Written by Marcel R Pitre
The CPR Train Station in Lac du Bonnet was not unlike any other train station in Manitoba, or indeed Canada. All stations were generally the same colour, a deep unmistakable dark wine. They were the crucial, centrally located and chief facility in towns and villages as they grew in size and importance. Stations were the hub of activity, a place where people assembled when arriving or leaving. All mail and supplies left and return that way, and in some cases, I’ve heard even individual liquor purchases were delivered by train, those were the days when roads and cars were in short supply. There were many very vital, very important functions carried on in the area that used the services of the Lac du Bonnet CPR Station.
Written by Marcel R Pitre
In the early “steam-engines-train-years” huge water tanks accompanied and partnered with train tracks to quench and dispel a passing “steam-engines-driven-train” of its thirst as it makes its way across our country. And so it was that the CPR positioned their water facility… just a part of a kilometer past Lac du Bonnet on the way to Great Falls.
The Eagle Café – circa 1943 /44
Written by Marcel R Pitre
All Chinese Restaurants have an aura about them, most on the bright side with a few that do not challenge. Jim Sing ran a very “bright-side” business… on the “north-side” of town. The small restaurant had an entrance with a space between two doors offering protection from the north wind to those inside in winter months. Old time seating arrangements were of the type that the times dictated. Chinese cuisine, as always, was consumed with delight in a manner that cultural preference or ability would choose. Not all could navigate through the contortions of chopsticks.
Memories do not fill in the brain cavities I have of the food, nor did I have the money needed for the finery that Jim Sing’s eatery presented to a customer. It was a school teacher’s desire to obtain the words of a song for his class from the Wurlitzer that had two students expend some time there. I was one of them. What a great way to not attend classes and yet be part of the daily chores dictated by the school curriculum… and that great teacher Mr. Solar. The song we were to obtain the words to was popular at the time though that particular number escapes me now.
It was musical education time; singing was the only instruments we had. There was a need for lyrics to bring us up to the modern melody we desired. It was then that Mr. Solar directed Blyth Reid and myself to take pencil and paper to Jim Sing’s music box, play the desired tune wanted, all within the time that five nickels would offer, and bring the words back to class. And he supplied the change!
It was during the listening and writing time that the two of us were in a fit of laughter. Many people frequented Jim’s eatery which included the customers from the nearby Casey’s Inn. Some were not in the joyous mood that the main beverage sold there should have held them and they took exception to our laughter as a slight upon themselves. Their immediate intention was to take me outside and “clean-my-clock”. Thanks to the double doors I mentioned they could not maneuver me to the outside, we became knotted in a confined space. Jim Sing’s humour, at time, had him display his healthy meat clever to those he wished to impress… or change their minds. Though he always did so in jest I fervently hoped, while snared between two doorways, that he would have shown up then. No dice… Jim was cooking I suppose?
It was then the Dr. William (Bill) Reid, father of Blythe, appeared on the scene. It happened that there was a need to see his daughter at the school and was told where she was. Never at a better time! Dr. Reid did not take much from anyone, particularly the two inebriates. Needless to say we did not have to put ourselves through the “contortions” of chopsticks though truly amazing twisting efforts were needed to dislodge ourselves from between the two sets of doors. The end results were that… we did get back to school with the words to a great tune, Mr. Solar was happy, Dr. Reid was glad to be in the right place at the right time, as were we. Blythe and I had a great experience on Mr. Solar’s two bits. And Jim Sing did not feel need to demonstrate the effectiveness of his meat cleaver.
Written by Marcel R Pitre
The Shaw Drug Store: Times of long ago, apart from being interesting to read about, are somewhat the opposite of the future, memories only include the past. And those earlier periods have so many great moments that create exciting reminiscences. Rem and Jack Shaw of Lac du Bonnet, the Allard building which housed their store, the streets and structures around and the people who frequent these location, had great stories to tell.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. Anthony Petchersky was founded in 1937 on an acre of donated land in Brightstone. Using donated materials and volunteer labour, a small church, with a capacity for fifty people, was built. Reverend Hewko established the church, as a branch of Brightstone’s St. John the Baptist Parish, for the Ukrainian Catholic farm families of the district. The church was underutilized as many families attended other churches or didn’t attend church at all, resulting in various priests travelling in from Winnipeg to give services. Special celebrations were the only time the church was filled.
During the 1950s, Father Joseph Kamenecky came from Beausejour regularly. At the same time, many parishioners moved to Lac du Bonnet and attended the Notre Dame du Lac Roman Catholic Church. Father Kamenecky began conducting Ukrainian Catholic services at the larger Notre Dame.
By 1960, the new parish of St. Anthony Petchersky was founded, consisting of a new church executive and a ladies’ organization. A $1,000 donation facilitated the purchase of a 2 ¾ acre lot in the town of Lac du Bonnet, where the church was moved from Brightstone. The new site was consecrated August 1961.
The congregation of St. Anthony Petchersky parish remained small. By 1980, the twenty-five members were older people who understood Ukrainian. Some of the younger generation attended Notre Dame du Lac Roman Catholic services. Despite attempts to raise funds for the church, services were only held one Sunday a month. Funeral services were available upon request, with the occasional burial at the Brightstone cemetery.
The St. Anthony Petchersky church fell into disuse. By 1995, the building was purchased by an RM resident and moved to land northeast of Lac du Bonnet. Restorations have been on going.
Written by Jennifer Strassel
This year, on December 2 at the Lac du Bonnet Community Center, the Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society partnered with the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation to celebrate the Anishinaabe for our Cultural Fundraiser (formerly the Wine and Cheese), presenting history, culture, song, food and dance.
The weather certainly cooperated, as we had a full house of guests coming from all areas of the RM of Lac du Bonnet and beyond. Many new and familiar faces enjoyed the evening of historical displays, entertainment, draws and food, featuring wild rice quiche, bison meatballs, salmon, pickerel, and, of course, bannock.
MC for the evening was Maryanne Folster, Events Coordinator, of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.
Elder Harry Bone, who is well known for working tirelessly and quietly throughout his life to bolster Indigenous rights, said the opening and closing prayers.
Chief Jim Bear, of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, spoke to the crowd about the background and origins of Brokenhead, in addition to reconciliation.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Southern Thunderbird Medicine Drum group, Hoop Dancer George Bear of Scanterbury, and ten year old singer Jordon Brooks of Whitemouth.
Isaac Cardinal and Autumn Abdilla, representatives of the Lac du Bonnet Senior School’s Indigenous Studies class, introduced their project, in partnership with the Lac du Bonnet District Museum. Students will paint an interior liner of the Museum’s newly acquired tipi depicting images of a “Winter Count” — a record of history done in pictographs by Indigenous peoples. This project will provide a self-guided Indigenous tour within the tipi for the upcoming season.
At the end of the night, members of the Lac du Bonnet and District Historical Society were taken completely by surprise when the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation presented them with a generous $5000 cheque from the South Beach Community Spirit Fund.
The Anishinaabe (comprised of the Ojibway, Chippewa and Saulteaux) are descendants of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island (North America), who have occupied the land for thousands of years. Long before to European contact, they had sophisticated civilizations based upon traditional laws and cultural practices, along with complex trading relationships between nations. Historically, the Anishinaabe peoples moved freely and frequently within their traditional use areas as dictated by the seasons and the abundance of plants and animals used for subsistence. By 1775, the Anishinaabe had pushed west from their ancestral strongholds of the Great Lakes into the Winnipeg River area. Come the 1820s, the Anishinaabe had displaced the Cree and the Assiniboine in the Lake Winnipeg watershed as far west as Portage La Prairie.
The Lac du Bonnet area is encompassed in both Treaty 1 and 3 territories.
Treaty 1 was signed at Lower Fort Garry on August 3, 1871 by representatives of the Crown and seven First Nations Indigenous Communities: Brokenhead Ojibway, Sagkeeng, Long Plain, Peguis, Rouseau River, Sandy Bay and Swan Lake. This boundary falls along the west side of the Winnipeg River, encompassing the Town of Lac du Bonnet and western half of the RM of Lac du Bonnet.
Treaty 3 was signed at the North-West Angle Hudson’s Bay Company post on Lake of the Woods October 3, 1873. Twenty-four Anishinaabe Chiefs signed the treaty, surrendering 55,000 sq. miles to the Crown for agricultural settlement and mineral discovery. This land extends to the east side of the Winnipeg River, including the eastern half of the RM of Lac du Bonnet. Chief Powassan, of the NW Angle, was spokesman. Chief Ma-we-do-pe-nais spoke some infamous words: “…I hope the promises you have made will last as long as the sun goes round and the water flows.”
The Lac du Bonnet & District Historical Society held a Kairos Blanket Exercise on October 12th, 2017.
The circle is a space where the sometimes disturbing and unsettling act of unlearning can take place safely. It creates a community with a shared vision of a different story of Canada.
This is the true power of the Blanket Exercise.
It is the hope that more people will be able to begin the process of unlearning the story they’ve been told their whole lives. Only then will they be able to walk on the path of reconciliation and create a new story for Canada.
The Blanket ceremony is one of the best tools available to help people move from unaware to awareness. It brings out the heart discussions that are so needed in Canada to ensure we can move to degrees of reconciliation relationship building.
It was an incredibly humbling experience!
Thank you to Leslie Wakeman and Andrea Maxwell from Sunrise School Division, Elder Adrian Jacobs from Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Center, along with all participants.
Kaitlyn Mitchell, 2017 Summer Museum Assistant
Throughout the month of July, Kaitlyn gave museum tours and performed a number of office duties including: cataloging multiple donated artifacts, taking pictures of such artifacts and uploading the images onto computer, organizing the Springfield Leader weekly newspaper, making arrowheads and doing craft preparation for Heritage Day. She also did regular cleaning of the museum.
Kaitlyn has noticed that the RM 100 travelling trunks are among the first things visitors look at upon entering the museum. The interactive exhibits, like the wool carder and furs, are also quite popular, and believes another interactive exhibit would encourage more people to attend and enjoy their visit.
Kaitlyn has also suggested that more advertising is needed to inform the public about where the museum is located and when it is open. She lists the public library as a place for museum brochures and, since it is a high traffic area, the Sunova sign for advertisements.
For the month of August, Kaitlyn continued to give museum tours, organize and catalogue artifacts, make arrowheads, and prepare craft materials and posters for Heritage Day.
She has noted that a lot of visitors have commented on how well the museum was constructed and organized, mentioning that their visit was enjoyable.
She also attended the Fire & Water Festival, with a table in Artisan Square. They sold two books, one membership and thirteen bags of wild rice. Overall, the wild rice fundraiser did quite well this month, with a total of twenty-seven bags sold both at the museum and the Fire & Water Festival.
Kaitlyn suggested that a larger sign is needed near the highway to attract more visitors, informing them when the museum is open.
Heritage Day 2017
Kaitlyn believed the Heritage Day was “quite a success.” She noted that the performers were excellent and that the kids’ obstacle course and craft making went really well. A lot of positive comments were received about the event throughout the day. Kaitlyn stated that those in attendance were “very pleased and left with smiles on their faces.”
Travelling Suitcase Exhibit
Kaitlyn created a travelling suitcase exhibit on growing up in the 1950s. She thoroughly researched and planned the case before putting the artifacts, photographs and written information together in the display.
Overall, Kaitlyn believes the museum did well this summer, especially with the Open House, Canada Day and Heritage Day events. She enjoyed all aspects of the job and found it an educational experience. Kaitlyn is incredibly grateful for Terry and Marlene, appreciating the time and hard work given to help her with all aspects of the job. She enjoyed her time at the museum and hopes to apply for the position again next year.