My carnival memory is from when I was a Carnival Princess representing Lakewood High School. That year, the other Princesses and I decided that, although we were wearing tiaras and pant suits and gorgeous white Hudson Bay coats provided by Ella Lynn’s, that we were not just going to stand around and look pretty. Four of us entered the canoe race–we put a crown with jewels on the bow of our canoe, called it The Princess and raced across the ice. Somehow, our canoe stayed upright and we paddled through the ice flows and dragged our canoe back across the ice to the finish line. In retrospect, it seems kind of crazy, but it was FUN! Carnival in those days was something we all looked forward to as a highlight to our winter. As an avid lover of all things winter, I am so excited that the Carnival is coming back!
On a dare, when I turned 40 years old in 1995, I became a Carnival Princess. My niece, 20 years younger also participated. We had a blast together. A month long adventure of promotion and participation. Winter carnivals back then had the thrilling canoe race, team tug-a-wars, 2 x 4 foot races, a collage of music and outdoor volleyball on the ice outside the Keewatin Arena – it was a hoot. A month long celebration of my birthday and I even managed to win Miss Congeniality. The carnival, for me, signalled a time out of the winter duldrums and a celebration of our past and future – all within the white wonderland of winter in Kenora.
I lived in Kenora for two years 1965-67. I was in grade 7 both years, but that’s another story. I remember all the men had to get badges and if I remember correctly it cost you $0.50 to get a badge that gave you a license to grow a beard and $1.50 to have a license to not grow a beard. Unlike today when men often go a few days without shaving, men in the 60’s would never even think of being seen unshaven. After the first week all the men were looking pretty scruffy.
On Main Street there was a covered parking garage that they had set up a few picnic tables, it quickly became a hangout for the young people. This may not seem all that exciting to the kids of today but we had no malls, some families didn’t have phones yet so it wasn’t all that easy to get together.
The Winter Carnival was one of so many reasons Kenora was a great place to live. I have lived in seven provinces and many cities, no place has ever put on a celebration as good as the Kenora Winter Carnival of my youth.
My memories of the 1946 Carnival as a princess. The princesses were:
When it came time to crown the winner we all met in the Kenricial Hotel and then driven by two’s in horse and buggies to the Snow Fort on Golf Course Bay. Pat Wickstrom representing the Curling Rink was crowned Queen. The princesses were given Bulova watches. We all had a lot of fun attending a ball at the highschool, skiing at the Golf Course, skating at the old Thistle Rink and snowshoeing. Can can dances by men and girls, plus darts and other activities took place at the Kenora Legion. The Street Patrol roamed the streets and picked up citizens to take to jail and then people had to pay to get them out.