A Celebration of Rural Manitoba.
Grades x - 4 / Ages x - 9.
Whenever I see an abandoned railway station I¤wonder, "What stories would it tell if the walls could speak?"
╠For many readers, the station holds a host of memories. But I╠cannot remember the time when the railroad station was the hub of¤the community and the link with the outside world . . .
╠In the era of the train nearly every facet of life in a rural╠community was connected in some way with the railway station and¤its agent. After all, the agent was often the first to know¤everything from the declaration of war to scandalous developments¤. . .
╠Stations, once vital cores of all rural towns, are now vanishing╠monuments. The ghosts of other times still linger within their¤walls. Here young men prepared to go to war. Immigrants¤disembarked to begin a new life on the Prairies. Curious¤townspeople traditionally gathered to watch the next train come¤in.
╠Once Prairie people asked, "Who came in on the train tonight?"╠Now we wonder, "What was it like when passengers congregated on¤the station platform everyday?"
If you've ever picked up a rural newspaper ä it doesn't matter if¤its from Snowflake, Manitoba; Pincher Creek, Alberta; Eccum¤Seekum, British Columbia, or Sioux Lookout, Ontario ä you always¤see a column named "Coffee Break" or "Around the Town" or "Coming¤and Going" or something along those lines. And, most of the time,¤there's a picture of a little old lady beside it. Isn't that¤column always the most interesting part of the paper? I love¤those columns. The best of them can take you into the heart and¤soul of a community.
A Celebration of Rural Manitoba is a collection of Penny¤Ham's columns, published in the Brandon Sun between 1982¤and 1992. The collection represents Ham's reflections and¤observations on rural life, its customs and manners, and how the¤world of rural Manitoba has changed from the time of the pioneer¤to the modern day. There are plenty of interesting tidbits of .h)5 whimsical rural historical lore and enough description of¤contemporary rural life to give even a born and bred urbanite a¤wellärounded picture of life in rural Manitoba.
Ham is the author of Place Names of Manitoba and has¤included in this collection a number of articles exploring the¤origins of rural town names and the controversies and mysteries¤surrounding these names. Ham is also a history buff and she has also included in¤Celebration many articles on Manitoba's famous and notäsoäfamous¤attractions. Interesting and surprising facts abou nd. For¤instance, did you know that that Souris Manitoba is home to the¤longest suspension bridge in Canada? Or that some people in the¤1920s complained that the Golden Boy, the statue that sits atop¤the Manitoba Legislative Buildings, was "pornographic"! Ham also¤reveals that the dance pavilion at Grand Beach on Lake Winnipeg was the largest in the British Commonwealth and that every week¤thousands of Winnipeggers took the "Moonlight Special" train to¤Grand Beach to enjoy special summer nights ( say no more about¤babies named Sandy!).
Most of the columns, however, tell the stories of ordinary people¤and their lives in the small towns of southern Manitoba. From¤Austin to Zhoda, we experience the successes, the challenges, and¤the misfortunes of their everyday lives. These are stories of¤good people struggling to raise families and make their farms or¤small businesses viable. They care for their neighbours when they¤are in need and they fight a good fight to keep the community's¤schools, hospitals and churches alive.
Ham dedicates A Celebration of Rural Mani toba to the¤"people who 'lived' the stories recorded in this book." As I grow¤older and remember the stories that my grandparents and parents¤told me about their lives on a farm and in a small Alberta town,¤I begin to believe in the value of collections like this. Celebration of Rural Manitoba. They¤remind us that the virtues of simplicity, work, family, and¤community are to be valued more than that thin veneer of sophisticated disdain affected by Generations X and Y.
Ian Stewart works at Lord Nelson School and at the University of Winnipeg Library. He believes that a tlitle dung is good for the soul.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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