The Scandinavian Cultural Centre had their 50 year anniversary party this weekend. The Centre has been at the 764 Erin Street location in the West End for 25 years. There are five countries and cultures represented in the Centre: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. They have been literally side by side and neighbours for centuries. And possibly could have the same origins.
I’ve read an Icelandic sagas writer theorize that Germanic hordes were pushed northward by Roman legions exploring the European continent and caught from the east by the Huns and Attila who were sweeping around the Roman strength. But as the five countries were colonized, they became rivals over land and resources in the Baltic Sea and Norwegian Sea.
As separate countries, they faced different troubles in the 19th and 20th centuries and some immigrated to Canada over time. A large contingent of Icelanders came to Manitoba, at the end of the 19th century and has the largest group of descendants in Manitoba.
That brings us to the stars of the Anniversary celebration. The Centre’s new kitchen has attracted the great chef Michael Wilson who made an interesting menu of hors d’oeuvres, especially a raw egg over a Swedish steak tartare with cabbage. For dessert, a croquembouche that was piled high pastry filled with cream accompanied with the constant coffee and European beer.
Michael Wilson runs the catering business Bonne Cuisine and prepares brunch every Sunday at the Centre. The brunch rotates between all five represented Scandinavian countries, with a different menu every weekend. The smooth saxophone sound of Walle Larsson accompanied the menu.
The Scandinavian Canadian Choir performed the Canadian national anthem and was accompanied by the entire room who patriotically belted it out, quite in tune. The choir sang a number of songs, including the Norwegian song, One More To The Sea, and the Swedish Ten Thousand Red Roses. This choir has sang with the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and has recently been asked to sing at the opening of the Winnipeg IKEA store. They are an older choir and they have lots of energy. They are in need of members for the choir and are accepting new members.
Minto MLA, Andrew Swan, talked about the West End being the destination for many of these early Scandinavian immigrants.
Riel MLA, Christine Melnick, mentioned her recent travels in the Baltic Sea and her admiration of the cooperativeness of the rival countries.
And St. Charles City Councilor Grant Nordman’s family had originally immigrated to the western part of Manitoba then came into the West End of Winnipeg.
It is apparent how important the politicians think this Centre is to the history of the community. Recently, the Centre has received funding from the Community Places to update the kitchen and the Educational Secretariat to offer classes and workshops. The hope is that people will engage in the culture and make use of the Centre.