The Family Bornhardt’s trip to Canada
Selected stories about the area around the town of Virden in Manitoba.

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The Family Bornhardt's trip to Canada.

Special links to subjects in Virden
Copenhagen - Winnipeg - Virden.
The trafic on the Highways in Canada.
The fireplace in the Basement.
Time problems and coffeebar.
The Town Virden.
The Grain Elevator "Manitoba Pool".
Single Family House building.
The oil drillers mark the area around Virden.

The Auditorium Theatre.
Churches in Virden The Easter Morning.
Lunch, alcohol and shopping in Canada.
The Eternal Spring- Water supply.
The Oak Lake.
The Family Bornhardt taught 100 students in Virden.
The Swinging Bridge in Souris.
Country Bar in Brandon.
Our trip across the Prairie in Saskatchewan
to Calgary and Rocky Mountains.

The last night in Virden.
Copenhagen - Winnipeg - Virden:
Travel time from Copenhagen to Winnipeg: 16,5 hours.

Peter - our son on High School in Canada - lives with the Family Alston in Virden Manitoba.
Don Alston and our son Peter picked us up in the Airport. Lovely to see Peter again.
The town of Virden is located at the crossroads of the Trans Canada Highway and Highway 83, the "Palms to the Pines" route halfway between the cities: Winnipeg and Regina.
On the map you can see the town along the Assiniboine River.

The trafic on the Highways in Canada
The first surprise we got in Canada was the speed on the Highways. Don drove the car on exactly the same speed (105 km/hour) all the three hundred km in three hours from Winnipeg to Virden. It means 5 km/hour too fast for the Highway traffic in Manitoba.
There is only little traffic on the Canadian roads. Even in towns the traffic is lesser than in Danish towns.
The Canadians uses automatic pilots in the cars "the Cruise". If they see a car in front of them they will in good time choose either between a slower speed or overtake the car in a hurry. After that the other car slowly disappears in the back mirror.

In towns the traffic ran exactly 40 km/hour. It was very slowly but relaxing. In Denmark we could learn of the Canadian traffic culture.

The fireplace in the Basement
When we came to Virden we were invited to the Alston Family for a drink. The house was light and friendly.
We were sitting in the Basement in front of a fireplace with a burning artificial peace of wood by gas. We got whisky, beer and rome and Coke.

Time problems and coffeebar
In the first 4-5 days we had problems with our inside watch.
Knud-Erik woke up 5 AM took a bath and went out in the night to find some breakfast for the Family. He found a Coffee Bar, drank a cop of coffee, bought different things for the breakfast. Later we realized that he had behaved himself like a real Canadian as the Canadians usually come to the Coffee Bars.

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The town of Virden
Because of Virden’s location and its personality, it remains the primary service center for the area. Virden has all the amenities in the place to accommodate travelers, visitors and its inhabitants. Virden contains motels, hotels and a variety of restaurants.
Since its discovery in Virden area in 1951, oil has become more than an icon for otherwise agricultural community. Now the oil industry is one of Virden’s largest employers including industry spin-offs.

The Virden Auction Mart is important community business in Virden.
We visited this Auction twice. First we were presented for an auction by horses, next day it was cattles.

Leisure-time activities are an important part of everyone’s life. You find all kinds of activities - Sports: Hockey, badminton, baseball, soccer, American football, roller skates, and so on.
On the cultural side you find galleries, library, movies, coffee bars and an old theater.

In the middle of the town you see Victoria Park. Back in 1897 individuals of vision planted two rows of elm trees and in the Jubilee year, named it Victoria Park. It now features a monument honoring lives lost in the two world wars.

Like many Manitoba towns, Virden has its origin in the fur trade. And, the buildings in Virden chronicle its heritage: The C.R.P. station, built in 1906 is a fine example of early fieldstone construction, the two-story building with gable roof and dormers is the only one of its kind in Western Canada. In the local Art Gallery you can see paintings of this building by the local painter Terry McLean.
You can see some of his pictures and other information about Terry McLean on the attached page.

The town has its own newspaper: "EP-The Empire" Publishing Company Limited on the corner of Wellington Street and Eighth Av. South. The EP is published once a week.

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The Grain Elevator "Manitoba Pool":
Don Alston is the manager of the Grain Elevator: Manitoba Pool - Virden Hargrave. It has been replaced from the middle of Virden close to the old station and is now placed 2 km North of town along the Trans Canada Railroad C.P.R.

How an Elevator Operates => Click the Icon besides:

Picture of Manitoba Pool:
This picture you see all over the prairie in the states Manitoba, Saskatoon and Alberta. In many small towns you see 2-4 different companies standing side by side along the rail line. Much of their equipment dates back to when they were built. Now I think these Elevators are owned only by two companies?

The Manitoba Pool Elevator has been constructed by concrete. Inside it has wooden 12 silos. It is Don’s job to fill up the goods wagons with grain. After that he calls the farmers to fill up the silo again. He knows which farmer who has the exactly grain he wants to the next transportation.

Single Family House building:
Close to the old Railway Station in Virden there is an area for house building. The Canadian built the houses in a kind of batch production. The houses is placed side by side on temporary foundations. When they have finished the building with lambs, fire place, freezer, refrigerator, oven and so on, it will be transported by truck to the permanent foundation or upon a basement built in concrete.

The whole house - the walls, the floor and the roof - has been constructed by some kind of chip board as we know them in Denmark but with much bigger chips than we use in Denmark. Outside the walls often will be finished with wood formed Aluminum plates and the roof will be covered with chip formed Aluminum plates or Slate plates.

Even the Single Family houses are built in batch production and each house has its own look with special kinds of attics and special kind of hip roofs. These individual looking Single Family Houses make towns with their own outlook all over Canada.

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The oil drillers mark the area around Virden:
Picture of an oil driller system from the town Virden: A special sight around Virden is all these oil drillers. They are placed in a distance around 100 m from each other. Even in the middle of the town Virden you find these drillers or pump systems close to a playground.

The Auditorium Theatre:
Box 1982, Virden, Manitoba, ROM 2CO, phone (204) 748-2440
The 29th March, 1997 we visited the oldest Opera House in Western Canada Auditorium Theatre, exactly 83 year after "The Holy City" were put up. Picture of the play bill placed in the old room on the balcony behind the theater.

Click at the Icon and see the whole picture of the play bill

Thanks to Gladys and Stan Bray for your guiding in the Theater.

Back in 1911 the Town Council constructed a building with municipal and civic offices, a court room and a large opera house on a site adjacent to the Fire Hall on Wellington Street.
The opera house - named The Auditorium - was designed by W. A. Elliot, an architect responsible for many designs in southwestern Manitoba.
The Opera House opened in 1912. On March 7, 1912 a touring company, the Allan Players, presented the first professional production, Tolstoy’s "Resurrection", in the new building.

The original theater contained 500 seats. Now the floor has 257 antic beautiful seats and the balcony has 210 seats - half of the same kinds and half new in a similar kind . The majestic curve of the balcony gives the audience a panoramic view of the stage.
The stage features a massive Proscenium arch, 28 feet wide and 23 feet high, which outlines the performing area.

The curtain was painted by the Great Eastern Scene Painting Company of Toronto and represents an exotic Mediterranean scene reminiscent of Venice.

Gladys Bray told us she had been in the Group who had restored the curtain. We had not seen the original stage, but be sure it is very nice.

Below the stage are two commodious dressing rooms kept in the old style.

With its outstanding acoustics and classical style the Auditorium has been recognized as one of the best concert halls in Western Canada.

The Opera House has been restored in the beginning of 1980’s. Since the official reopening in 1983 a Theatre Board has overseen the operation of the building and has successfully run the theater independent of funding save for a modest grant from the town of Virden.
In 1986 the Virden Auditorium and Town Hall was declared a heritage site by the Province of Manitoba.

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Churches in Virden The Easter Morning:
Part of what makes this town complete is the ability of residents and guests to practice their religious faith. This community has several churches. On the picture below you can see the old church: St. Mary’s Anglican Church, built in 1892 and it is still in service. This Church is a fieldstone building with 14-foot by 14-foot tower. It has a lych-gate, stained glass windows cloister and stone fence has been added over the years.

St. Mary’s Anglican Church, built in 1892.
Peter and Bonnie visited this Church on Christmas Eve.

Nine o’ clock Easter Morning we got a fine Canadian breakfast:
Bacon and eggs, waffles with syrup, toasted bread buttered while the bread still was warm and a glass of liquid dark yellow cheese.
It was new for us but tasted very good.
We got a lot of coffee as usual in Canada. It is so thin that it will not give you hart problems. I think we need five (cops) cups of Canadian coffee to compare with one Danish cup.

We had wished to go to St. Mary’s Church Easter morning, but they had the service in the evening and we wanted to go to the church in the morning. Therefore we had to go to another church, and there (are) were several possibilities. There are 14 churches in the town for 2600 people.

The Pentecostal Movement named "Oxford Assembly" Church where the congregations entered into the spirit of the minister. Anne-Sofie does not like this kind of community. She compared with the spirit of the suicide-group which we had seen in the television a couple of days before.

After lunch the Family Alston made a traditional Easter game with the children. They had hidden some sweets around in and outside the house. The kids found a message - how or where to find the sweets. Then they ran noising around the house after the sweets, found a new message, and so on.

While the kids were searching for sweets we got - Yes you had guessed - coffee, but also chips - small pieces of cheese and pickled cucumbers. That mix was nice.

Lunch, alcohol and shopping in Canada
We bought our food in the local "COOP" wish is a kind of a cooperative shop as we know it from Denmark.
The only different we could see was, that we could not buy alcohol, wine or beer in this shop. We had to go to the "Liquor Store" - and we did. We bought some Canadian beers and some bottles of red wine for the dinner by the Alston Family.

The Picture: Knud-Erik and Don in front of the Liquor Store with the bag of gold.

The first afternoon we got Supper by the Alston Family.
The children ate their food in the basement while the grown were eating in the living room.
We got Soup with bisquit and sandwich. Very different from the Danish traditions for Lunch but delicious.

After the Supper Wilson MacLennan visited us. Wilson is the guy which we kept in contact with one of the first days of our connecting to the E-Mail on the Internet. Wilson has been our contact to Peter and the Family Alston for our trip to Canada.

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The Eternal Spring- Water supply:
Grethe in front of the spring. Notice the gutter placed in the spring.

The Water in town was too bad to drink and the Coffee did not taste good.

Therefore we drove to the Eternal Spring to get fresh water for drinking and for Coffee.
This spring was placed in a very nice valley. There was quiet around the spring. Only the sound of running water could be notified.
This place must be very beautiful in the summertime when everything are green and vigorous.

Later on when we were looking after the Eternal Spring close to the Million Dollar Bridge we drove upon a gravel road which was thawed out in the surface but not in the depth.

It was very difficult to drive on.
Every minute we thought we would drive off the road or stop in the mud, but we came unscathed through.
When we drove around on the Prairie in Manitoba we could see the square miles (1609 m on each direction). There was a gravel road or an asphalt road separating these big fields.
We had learned by Don Alston to stop for the red sign in these cross of the gravel roads even when nobody was around and not just one peace of cattle in sight.

The Oak Lake:
We came around the frozen Oak Lake. There were only e few openings in the ice.
Covering thousands of acres, this refuge is home to geese, ducks, swans, cranes and other wildlife in the summertime.
Early in these days in the end of March the first geese came back after their winter stay in the South. This was the first sign of the spring in Manitoba. We drove east around the lake through a very beautiful meadow.

From the Oak Lake we drove West by Highway No. 2 against Reston and North by No. 83.
We passed an Indian Reservation where the people lived scattered on the area 30-100 m between the houses in a mess of vegetables, animals and other things.
This way of living is very different from the Canadians in the towns. Their houses are placed very closed to each other. I wonder why they sometimes have windows on the walls against the neighbours.
72% of the 300.000 Indians in Canada live in National Reservations. Most of them in poverty. Most of the Indians in the towns do not have an education and therefore they have to live by public assistance.

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The Family Bornhardt taught 100 students in Virden
We told 100 students in the age of 13-15 years in the local School about Denmark.
We told about the History in Denmark and in Europe, especially about the period in the end of the 1800’s where the first emigrants left Denmark for living in US or in Canada, and about the second world war and the 1950’s where the last great emigration took place.
We told about the actually History in Europe after the wall was pulled down.
We told about our standard of livings, about the employment in Denmark, about the School system, the sports and so on.
It was a special experience for both Peter and his father improvising alternately speeches. The show went on for one hour.

The Swinging Bridge in Souris:
The Picture: Winter on the Swinging Bridge.
Souris is a little town placed South West to Brandon.
It is famous for its 177 m (582 ft.) free-suspension foot bridge over the Souris River.
This bridge was built in 1904 by Square Sowden and it is the longest of this type in Canada.

When we visited the bridge the river was frozen.

The town Souris has a beautiful park. You can have a nice look from the street in town over the park.

Country Bar in Brandon:
Royal Oak Inn
- Chicago Joe's Rest. & Lounge
- Houstons Country Roadhouse3130 Victorla Ave.R7B 3H3728-5775

One night we drove to "The Country Houstons Roadhouse" - Brandon’s largest Dance Floor. See the story about the special dinner "Prairie Oysters" and the pictures on the attached page.

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Our trip across the Prairie in Saskatchewan to Calgary and Rocky Mountains.
We had rent a van for 7 persons in Brandon for driving across the Prairie in Saskatchewan to Calgary. See the special stories about these experiences in the pages mentioned below:
· The Prairie in Saskatchewan.
· The NHL hockey game: Calgary Flame against Chicago. The story is placed at the bottom on the page.
· Drumheller Valley and the Ryal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller.
· The Rocky Mountains.

The last night in Virden.
On the last night in Virden we had a Good Buy dinner on our hotel:
Virden Central Hotel, 444 - 6th Avenue South, Box 448, Virden, Manitoba ROM 2CO - Phone: 748-2444.

We got Soup or Salad, Ox Sirloin, Cornes with Mushrooms Salad, Potatoes and Vegetable and Ice or cake.

On the picture above you see:
On the left site from the front: Bonnie, Don and Holly Alston plus Kristian Bornhardt.
On the right site from the front: Peter and Grethe Bornhardt, Wilson MacLennan in the middle, Anne-Sofie Bornhardt and Jacqueline Alston in the background

Special links about subjects in Virden:
The Music Group "ZaHayNa" in Virden

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Mail to: The Family Bornhardt

The Family Bornhardt
26. April 1998