Thursday, November 1, 2012

Winnipeg, home of the Soldier of the Horse

While researching for “Soldier of the Horse”, I wanted to ‘walk the ground’ so as to immerse myself in my research and get a feel for the times. Part of this involved a trip to France and Moreuil Wood, but I also made a trip to Winnipeg, where the story starts out. I had been to the Manitoba capital several times as a youth, because my mother’s family had a cottage on Lake Winnipeg, and had also visited for a family reunion a few years back. Fortunately my cousin Bill and his wife Marilyn still lived there when I returned, so I had not only guides to help me find my way around, but drivers who whisked me from place to place.
One edifice from 1918 still proudly standing is the former Canadian Pacific station, now housing offices of various social and other organizations. Right next to it would have been the Royal Alexandra Hotel, long gone, alas; but I was able to reconstitute it for “Soldier”.
Some of the nefarious actions that led Tom into the army took place in the Builders’ Exchange Building on where else but Portage Avenue, the quintessential Winnipeg street. It was located very much downtown, more or less across the street from the former site of Eaton’s (where the real-life Soldier later worked), now a hockey emporium. There my fictional character Henry Zink plotted and schemed, much as did his real-life counterpart.

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