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.

Harbour front dedicated to Mark Winkler's father 2

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.

Mark Winkler's dad eating 2

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.

Mark Winkler at Kenora Park during Pride Parade

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

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