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Steinbach antique store finds century-old letter written by Vimy Ridge soldier – Winnipeg

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The owner of a Manitoba antique store is looking to find a veteran’s family members after finding a 102-year-old letter from a soldier who fought at Vimy Ridge in the First World War.

Amanda Kehler, owner of Prairie Pickers Cafe in Steinbach, recently bought a box of old papers for $1 at an estate sale.


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Among a bunch of random papers, teaching certificates and the like, she was surprised to find a letter dated May 1917, penned by a Canadian soldier in a hospital in England.

Kehler said the handwritten note was to a woman in Selkirk, explaining that her brother had been killed at Vimy Ridge along with several other men. The author, Earl Sorel, wrote that the brother had saved him, after he was shot during what is now known as a historic battle.


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Kehler said just reading the letter gave her chills. Reading something so personal, so raw, of a time so long ago.

“It was a pretty powerful letter,” she said.

“He was writing a girl back home in Selkirk Man., to let her know that her brother had passed away.”

Kehler posted her discovery on her Facebook page in the hope of finding someone who was related to either the writer, or the intended receiver, of the letter.

“I’d really like to reconnect it back to a family member, and if we can’t do that, we’ll donate it to a war museum,” Kehler told 680 CJOB on Thursday.

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What she really hopes is that she will be able to connect with a family member of Earl Sorel, the soldier that wrote the letter.

“It’s kind of sad that it is not in the family still.”

Kehler, who owns the antique shop with her husband, says she’s picked up lots of papers and random collections before, but the letter was a pretty moving find.

“We’re always out hunting for treasures and antiques to stock our shop with,” she said. “There are so many things people find in unlikely places.”


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She said she has had a number of offers from people wanting to buy the letter, but her real hope is to see it go to a meaningful place.

“To me, it doesn’t feel right to sell it. It’s such a huge part of our Canadian history, I think it should be with the family or a museum of some sort.”


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And that could very well be what happens.

“We’re very close to finding out if there are any living relatives. The response has been overwhelming … I’m confident we’ll be able to find someone.”

Kehler said she has even heard from people as far away as England.

WATCH: Looking for the lost soldiers of the Battle of Vimy Ridge






As for why the letter has garnered such interest (she’s also been called upon to do media interviews from all over the country), Kehler suggested it was a matter of romance, of a sort.

“The art of letter writing is actually dying… you don’t sit down and script out a letter anymore, you hop on your phone and you shoot somebody a text or an email.”

The antique shop in Steinbach is hoping to deliver a letter written by an injured soldier, 100 years later.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar is the Latest to Hatch in West Island’s Bubbling Restaurant Scene

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Wings are the thing at the latest restaurant to make its mark on Montreal’s West Island: Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar.

At the buzzy new Dollard-Des Ormeaux eatery, the bird limbs come aplenty, with a menu listing eleven “wet & messy” wings, including smoked apple habanero, sriracha lime, and cherry cola BBQ; and four — cacio e pepe, ketchups chip, Nashville hot, and the garlicky, lemon pepper “vampire slayer” — dry rub flavours. They come 10 for $18 or 20 for $34, plus the option of ranch, parmesan, or blue cheese dipping sauce.

Tacos, nachos, poutines (one made with bone marrow, another with tater tots), smashed burgers, salads, and a classic buttermilk fried chicken dinner are just sampling of the other dishes that round out the offering. On the drinks side, there are cocktails, sangrias, and spiked milkshakes in popular chocolate bar flavours: After Eight, Skor, Bounty, or Reeses.

Opened on July 5, Birdhouse is among a recent influx of restaurants to grace the island’s western end, including birria taco slinger Tacos Don Rigo and barbecue joint Smoke Box — a double whammy in the same Pierrefonds area strip mall. That comes in addition to plans for Fairview Pointe Claire’s incoming “District Gourmand” (slated to usher in Tommy Café), and, of course, a number of the area’s longer-standing stalwarts — from southern belle Bistro Nolah to old-school casse-croûte Smoked Meat Pete — that have helped bolster the West Island’s culinary credentials.

The brand-new Brunswick Boulevard restaurant is the brainchild of Montreal entrepreneur Lorne Schwartz, restaurateur George Massouras (of Madisons and Arahova Souvlaki), and among the other partners involved, Brahm Mauer, son of the founder of beloved buffalo hot wings expert Wings ‘n’ Things. Mauer has tried his hand at reviving the original Wings ‘n’ Things recipe — the restaurant originally opened in 1986 — over the years, including with a Royalmount Avenue location in 2012, then as a roaming summertime food truck and NDG pop-up. That same truck has now been made over with a Birdhouse-branded livery to be deployed for private events.

A likely draw to many, Birdhouse is reprising the “famous flavours, untouched” of the once-upon-a-time NDG staple, represented on its menu as “The Legendary WNT Buffalo” chicken wing.

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