Dedicating a Park to My Father...Not Bad!

When my father passed away in 2005, the City of Kenora changed the name of "The Harbourfront Park" to "Winkler Harbourfront Park." This was because my father (who was Mayor of Kenora for 21 years) was instrumental in raising money that was needed to build the park. The above presentation is a compilation of photographs that were taken at the inauguration of the naming of the park.

Mark Winkler - Video Moments 06

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

A Little Aside

In 2015, Kenora celebrated it's first LGBTQ Pride March of which I happened to part take in. The organizers had asked me to write a short story about my relationship with my father. This story was to be read at an event during pride week. After all, it couldn't be easy being the mayor of Kenora with an openly gay son... or could it be? Below is the story I more needs to be said...

Last year while visiting Kenora with friends on a Sunday afternoon in late June, we stumbled across an event that we decided to take part in. 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.

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 an 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.

I would be filled 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 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 still carried for my father.

And now it is the year 2016. I still visit Kenora every summer. Unfortunately, Charlie passed away six years ago 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 for his sons.

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