December 6, 2013
"Sveikt" Latvian Heritage took place two days after a major snow storm which left Lac du Bonnet with a downfall of 10 - 12 inches of snow. The weather that evening was -25 without the wind chill. Needless to say we were concerned that the turnout would be affected.
However at 6:15 pm the guests began to arrive. We had approx. 145 people, which equaled last years' attendance.
Lettonia balsam firs were centerpieces on each table, and a huge Lettonia Balsam was placed beside the four photo display boards and artifacts.The photo displays showcased: Bird River, Lee River, Lettonia, and Newcombe Latvian immigrants, Latvian entrepreneurial spirit, "Janis", Newcombe School, and Lettonia Post Office.
The artifact displays featured John Lapin's story including a home tanned leather jacket and bag, carved wooden tool handles he sold through Osis Building Supply, and homemade soap made by his wife Mary. The Sarapu broad ax was wedged into a hewed dovetailed log and told the story of the Sarapu family barn. There was also displayed a Latvian doll donated by Peggy Yuill (Sarapu), a hand hooked rug, and a Latvian wool blanket on loan from the Apsit family, Latvian woven fabric, embroidery, knitted socks, and mitts from Aina Turton, along with a Latvian inspired embroidered skirt donated by the Dancyt family. There was an original wax paper bread wrapper (framed) circa 1947 from the Usackis Bakery which showcased their 25 years at the bakery. Also showcased was an anvil from Alex Dancyt telling his story, the original Bird River 1924 and 1936 school records, and an old box of sturgeon hooks along side Alfred Apsit photo with a huge sturgeon catch. A color portrait of Arnold Urban playing his accordion done by Gay Kirby, who was Lettonia Albert Johnson's daughter added to the display.
We also had for sale three local history books "Caviar and Venison", "The House Beside the Rock Hill", and "Tramway to the Pointe".
Karen David (Dancyt) was the MC who gave a short story of her grandfather Alex Dancyt coming to Lac du Bonnet from Latvia with just the shirt on his back, becoming a camp cook, laborer, blacksmith, baker, and eventually a store and dance hall owner ( Aleda Hall).
She spoke of the Austin street connection in Winnipeg where her mom lived upstairs.
Mary Louise Chown with her Dulcimer and Donna Drysdale (Aina Turton's daughter), accompanied on guitar by her son Jordon, performed Latvian folk tales and songs to the delight of the audience.
Arnold Urban on accordian, Allan Urban on guitar, and Betty Dancyt on keyboard also performed. Betty has been playing with Arnold for 64 years in the Lac du Bonnet area.
Allan was showing the audience a bit of the Urban humor by his intervening comments.
Susan Karklin, Diane Neal, and Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Drawson served their homemade pirags to the guests at the tables.
The finger food also consisted of local smoked goldeye and Dancyt's Kurtwurst sausage.
The atmosphere was wonderful, there were tears shed, laughter abound, and friendships reunited. Joyce Alksne shed a tear when a lady brought in her grandfather's citizenship paper from 1918 which had John Alksne's signature on it.
We thank all our local businesses and volunteers who contributed to the success of this event.