Men’s Retreat Memories Ten Years On

Men’s retreat

Last weekend I was at Manitoba Pioneer Camp for a men’s retreat organized by some of the men at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church. I had been with this group once previously, when they invited me to be the speaker. I talked about food and eating together(I’m nothing if not consistent, or unwilling to change topics, you decide).

Cinnabon buns on the Men's retreat Breakfast table.
Breakfast cinnamon buns at the Mens retreat

2023 Men’s Retreat

Philip Blain, who is featured in the portion below sent me the post I had written after my last men’s retreat. It turns out that this year marked the tenth anniversary of my last retreat. The post I mention at the beginning of the last section is lost to the vagaries of time and the internet.

One constant on the men’s retreats is the great food. Sharon Steward the head cook at Pioneer Camp is a Red Seal chef, who brings a great deal of cooking talent along with teaching ability to her role. Although she was unable to be at the camp this weekend, it’s clear that she has trained the rest of the kitchen staff very well.

Last time I went, I tried fishing, with a measure of success(see story below). This time around my attempts were not nearly successful. Still I had time to relax, to do some reading, and thanks to switching around table at each meal, a chance to get to know some of the men that I hadn’t really met before.

We had one learning session. Jesse Kraus, who leads the Riel Gentlemen’s Choir talked on how music is made and built. Jesse is also, along with his brother, the man behind The Dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, which I reviewed during the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

All in all it was a very good way to spend the weekend.

Men’s Retreat 2013: A fish tale

This post is originally from 2013. Thanks to Philip Blain for retrieving it for me. I’ll try and locate the pictures that originally went with this post.

Gone FIshing

In my last post I wrote about my experience as a reluctant camper. If I’m
a reluctant camper, I’m an even more reluctant fisherman. I think I’ve
been fishing two or three times in my life. There’s only one occasion I
really remember though. That was when I was about 10 or 11 and I went
with my parents and a couple of my brothers.

We choose a small river near our then home town of Prince Albert
Saskatchewan. At the end of the day our final total was 17. That wasn’t
the number of fish we caught, that was the number of leads and lures we
lost. Not surprisingly we didn’t do much fishing after that event.
So, like camping, fishing hasn’t been a regular activity in my life.

Saturday afternoon, however, I decided I would give it a try. In all
honesty, all I hoped for was to get through my time fishing without
sticking a hook into the ear of one of the guys who were fishing with me.
In the end there were three of us who were fishing. Eric who’s a Deacon
at St. Margaret’s, Philip, who recently returned to Manitoba after many
years in New Zealand and who had been a camper at Manitoba Pioneer
Camp over 50 years ago. Lastly, there was me.

Eric brought his own rod, but Philip and I were using equipment provided
by MPC. Pete Dearborn, the camp’s executive director helped get me
set up and before he left reminded me to allow the any fish I caught to
play itself out on the line. I thanked him, but I thought I was as likely to
need the advice as I was to need advice on how to behave in front of

More Gone fishing

Sure enough about 10 minutes in, I felt a tug on my line. At first I thought I had snagged my line on an old boot or something. However, the tugging persisted.

Turned out I needed Pete’s advice. I let the fish play itself out a bit and then reeled it in. My first ever catch. Philip and Eric were kind enough to deal with it once I got it to land. As a group we off and running.

Next it was Eric’s turn. We went back and forth in our positioning for alittle while. This changing worked out well, and a few minutes after I caught mine, Eric reeled in one.

The Big Fish That Didn’t Get Away:

This left Philip as the only member of our group without a fish. While we
were fishing, he said he had seen a big one close to shore. It had almost
taken the lure, but in the end it hadn’t. Still we were in a good spot, and
in a couple of minutes Philip had his catch.

Then it got interesting. The big fish returned and decided that it too,
wanted the fish on Philip’s line. So a battle ensued, and the big fish just
wouldn’t let go. That was a big mistake, for in a matter of moments,
thanks to great teamwork between Philip and Eric, we had not one but
two extra fish to add to our haul.

You may not be able to see it well in the picture below of the two fish in the net, but the one with all the fish together shows how the big fish stayed clamped on to the little fish.

That’s where the cautionary tale comes in. The big fish was so focused
on grabbing the little fish that in the end it became the prize catch.
Sometimes you just need to let go.


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