runs through the park. Our house naturally became a hub for kids from the communities of Woodhaven, Birchwood and Silver Heights because it was the last stop before the park. There was always a revolving door of kids in our home.

In the summers, I would play soccer at the park and ride my bike down the monkey trails. Often my brothers and I would fish in the creek and then, unknown to my parents and probably local authorities, we'd cool off by taking a swim in the creek. Whenever I could, I'd take our dog to the park and throw a ball for her. She enjoyed the park almost as much as I did.

In the winters, I played hockey at the Woodhaven Community Club, which was located right in the park and tobogganed with my brothers and my friends on Woodhaven Hill.

While I would play in the park, my parents were active at the community club. They were instrumental in several community-club developments and it was their efforts that instilled in me a deep appreciation for anyone who selflessly gives back to their community.

In 2006, when I announced my intention to run for leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, I made my announcement at the Woodhaven Community Club.

I have first-hand experience of how a great park like Woodhaven can shape and define a community. I was fortunate to grow up in such a great community and I believe every child should be able to live in a safe, healthy and strong community like I did. Woodhaven Park brought kids together from different neighbourhoods and different backgrounds and served as a place where unforgettable memories were made.

From time to time, I still visit the park and remember with fondness the happiness of my youth.

 

Hugh McFadyen is leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba