A Retrospective Update – 2015 to 2021
Another seven years have passed, during which the DUCW has stayed active in the community and an important point of contact for our members.
On Saturday April 25, 2015, we organised a huge event to mark 100 years of ANZAC Day. Held at the Western Canada Aviation Museum, approximately 270 invited guests, service personnel, Club members, members of the General Monash Legion, cadets, and the general public enjoyed an ANZAC-inspired afternoon tea catered by the High Tea Bakery. The event included official greetings and remarks, the ANZAC service, greetings from various dignitaries, the playing of the national anthems of Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and a panel discussion on the involvement of ANZACs and Canadians in the First World War conflicts.
And then on February 22, 2020, we held the Winnipeg Fundraiser for the Australian Bushfires. All up, we raised $19,169, with monies donated to the Australian Red Cross and the families of three firefighters who lost their lives while volunteering. A bonus was Charlie Powell’s tribute to the bushfire fighters (sung to the tune of “Lili Marlene”) that raised our spirits and acknowledged the men and women who battled the fires on the frontlines. To see a video of members singing “The Aussie Firefighters”, a short documentary of this very successful fundraiser, and the powerpoint presentation run throughout the event, visit our YouTube page [ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNDsQmp5y_v_Kuzw2jwP7VQ ]
Our members, of course, remain our primary priority, and a lot has happened during the last seven years.
Up From Down Under, with Jenny Gates and Gerry Gordon, made their sixth and final appearance at the Australia/New Zealand Pavilion of the Swan River Folk Fest (2015). And members submitted their best shots to our photo contest (2015), with several chosen for greeting cards sent to members.
Touch Rugby came to Winnipeg (2016), thanks to Kiwi Caleb Stick, and the next year, the Winnipeg Bears Australian Football Club arrived, thanks to member Allan Sharman. Several members joined the Bears for the AFL Grand Final in 2017 and 2018.
Member Alanna Hinrichsen was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (2016), and the next year, the entire Hinrichsen family moved to Grant’s home town of Orange, NSW. A return visit (2019) to Winnipeg coincided with our retro event in honour of Gordon Keatch.
Probably the biggest moment in 2018 was when Gordon, Jenny Gates and Leon Badali got stuck in the elevator at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre. All three joked their way through the seemingly long wait for firefighters and a paramedic to ensure their safe exit.
Judy Powell and the Trinity Sew and Sews were featured on CTV’s Community Connections about their passion for quilting and using that passion to help others in need (2019). And in August 2021, several of us met with DUCW member Dr Barry Mills and daughter Cressida Mills to dedicate a new plaque in honour of their son and brother, Damian. You can see the plaque on the memorial bench, located outside the clubhouse of the Manitoba Cricket Association in Assinboine Park.
Norm Griffiths (2017) and Murray Burt (2021) were awarded Life Memberships. And sadly, we lost several of our members, including Debbie Griffiths, who was well-known for her magnificent cakes at Club events, and one of our very favourite people, Gordon Keatch, who left us in June 2019.
As always, we were very busy with planned and unplanned club events.
Aussie author Michael Robotham came to town (2018) to launch his book “The Other Wife”, and several of us joined Terry MacLeod in conversation with Michael at McNally Robinson.
Our gatherings in 2016 and 2017 welcomed Gurcan Kocdag, Hon. Consul General for Turkey, and other guests from the Turkish community. In 2017 we also welcomed Louise Murray from the Australian Embassy in Ottawa, and Lieutenant Colonel (Ret’d) Art Brown RCAF from the Memory Project who spoke about “Canadians at Gallipoli”. And we were grateful to receive replacement national flags from the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions (2016).
When COVID struck in March 2020, all in-person Club events were cancelled. Other than the golf tournament and the not-so-formal dinner in 2021, all gatherings have been virtual on Zoom. And while we’d love to see each other in person, members have been good sports and even better members of the community, keeping safe, staying well, and waiting patiently for better times ahead.
Before COVID, our many events included pool parties at Lynley Davidson’s, formal dinners at various locations, Annual General Meetings, family Christmas parties, Australia Day and Waitangi Day celebrations, AFL Grand Final pizza parties, Scandinavian Christmas markets and cafés at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre, Australia Day and Sunday brunches at Miss Browns, afternoon tea at the High Tea Bakery, lunch at Prairie’s Edge Restaurant, bingo bowls at Windsor Park Bowling Lanes, Commonwealth Day at Government House, ANZAC Day at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre, golf tournaments at The Players Golf Course, a retro club night at Peter and Joanne Debenham‘s, and wine tastings with the Royal Commonwealth Society at MLCC Grant Park.
And our bake-off items included meat pies, salad, Vegemite, soup, kids’ kreations, virtual cupcakes, and anything with kiwi fruit. Absolutely delish, and very creative!
And speaking of Vegemite, if your supply is getting low, then in lieu of a trip to or an order from Oz, head out to Family Foods Stonewall – the only place in the province who currently stocks it. To make sure they have it in stock before making the trip to Stonewall, email Glenda at email@example.com .
We were very fortunate to welcome visitors from our High Commissions – NZHC’s Simon Tucker and Daniel Mellsop, and AHC’s Adrian Morrison. And the AHC held an information evening about the provision of Australian Government services, which coincided with the first round of passport interviews and notarial services (2016). Due to the change in requirement for in-person interviews to renew or apply for Australian passports, there were two additional rounds of passport renewals and alumni networking events (2017, 2018), but they have been on hold for the last few years, thanks to COVID and a variety of other reasons.
THE SOUTHERN YARN
As always, The Southern Yarn continues to be a mainstay of our Club. There were 62 issues published from 2015 to 2021, thanks to the hard work of editor Charlie Powell and designer Brian Hydesmith, and a bunch of contributors and collaborators. The August-September issue of 2018 was the first bimonthly publication of the Yarn, which remains at eight pages and is widely distributed by mail and e-mail to our members around the globe.
Our current sponsors and supporters are Downunder Travel, Calgary, Kiwi Installations & Sales, Winnipeg, and Pooley Law Services, Winnipeg, and we appreciate their continued support of the DUCW.
And Murray Burt signed off on Commonwealth Corner (2020) after many years of his work “… to raise sensitivities mainly about the southern Commonwealth nations and to lift the curtain on our understanding of a third of the population of the world.”
We continue to be one of four social clubs across Canada connected to Australia and New Zealand. The others are the Toronto Australia New Zealand Club (Tranzac) in Ontario, Australia New Zealand Association (the ANZA Club) in Mt Pleasant, Vancouver, and the Downunder Social Club of Calgary in Alberta. We all exist to bring Australians and New Zealanders together for social events, to keep them informed about news back home, and ward-off the homesick blues. Keeping our cultures thriving across Canada – kudos to us all.
By the way, the DUCW is the most affordable gig in town, with dues still only $30 for a couple or family, and $20 for single members. And even with the pandemic looming over our heads, we’re still here if and when you need us. Stay safe and well until we meet again – virtually or otherwise.
Jenny Gates, February 2022
PS If you want to read past issues of the Yarn, visit our website [ https://downunderclub.mb.ca/yarn/ ] where you can click on any issue from 2012 to now.