Winnipeg I Never Knew

My father got to (sort of) meet the Marx Brothers, out of character​, in some bar in Winnipeg, in the early 50s, probably 53. Just to get this out of the way, yes, Harpo spoke. My father was still a serious drinker in those days, so only remembered that these were hard boys. He was also what they call a happy drunk, so will have avoided any confrontation with the big stars. Hence the “sort of met”. Happy drunks stay away from hard boys. Trust me on this: I’ve outlived several people.

I assume it was the Rancho Don Carlos. Have a look at how hip this joint was. I am not kidding.

A while ago I thought I could bring you some nostalgic bits and pieces about Winnipeg’s Golden Age, but I soon realized that my own Winnipeg was minute, maybe two square miles taking in the Garry building at Point Road, the Fort Garry Public Library, the Lount Development, General Byng School and the adjacent baseball diamond. When we moved down the highway a bit, we lived spittin’ distance from the folk club where you could see Neil Young and Joni Mitchell on the same bill, a year or two before they were megastars. Maybe Randy Bachman, too, and certainly Rick Neufeld (this should sort out the true Manitobans!)

But you had to be drinking age (18? 21?) to get in. So, although it seems Winnipeg was quite a happening place in those days, I knew nothing of it.

Suddenly, readers, I feel this narrative has nowhere to go. So that’s it. I’ll be back in a day or two, reflecting on a girl from our school named Noreen, who died at 14. She wasn’t special to me at all, but her 6-day dying still troubles me. By no accounting did she deserve it,

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