summer fun = research for this writer

Wow! What a week it’s been! I hope you’re enjoying as much time away from the daily grind as I am.

Our weather has been pretty darn good and I’ve taken every opportunity to enjoy a multitude of diversions away from the writing life. Not to say the experiences aren’t fodder for this blog and future articles. Everything is research to a freelance writer! But I’ve fully been living my motto and enjoying every day as though it could/might be my last.

I’ll post a pic of the new upper deck as soon as the last couple of boards have been stained to match the treated wood and composite floor boards. But just so you know, it was done in time to host our Alberta guests and I know that Rudy enjoyed playing his harmonicas out on the 2nd floor deck each morning. Life in a rural resort setting just can’t be beat!

We spent time exploring Hecla Island. Our visit seemed to coincide with a frog fest as I’m sure we saw no less than 100 tiny frogs frolicking along our hike from the Hecla Lakeview Resort to the lighthouse.

We were also fortunate to see the granddaddy of them all basking in the sun. He was absolutely massive compared to all the other mini versions of himself that we saw along the way.

Hecla Island must have a healthy biosphere, as I have heard that the presence of frogs indicates a good balance in the eco-system of the local environment. If you stay at the Lakeview Hecla Resort, you can arrange a customized tour with the on-site biologist. More on that at:


Following our visit to Hecla, I had the pleasure of attending the Opening Night Party and premiere screening of the Weakerthans documentary, “We’re the Weakerthans, we’re from Winnipeg” at the Gimli Film Festival. The Weakerthans are a terrific indy band from Winnipeg. More on them and their fabulous music at:

What an amazing event! We enjoyed watching the Weakerthans tour across Canada on a 35×10-foot movie screen suspended above the waters of Lake Winnipeg. It was a warm and (nearly) clear night with no wind and a minimal amount of insect life, making it the perfect night to sit on the beach and enjoy the show.

This is a daytime shot of the frame for the film screen set in the waters of Lake Winnipeg. It comes alive at 10 pm once the sun begins to set. Awesome setting for beach-loving movie buffs.

I’ve been told that there is no other film festival setting like this. It’s truly magical when the conditions are perfect as they were for us last night.

The Gimli Film Fest (GFF) celebrates its 10th year this year with the screening of more than 80 films. Find out more at Check out the photo gallery on the site for a first hand look at what you’re missing.

I’m glad I finally got to the GFF after living in Manitoba’s Interlake Region for the past three years. One more thing to strike off the regional Bucket List.

So how have you been enjoying the summer? Have you attended any special events we should know about? Have you discovered a special place like Hecla Island?

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

9 Responses

  1. Lee says:

    Hi Doreen
    I love planning what I am going to do in the summer while sitting in the warm during the midst of winter. Often I find the planning a trip nearly as exciting as the event itself. It gives you something to really look forward too why stuck in the cold of winter. I have just booked one up for march that I have been wanting to do for a while. Which is to ride a tidal bore wave down on the river Severn.

    Love reading your blog very inspiring lee
    Lee recently posted…Bucket List IdeasMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Lee, for visiting this blog. I believe you’re a regular to the chocolate travel blog, but don’t recall having you join us here. Welcome! I hope you’ll subscribe so you don’t miss any posts.

      Sounds like fun riding the tidal bore wave. We watched seagulls do that in New Brunswick on the Chocolate River. What fun!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…an ode to things gone byMy Profile

  2. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Susan, for sharing your memories of Hecla — and Jean Chretien. That's quite the story!

    And thanks, Heather, for the explanation about the frogs. I thought they were leopard frogs. Remember seeing a nice one on Willow Island, and my brother (who's a former science teacher) told me it was a leopard frog.

    For those of you who don't know Heather, she is the biologist who heads up the nature program at Hecla Oasis Resort. She took me and a group of writers out on a hike back in 2008 and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I'm tempted to make a return journey to Hecla on Sunday to take in the marvellous event Doris has told us about in her comment above.

    Ciao for now!

  3. Heather Hinam says:

    I'm glad you had a good time up on the island, Doreen. You're timing was perfect for frogs. What you stumbled across is the emergence of this year's crop of Northern Leopard Frogs. They finish their transformation from tadpoles to adults in the last few weeks of July and into August.

    Although few make it to that age, that big daddy of a frog you spotted could be up to 9 years old!

    Thanks for stopping by the island and next time you're headed that way, drop me a line.

  4. Susan Nicol says:

    I recall covering the official opening of the federally funded resort at Hecla Island. Brilliant sky, beautiful scenery, blazing heat. My worst case of sunstroke ever!

    In particular, I remember the very shy and awkward junior cabinet minister sent by Ottawa for the event. He could barely speak English!

    After the ceremonies, I stumbled across him vainly trying to hide in a nook in the wall outside the building — to sneak a cigarette. He sheepishly smiled and waved.

    It is the most vivid image I have of Jean Chretien.

  5. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks to Doris Benson, author of "A Place Called Hecla" & "When Home Can't Be Hecla" sent me these comments on Hecla to share with you:

    My husband Roger grew up on Hecla Island–since meeting him about 45 years ago, I've been captivated by the folk lore of Hecla–so much so that I've written 2 novels and will be publishing a 3rd one later this year. The 3 books follow a fictional family in describing life on the island over the years. Three generations are showcased–pre-park Hecla, expropriation era and the return in resettling the island–of course each novel has a love story and I enjoyed adding as many amusing stories from days gone by as I could. My website is

    Because our family property on Hecla is off the beaten track, we managed to escape expropriation and have been fortunate in maintaining close ties to a place we consider very special. Our children and grandchildren love spending holidays there. It was because of my kids and grandkids that I was motivated to write about the island. They've only known Hecla as a park and place for recreation–I wanted them to know the unique community that their grandfather was raised in and to know the story of the islanders being expropriated. Parks workers take care of the island very well but the rich stories of the past need to be in print to be remembered and I have tried to do that.

    On Sunday, Aug 1, we are having a parade (10th annual) through the village at 1:00pm–it's well worth the drive to see the parade and wander through the village–we'll have an Arts & Crafts Show & Sale in the Hecla Hall from 11-4, a BBQ, fun activities for the kids, etc, etc.

  6. wizardofwords says:

    Warren sent me the following comment about Hecla Island. It's hard to envision his comments about ice and waist-deep snow when we are presently experiencing temps in excess of 30 degrees Celsius & 100 F with the humidex factored in! Black Island which Warren mentions, is just off shore from Hecla.

    Warren writes:
    Waist deep snow out to the LIght House at the Point at Hecla. Did it one winter's day while we were staying there as a family. Did so just to do it and get some exercise! Your pix there reminded me of my quest to get out and back from that point.

    Another winter with one of our American Eskimos, I told myself I would never go out of the ice on the Black Island side of the point, as I walked across the snow covered golf course, and then started out onto the snowy lake with Snowball leading, and having a great time. At the point we turned inland and headed across the inlet to the boats and bldgs on the west side. Snowball had a tough time due to all the wind blown snow, that just left the ice on the inlet there for him to manage. However we both made it to the shore. It was still thick enough to make it. It was just may concept of ice thickness, and that spring was approaching, that I had to overcome. I attempted the treck as I had a friend with me (Snowball), otherwise I doubt whether I would have that strong memory, to also be recalled from your photo there of the lite house at the point. He's barking downstairs at the moment, as he want to let us know he wants or needs to get out this morning.

    Bye for now and many thanks for sharing your pictures.

    Regards, and all the best;

  7. wizardofwords says:

    Good for you, Amanda, in trying to tackle such a big project yourselves! We're more in the "let's hire someone who knows what they're doing camp."

    Good luck with your renos, and let me know when you're ready for some visitors!

  8. Amanda Lerougetel says:

    I've been enjoying this summer by renovating the bathroom at the cottage we bought last year on Lake Winnipeg. It's hard work but sooo satisfying! And the view of the lake from our lot is spectacular – it's always there when a person needs a little break from pounding nails or cutting 2x4s!

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