October 27, 2009

There Be Circles (part 1 - by Margaret Ullrich)

I don't know if you've ever noticed but there are an awful lot of cul de sacs in this city. I've never understood why they're so popular, especially after a Winnipeg snow storm. After the city plows all the snow into a small mountain on one curb, blocking the view, you have to take your life into your hands to drive out.

When we first moved to our present home neighbors told me about a cul de sac a few blocks north of us. When kids have to sell candy in September they avoid going there. It's not far but I don't walk our dogs near it. Well, our neighbors had said to avoid it. The people there have a reputation for being 'different'. Nothing dangerous. No, nothing like that. It's just that they have a bit of history.

I've heard stories, but I'm sure there's no truth to them. I mean, things like that don't happen. It is the twenty first century, right?

Still... better safe than sorry.

The interesting thing is that the families in this cul de sac are all descendants from some of the Selkirk settlers. Imagine that. A few families that have managed to stay near each other and intermarried for almost two hundred years.

The Selkirk settlers faced hard times when they arrived in Winnipeg in 1815. Cold weather and lack of food and housing to name just a few. The Selkirk settlers were strong and brave and never complained about these physical hardships. Some people find comfort in religion at times like that.

There again the Selkirk settlers, mostly Presbyterians, had a problem. They had to wait until 1851 for a minister to be sent over from Europe. Imagine that - 36 years without an ordained minister. Two generations with no one to properly officiate at weddings, christenings or funerals. In the spiritual void they had to take care of themselves. If I were in their place, I don't know what I'd have done. Do you? Some continued as best they could with Bible readings and trying to observe the Christian calendar.

But, some of the settlers went further back, as if some primitive force was just waiting for them to need more than Bible stories. Well, that's what some people say two or three of the settler families did. That that's what their descendants are still doing. It actually looks cheerful to drive by and see neighbors gather around and celebrate things like solsistices and equinoxes. That's all it is, right?

Have a great day. How can you miss - you're in Winnipeg!

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