Picnic 2017

written by Val Verity

S.B.P.O.A picnic 2017 was a great success!!


Cake donated by Lorraine Walton

Firstly, we can’t thank Dorothy Keizer enough for all the years she tirelessly convened this annual picnic and made it look so effortless along with her late husband, Ron Keizer by her side!!  They are both greatly missed in South Beach!

Lisa Raymond, our new President, and myself, Val Verity, new Treasurer, would like to thank all the volunteers who came forward to lend a helping hand as well as those who attended to help make this picnic a great success…….it certainly helped that the weather co-operated!!!

Ralph Caligiuri was happy with the bocce ball tournament.  Although, he would be much happier if there was greater participation.  Let’s help Ralph with that next year!

Ralph and Peter were the excellent chefs at the BBQ’s.  Josie Lucidi and Eveline Milliken helped set up the food tables.   We had 2 young enthusiastic volunteers selling tickets at the gate, Lorraine Walton and Paulette Sullivan were selling tickets at the silent auction table and Bryan Verity was collecting membership fees at the gate.  All went very smoothly!

Thank you to John Borelli for donating the A&W burgers and buns.  Also, thank you to everyone who brought tasty salads and the cakes which were donated by Lorraine Walton and Chrissie Mendela.  It certainly takes a good team to create such a fun event.

We would like to give a huge thank you to Guy at Superior Asphalt for donating and installing the asphalt under the structure in the park which made the site so much cleaner for the BBQ’s and tables of food.    Also, thank you to Ross Moore for donating the grand door prize of $1,000.00 for a comprehensive eye exam and eye wear.  For the silent auction items….. Cliff King for donating Remax balloon rides for 2 people, Charlie and Joanne Burns for donating a new bicycle, Ken and Kathleen Coe for the golf gift certificates at the Teulon Golf Course, Lorraine Walton for a large wok pan, Thomas Achenbach and Angie Auer for the sports equipment, Vactionville Store in Gimli for children’s clothing, and Paulette Sullivan for the gardening items.   Thank you, Ev Ward de Roo, for putting up the signs to advertise the annual picnic and sending out the emails to everyone.

Also, thank you to those who stepped up to help with the races…….many young children and the big kids too had a great time!

We had a fabulous turnout this year!!

Let’s do a repeat next year!!!! 21317608_10154771410982554_2114721202490224442_n 21271080_10154771411162554_5904314631986178688_n 21272570_10154771411432554_2770020950932125254_n 21271194_10154771413962554_4524647247854338079_n 21317651_10154771412197554_4808874753958726829_n 21271215_10154771413832554_8187244554070463733_n

Whippoorwill Cottage

Whippoorwill Cottage


Whippoorwill Cottage, 2013

(One of a series of articles about the history of South Beach and its families)

Written by Evelyn Ward de Roo

In the early 1900’s some of the first cottagers in South Beach were city professionals, including Percy D. Harris (b 1880). Sometime around 1912 he built Whippoorwill Cottage at 34 South Colonization Road.

Percy Harris was principal of Lord Nelson School in Winnipeg (ref, Gimli Saga, p. 118). He was also the secretary of the Manitoba Educational Association from 1911-20 and then served as its president in 1920-21.

Percy D Harris

ca 1938, Maxine Carter (Ward), Percy D. Harris, Sylva Carter (Benkelmen)

Florence Harris was the daughter of Percy. She also became a school teacher. In the 1960’s she authored the high school textbooks, The Art of Poetry, and A Packet of Prose, both published by McClelland and Stewart Ltd.

Florence never married and had no children of her own. She inherited Whippoorwill Cottage. Along with her teaching ability she had a generous heart. She invited all the children from South Beach into her cottage to play.

She had the most interesting and unique toys. A huge farm set out on the grass. Betsy McCall doll and clothes.

Betsy McCall, 29" doll

Betsy McCall, 29″ doll

She developed treasure hunts, crafts and games. She taught us how to knit. She served KoolAid or juice in plastic glasses carried in a wire rack.

Max & Sylva at Florence's

Doing crafts at Whippoorwill Cottage

The days it was okay to go to Whippoorwill to play were the days when Miss Harris would fly a Union Jack flag on the front of the cottage. Florence was not a well woman. So days when she was not up to having kids hang around, no flag would be present. Even until the early 1960s the Union Jack would fly on the odd day.

Sylva, Max & Friends at Florence

Kids from South Beach 1940, l. to r. Sylva Carter, ?, ?, Maxine Carter (Ward)


Belle, Max, Sylva, Winifred

1937, the Carter women

Whippoorwill Cottage still stands today behind a big white fence. No Union Jack flies there anymore.


Whippoorwill Cottage, South Colonization Road, 2013



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.


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.


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 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


Canada Day Weekend Storms

Canada Day weekend was a bit of a bust.


Ethel Street


Ethel Street


Moonlight Bay beach June 29


Moonlight Bay beach June 29, enormous and littered with branches


Municipal ditch, July 1


Moonlight Bay beach, backwash into drainage ditch


wind damage, Moonlight Bay


Ethel beach, July 1

South Beach Tribute – Sobkowich’s

Vic Sobkowich

Vic Sobkowich

This year South Beach lost another one of its originals.

Vic Sobkowich died March 30, 2013, predeceased by his beloved Betty who passed away on October 17, 2011.

Betty Sobkowich

Betty Sobkowich

Since 1959 they were pillars of South Beach on the southeast corner of Third and Benedict.

"Meadowood" Cottage

“Meadowood” Cottage

Lorraine Walton (Benedict St), a long-time friend of the Sobkowich family gave the funeral eulogy.

Lorraine & Val

Lorraine (Hicks) Walton & Val (Sobkowich) Verity

This is an excerpt from the tribute:

Mr. Sobkowich came from simple beginnings; he enlisted in the navy as a young man, returned home safely at the end of the war, worked his way through university and graduated from The University of Manitoba in 1950 as an Architect.  

In 1949 married the love of his life —  Betty Field and a couple years later Vickie was born followed by the twins Vincent and Valerie.

Mr. & Mrs. Sobkowich purchased their cottage in South Beach, Gimli in February of 1959.  My parents, Marg and Doug Hicks, purchased their lot on the same street that spring and started building their cottage. That summer all the young moms and their children spent many hours on the beach.  

It was that summer Val and my friendship developed. We remain best friends to this day.  

It became a common practise that as the Sobkowich’s drove by our family cottage on a Friday night; Mr. Sobkowich would honk his horn to let us know they had arrived.  Within minutes I would head down to their cottage to see Val. To this day the friendly practice of honking the horn still takes place.  I often hear my Mom or Dad say, Vic has arrived or Val & Bryan just drove by.

Val and I spent all our waking hours together during the summers thus the Sobkowich’s became my 2nd family. As a young man Mr. Sobkowich enjoyed going berry picking and on a couple occasions Val and I joined him.  Not too often mind you as Val and I found berry picking uneventful. Mr. Sobkowich enjoyed the odd game of golf.  Well, we joined him only once, once was enough.  At a young age Val and I decided golf was not a hobby for us.  To this day neither Val nor I golf. 

Vic and Betty loved to dance.  They took up ball room dancing many years ago.  They formed the Westview Dance group, which is still active today.  Once a year Vic & Betty would show their hospitality and invite the dance group to come to their cottage for a weekend of music, dance and laughter.  This became a yearly event for several years.

In the late 60’s the Sobkowich’s purchased a motor boat.  Something that was rare to see in South Beach.  We finally found a hobby we would enjoy doing with Mr. Sobkowich.  The family boat rarely left shore that I was not in it. Mr. Sobkowich spent many hours pulling all the kids in the area behind his boat.  Many of Vickie’s, Vincent’s and Val’s friends learnt to ski thanks to Mr. Sobkowich.  Never once did I hear him utter a word of complaint about the time spent or cost of gas.  He was just happy we were all having a good time. 

Not being a natural skier, I remember at one point he joked with me and said I made a great spotter.   A spotter is the person that sits at the back of the boat watching the skier and notifies the driver if they fall!!  But I was to be a skier, because Mr. Sobkowich was blessed with a lot of patience.  It took two summers for me to learn to water ski!!! I still remember the day I finally got up and stayed up on those darn skis.  When Mr. Sobkowich completed the circle on the lake he motioned for me to let go of the rope.  I was so excited I forgot to let go and he took me around the lake one more time.  When I finally did let go, Mr. Sobkowhich was as excited for me as I was.  

The Sobkowich’s had many beach friends over the years.  I remember the Rothwells, the Lavendures, the Johnstons, sitting around the table sharing a cup of tea, playing cards or just visiting.  It was common to hear music and laughter coming from within the cottage.  

The Sobkowich family are pet lovers.  Over the years they owned 4 dogs and 2 cats, not to mention a horse.  Their pets were loved and well cared for. If a lost cat or dog was fortunate enough to arrive at the Sobkowich’s home, they were always taken in, given food, water and shelter until they were reunited with their owner or until a new owner was found.  Sox’s Vic’s dearly beloved cat has taking up residence with Val & Bryan.  It was a promise that Val made to her aging parents.  And the tradition continues of caring for animals.

Mr. & Mrs. Sobkowich loved to walk.  They walked many miles up and down the beach over the years. I remember on the return of their walks Mr. Sobkowich would often have a piece of drift wood in his hand. One time I asked him what he was going to do with all the pieces of wood he had collected.  His reply was he would someday make a picture with them.  Sure enough one day I entered the cottage and on one of the walls was an arrangement of mounted varnished drift wood.  To this day those pieces remain on the wall and they still fascinate me.  Mr. Sobkowich had a gift  —  a gift to see how simple pieces of drift wood could become a piece of art.

Val and her Dad enrolled in painting classes a few years ago.  The time Val spent with her father cultivated a bond with him that she did not feel she had as a child.  They spent many hours together enjoying this new found hobby.

As gentle as Mr. Sobkowich was, he was strong of character and mind.  It made him a good Dad and a good leader.  He wanted the best for his children, and wanted them to make good decisions. Every moment was a teaching opportunity, and his children today are blessed with the lessons of a lifetime that he shared with them.

As time has passed Vickie, Vincent and Valerie have grown up, become parents and grandparents of their own and realized the importance of the many lessons their father taught them when they were children. Mr. Sobkowich could not have been prouder of the generations that followed his children in his family.  His grandchilden and his great grandchildren were the sources of light, love and pride for him. He cherished their love, and was sustained even in the difficult days of these past few weeks by the family that surrounded him.

I ask that you do not forget Mr. Sobkowich.   Please take a moment, think back to your association with Vic and remember how he touched our lives.  How he made us laugh, his pleasant smile or the friendly wave of his hand. 

I believe in my heart that Vic’s biggest fan Betty is waiting for her dancing partner in a new life. 

Let’s be thankful that they are together once again, dancing up a storm with many of their friends who have gone before them.

Thanks Mr. Sobkowich for the wonderful memories. 

May you rest in peace.

Read Obituary.

Memories Meet the Evolution of our Lives

South Beach looking south

by Kristy Benz, Cochrane, AB, studying at Bishops University in Sherbrook, QC

I have yet to pass a summer which has not brought me to the shores of South Beach. Each time I arrive, approaching the familiar roads and waiting for the first view of the lake, I am beguiled by a medley of emotions, ranging from anticipation to serenity to a strange feeling of nostalgia for summers past. I am in that car right now, remembering. I remember the old outhouse, I remember bathing in the kitchen sink, I remember the sandbars, and fishing for minnows with a butterfly net. I remember slipping and falling into the water wearing my new birthday dress, I remember building rafts and learning to windsurf and capsizing the canoe. I remember the old pump on the corner of Third and Hansson. I remember ghost stories around the fire and my uncle jumping out of the bushes at the scariest part. I remember shooting stars and watching the sunrise and lazy afternoons. I remember.

South Beach is a place where memories meet the constant evolution of our lives; it is a living memory. It continues, it breathes, it laps upon our consciousness like the waves upon its pebbly shores. Friends and family come together and recount past summers, yet each passing summer brings something new. Every afternoon Scrabble game will yield different words, each scavenger hunt will end in wildly varied findings, and every firework display will elicit a different chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’. And of course South Beach is not just about the summer. It lives and grows and changes in all the seasons, when the leaves fall and the geese depart and the lake freezes over. South Beach will be different the next time we see it. It changes and we change. We change it and it changes us. And we will always remember.