About Mark Winkler

Mark Winkler was born in a small town on the northern tip of Lake of the Woods in Northwestern Ontario called Kenora. After graduating from high school, Mark went on to study music at The University of Michigan School of Music. He set out to have a career as an opera singer but soon found himself working in New York City as a Creative Director in corporate communications. Mark has dabbled into just about every skill known to exist ... a musician, teacher, corporate executive, computer technician, writer, mentor, and philanthropist. Mark will without question be able to end his journey in this theatrical play not having any regrets about missing out what life has to offers. Mark's website Life's Little Moments captures just a few of the many interests that Mark has thrown himself into throughout the years.

Only Two Pictures Exist. Really!

Probably because my eldest brother, Lawrence, left for University at an early age. There are only two pictures that exist with all five of my immediate family together. And both were taken at my brothers’ weddings. I will always look back on those moments with fond memories. I cherish the time we had together as a family.

Picture #1 – My Brother Jay’s Wedding in 1980

My brother Jay’s wedding in 1980. From left to right are my step-grandfather, grandmother, my father, Helen (Jay’s wife), Jay, my mother, myself and Lawrence.

Picture #2 – My Brother Lawrence’s Wedding 1985

My eldest brother’s wedding took place in Winnipeg Manitoba. From left to right: my brother Jay, my father, my mother, my brother Lawrence and myself.

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Only Two Pictures Exist. Really!2021-03-30T23:02:40-05:00

Happiest Moments for Charlie and My Parents…

The mid-’90’s were some of the happiest moments for Charlie and my parents … and for me. Because my parents wrapped their arms around Charlie and treated him like a son. They always included Charlie in whatever they did. And if anyone dared say a bad word about Charlie, you would see a side of my mother that would frighten Frankenstein. She would even confide in Charlie about issues that she wouldn’t discuss with me, her own son! How fortunate I was to have this unique mutual-admiration society right within the circle of people I loved most.

Sadly, none of them are alive today. My mother passed away in 1996, my father in 2005 and Charlies in 2010. Each passing took a massive toll on my life. Something I still am coping with every day that I wake up. But, I am thrilled I can remember them all so vividly. These were some of the happiest moments of my life. Although Kenora and New York City could not be more opposite in terms of size and lifestyle, we all enjoyed visiting each other from 1988-1996. In one of our trips up to Kenora, we took Charlie’s 90-year-old mother with us. She flew Bear Skin Airlines with us from Thunder Bay to Kenora. It was the last big trip his mother took in her life.  My mother adored his mother, and the feelings were mutual. These were family moments that make life worth living. I hope these pictures capture the special bond that we all shared.

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Happiest Moments for Charlie and My Parents…2021-03-30T23:00:03-05:00

Dedicating a Park to My Father…Not Bad!

Winkler Harbourfront Park

When my father passed away in 2005, the City of Kenora changed the name of “The Harbourfront Park” to “Winkler Harbourfront Park.” Because my father, while serving as Mayor of Kenora for 21 years, was most instrumental in raising the funds to build the park. The presentation above depicts at the re-naming ceremony at the park.

The Winkler Harbourfront Park with the newly constructed Whitecap Pavilion for performances throughout the year.

One More Round With My Father

I created this video in memory of my father after coming back from the unveiling of his tombstone in Winnipeg, Manitoba in June of 2006. I wanted it to be upbeat and uplifting and to include people and places that he knew and loved.

My father right before he died, doing what he does best 🙂

A Little Aside

In 2015, Kenora celebrated its first LGBTQ Pride Week. I was fortunate enough to part take in it. The organizers asked me to write a story about my relationship with my father, a reading of which would take place at an event during the Week. After all, it couldn’t be easy being the mayor of Kenora with an openly gay son, or could it be? Here’s the story I submitted:

Last year while visiting Kenora with friends on a Sunday afternoon in late June, we stumbled across an event that we decided to join. It was a march from Lake of the Woods Museum to Huskie the Muskie, ending finally at Winkler Harbourfront Park. This was not just any march, but Kenora’s first Gay Pride March, and to me, it was as if my father was standing right by my side once more. Let me explain.

Coming out can be hard

You see, I came out to my father during his term as being mayor of Kenora. It was a time when it wasn’t particularly easy to come out, let alone in Kenora. My father never made me feel less than equal and never made me feel ashamed for who I was. He and my mother just loved me. To my father, that was just who I was, and he loved his son no matter what.

When I moved to New York in 1985, I met a man who became my soulmate for 28 years. My father loved the summers when I brought Charlie to Kenora. He loved showing off Kenora to Charlie…taking him on the lake, going fishing, day trips to Sioux Narrows, an afternoon at Rushing River, and just walking up and down Main Street describing what it was like in the early days being a merchant in Kenora.

Proud of my loving family

I beamed with so much pride to watch them together during the many visits that Charlie and I made to Kenora. My parents treated Charlie as if he was their son, unconditionally. This unconditional love was something I got to enjoy up to my father’s death in 2005.

Charlie and I made it back to Kenora one last time in 2006. It was for the unveiling of my father’s tombstone in Winnipeg (a Jewish tradition symbolizing the end of the mourning period). We decided to travel on to Kenora that day and spent the rest of the day at the Harbourfront Park with my nieces, old friends and the close friends of my father who were still in Kenora. I will remember that day forever, as I saw in Charlie the love he always carried for my father.

I think of him every day

I still visit Kenora every summer. Unfortunately, Charlie passed away four years later of cancer. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.

Marching in the first Gay Pride March of Kenora last year made me think of them both out here on the Harbourfront. I can imagine my Dad marching next to Charlie and myself with my Dad carrying the Kenora Pride flag … the pride that my father had for his town and his sons.

Above is a group photo of the marchers in the 2016 Kenora LGBTQ Pride March at McLeod Park…

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Dedicating a Park to My Father…Not Bad!2021-03-30T22:55:32-05:00

Rita Rita Rita

Born with Down syndrome, my niece Rita is a remarkable woman and the joy of my life.

Born with Down Syndrome, my adult niece Rita wakes up every morning with an incredible desire to go to work. She loves her job at the Coffee Shed, owned by Common Ground Cooperative in Toronto. Common Ground actively seeks to employ developmentally delayed adults. People like Rita are employed by Common Ground in real, safe, supervised businesses. They carry the title of Partner and are able to lead productive, meaningful lives. When you experience Rita’s passion for life and her big beautiful smile, you can’t help but realize how beneficial a program like this is to the individuals it serves and to the community in which it exists. The video above is entitled tells you a bit about the Common Ground Co-operative.  If you are so inclined, please donate by clicking this link Common Ground.

Rita’s Moment to Shine

Yes, a book is being published about Rita. The audience will be ages 6-9 years of age. The publishing company is Second Story Press, and the name of the book is “My Art, My World.” It is expected to be out by October 2021.

This was a book I created in 2020 as a substitute for the annual Bowl-a-thon for Common Ground. Because of Covid, the Bowl-a-thon was cancelled, which made the need to raise money even more important this year. With my sister-in-law Helen, we quickly put together this book to entice people to make donations.

We thought that would be the end of this stint. But not so. Unsolicited, we were contacted by Second Story Press, who saw the book from one of our donors by chance. Within one week, we signed a contract. The goal is to distribute the book to schools, libraries, bookstores and online in Canada and the United States. The hope is also to have the book translated for distribution outside North America. One hundred percent of the royalties will be divided between Common Ground and Dani.

We want this book to be a teaching tool for kids all around the world. Helping them to understand that there are many different types of people that are not like themselves. Through Rita’s art (that communicates so clearly how she sees life), this book will educate at an early age that there needs to be understanding, empathy, and tolerance so that everyone gets a fair shot in this world. You only have to meet Rita once to understand how special she is and how much she contributes to society. Hopefully, this book will spread this message so that others in her situation can thrive in their own way without prejudice, hatred, and ignorance.

And finally, we hope that Rita will continue to be a spokesperson and role model for those with developmental disabilities and have a career where she continues to wake up every morning with that big smile announcing, “I gotta go to work.”

For those interested in a copy of Rita’s book, please click here for pre-order sales.

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Rita Rita Rita2021-05-27T14:44:09-05:00

A Family of Four Men…

Standing, from left to right my late brother Jay, myself, my late partner Charlie Kaplan, and, seated, my late father Kelvin. Most definitely a family of four men.

A Difficult Family Picture for Me

WOW… There is so much to tell about this photo. Taken in Hamilton, Ontario at a cousin’s bat mitzvah, it ’s my late brother Jay, my late partner Charlie, my late father and myself. Together we form a loving family of four men.

My father was at the saddest time in his life. My mother had just passed away, and the last place he wanted to be was in Hamilton. He was never a good liar or an excellent bluff man, so it is easy to see through the forced smile on his face.

Even though we looked happy, Charlie and I were going through a tough time. We had decided to take a new direction in our relationship. We realized that we cared for each other very deeply, and the love was unconditional, but we were too close and needed our own space.

Finally Jay. This was right before he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Jay was a rebel who hated shoes and preferred to go barefoot. We insisted he dress up for this occasion, and this was the result. Docksiders and no socks.

All three of these men had a huge impact on my life, Each was taken much too early in life. I miss them still, very much. I miss my family of four men.

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A Family of Four Men…2021-03-30T22:50:47-05:00

Ah Yes…A Moment with My Family

The Incredible Love for Each Other

This video is the only existing motion picture footage of my mother and father together. Shot a year barely before my mother died of cancer, it’s the record of an event held in Kenora honoring my father’s decades of service to the town.

And an extraordinary record it is. Not only because it shows the great affection the community held for my father and mother but also because it captures the love and tenderness my parents shared throughout their 43 years of marriage.

There are so many unforgettable moments in this video. My father overwhelmed with emotion at being so honored by his neighbors and friends. My brother Jay’s comedic grace at the microphone. My mother’s undeniable warmth that radiates from the screen.

There’s family friend Helen Dubenski who passed away at the age of 95 just a few years ago. And my high school chum, Lana Wong who helped organize the event. There’s footage of me in my early thirties. And the house in which I grew up. And even a three-second glimpse of our family dog Kara.

A loving family, dear friends, loyal neighbors, cherished memories, this is a night I will never forget.

A Moment Using AI Technology

This video utilizes AI technology to show my parents before moving images (video) were possible. It shows my parents in their early twenties and then again in their early fifties. It’s a bit eerie and yet amazing at the same time.

The Immediate Family

This video is a collection of photos of my immediate family. I actually use it as a visual mural in my living room. The picture gallery below gives some description of the photos you see in the video.

The Nitty Gritty Details

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The End

The ones’ who taught me how to love.

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Ah Yes…A Moment with My Family2021-03-23T23:31:32-05:00

Fighting for My Life

In 2010 I was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was the most frightening moment of my life. I had just lost Charlie (my life-long companion of 28 years) to cancer, and this disease had already claimed my mother and brother. Now I was facing that same hard path … fighting for my life.

Here’s how it went by the numbers:

  • 2 major surgeries
  • 166 days in the hospital
  • 7 trips to the emergency room
  • 7 spinal taps
  • 8 weeks of chemo
  • 4 weeks of radiation.

There’s painful truth in the cancer cliché that the cure can be worse than the disease. My side effects included:

  • blood clots in the stomach
  • subdural hematoma (bleeding in the brain)
  • multiple infections
  • fevers spiking up to 104 degrees
  • colitis
  • kidney failure
  • neuropathy
  • pneumonia
  • 13 hernias
  • surgery to cover the stomach cavity with mesh lining
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • avascular necrosis
  • left hip replacement.

I fought hard, and with the tremendous support of my close friends, I am alive today. I broke the statistics of what was to be expected….dying of cancer at an early age.

The Migraine Sisters

At the top of this page is the only piece of visual art I have ever created. While I was at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center battling cancer, I took an art class (“Using the Right Side of Your Brain to Paint”). This colored charcoal was the result. I was suffering from migraines at the time, so I called it “The Migraine Sisters.”

In 2016, a friend of mine submitted my painting to a New York literary magazine. They chose it for the front cover.

Fighting for My Life2020-06-21T19:08:33-05:00

Surprising My Mother…Bittersweet

It was my mother’s 60th birthday dinner. We were at our favorite Kenora restaurant … The Kenwood Steakhouse. They served the best steaks you ever tasted.

Charlie and I surprised my mother with one thing she had always wanted, a brilliant pair of diamond earrings. You are looking at the moment she opened the box and realized what it was. She sobbed with joy for hours. Surprising my mother was bittersweet.

You see, this turned out to be one of the last happy moments she enjoyed. A few days later, she was diagnosed with cancer. And, in 10 months, she died. So the memory of surprising my mother with the earrings will always be bittersweet. A tough moment in my life.

My Three Mothers

A black & white collage I created many years ago of my mother and her two closest friends, Sharon (Sookie) Katz and Celine Hanton. Celine is the only one living at this time. Sadly, Sookie succumbed to cancer in 2018.

Surprising My Mother…Bittersweet2019-04-07T08:39:48-05:00

My Worst-Ever Voice Mail Message: The Musical

The Setup

Back in 2004, a good friend of mine asked me if I would build a computer to give to his mother back home in Ohio as a Christmas present. So, I put a nice desktop together for her. When he gave it to her, she was thrilled.

But that’s just the beginning of the story.

About a week later, I received the most horrific voice message ever left to me. It was from my friend’s mother. She was with her daughter, and both of them wanted to know, in no uncertain terms, why I had dared to put porn in the download folder of the new computer. They were, shall we say, considerably less than pleased.

So here I was with two incredibly angry women making me feel like dirt for something I hadn’t done. I had no idea what was going on. The one thing I did know is that “straight porn” and “me” in the same sentence is ridiculous.

Thankfully, my friend got on the phone with his mother explained that there was no way I would’ve done that. And, with a little bit of investigation, he discovered what happened.

You should be gardening

You see, his mother kept the desktop in her kitchen, and one afternoon she went out shopping. The gardener came in for a drink of water. He saw the brand, new computer and was suddenly thirsty for more than Poland Spring. So, he decided to stream a couple of porn movies on his downtime between pruning the magnolias. Unfortunately, he was not aware that they were also being downloaded into her download folder.

Finished drinking…

When he finished…uh… drinking, he just closed the browser and thought nothing of it. But of course, when mom came home, she decided to explore all the folders on her new computer. And, when she went to the download folder, she was swept away by a tsunami of boy/girl boinking.

When mother and daughter were given a reality check, they felt horrible. But the damage had already been done. They had already left me the most horrific message you could ever imagine, resulting in many years after that of joking, ribbing and teasing from their entire family.

My Worst-Ever Voice Mail Message The Musical

Now let’s fast-forward to 2017. I had forgotten entirely about this voice message. But my friend had not. He kept a digital copy of the recording, and to my surprise, he gave me a special birthday present. My friend just happens to be an executive producer for a well-known reality TV series, and he gave this infamous voice message file to one of his audio guys who set it to music.

Ladies and Gentlemen

May I proudly present:

My Worst-Ever Voice Mail Message: The Musical

The best part of it all was that, after they ripped me a new one in the message, mother and daughter had the chutzpah to ask me to call them back because they were having trouble opening some other word files. I breathed heavily into the phone when I did.


Okay, I admit it. I stuck this one in just to add a bit of humor in what would have been a completely intolerable dark section of my website.

My Worst-Ever Voice Mail Message: The Musical2019-01-23T16:57:18-05:00

Losing a Brother…

Jay, Charlie and Mark

So Healthy

My dear brother Jay was so alive and energetic during his life. He was never sick, never drank, smoked, or did drugs. But, at the age of 44, Jay, shockingly, died of bladder cancer. Of course, he will live forever in my memory. And because of Jay’s life and tragic death, I try to live each and every moment as if it may be my last.

A Rebel

Jay was a barefoot enthusiast who hated wearing shoes. He made sure to sign every email with the motto you see above. We incorporated a snippet of it, and his love of bare feet, into the design of his tombstone.

In 1999 Jay was interviewed on CBC Radio about being a barefoot enthusiast. When you click below to listen to that interview, you’ll see that Jay was a very funny man!

Jay, Helen and their three daughters

Jay and Lawrence

Losing a Brother…2019-02-14T10:17:29-05:00
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