Lucky Stones

As you may or may not know, Gimli is famous for its lucky stones. These specimens are stones with naturally occurring holes found on the beaches of Lake Winnipeg around Gimli, Manitoba, Canada.

closeup stones

Some call them crinoids but they are more likely to be gastropods. These “lucky stones”, which locals lovingly call them, are imprints and negatives of gastropods or snails. So this sign at the Lake Winnipeg Visitors Centre is a little off. Crinoids are actually found at Hecla Island.

lucky-stones-explanation

Sign at the Lake Winnipeg Visitor’s Centre

To know more about these fascinating stones I sent some samples to Ask-a-Geologist. I got an identification from Jean Dougherty, Geological Survey of Canada.

The most prominent feature of the gastropod is the spiral-shaped shell. These can vary considerably in shape from a low whorl to a high whorl. Now imagine that these gastropods (snails) have died. Over time, the soft body of the snail would have rotted away leaving only the shell. Then imagine the shells having been buried in sediments at the bottom of some sea. Over millions of years, more sediment builds up overtop of them, and presses them into sedimentary rocks (this process is called diagenesis). The shell also undergoes a chemical transformation in which it is mineralized, becoming a rock. Depending on the rock type containing the fossil, either the fossil could be weathered away, leaving a hollow space where the fossil once was, or the rock could get worn away leaving the fossil, or some combination of these two. In the case of your samples, the third process happened. The fossil eventually dissolved and disappeared, leaving rock, but some of the rock was weathered away also. Depending on the degree to which the rock was worn away, you are still left with some amount of the fossil’s structure still visible. The spiral shell of the gastropod turns around a central hollow tube which gets narrower as you get to the point of the spiral. That is why, in some of your samples, the hole is wider on one side of the rock than on the other side of the rock they are what remains of that narrowing tube.

Lucky Stones are made into jewelry by local artisans.

necklace

One has to be lucky to find these stones. They are always light grey in colour. The trick is to look for the hole, not the rock. And knowing where to look for them is important as well.

stones

Stones that have natural holes, called Odin Stones or Hag Stones, have always been considered mystical and sacred, with special healing properties, windows into the soul and doorways to other dimensions. These stones are reported to have extremely powerful magical properties, the most important of which is protection.

Submitted by Evelyn Ward de Roo

 

Thanksgiving 1953 Duck Hunt

duck

by Ken S. Kristjanson, September 2012 (first printed in The Interlake Spectator)

My Afi told me that when he was a teenager in the early 1890s, he would go to Willow Point Marsh with a group of boys in the late fall each year. They took an 1848 Royal Danish Army musket that Afiâ’s foster father, Hannes Jonsson, had brought with him from Iceland. (My cousin Eddie in Vancouver still has the gun). The story goes that they would camp over night at Willow Point near the White Rock where the original settlers landed. As the canvasbacks rafted up, they would load the musket with lead shot. Afi said the recoil left you with a bruised shoulder for weeks. They would harvest more than 20 canvasbacks with every shot ” that’s how many ducks there were. They would them dress them out and with sideline rope, knot their heads together, then struggle the three miles back to town. They had a ready buyer in Hannesson Brothers, who were the leading Merchants at the time. He said they received something like 5 cents a duck for their catch – a fortune at the time.

Willow Point is now called Willow Island – this birth place of New Iceland was always a magnet for us boys. We could only imagine the hardships faced by our forefathers as they trudged ashore in a foreign land on a cold October day long ago. Just like when Afi was a boy, we always went duck hunting there on Thanksgiving. Before I was 16 I went with the older boys but on this cool October day I was 17 and heading out on my own.

A touch of frost had made the trees the color of the rainbow. I had walked the two miles from our home in the south end of Gimli and I was deep in thought as I approached the marsh. Suddenly a drake mallard jumped up squawking 40 feet in front of me. Instinct took over and up came my borrowed, single shot 10 gauge with the weak firing pin. The pin was so weak that an elastic cut from a car’s inner tube was stretched from the trigger guard to the hammer. Thanks to the fortified pin, down went the mallard. Now to retrieve my game bird. In my excitement, I marched directly into the marsh and promptly stepped in a muskrat hole. Ice cold water right up to my waist but I still retrieved my duck.

My mother had insisted that I take an extra pair of socks with me, although a change of socks was not going to do the trick that day.  As I looked for a place to sit down, I spotted some driftwood from a three day Nor-Easter some weeks earlier. A goodly amount of wood was piled high and dry on the shore and in no time I had a fire going and I took my soaking clothes off to dry.

As I was warming up, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a movement near where I had placed the duck. I reached automatically for my borrowed shot gun and I saw a beautiful black Mink taking off with my game bird. He was totally fearless – hauling the duck down the beach full speed toward where he had made a lair in the mud bank. I raised the gun to fire a warning shot and scare him off but as I pulled back the trigger to cock the gun, the rubber band that supported the firing pin snapped. As I was buck naked from the waist down, I was not about to argue with a sharp clawed mink. This likely escapee from one of the numerous mink ranches in the area was no doubt was hungry and clearly determined.  After getting dressed and putting out the fire I decided to just head for home. Determined to bring more rubber rings the next time . Or better get my own 12 gauge shot gun.

Over the years there were many more Thanksgiving duck hunts. Some were good, some so-so. But I like to think that for one particular mink in a mud bank on a cold beach south of Gimli, October 1953 was the best Thanksgiving ever.

Stately Elms

Elms

by Evelyn Ward de Roo

Gimli is loosing its old elm trees. According to the Interlake Spectator (June 18, 2010) South Beach is a total loss. Dutch Elm disease gained a foothold then decimated the entire population. Forester Richard Mamalygo, former Interlake region forestry manager, says that elm trees in South Beach have been totally wiped out. “It’s done. There’s nothing left. They were all stately, 70-year old elms. Now, zero. The Aspen Park, Gimli Industrial Park and South Beach elm problem was exacerbated because the province did not fund Dutch Elm intervention or removal in these areas. In those areas homeowners had to deal with it themselves or ignore it. The dying trees spread their infection. It took just three years to wipe out 300 trees in South Beach. Thankfully some pockets of elms remain in Gimli town proper and are being cared for with very expensive fungicide by local residents. There is an attempt being made to re-tree Gimli’s urban forest by the volunteers of the Gimli Garden Club. They recently planted new trees at Gimli Park after securing a grant from Manitoba Hydro. Unfortunately another scourge is on its way, that of the Emerald Ash Borer.” Contact Mamalygo, 641-4596, or any professional forester, if you have concerns about the trees on your property.  Mamalygo says, “It’s not about the money. It’s about what trees provide both in aesthetics, in cleaning the air, in creating oxygen.” Let’s all do what we can to keep South Beach a green playground for many more decades.