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The Prairies

Explore and learn more about the Prairies without even leaving home. These non-fiction books are full of photography, history, and facts about Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and give an insightful look at the fascinating world just outside your door.


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Overcome

- Anne Mahon

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Abandonment, loss, endless transitions, self-reliance, continued persistence, and fierce beauty all coexist in this compelling collection of stories of ten women who journey from victims of the child welfare system to survivors, and beyond. These women face endless challenges, oppression, and trauma but discover their power through creativity, self-awareness, education, motherhood, and extreme empathy. They decipher their personal stories looking back through the lens of their lived experience to contribute to changing the narratives of how people who grew up in in the child welfare system see themselves, and how society sees them. These stories create compassion and understanding, breaking down biases. They also illustrate the direct and multi-faceted relationships between residential schools, the breakdown of Indigenous families, the perpetuated system racism of of the child welfare system and oppression through other societal systems. Many of these women are the voices of those who could have been murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls but have lived to tell their stories. Embracing their humanity, their courageous sharing teaches and informs us. These heartbreaking and inspiring stories will educate and create change.

Valley of the Birdtail

- Andrew Stobo Sniderman , Douglas Sanderson

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A heart-rending true story about racism and reconciliation

Divided by a beautiful valley and 150 years of racism, the town of Rossburn and the Waywayseecappo Indian reserve have been neighbours nearly as long as Canada has been a country. Their story reflects much of what has gone wrong in relations between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians. It also offers, in the end, an uncommon measure of hope.

Valley of the Birdtail is about how two communities became separate and unequal--and what it means for the rest of us. In Rossburn, once settled by Ukrainian immigrants who fled poverty and persecution, family income is near the national average and more than a third of adults have graduated from university. In Waywayseecappo, the average family lives below the national poverty line and less than a third of adults have graduated from high school, with many haunted by their time in residential schools.

This book follows multiple generations of two families, one white and one Indigenous, and weaves their lives into the larger story of Canada. It is a story of villains and heroes, irony and idealism, racism and reconciliation. Valley of the Birdtail has the ambition to change the way we think about our past and show a path to a better future.

A Daytripper's Guide To Manitoba

- Bartley Kives

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Sandwiched between North Dakota and Nunavut, Manitoba has never been the busiest chunk of tourism real estate in North America. To independent travellers, this is a good thing: Canada's undiscovered province offers uncrowded beaches, innumerable lakes and unlikely cultural attractions, especially in the gritty/cool capital, Winnipeg. A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba is the only comprehensive travel handbook to the -province and an indispensable tool for visitors from abroad, Canadians passing through and Manitobans who want to get to know their own backyard. This fourth edition is packed with new attractions such as Winnipeg's Inuit Art Gallery and cool new accommodations from Wasagaming to Winnipeg Beach. And since you've been cooped up a little more than usual as of late, this new edition has even more information about hiking, paddling and camping. Get the straight goods on cities, towns and natural attractions in every corner of the province and northwestern Ontario, compiled by one of Manitoba's most tenacious independent travellers, journalist Bartley Kives. Stuff your face with a fat boy, Winnipeg's famous burger. Eyeball turn-of-the-last-century architecture. Commune with nature in wild areas that still feel wild. And forget what you think you know about the Canadian prairies - the only thing flat about Manitoba is the Trans-Canada Highway.

Under Prairie Skies

- C Thomas Shay

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In Under Prairie Skies, C. Thomas Shay asks and answers the question, What role did plants play in the lives of early inhabitants of the northern Great Plains? Since humans arrived at the end of the Ice Age, plants played important roles as Native peoples learned which were valuable foods, which held medicinal value, and which were best for crafts.

Incorporating Native voices, ethnobotanical studies, personal stories, and research techniques, Under Prairie Skies shows how, since the end of the Ice Age, plants have held a central place in the lives of Native peoples. Eventually some groups cultivated seed-bearing annuals and, later, fields of maize and other crops. Throughout history, their lives became linked with the land, both materially and spiritually.
 

Through Disassembled Houses of Perfect Stones

- David Yerex Williamson

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The weight of history lies on the spine of memory. That heft and delicate balance are palpable in these rich poems that echo with grief, longing, and observed beauty. From the silence and complexity of the northern wilderness to the vast prairie landscapes stretching across the province, Through Disassembled Houses of Perfect Stones explores self, ancestry, and community through poems which dwell on the page with a satisfying density of imagery. Combining careful observation with sensitive reflection, this work examines the poet's memory and experience as a father, son, husband, and descendent of European settlers married into an Indigenous family living in Northern Manitoba.

Tales from the Homestead

- Sandra Rollings-Magnusson

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A compilation of thirty-six personal homesteader stories, providing unique insight into the daily life of prairie pioneers.

Highlighting the voices and personal stories of early immigrants who arrived in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Tales from the Homestead is a captivating snapshot of social history. This compilation of first-person accounts by English, Dutch, German, Russian, Ukrainian, and American homesteaders reveals fascinating, startling, heartbreaking, and inspiring details about new lives and communities built, risks taken, and hardships endured.

The book includes stories of surviving periods of near starvation and natural disaster, and describes the challenges of navigating Canada's nascent immigration process, building a sod home and establishing a farm, and adapting to the norms of a new country. Along with these tales of difficulty, fear, and sadness are the many stories of happiness and wonderment at the beauty of the land. Community events and parties are thoughtfully remembered, as are accounts of attending one-room schoolhouses. The camaraderie of the people, and their pleasure and delight in forging a new life for themselves on the prairies, shows the extent of their fortitude, grit, and stamina. Illustrated with archival photography, Tales from the Homestead will appeal to history buffs, genealogists, and anyone who enjoys first-hand accounts of the resilience of immigrant communities.

Best of the Bonnet, The

- Andrew Unger

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Since its debut, the internet's most trusted source for Mennonite satire has drawn the attention of everyone from the Canadian Prairies to the high-rises of New York, keeping readers laughing with hundreds of hysterical headlines and tongue-in-cheek editorials where (almost) no topic is off-limits. The Best of the Bonnet brings together some of the funniest, most loved posts from The Daily Bonnet, a website that Miriam Toews calls "fantastic" and "hilarious." This collection also includes new and updated articles, scholarly commentary, a glossary of Low German words, and an afterword by author Andrew Unger commenting on the nature of satire and the importance of community.The Best of the Bonnet is an absolute must-have for fans of The Daily Bonnet or anyone in love with the absurdity of day-to-day life.

The Prairie Garden

- The Prairie Garden Committee

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This year’s edition of The Prairie Garden, the 83rd, zeroes in on how to make the best of a small space, whether it is in your back yard, on a balcony, or even just a not-so-sunny corner of a room. We know there are many novice gardeners interested in learning more, so this edition concentrates of providing a lot of how-to information. Guest editor Mr. Tomato shares his secrets about how to make your small garden look and feel bigger. He also tells us of a natural remedy for invasive creeping bellflower and Canada thistle. He instructs us on how to build a light table. His valuable contributions are backed up by solid information and experience. Other expert gardeners in the region pass on their tips and experience in using all available space to the very best advantage, from creating a garden fence with espalier (Mark and Ben Cullen), to building a magical rooftop garden over a garage (Greg Klassen), to the best hardy shrubs and roses to grow (Rick Durand). Sandra Venton paints a picture of growing upward in a garden. When it comes to houseplants, we learn about light and how it works (Dr. Meera Sinha), all about coleus (Igor Kaftan), cyclamen (Susanne Olver), amaryllis (Eva Patrician) and miniature orchids (Chris Bryan). No garden book would be complete without a word or two on common pests and insects, beneficial and harmful. Jason Gibbs provides a look at specialist bees. Committee chair Ian Wise explains how to manage rose weevils and sucking insects. Former editor Linda Dietrick points out how to attract pollinators. There is so much more. Would you like to grow giant pumpkins? Milan Lukes, now just starting university, has been doing this since he was 11 years old, and he tells us how. We learn how one Churchill gardener managed to feed his restaurant patrons fresh local produce (Joan Airey). Balcony gardeners get advice on what to plant under what conditions and how to deal with spent soil (Dorothy Dobbie). In all there are 65 stories with photographs that will enlighten, entertain, and delight you. There is so much practical wisdom in this little booklet that you will want to get copies of some of the fabulous past editions produced by the Prairie Garden committee.

Mennonite Farmers

- Royden Loewen

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Mennonite farmers can be found in dozens of countries spanning five continents. In this comparative world-scale environmental history, Royden Loewen draws on a multi-year study of seven geographically distinctive Anabaptist communities around the world, focusing on Mennonite farmers in Bolivia, Canada, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States, and Zimbabwe. These farmers, who include Amish, Brethren in Christ, and Siberian Baptists, till the land in starkly distinctive climates. They absorb very disparate societal lessons while being shaped by particular faith outlooks, historical memory, and the natural environment. The book reveals the ways in which modern-day Mennonite farmers have adjusted to diverse temperatures, precipitation, soil types, and relative degrees of climate change. These farmers have faced broad global forces of modernization during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, from commodity markets and intrusive governments to technologies marked increasingly by the mechanical, chemical, and genetic. As Mennonites, Loewen writes, these farmers were raised with knowledge of the historic Anabaptist teachings on community, simplicity, and peace that stood alongside ideas on place and sustainability. Nonetheless, conditioned by gender, class, ethnicity, race, and local values, they put their agricultural ideas into practice in remarkably diverse ways. Mennonite Farmers is a pioneering work that brings faith into conversation with the land in distinctive ways.

Menno-Nightcaps

- S L Klassen, Michael Hepher

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A satirical cocktail book featuring seventy-seven cocktail recipes accompanied by arcane trivia on Mennonite history, faith, and cultural practices.

At last, you think, a book of cocktails that pairs punny drinks with Mennonite history! Yes, cocktail enthusiast and author of the popular Drunken Mennonite blog Sherri Klassen is here to bring some Low German love to your bar cart. Drinks like Brandy Anabaptist, Migratarita, Thrift Store Sour, and Pimm's Cape Dress are served up with arcane trivia on Mennonite history, faith, and cultural practices.

Arranged by theme, the book opens with drinks inspired by the Anabaptists of sixteenth-century Europe (Bloody Martyr, anyone?), before moving on to religious beliefs and practices (a little like going to a bar after class in Seminary, but without actually going to class). The third chapter toasts the Mennonite history of migration (Old Piña Colony), and the fourth is all about the trappings of Mennonite cultural identity (Singalong Sling).

With seventy-seven recipes, ripping satire, comical illustrations, a cocktails-to-mocktails chapter for the teetotallers, and instructions on scaling up for barn-raisings and funerals, it's just the thing for the Mennonite, Menno-adjacent, or merely Menno-curious home mixologist.

Thinking Big

- Jim Blanchard

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From pre-contact Indigenous trading through 1939, Thinking Big examines the history of businesses, business leaders, and organizations in Winnipeg. Discover how the Winnipeg business community dealt with challenges such as the Great Depression and the post-World War I depression, and organized itself to take advantage of periods of growth and prosperity.

Manitoba Walks & Scenic Drives

- Wendy Wilson, Leone Banks

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This may well be the definitive guide to exploring Manitoba on foot or by car.

More than 20 years in the making, authors Wendy Wilson and Leone Banks have selected the very best of their favourite places to explore in the province.

As with previous Prairie Pathfinder publications, they have helpfully divided the province into quadrants, interspersing each section with a tantalizing mix of enticing hikes and opportunities for a scenic drive. Purposely included are a myriad of options to match a wide range of interests and fitness levels. from Hunt Lake’s offering of “a real workout over some particularly rugged terrain” to the Brokenhead Interpretive Trail’s “easy, level trail (with) several rest stops for contemplation along the way”.

There are several hikes that could easily be described as hidden treasures, in part due to the authors’ focus on highlighting lesser-known spots found outside of provincial or national parks. Exhaustively researched with a keen attention to detail, each walk is described in an easy, conversational style, beautifully complemented with requisite maps and some gorgeous photographs.

What makes this book particularly noteworthy are the ‘some history’ additions paired with many of the walks. Their welcome addition provides valuable insight into the history of the hike’s setting, whether explaining how a receding glacial lake created a unique landscape or how schoolchildren used to cross an eastern Manitoba river using a cable basket pulled by hand. St Lazare - as legendary for its beauty as its fascinating history - is a description that could as easily be applied to many of the hikes in this book.

From the Rae Trail’s “secluded rolling woodland interspersed with lush wildflower meadows,” to Lester Beach’s “majestic stretch of shoreline with beautiful cliffs beckoning in the distance” there is much to offer those looking for interesting places to explore.

Our final words come from the book’s introduction: “This book has been a labour of love and we hope you enjoy these hikes and drives as much as we loved scouting and mapping them.”

Well said, now get out and take a hike!

Manitoba Birds

- Andy Bezener , Ken De Smet, Gary Ross

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Manitoba's 145 most commonly seen birds are profiled in this beautifully illustrated book. Each account includes a description of the bird's key features for quick identification in the field, as well as the bird's song, habitat, nesting and feeding habits and best locations for viewing. Ken De Smet, of the Manitoba Wildlife branch, is a biologist specializing in endangered species.

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