A different road

The past two weeks have taken a different turn for my wife and I as we are fairly used to a routine of daily duties attached to the newspaper cycle, regular monthly meetings of organizations and my meetings for town council and committees. 
That usually follows up with a catch-up day on Saturdays and then church and family day on Sunday. Two weeks ago, we headed to Strathclair to help Meyers Auction Service with a two-day private museum auction. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience where the family of the late Graydon Cummins dispersed his 84-year collection of antiques and collectibles. It was hot, hard work for a desk jockey, but it was definitely worth the experience. 
Thousands of items in about 2,500 lots went through the auction rings. As many as three auctioneers selling simultaneously around the picturesque old farm yard dispersed as diverse a collection of Canadiana as I have ever seen. From antique cars to washboards, tobacco cans to apple boxes, it all went under the auctioneer’s chant to find new homes in western Canada, Ontario and the United States.
We also camped in a tent trailer, which hadn’t happened in about 40 years for this couple. It was hot, so even when it rained, some of the windows stayed open and we were alternately cooled by gentle rain, illuminated by a full moon or serenaded by coyotes.
While it was back to regular work on Monday and and an air show at Brandon Thursday, our thoughts were focused on another auction trip. This was a long one, as we travelled to Vermillion Bay, Ont. On Friday, we drove to said location and, yes, when you cross the border to Ontario, the roads get better. The drive from Whiteshell to Vermillion Bay is still a demanding road to travel on, but it’s well engineered. If you obey the speed limit and use the passing lanes properly, it’s quite a safe trip under summer conditions.
Neepawa has been told that the highways department won’t consider a centre turning lane for the highway going through Neepawa. Interestingly enough, that’s what they do in Kenora, Ont. Kenora’s main road through town is a pretty busy strip of road and they use the centre turning lane concept. That raises the question again as to why our highways department would rather spend $20 million in Neepawa, destroy our magnificent trees and cost the town millions in infrastructure upgrades when a simple cheap solution would do quite nicely.
The trip home from Vermillion Bay was more relaxing, took longer and involved a visit with friends where we went on a boat ride. Lake of the Woods is beautiful and the cottages range from modest to luxurious. One new one is reported to have cost $20 million and it’s nice. It was interesting that on a very warm weekend, so many cottages appeared empty. It was a lot more fun to slide by in the boat and see the ones where people were enjoying the cottage, the kids were swimming, diving or boating. I have no interest in owning a cottage, but I am happy for those who do and last weekend was definitely a great time to be at one. We were only there for a few hours, but we enjoyed the relaxation.
We saw a lot of country in the past two weeks – not nearly as much as our friends John and Val Wilson, who are documenting their trip to Alaska on Facebook. They are seeing some great country, but it was interesting to note one of Val’s comments – in the first several days, they never saw a community that surpassed home for beauty and services.
If we live in a full-service community, we are fortunate. However, we must be ever vigilant and understand that government and sometimes market forces are constantly gnawing away at our existence. The ever-hungry tax-grabbing senior government bureaucracy constantly sees spending shifts by cutting services, downloading responsibility to lower levels of government and at the same time, raising taxes. The usage of tax dollars per capita, isn’t shifting in rural Manitoba’s favour. Rural Manitoba is being farmed, pruned, hacked and slashed to feed an ever-hungry urbanized Manitoba. It’s not right, but the population has shifted so far to the Winnipeg urban vote base, that what we say in rural Manitoba or northern Manitoba counts for nothing.
The only weapon we have is our voice and while I will exercise my voice once in a while at auctions, I will save it for speaking out for rural Manitoba.

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kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247