Tim Boxer

Nina Boxer

[ Folklorama in Winnipeg ] [ Glenbow Museum in Calgary ]

Annette and little Ecko pounding dried
buffalo meat at the Metis pavilion.

Mother Of All Festivals

INNIPEG, plopped in the middle of North America, at the juncture of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, is an eclectic community. This vibrant city teems people whose origins go back to countless countries around the globe. The French inhabit their own enclave in the sister city of St. Boniface, on the western side of the Red River.

With such a diverse mix totaling 700,000, it’s no wonder that Winnipeg, capital of Manitoba, boasts 130 days of festivals. Imagine, more than a third of the year spent in celebration of ethnic pride.

The mother of all festivals is Folkorama, which has been running every August since 1970. With the participation of 40 countries, it’s reputedly the largest multicultural celebration of its kind in the world.

Bernard, a Metis, making a slingshot
for hunting crows.

This summer the festival is set for July 31 to August 13. Every neighborhood has two or three pavilions, housed in community centers. Visit a different neighborhood each night and you’ll hit them all in two weeks.

As soon as you enter any pavilion head straight for the food line. The variety of native victuals is mind boggling, not to mention stomach satisfying. Then grab a front row seat for the spectacular stage shows, featuring the music and dance of the many countries around the globe that Winnipeggers hail from.

On my visit I counted 45 pavilions representing as many ethnic groups and countries, including Argentina (with great tango performers), Greece, Korea, Portugal, Romania, Italy, Japan, Slovenia and Africa.

Hungarian bottle dance.

I enjoyed the Metis, who are of French Canadian stock. They served such unique fare as buffalo burger, stew and bannock, wild rice and rice pudding, washed down with a choice of beer, spirits, coffee or moose milk. (Don’t ask; just try it.)

Annette was pounding dried buffalo meat with the assistance of eight-year-old Ecko. Annette said the dried buffalo meat would last for two years. "It’s the first take-out food."

The performers did the Red River Jig, the national dance of the Metis. At any Metis gathering, there is always a fiddler to entertain. The live exhibits included early family living with demonstrations of sash weaving and grinding pemmican.

The pavilion of Scotland had nonstop Celtic music and dancing from 6 p.m. till midnight. The full marching pipe band was spine tingling.

If you just taste the vast assortment of Scotch, they’ll have to carry you out. They offered such brands as Bowmore, Auchentoshan, Bunnahabhain, Laphroig, Glennfidich Solera and more. Try such tasty fare as Hairy Haggis and Robbie Burns. You can get a full meal or just a pub snack. The menu listed such strange items as Bridie, Scotch Egg, Mealie Jimkes, Fly Cemetery and, well, you get the picture.

The Israel pavilion was set up at the Asper Jewish Community Campus where the internationally renowned Chai Folk Ensemble starred on stage. Their show represents the music harmonies and dance rhythms of Yemen and Morocco as well as Eastern Europe klezmer.

Folklorama tickets come in Family Pack at $33.75 (12 transferable tickets). Single admission is $3.75. More information at or call 1-800-665-0234.

Outstanding accommodations are offered at three high-end hotels: The Inn at the Forks, a beautiful spa hotel; the Fairmont Winnipeg with luxurious rooms, and the elegant chateau style Fort Garry Hotel.


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Drum dancers

A Way Of Life

HEN I visited Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, I discovered a unique way of life among the people of the north. They used to be called Eskimos when I was in school. Today they are known as Inuit, inhabiting their own territory in the northern reaches of Canada and the Arctic.

Glenbow, Western Canada’s largest museum, holds cultural exhibits not only of the country’s First peoples, but also offers eclectic international collections. One fascinating exhibition centered on the mysterious people of the bogs that lived in northwestern Europe 10,000 years ago.

Tim doing laundry at Glenbow

Drum dancing was an important part of Inuit daily life. I was intrigued by a demonstration at the museum where David Serkoak, who came from Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay), the capital of Nunavut, to play the traditional drum while Sarah LaakkulukWilliamson of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, sang Inuit melodies.

On the third floor is a permanent gallery showcasing artifacts that tell the story of the Blackfoot people, "one of the largest First Nations communities in Canada, who have inhabited the northwestern plains of North America for thousands of years," according to the museum.

The museum is located in the downtown cultural district, across from the Calgary Tower. For information call 403 268-4100 or visit

Where To Stay
Coast Plaza Hotel & Conference Center, 1316 33rd Street N.E., Calgary. Phone 403 248-8888. Rack rates $119-189. See more at

River Café

Where To Eat
River Café, located in Prince’s Island Park, Calgary. Dwayne Bryshun maintains an elegant fishing lodge ambience and offers regional woodfired cuisine. For reservations call 403 261-7670 or see

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