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Evans Store

Evans Store on Hansson Ave, at the corner of Anna, was a fixture to every kid in South Beach, Gimli. Forever.

Evans Store Building in 2017. Put out to pasture behind 15 Hansson Avenue, Gimli.

My first memory of spending money was at Evans Store. My grandpa Percy would give me a nickel or dime and I would be allowed to walk by myself the 50 feet down the gravelly road to this tiny little convenience store.

Ev and Grandpa Percy, 1960

A wee brown paper bag was given to me to select my candy. Loose candy was laid out in the very boxes it came in from the wholesaler. Three for a penny. Five cents would yield 15 mint leaves! Bright green leaf-shaped gummies, the size of my thumb, covered with crystalline sugar. Liquorice ‘cigars’, blackballs, pixie stix, and the famous Koko bars. Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hawkins Cheezies and sunflower seed bags were neatly displayed in rows on a metal stand with little clips.

And soda pop. I don’t remember my mother ever buying pop at home in the city. Maybe we would be allowed one if we went to A & W. But in the summer I was allowed to go to Evans Store to buy pop.

A similar Coca Cola dispenser at Hnausa General Store.

Depositing my coins in the slot and extracting my pop meant sticking my hand into the ice cold water of the red Coca-Cola dispenser and grabbing the protruding bottle neck. There was a rag hanging on the side of the cooler to wipe the water off the bottle. Cream Soda, Orange Crush or Seven-Up.  A summertime treat.

Evans Store was owned by Anne and Mike Evans. The store was only 12 x 17 feet, really a glorified fruit stand. Judging by its construction it was no doubt built around the same time as Camp Sparling, the fresh air camp on the lake directly at the end of Hansson Ave. Farmers donated food to the fresh air camp but Evans Store serviced the camp staff for their treats. And cottagers for their staples. (In the early days cottagers were called campers.)

Mike and Anne, were of Ukrainian descent. Their name was undoubtedly changed from Ewanchuk. Mike was a fisher and added to his income doing carpentry and odd jobs taking care of people’s cottages in the off-season. The store was in direct competition with Mike Shewega, his wife’s brother who had an identical camper’s convenience store only two blocks away on Colonization Road. However the Evans were reputed to have the best ice cream in the area.*

It had one of those screen doors with a metal band across as a push bar, the type which sported advertising. Evans Store was Coca Cola all the way. Ice cold coke in glass bottles. We would scour the ditches for empty pop bottles which could be redeemed for 2 cents a piece. Which meant more candy!

Eileen Evans, circa 1940

Opening the screen door would activate a lively bell which alerted Mr. or Mrs. Evans of a customers arrival. Hung inside among the sticky fly-catching strips coiling down from the ceiling was bologna and other quality deli meats from Manitoba Sausage. And great wieners for roasting over a bonfire. Mr. Evans would cut bacon slices individually off a big slab with a very sharp and well-worn knife. Shallow shelves nearly to the ceiling were lined with canned goods; coffee, jam, Red Rose tea, Klik, Spam, soup, Del Monte vegetables and fruits, pickles, cat and dog food. And fresh bread, milk and butter. Most of the basics needed by cottagers. When South Beach girls got old enough to need feminine hygiene products we could count on Evans Store to get us out of a jam. They were wrapped in brown kraft paper for discretion!  And of course Evans carried the ubiquitous cigarettes, chewing tobacco and cigars, no doubt the real profit makers.

In the 1940’s the Evans girls Eileen and Eleanor’s friend Marie Isfeld took a path all the way from the south end of Colonization Road through the wooded field to the store. Or Marie would meet them at the end of Hansson Ave and walk to school with them, either following the Arnason Dairy truck to break trail in the snow or riding on it. And much later her son Lawrence would be sent by his Afi (grandfather in Icelandic) to get cigarettes at the store, on credit. Credit was extended, graciously to most people in the area. When the South Beach mink ranchers sold off their pelts in November they would pay off their debt to the Evans.

All the overstock cigarettes and paper goods were stored in a shed behind the store, secured with a simple padlock. Evan’s granddaughter Lois remembers occasions when she would sleep over at her grandparents in the 1960’s waking up in the night to the sound of someone breaking in to the shed, mostly to steal cigarettes. In the winter the Evans would move the store into the porch area of their house directly behind the wee store. In later years burglars came in the early morning hours, terrified the elderly couple by tying them up and threatening them with a comb (though they thought it has a knife or gun) and robbed them. It made the Winnipeg radio news and that’s how their daughter Eileen found out about it. 

One day in May 1967 Anne Evans happened to look west down Hansson Ave. She saw a man lying on his front lawn. That man was my grandpa, Percy Wallace Carter. He was dead from a massive heart attack. The rake beside him. He’d been raking leaves in the early spring. Dead beside a cotoneaster bush. My grandmother napping only a few feet away in their cottage. Anne Evans called the R.C.M.P. who contacted my mother in the city. Anne Evans, the woman who stayed and comforted my grandmother.

Percy W. Carter, 6 Hansson Ave

Up until 1980, when my own father had heart problems, we never had a phone at our cottage. No one did. We always walked uptown to the harbour where there was a pay phone booth near the pier. But in an emergency everyone in South Beach knew they could use the Evans phone. It was in their house, right behind the store.

Anne and Eileen, ca. 1934

Anne Evans a stern, well-dressed woman. Mother of Eileen and Eleanor. Awarded a life membership in the Gimli Women’s Institute and noted best canvasser for the Cancer Society.** She herself died of cancer June 12, 1972 at the age of 69. The store had been closed before that when Anne had to go live in Winnipeg with her daughter Eileen due to ill health. Mike passed away in the early 1980’s.

The fact that my grandpa died raking leaves on the front lawn of what is now my cottage is actually a beautiful, comforting memory to me. Of course it was a traumatic event for my family, what death isn’t, causing all sorts of repercussions. But I will always remember Anne Evans and her compassion. And I will never forget Evans Store where I received my first education in financial literacy. 

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Evans Store Building, 2018

Sources:

* “The Stores of Gimli”, by David Arnason, Interlake Pulse, 2013, pp. 44-45.

** Gimli Saga: The History of Gimli, Manitoba. Gimli: Gimli Women’s Institute, 1975, pp. 275 and 336.

Many thanks for the black and white photos, memories and fact checking of Evan’s grand-daughter Lois Bergman Marotta.  Also memories of Lorraine Hicks, Marie Isfeld, Lawrence Frantz, Susan Woodruff, Julie Ewanchuk, Sheryl Stephen, Wendy Rothwell Dunlop, Dan McKelvey, Barbera Buffie, Ken Kristjanson, Val Sobkowich Verity and Joanne Couture Burns.

Turner 8

Turner 8 – 1471. That’s the way we used to say it over 50 years ago. It’s a telephone number.

Turner 8

“Turner” was the exchange; a telephone number from Winnipeg. “Turner” was the exchange for the suburb of St. James. All my friends had 888 as the first part of their phone number. Everyone knew which part of the city you lived in when you rattled off your phone number.

triple eight – fourteen – seventy-one

It’s the phone number my mother had for over 65 years.

phone

Then came the day when she could no longer hold a telephone. And her dementia prevented her from really enjoying the technology which once served her so well.

It was a day I cried.

The Labyrinth Lady – Sylvia Senensky

Sometimes you sit in a coffee shop and, even though you don’t really mean to, you overhear the conversation going on at the next table. That happened to me last week. And I truly believe that I was in the right place at the right time.

The group at the next table were engaged in conversation and all of a sudden my ears perked up when I heard the name “Sylvia Senensky”.  I turned to the woman and interrupted. “Did I hear you say the name Sylvia Senensky, the Jungian analyst? “

Yes.

Back in the mid 1990’s the idea of the labyrinth had come into my consciousness.  A friend showed me a copy of a newsletter of the Jungian Society in Canada which had an article about labyrinths. It was written by Sylvia. She and I were both native Winnipeggers. And that connection and my newly sparked interest in labyrinths possessed me to contact her, hoping that she would let me read her Jungian Doctoral thesis on Labyrinth as Tenemos. After some initial questions, (she wanted to know who I was and why I was so interested), she mailed me a copy.

Sylvia had a profound influence on my journey. Through her I discovered the Divine Feminine, the hidden feminine face of God which I had never experienced. I found it in the centre of the labyrinth.

Ev & Sylvia Senesky

Ev & Sylvia, 1995

She opened a new way for me to engage in my theology and spirituality.

“In our lifetimes, we undergo multiple journeys in and out of the center… A journey into the dark can entail facing our own destructive capabilities as well as acknowledging and dealing with others’ conscious or unconscious destructive feelings and acts toward us. Equally important, it can connect us with repressed talents, with our latent creativity, and the open, loving hearts that are our birthright. The more we work with our inner demons, the more we open ourselves to the larger story of who we really are and what we can become.”

I attended workshops which she held in Toronto, early offerings which she was developing in her Jungian practise. She was committed to sharing the power of the labyrinth as a tool for personal and community transformation.

labyrinth wksp2

laying out the Chartres design labyrinth with masking tape on plastic, Toronto, 1995

labyrinth wksp3 candlelight

labyrinth by candlelight

She spearheaded one of the earliest public labyrinths in Toronto in High Park in 2001.

HIgh Park Labyrinth, Toronto

HIgh Park Labyrinth, Toronto

In 2003 when she published her book, Healing and Empowering the Feminine: A Labyrinth Journey, I drove to Toronto for the launch.

book cover

Healing and Empowering the Feminine A Labyrinth Journey, Sylvia Shaindel Senensky, Chiron Publications, 2003,194 pp.

In the book she “probes the inner depths of the labyrinth as a source of archetypal feminine energy—the womb, the cave, the domain of the Goddess, the core of the earth, the encounter with planned chaos and the consequences of the ignored shadow. Senensky draws on powerful personal experiences, the stories of women she has worked with as clients and workshop participants, and a rich literature of myth and fairy tale that includes Theseus and the Minotaur, Demeter and Persephone, Inanna, and Vassilissa the Beautiful.”

“The Feminine is about process and relationship. It is about playing, experimenting, doing several things at once. It is not goal-oriented, although there may be a goal towards which we are heading. It is the process of getting to the goal that is all important. The twists and turns, the forward and backward movement of the labyrinth, the dancing between the quadrants, the act of allowing the unexpected to affect your journey, the still point at the center – that is static and containing while honouring the rhythms and movement of life and death – all form an exquisite portrayal of how Feminine energy manifests itself.”

I lost contact with Sylvia and many years later tried to find her on the internet. Her website was not to be found. She seemed to have disappeared.

That day in the coffee shop I found out why.

The lady had been a childhood friend of Sylvia’s. She told me that Sylvia had moved from Toronto to BC, had fallen in love but then tragically developed dementia. She is now in a personal care home.

Sylvia’s eyes were very unique and I often wondered why she always looked so sad. The woman in the coffee shop unlocked this mystery. Sylvia was born without eyelids, a genetic trait for which she had had many surgeries. It was because of this that she chose not to have any children.

I felt glad for the update about my mentor and thanked the woman very much. I told her of Sylvia’s profound effect on my life. It seemed to make the news of her mental demise a little easier.

Thank you Sylvia for your wisdom and insight. You held the thread for me as I traversed the labyrinth of my own personal healing. You had the courage to share your discoveries with the world in person and in print. I’m grateful that I have a signed copy of your book to study and which to refer.

I am also grateful for your deep personal journey and how I walked with you for a few brief steps of it.

“…We have lost touch with what it means to live in the mystery of existence. Most of us get caught up in the ebb and flow of daily life, following paths laid out for us by social structures we have come to accept as the norm. We forget that life is not lived in a straight line. We forget that death is always sitting on our left shoulder.”

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth woven mat, Evelyn Ward de Roo

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth woven mat, Evelyn Ward de Roo

Sylvia has 24742_apa bachelors degree in Occupational Therapy and Masters degree in Adult Education and Applied Psychology. She is a Zurich- trained Jungian Analyst and a graduate of Jean Houston’s training program in the Cultivation of Human Capacities. She spent the first part of her career working with physically handicapped and emotionally disturbed children, followed by many years teaching at community colleges in the Toronto area. She has lectured internationally on Jung and the labyrinth and its connection to the Feminine as well as being an experienced workshop leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prairie Longing

I’m looking forward to nature’s marvellous prairie display very soon.

“There’s nothing like the freedom over miles and miles of land.

And it’s something about the prairies that strangers just don’t understand.

And it’s something to feel the pull of a strong southern wind.

Smell the coming of a summer rain.

You can almost see your life before you in the land.

It’s something to see the clouds as they’re rolling in, the sun blood red in the summer sky.

You can almost hear your soul in the sounds of the whip-poor-will’s cry.

And it’s something, the space around you like it never ends.

Highways go forever and don’t look back.

You can almost see your life behind you as you pass.

And it’s something to feel the pull of a strong southern wind.

Smell the coming of a summer rain.

You can almost see your life before you in the land.”

Nothing Like the Freedom by Deborah Romeyn from “Distance in Her Eyes” album

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Lent

Just in time for Lent. Purple toilet paper.

Sombre purple is the liturgical colour for Lent, recalling the allegedly royal robe the Roman soldiers mockingly placed on Jesus. purple toilet paper

I can’t think of anything so useless to our world as wasting precious resources to dye toilet paper. But then maybe my priorities are askew.

You gotta love the brand name though. Renova!