The adventure continues and we’re back in Canada 🇨🇦 We entered Manitoba, which just happens to be the birth Province of Joanne!
Our first stop was in Neepawa to visit the family, and it just so happened to be Uncle John’s 98th Birthday! 🎉
It was so fun to celebrate with Uncle John, Auntie Alice, cousins, 2nd cousins and 3rd cousins! Ron, Olia, Murray, Glennis, David, Jo-Anne, Alicia, Brielle, Leah, Cole, Greg and Miles 😊 Remember our fun in Niagara Falls with Mert and Robert? These are Mert’s parents, brother and sisters, nieces and nephews.
Uncle John has been ill, so they broke him out of the hospital for a fun party and drinks. He certainly enjoyed his Caesar!
It was so nice to catch up with the Neepawa relatives. Auntie Alice is Joanne’s Dad’s (Joe) sister. They are the last 2 of 13 children, and were the youngest of them all, Joe being the baby of the family.
We’ve been trying to cycle The Great Trail in each province, and since it ran right by our campsite, we had to give it a shot. Turns out, The Great Trail was not so great in Neepawa! It started out well even though we had a staircase to tackle, but apparently the signs marking the trail are a popular souvenir, so we lost our way a few times. When we got to the actual rail trail part, it had not been maintained, so we went back in another direction. Too much of the trail was on busy highways, so we ended up just having a nice ride and touring around the town.
A bit of literary history – the author Margaret Laurence, most famously known for her book ‘The Stone Angel’, was born and raised in Neepawa, and most of her books are based in Neepawa but the name is changed to Manawaka. She got her inspiration for the Stone Angel from a statue that is in the cemetery in town.
The local community tv station has a fun way to raise money for funding, so every Wednesday night they have Bingo games on tv. You purchase the bingo cards at a few locations in town, then at 7:00 you turn on the channel and play! If your card wins, you phone the station and they confirm you’re a winner. We had so much fun, but unfortunately, no winning cards.
We visited Uncle John in the hospital before heading out of town. It was such a memorable time laughing with him and hearing stories of his youth and life on the farm. As we were leaving his hospital room, he asked us to stand there a moment so he could remember us that way.
Sadly, Uncle John passed away on August 21st, a week after we saw him. Our sincere condolences and love go out to our family and especially Auntie Alice.
Rest In Peace, Uncle John. 💖
After leaving Neepawa, we checked out Clear Lake, which is a beach resort area that Joanne’s family used to go to. It has some cute stores and great restaurants and was busy with vacationers. Lots of fun.
Then on to Joanne’s family history as we arrived to Oakburn, the birthplace of Joe. Dad’s grandparents were given a plot of land here in May 1899, when they arrived from the Ukraine. The town has changed a lot since Joe lived here, and only a few of the original buildings remain.
The Great Trail runs right through town, and it looked pretty great 👍 but we didn’t get a chance to cycle it.
We went to the family farm which is owned by cousin David and his wife Jo-Anne. It was so special to see the house that Dad spent his teen years in, and to visit with David. Of course, they wouldn’t let us leave empty handed, as we loaded our freezer with Jo-Anne’s award winning borscht and David’s award winning sausage!!! Yum!! Oh and fresh garden produce. 😊
Roblin, Manitoba . . . . the birthplace of Joanne! Woohoo 🎉
We pulled in to the best campsite of our entire trip – poolside at the farm of our friends Stan and Lydia! Lydia is one of the daughters of Joanne’s Godfather (Uncle Steve) and these girls have been friends their entire lives! Henry figures we should be called ‘god sisters’ since we’re not officially related.
There was a welcoming committee awaiting our arrival and an amazing meal prepared – thanks so much, Lee 😘 There is never a shortage of food when you’re around Ukrainians, and it’s always delicious!
So we right away had a visit with Uncle Steve, Lee and Sindy (2 more god sisters), Darlene and Ken (remember, we met up with them in Halifax?!) and Jordy – one of Lydia and Stan’s sons. Jason, their other son, was out working that night.
A fun lunch at the ice rink with the whole gang!
Then a visit to Uncle Steve’s farm. He’s almost 95 years old and still plants a large garden and flowers around the house. Amazing!
Henry and Stan went exploring the area.
Here’s some family history – Joanne’s parents, Joe and Jean, moved to Roblin shortly after they married, and started their first business. They built and ran the Roblin Theatre. With the building not quite complete, they opened the doors in November 1953 and premiered ‘The Caddy’, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Dad was head projectionist and Mom was at the candy counter!
Some of their biggest movies were ‘White Christmas’, ‘Ben Hur’ and ‘The Ten Commandments’. Joe was quite the promoter . . . when they were getting ready to show ‘Don’t Go Near The Water’, he hung ladies underwear in the lobby and then gave them away to the first few women to come to the opening night!
Joe and a Jean started their family and had a home attached to the back of the theatre. Joanne’s sisters, Donna and Diane, were raised there. This is a photo taken last year – June 2018 – of Dad, Donna and Diane in front of their house at the back of the theatre.
We actually had a chance to see a movie in the theater and meet the present owner,Andrea, who is doing a great job. The building looks as it did when it was built except for some modernization and structural stability. What a lot of fun and nostalgia.
Joe, Jean, Donna and Diane eventually moved into a house just down the street from the theatre, that Joe built, and this is the home Joanne came to when she was born. The family moved to Winnipeg when Joanne was 2 years old.
The next endeavor Joe started was with his best friend Steve. The 2 buddies took over a trucking company and expanded it into a pretty major business, thus, the Roblin Truck Service was born! This is a photo of the 2 best friends in front of one of their original trucks, taken June 2018.
Henry and Stan had a fun afternoon of Hillbilly Festivities at the Meridell Mud Bog 😳. People participated in ‘burnouts’, which is spinning the tires on a steel plate, just to make smoke! Then, all types of vehicles raced down a 200 foot mud bog, to see who could do it fastest. There was perogies, beer and lots of mud!
** Sunday, August 18th – we’ve been on the road for 20 weeks and have driven 28,300 kms / 17,584 miles. We’ve now passed through or visited Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Manitoba.
We spent a few days touring around the area. Joanne’s family used to have a cabin at Madge Lake, not that she remembers it at all 😉. We also went to the dam at Lake of the Prairies, which is a good fishing spot when the water is higher.
There are even 3 ski hills near Roblin 🤪 and they have mountain biking set up for the summer. We went to 2 of them and enjoyed walking around. We thought how fun it would be to come for a ski vacation, until we found out that the temperature is rarely warmer than -25C/-13F 😱 so we think we’ll just enjoy seeing it in the summer! 😉
So here’s something pretty cool – we drove to Magnetic Hill to see what that was all about. It is a natural phenomenon that supposedly has a magnetic force in the earth. Guess what? It really did work! We were extremely skeptical so had to try it many times, but each time, the car rolled up hill while being in neutral – Henry even checked the road with a level to make sure we were actually on a hill. Who’d a thunk we’d find something like this in Manitoba.😊
In Togo, there is a elderly gentleman that has been working on building a stone house, all by himself, for the past 7 years. It’s been at a standstill for quite a while and it appears he may have given up. Such a shame, as it’s quite spectacular and would be a lovely home.
Henry and Stan had full intentions of spending a few days fishing at Lake of the Prairies, but unfortunately, the weather (high winds) didn’t cooperate. So, always being resourceful, we drove out to Swan River to a store that specialized in Pickerel, loaded up the cooler and continued on our way.
We ended the day picking sour cherries, that Lydia made into an amazing pie!
We were pretty excited to see that The Great Trail runs through Roblin and in the surrounding areas. We had a lot of finding it and even got Stan and Lydia on it . . . in a vehicle! 😂
Joanne’s God Mother, Auntie Stella, also lives in Roblin. We had a great time catching up with her, and always laugh a lot when we’re around this firecracker of a lady!
Our final night in Roblin was so relaxing and special. Jordy and Jason joined us and we had a wiener roast around the fire, chatted, laughed and just had a wonderful time.
Thank you Stan and Lydia for everything. 😘
We left Manitoba a few pounds heavier, thanks to a fill of the best pedaheh (perogies), borscht, holopchi (cabbage rolls), dill pickles, pickerel, pies, buns and a whole lot more! And, with Monty’s freezer stuffed with bologna, borscht, kubasa (sausage) and pickerel, all we can say is . . A good time was had by all.😃
Driving through Saskatchewan, we made a stop in Moose Jaw to visit the tunnels made famous by Al Capone. At the time of prohibition, Moose Jaw was well know as Little Chicago. Because alcohol was prohibited in the USA, bootleggers used Moose Jaw and the rail line to get alcohol into Chicago, where Al Capone was the head of all criminal activity. The tunnels allowed for secretly moving illegal goods out of sight from the law. Al Capone visited here many times to keep on top of his supply.
We stopped in Medicine Hat, Alberta as we continue our journey home.
The adventure continues!