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.
Only Two Pictures Exist. Really!Mark Winkler2019-11-22T22:16:58-05:00
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.
Happiest Moments for Charlie and My Parents…Mark Winkler2019-05-23T23:55:19-05:00
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…
Dedicating a Park to My Father…Not Bad!Mark Winkler2020-08-29T16:24:28-05:00
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 8-12 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 September 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 whereby she continues to wake up every morning with that big smile announcing, “I gotta go to work.”
Enjoing my website? Why not take a moment to sign the guest book?
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.
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.
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.