Reflecting on the new and the old, and the value of community at New Year’s

Steven Fletcher Taking Note
Steven Fletcher
Taking Note

The new library at the Canadian Mennonite University at the corner of Grant and Shaftesbury is a great place to have a coffee or meet your friends. I recently had the opportunity to attend the opening of this new facility, which is now open to the public. It has a grand window looking north toward the older building and there’s a functioning walkway over Grant Avenue to the south campus. The view from the overpass is interesting and worth the trip. There’s plenty of parking.

The Canadian Mennonite University is on land that was originally planned for the University of Manitoba. You can view those plans at the Charleswood Historical Society museum on Roblin. I for one am quite glad that the decision was made to move the main U of M campus to Fort Garry, but you can see in the glorious architecture of the old limestone building on Shaftesbury and in the splendid classrooms, a hint of the dreams that were there in that age before the Fort Garry decision was made.

Ghosts from the past
I grew up near where CMU is today but in my time it was the Manitoba School for the Deaf. I recall the small playground which consisted of a swing set, two teeter-totters, and a stainless steel merry-go-round, all of which you will never see in a modern playground. They would be considered far too dangerous.

It’s interesting how the perception or reality of “danger” changes over time. My dad tells me stories of playing with old Second World War explosives when he was a kid. He lived in a different country but it does make the teeter-totter seem less of a threat to kids. I also rode my bike without my helmet – how times change.

It is also worth reflecting that it wasn’t that long ago – in 1972, the year I was born – when 13 communities came together under the Unicity Act to form the modern city of Winnipeg. Among those 13 communities, all separate municipalities, were Charleswood, St. James, Assiniboia and Headingley. It was odd to note last summer when I was walking along the street that the steel manhole cover on a relatively new street in Tuxedo still bore the words “City of Tuxedo” instead of “City of Winnipeg”. It’s kind of neat to know that they’re using the extra stock of manhole covers from the old municipalities.

Forty-two years after the big merger each community today retains its own identity. In fact, Headingley withdrew from Unicity in the early nineties due to tax and services issues.

The spirit of community
I enjoyed attending many Christmas concerts at schools and churches. The musical and theatrical talent that exists in our neighbourhood is impressive. Unfortunately there are only a few opportunities to show the larger public their talents. so I encourage you next year to seek out the dates of church concerts or school Christmas plays, as you will find nuggets of greatness and long moments of happiness.

The New Year is also an opportunity for us to be thankful for our many blessings as Canadians. Peace, prosperity, freedom, the rule-of-law, and the hope of an even better future are many things we can be thankful for.

This time of year is also an opportunity to reflect on why Canada has these blessings when most of humanity does not. We live in the best county in the world, at the best time in human history to be alive – may God keep our land glorious and free! The Maple Leaf Forever! Happy New Year!

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