A celebration of stories and of the woman who told them


By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

Neepawa’s most prominent writer is receiving some well deserved national recognition. On Friday, Aug. 10, a plaque will be unveiled at the Margaret Laurence House, designating the author as a Person of National Historic Significance. 

Margaret Laurence Home board president Blair Chapman said that this designation from the federal government is only given to people who have been deemed to have been significant to the history of the country.

“The Margaret Laurence Home already has a provincial designation as a historic place, but this is a recognition of Margaret herself, as a person of historic importance to our nation. So the plaque is a federal plaque, with representatives from Parks Canada on hand on the day,” stated Chapman. “This designation puts Margaret Laurence in the company of just about 700 other Canadians who have been recognized by this commission. It is a pretty prestigious list.”

To go along with the unveiling, Chapman noted that the board has worked with several local businesses and organizations to arrange what is being called ‘The Manawaka Festival.’

“For the day itself, it does start with the unveiling of this plaque at 1:00 p.m., but, we also have an array of other events scheduled for around this commemoration. Along with Parks Canada, the Neepawa Public Library, the Roxy Theatre and Farmery Brewery are also partnering with us in one form or another, putting on events. We’re grateful to see so many others are joining with us to celebrate the accomplishment.”

Chapman added that the long-term hope is for this to be the start of an annual celebration.

“We have talked about perhaps turning this into an annual event. We will see just how this initial day goes and decide from there if it’s something we can grow over the course of years. There are similar things arranged in [Lakefield], Ontario,” noted Chapman. “I hope that people will see that this day offers them a variety of activities. It’s not the type of thing where you have to attend everything, but there are enough things on the go that you should find some There are some children’s activities scheduled, as well as a few things for the parents. It’s a family-friendly experience for everyone.

Plans for the afternoon include readings by several rural Manitoba authors and Living Library event at the Margaret Laurence Home. As well, there will be a children’s tent offering special activities for that age group.

Local musical entertainment will be on offer over supper hour at the Farmery. The evening schedule includes the screening of either a movie based on a Margaret Laurence novel or another made-in-Canada movie, depending on film availability.

The event will conclude with family-friendly ghost stories at Park Lake while roasting marshmallows at a bonfire.