The Ethelbert Connection

It amazes me how often you can find someone who has a connection to one of the same small towns that you do.

My dad is from a little town called Ethelbert. It’s a quaint little town nestled just east of the Duck Mountains in Manitoba, and it blows my mind to find out how many people are connected to Ethelbert in some way or another.

There are often little connections among people I meet in Manitoba, which isn’t so crazy. But it’s kind of crazy when I find connections to Ethelbert when I’m far away from home.

ethelbertschool3

Ethelbert School (2012) Photo credit: The Manitoba Historical Society http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/ethelbertschool.shtml

EXHIBIT A

I went on a family road trip a number of years ago, and we spent a couple nights in Deadwood, South Dakota – a western-style town in the Black Hills. Deadwood is a National Historic Landmark in the United States, and every day visitors get to watch re-enactments of the stories of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

We spent one of our evenings in Deadwood watching the trial of Jack McCall, the coward who shot Wild Bill Hickok. My dad was called to the stand as a “witness,” and the “prosecutor” asked him where he was from. Ordinarily, he would just say Winnipeg, or even Canada, but when he wants to mess with people, he says Ethelbert.

“I’m from Ethelbert,” he said.

“Oh, that little tiny town just east of the Duck Mountains in Manitoba?” the prosecutors said.

That prosecutor was not a person to mess with.

EXHIBIT B

This is another family trip story. This time, we were driving along the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Our next stop on the trail was Baddeck, and we had heard from other travellers that there was a fantastic dinner theatre in an old church in Baddeck. My dad called to reserve seats, and that phone conversation turned into something like this:

“Great, you’re booked in for tonight. Where are you guys from?” said the dinner theatre guy.

“Ethelbert,” my dad said.

“Oh, neat. Ethelbert, Manitoba?” said the dinner theatre guy.

“Yes!” My dad said, surprised.

“I lived there for a few years as a kid while my dad was working as a cop in the area,” said the dinner theatre guy. He was very familiar with Ethelbert.

Small town connections are crazy. There was another time on a tiny island in southern Thailand when I shared a Morden, Manitoba connection with someone – that was neat.

– Janet

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