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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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Under Prairie Skies

- by 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

- by David Y. 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

- by S 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

- by 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

- by 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

- by 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

- by S.l. Klassen

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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

- by 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

- by PRAIRIE PATHFINDERS

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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

- by Andy Bezener

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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.

A Celebration of Prairie Birds

- by Wayne Lynch

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I became enchanted by the prairie grasslands more than 40 years ago, and have been bewitched by birds even longer. This book combines both of these personal passions. But it is more than just a book about the birds of the prairies; it is a celebration of the beauty and biology of the natural world. Originally, native prairie grasslands occupied the entire central core of North America, roughly 138 million hectares (340 million acres). This vast expanse of grass and sky stretched for over 2000 kilometres (1200 mi) from the aspen parklands of western Canada south to Texas, and from the jagged summits of the Rocky Mountains to the eastern hardwood forests. Today, more than 80 percent of the continent's grasslands are no more than a memory, and native prairie continues to disappear at a rate of 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) a year -- victims of urban sprawl and humanity's insatiable appetite for cropland. It is no surprise that grassland birds are declining more rapidly than any other avian community in North America. The best way to preserve these last remnants of prairie grasslands and their wildlife is to understand what we will lose if we do nothing to protect them. The habitat that most people associate with the prairies is the rolling grassy plains. Yet the prairie grasslands is a wonderful and surprising mosaic of many habitats. It includes wetlands, such as sloughs and marshes, rimmed with waving stands of cattails, as well as lazy, winding rivers, and large alkaline lakes. It also contains rolling dunescapes, sculpted badlands of multi-colored sandstone, and inviting wooded river valleys and coulees where you can retreat from the light and glare of the open skies. Together, these different wild habitats combine to make the prairie grasslands, and the birds that fill its skies, a natural sanctuary to soothe the psyche, challenge the mind, and rekindle the spirit. Grassland birds live complex and intriguing lives and in A Celebration of Prairie Birds I share with you the many fascinating details that make these creatures so interesting and satisfying to watch.

Treasures of Winnipegs Historic Exchange

- by George J. Mitchell

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A breathtaking full-colour photography book celebrating the architectural splendour and cultural heritage of Winnipeg's famed Exchange District, a National Historic Site and one of the city's most vibrant artistic, commercial, and tourist hubs. The Exchange District is the architectural jewel of Winnipeg's downtown core, a thirty-block area featuring 150 remarkably preserved heritage buildings dating back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These iconic buildings are among the best examples in North America of several turn-of-the-century architectural styles, including Romanesque, Italianate, Beaux-Arts, and Chicago School. From its origins in the 1880s as a commercial and industrial gateway to the Canadian West to its current revitalization, the Exchange exemplifies the spirit of a modern city embracing its past while creating a bright and dynamic future.

Treasures of Winnipeg's Historical Exchange is a sumptuous visual feast for residents and visitors. With stunning photography highlighting the impressive scale and intricate detail of the Exchange's imposing banks, sprawling warehouses, and commercial towers, this book will amaze and delight anyone interested in Winnipeg's history and architecture. In addition, the book captures the renewed energy, creativity, hospitality, and entrepreneurial spirit that have invigorated the Exchange in recent years, making it one of Canada's most vibrant up-and-coming neighbourhoods.

The Lesser Known

- by Darren Bernhardt

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Manitoba's history is one of being carved. Ice sculpted the land before nomadic first people pressed trails across it. Southern First Nations dug into the earth to grow corn and potatoes while those in the north mined it for quartz used in arrowheads. Fur traders arrived, expanding on Indigenous trading networks and shaping new ones. Then came settlers who chiselled the terrain with villages, towns and cities. But there is failure and suffering etched into the history, too. In Winnipeg, slums emerged as the city's population boomed. There were more workers than jobs and the pay was paltry. Immigrants and First Nations were treated as second-class, shunted to the fringes. Rebellions and strikes, political scandals and natural disasters occured as the people molded Manitoba. That past has been thoroughly chronicled, yet within it are lesser-known stories of people, places and events. In The Lesser Known, Darren Bernhardt shares odd tales lost in time, such as The Tin Can Cathedral, the first independent Ukrainian church in North America; the jail cell hidden beneath a Winnipeg theatre; the bear pit of Confusion Corner; gardening competitions between fur trading forts and more. Once deemed important enough to be documented, these stories are now buried. It's time to carve away at them once again.

The Prairie Garden

- by PRAIRIE GARDEN

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The 2021 edition of The Prairie Garden focuses on flowering shrubs and the queen of flowering shrubs, roses. Always popular topics in the past, they are definitely worth revisiting! The last time we focused on shrubs was in our 2009 edition, “Deciduous Shrubs” (still available in limited quantities). Since then, hundreds of exciting new flowering shrub cultivars have emerged, many of them well suited to prairie gardens. Our “Roses” edition of 2008 is now sold out, but readers keep asking us for information on that topic. And rightly so: since 2008, important new hardy roses such as the Canadian Artists and 49th Parallel series have come on the market. ​Plant developers in our region have played a major role in breeding, selecting, and trialling all kinds of hardy flowering shrubs for the prairie landscape, including roses. With Dr. Philip Ronald of Jeffries Nurseries as our guest editor, we take a fresh look at these useful and beautiful plants in our 2021 edition. As always, The Prairie Garden aims to be a guide for gardeners of all skill levels in the short-season gardening zones of Canada and the US. You’ll find over thirty articles on the theme and another dozen or so on general gardening topics, all contributed by experienced gardeners and experts. Guest editor Dr. Philip Ronald was raised in the Canadian prairies and educated in plant breeding and horticulture at the University of Manitoba and the University of Saskatchewan. He currently divides his time between teaching ornamental horticulture at the University of Manitoba, managing Riverbend Orchards, a 20-acre fruit farm, and providing support to the research and marketing programs at Jeffries Nurseries. He resides near Portage la Prairie with his wife Karen and their children.

Broken Ribs and Popcorn

- by Geoff Kirbyson

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How the Winnipeg Jets became the best team in the NHL's most offensive era to not win the Stanley Cup Foreword by Tom McVie The Winnipeg Jets were decimated when the WHA merged with the NHL in the spring of 1979, losing most of the players who led them to the team's third AVCO Cup victory that spring -- Kent Nilsson, Terry Ruskowski, Rich Preston, Kim Clackson and Barry Long. They were only able to protect two skaters -- Morris Lukowich and Scott Campbell -- and a single goalie, Markus Mattsson. General manager John Ferguson used a patchwork of players for the first couple of years but after drafting Dave Babych No. 2 overall in 1980 and Dale Hawerchuk first overall the year after, he had the core around which he would build his team for the rest of the decade.

Praise for The Hot Line: How the Legendary Trio of Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson Transformed Hockey and Led the Winnipeg Jets to Greatness: "A book about (The Hot Line) was long overdue and Winnipeg journalist Geoff Kirbyson has risen to the challenge." -- Winnipeg Free Press "Winnipeg produces great lines. In literature Miriam Toews-David Bergen-Gabrielle Roy. In journalism: Carol Off-Jim Coleman-Marshall McLuhan. In music: Bif Naked-John K. Samson-Daniel Greaves. But the line of lines in Winnipeg belongs to hockey. Thank you Geoff Kirbyson for The Hot Line." -- Ron MacLean, Hockey Night in Canada

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