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Elly on the Arts: The long, slow ride back home

"This column was supposed to be all about the “big reveal” - the fantastic Flin Flon musical to be produced in our lovely, arts-laden town in May 2023."
Northern Manitoba highway.

This column was supposed to be all about the “big reveal” - the fantastic Flin Flon musical to be produced in our lovely, arts-laden town in May 2023 and we will tell all, because by the time you read this we will be back, safe and sound, in the bosom of our glorious if still not spring-like town. But tonight, as we write this, we are in Nipawin, Sask., still over four hours from home.

We now have an entire list of places we never thought we would visit to tick off our “bucket list”. Today, we left Dauphin around 11 a.m. to drive homeward. Just outside of Dauphin, on Manitoba Highway 10, we came upon a “road closed” sign. We retraced our path and took the road to Roblin and travelled through Benito to Swan River. About 50 kilometres up Highway 10 from there, we found the road closed at a bridge near Novra. A very nice Manitoba Highways worker on the spot there called ahead to a colleague who informed him that the second bridge just a few kilometres further up the highway was also closed, so we couldn’t go through. He advised going back to Benito and travelling on the route through Saskatchewan that would turn into to Highway 77 before rejoining Highway 10 around Mafeking. So, back we went.

Unfortunately, when we crossed into our neighbouring province and checked the Saskatchewan highway condition reporting app, that route back was also closed due to flooding, so the next option was the Carrot River road that re-enters Manitoba in The Pas. The only trouble with that idea was the 120 or so kilometres of really horrible gravel that is just not inviting at this time of year - or anytime actually, having had some experience with it last August while trying to avoid the forest fire south of The Pas. (Yes, we found ourselves having to travel then as well.)

So that’s how we ended up spending the night in Nipawin and passing through the fabulous metropolises of Benito (twice), Arran, Pelly, Norquay, Preeceville, Ketchen, Lintlaw, Nut Mountain, Fosston, Rose Valley, Archerwill, Sylvania, Tisdale, Runciman, Armley and Codette before reaching our somewhat-final destination. Of course, now that we’ve been there - done that, we need never do it again. Tomorrow we will head, finally, to phenomenal Flin Flon bright and early and it will only take four hours. That’s quite a contrast to the 7.5 hours of driving we did today to cover essentially the distance from Dauphin to Swan River, about 90 minutes at the speed limit.

We have not yet had the opportunity to finish our reporting on our trip to Toronto and environs either, though we admit that it might pale in comparison to the saga of, “The Long Goodbye Trip to …”. We did go to Stratford, Ont., where the mighty Stratford Festival has taken to the stage once again after a long, COVID-19-driven hiatus. We saw a wonderful production of Chicago in the Festival Theatre and had a smashing tour of the costume department backstage in the Festival Theatre building, courtesy of costume cutter Kim Crossley, a dear friend of long standing who has lived in Stratford doing that work for 21 years now. She worked on the Merry Murderesses costumes for the production we saw and is currently finishing King Richard’s robes for Colm Fiore in Shakespeare’s Richard III while also working on the crinolines for Little Women at the brand new Tom Patterson Theatre.

But enough of that for the time being. We did see The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre on our return to Manitoba, but it was not a good production so it can wait.

On to the big excitement of this moment in time, the announcement of the Flin Flon Community Choir’s production for the spring of 2023. The show will be the great big Broadway smash Mary Poppins. We are very excited and will share more news when we talk with the amazing Crystal Kolt at some length.

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