Four days in Winnipeg


Snow indicator with a fire hydrant

Winnipeg is a relaxing and enjoyable city. It is slightly bigger than my hometown of Adelaide (Australia), friendly, and warm in August. Well it is summer here and in winter they measure the snow-fall in metres and the temperature in minus degrees. The fire hydrants in the street have orange coloured indicator poles attached to them so the firies can find them in winter. Not a place I’d enjoy with that level of cold. The Canadians I have met here have been surprised that I have never seen it snow. I have seen and been in snow, but never falling from the sky.

For the tourist there are interesting things to see and do. I mentioned the Walking Trail, called the Loop in an earlier post. It took me a few hours over two days to complete the walk as there are so many interesting stop-offs on the way. The walk along the banks of the Red River and a stroll around The Forks historic site were relaxing and I got a feel for the history of the place, going back to the First Nations. If you are the more adventurous type of traveller there are canoeing, horse riding and bike riding options as well. Remember they drive on the right hand side of the road here.

Along many of the avenues there are pop-up food and drink outlets. These mobile cafes seem to work without any conflict with the bricks and mortar establishments. The range of food is interesting, from the typical hot dog and hamburger to Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, Greek and Italian fare. Tasty too. I guess these are not businesses that flourish in winter though.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a must for any visitor here. I spent about four hours there and I still haven’t been able to Blog about it how I want. I certainly will not do it justice. May be some contemplation on the train east over the next two days will help.

Research is interesting

For the past eighteen months I have been slowly plodding through the background to the death and final resting place of firefighter Albert GREENMAN.  Albert, as I have mentioned in two precious blogs, (The nostalgia of cemeteries and The nostalgia of cemeteries Part 2) was killed in the explosion that ripped through the ship, City of Singapore, in April 1924, at Port Adelaide.  The other two firefighters killed in that explosion have a memorial to their sacrifice at the Cheltenham cemetery.  There is no recognition, for Albert, on the plot at the West Terrace Cemetery (WTC).

Records at the WTC show that there is a third body buried in Albert’s grave and it is likely to have been his mother in law.  Caroline Barbara Lena MARHORANA who, prior to her death resided in Royal Park SA and died on July 2, 1956 (aged 85 years).  Caroline is probably the mother of Laura GREENMAN, Albert’s wife, so it is probable  that Laura’s maiden name was MARHORANA.  However, there are no persons listed with that surname in the White Pages, in South Australia or nationally.

Other spellings of MARHORANA indicate that this is a name with an Indian ancestry however, there is also a strong Italian connection as well.  Indian/Italian heritage could indicate some of the disquiet in the GREENMAN family almost 100 years ago.

So far I have not been able to track down when Laura GREENMAN died, where she was buried, or if there were any surviving children.  There may have been a daughter, an infant at the time of Albert’s death in 1924, but I have not found any details of that as yet.

Copyright cleared with Shayne Greenman 2016

Firefighter, Albert Greenman, C 1920s. Photo supplied by Shayne Greenman, Queensland, and used with permission.

Now the hiccup – nothing can be done with the site of Albert’s (et al) grave regarding its upkeep, or adding a memorial headstone without the written permission of the site licence owner.  All avenues need to be exhausted in attempting to ascertain who is the current holder of the ‘licence’ and either have their permission, or have the licence transferred into someone else’s name before any memorial can be considered.

Blackwell Funerals, according to the WTC records apparently handled the funerals of Albert (snr), Albert (infant) and Caroline MARHORANA.  As luck would have it, I am attending an information session regarding death, as part of my University Students’ course work next Tuesday at Blackwell Funerals.  So I will see what else I can discover whilst I am there.

Also I have discovered another publication on the history of Port Adelaide and it apparently has a significant section on the City of Singapore Fire in 1924 – Triumph, Tragedies and Port Adelaide (2005) by Ron Ritter.  I have that book on order through an Inter-library loan so I will see if it sheds any further information of value for this project.

The research is becoming more interesting.  What started out as a desire to have a memorial on the grave of a firefighter killed in his duty, is now interwoven with World War I history, family genealogy, family history, and the history of South Australia.

The Nostalgia of Cemeteries – part 2

In May 2015 I wrote about a visit to the West Terrace Cemetery.  As a part of that story I also commented on the unmarked grave of a firefighter, killed in the City of Singapore Ship fire at Port Adelaide.  Since then the challenges of research revealed that Albert Greenman was also a WW I – Western Front – returned soldier.  His unmarked grave gives no recognition to his service to Australia both in war and peace.

The Metropolitan Fire Service is supportive of providing some form of recognition on his grave.  However, all efforts to find any surviving family has, until today, drawn a blank.  As testament to the value and power of research and the internet, a nephew of Albert found my 2015 blog and has contacted me.

While it is still too early to predict what may eventuate from this online meeting, I am hopeful of a headstone being placed on Albert’s grave.  I’ll keep you posted on any progress via my blog.

Look in the mirror

Service MedalsI normally refrain from commenting on newspaper reports or ill informed rants on social media.  So often the Australian media is opinion and not reporting, and social media, well that seems to cater for 150 characters of typing and not much else.

Reported in mainstream media last night and today has been the claim that Woolworths either mistakenly or deliberately tried to make some commercial mileage out of the approaching centenary celebrations around our ANZAC tradition.  This has led to a flurry of social media comments.  What has annoyed me more than Woolies making a singularly bad corporate decision has been to number of people who have dismissed this incident as something nothing.  That disappoints me, so I have this to say.

To those who are claiming that this is a non-story, or not important please stand in front of the mirror and open your eyes.  You (and we in Australia) are enjoying your/our freedom and quality of living today, because of the sacrifices these men and women (and their families) have made over decades.  It is not glorifying war or conflict, it is about the safety and protection of a way of life we have come to expect.  No, I have not served in a theatre of war, but I certainly respect and honour those who have.   ANZAC is a time of reflection that must not be sullied by crass commercialism by Woolworths, any other business, or an individual.

Lest we forget.

Looking for Yip Yau


Let’s see how good the internet actually is for research.

I’m trying to trace the life of Yip Yau, born in 1896, (locality unknown) died in central Australia (possible near Alice springs or further north) in July 1943 (aged 47 years).

I have a photograph of my father at his grave taken in the latter half of 1943. Yip Yau was of Chinese ancestory. The English writing on his grave stone says: “In memory of good friend, Yip Yau. died July (28th?) 1943, aged 47”.

Chinese grave near Alice Springs, taken c 1943. Standing is Sgt Harold Sweet, father of David Sweet

Chinese grave near Alice Springs, taken c 1943. Standing is Sgt Harold Sweet, father of David Sweet

The grave as you can see from the accompanying photograph is/was quite substantial indicating that either his family had the finances and/or that he was respected in the community.

Any glimmers of hope would be appreciated.

The Finding Nell Thomson Project

In my developing interest in oral history and photography I came across this example of a brief, but an engaging use of what can be done using multimedia and the internet.  Quoting from the web site: ‘finding Nell Thomson is about war’s lingering impact, and about family secrets and healing histories.’ Check it out for an interesting and provocative story.