German connections, a great article, and more

Here’s a few things we’ve been working on behind the scenes:

:: Last Thursday’s meeting with neighbours and lantern walk friends, making our to-do lists over baked apples, cider and wine.

:: At the meeting Jana told us about the St. Martin lantern walks she joined as a child each year in Germany. She’s going to try to translate some of the lantern songs from those walks so we can sing some at our walk.

:: A lovely article by Martin de Groot in the Record about the lantern walk and lantern making workshop

:: Sarah Granskou told me about her idea for making lanterns with mason jars and wool roving. Her lanterns last year were stunning! Bring a wide mouth mason jar to the workshop if you have one.

:: Mount Hope Breithaupt Neighbourhood Association, Extend-a-Family and Cocoon Apothecary offered to pitch in funding towards the artist fees at the lantern-making workshop. We’re thankful for their generous support.


Lantern making drop-in

Are you wondering what kind of lantern to bring to the lantern walk? If you want to make your own, we’ve just finalized the details of an upcoming Lantern Making drop-in on December 10 from 3:30-7pm, at the Extend-a-Family WALES building 91 Moore Street. Come join us, and bring some friends. Crystal and Liam from Trash Theatre and neighbourhood artist Sarah Granskou will help us transform tissue, fabric, broom sticks, and other salvaged bits into lanterns. Bring your own wide mouth mason jar to make a felted jar lantern with Sarah.

Sarah Granskou lights some of the lanterns she helped make for the 2013 walk.

In the meantime, I’m going to dig these tissue paper lanterns we made last winter out of the attic, so my four year old and her friends can start playing “lantern walk” again.

Getting ready for this year’s Lantern Walk

Last year’s lantern walk happened in the midst of the ice storm, postponed by two days and still icy, on December 23.


This year we’re hoping for snow. In the meantime, here’s what’s we’re working on:

::  A choir has formed, to sing us along our way

::  Julian drew another sweet lantern-holding child for us

::  We’ve hatched some plans for lantern-making, including a December workshop

::  Our friends at Extend-a-family have offered to help deliver flyers and even walk the route beforehand to make sure all the sidewalks are clear.

::  The Mount Hope Breithaupt Neighbourhood Association is looking into whether we can get the streetlights turned out. It will be a new moon, so the star-gazing could be wonderful.

Is there anything you would like to help with? Let us know.

Lantern Walk today!

Come…when the dark is here.
To take a spark from someone near.
To light the night with a choir of flames
Come…and be glad you came

– Sarah Granskou

We’ll hold a scaled back version of the Lantern Walk today for brave souls willing to venture out.

Meet on Hett Avenue today (Monday December 23) at 7pm for some hot apple cider and the soft glow of lantern light.

Wear boots with good grips, and bring a sled for young children who might slip. Hett Avenue has no large trees, so falling ice shouldn’t be a concern. We’ll probably keep the party on Hett Avenue, unless we collectively feel up for a walk around the block.

Share the Warmth

There will be a table ready on Hett Avenue, all ready for your lightly used coats, scarves, and boots – all items of clothing that we can bring with us as we gather for the neighbourhood Lantern Walk.  Our own bundling up for the weather in anticipation of our walk on the 21 of December will remind us that these warm clothes are welcome.   “You can bring children’s clothes too,” said the person who answered the phone for Salvation Army when I called on behalf of the Lantern Walk  to find out more. “They are really appreciated.”

So bring those kids’ boots and coats if you have them, especially if you think another child can still get good wear out of them.  Just pile them up on the table when you arrive.

Share the Warmth is a project that has been running in the community for some time.  A person who wants to pick up a coat or boots this winter may be on ODSP.  They may be in a minimum wage job.   They may be a refugee family who has heard about the program through the network of agencies and word of mouth in the community.  After the Lantern Walk, one of us in the organizing group will take the clothing and boots down to the Salvation Army’s 300 Gage Avenue, where the items will be sorted and put on racks.

If you have questions about this, contact the Lantern Walk volunteers.

– Christa Van Daele

The old Pinke Street neighbourhood

Yes, the Pinke Street neighbourhood. I was surprised too.

Last week I asked local historian rych mills for some neighbourhood history. Most of the volunteers who are working together to organize this Lantern Walk have lived in the neighbourhood for less than 10 years. I was hoping for some details that would help animate the streets we’ll walk with our lanterns, including Hett Avenue, Wilhelm Street, Ahrens Street, and Blucher Street. Within days rych had dug up an old article written by David Kowalksi in 1989 for the Waterloo Historical Society annual volume.

David’s father grew up on Wilhelm and Blucher Streets in the 1910s and 20s. Back then, Weber Street stopped somewhere around Wellington. Until Weber Street was extended in 1956, Pinke Street ran from Wilhelm to Guelph Street, creating the Pinke Street neighbourhood. It’s the area we’ll be walking this Saturday, December 21st. Here’s an image from the 1989 article:
Pinke Street 1989 homes WHS#77 1989Kathryn Lamb 300 dpi

As an aspiring gardener, and with such role models as Little City Farm right around the corner, it was neat to read about the Pinke Street area’s rural roots:

Urban life in pre-depression Kitchener was often rural in character. Many homes kept chickens and pigs in their backyards. This was true of the Pinke Street area. Many good-sized gardens were set among fruit trees to help supply the homeowners own food. The housewives preserved, canned and pickled the surplus produce to tide their families over the winter months. My dad fondly recalls butchering days as a neighbourhood event.

And here David describes winter fun on Hett Avenue, (the street where we’ll be starting and finishing the Lantern Walk), but before Hett Avenue existed.

My dad recalls that ice skating was readily available during the cold winter months. A local resident, Feldie Schmidt, maintained an outdoor rink in his backyard for a number of years. A flat fee of five cents was charged each skater. The site is now present-day Hett Avenue where it intersects At Wilhelm Street.

And a description of the people who first lived in this neighbourhood, when it was developed in the early 1910s and 20s.

…although the North Ward was generally associated with Polish residents, in fact, in the Pinke Street area there were more German families, with some Polish to round out the ethnic make-up. Names such as Schott, Schmidt, Schultz, Westfall, Ott, Bierwagan, Rainhart, Brenner, Psutka, Kunda and Kowalski helped compose the area residency.

David also offers some rich details of the area’s industrial history, with small factories to be found on almost every street.

One of the reasons I’m working on this Lantern Walk is the idea of people connecting around simple gestures. Holding a candle in your hand. Bringing it out into the cold and dark. Greeting strangers. I’m grateful to David’s reminiscences for reminding me that we also build community through learning more about who we have been as a community. David’s family’s roots in the Pinke Street neighbourhood are now, in a small way, my roots.

“Pinke Street Revisited,” David J Kowalski’s nostalgic personal memoir, appeared on pages 63-68 of the Waterloo Historical Society’s annual volume 77 (1989) . Excerpts are printed here with permission. The publication can be seen, with photos, at the Grace Schmidt Room of the Kitchener Public Library, 85 Queen Street North. For more information on WHS visit

– Sarah Anderson

What kind of lantern should I bring?

Last year, we had a small neighbourhood lantern walk, on a night that was crystal cold.  There were some gorgeous homemade lanterns then, which seemed to me like fairy tale creations in the dark as we all moved slowly down the street, getting to know each other.   There was wind and ice, all of it guaranteed to make you feel fully Canadian, braving the elements in the days before Christmas.  There were friends I knew, and people I enjoyed meeting for the first time in the indoor gathering afterwards.  How often do we move around in the poetry of our lives in this way, in the wintery dark, with our families and friends?

There are lots of ways to think about a lantern walk, and I’m learning that basic lanterns are welcome too. Your lantern does not need to be a fairy tale creation.  Lots of folks simply carry the lanterns they have around the house, whether of humble Canadian Tire origin or something fancier from Lee Valley.  I myself carried a brass lantern stamped with the word Dietz on it, a friendly old lantern that our family has taken pretty well everywhere.

If you do want to  get creative with your lanterns, sign up for one of our lantern-making workshops on the morning of December 21st where we’ll be making classic paper lanterns and cloth and stick creations.

– Christa Van Daele

Giant Brushes and Pots of Glue

There were five women gathered at Sarah’s dining room table.  We were friends and neighbours in the Mount-Hope Breithaupt area, near Weber.   I was one of them.   I headed over there at 8:00 pm, a week ago.  The idea was to cover up balloons with swathes of tissue paper, dry them out, trim them up a bit, and turn them into enchanting lanterns.   Our plan was to get ready for the lantern walk.

“Who’s going to have wine?” Julian asked.  It did not take long in the evening before the jokes piled up in hilarity. It could be we’d all been instantly bewitched by the smell of the glue.  I applied the fun glue liberally to every part of the balloon in my hands, starting with shredded turquoise blue tissue ribbons to resemble, I thought, the earth viewed from far away.  Luiza’s stories about the effect of Elf on the Shelf on her children had me laughing a whole lot while I created my sopping wet earth balloon.

It was hard to imagine, laughing away with the glue on my hands (my fingertips had turned a vivid turquoise blue by this point) , that the wet glue and soaked tissue paper that we had encased the balloons in would transform into magical storybook lanterns.  Sarah assured us with the steadying words of experience this would, in fact, happen.

To prove the point, she showed us a flickr photo of some lanterns that children had made. There they are!  On the sticks! Looking beautiful!  And they are not even lit yet! Here’s our finished product and instructions on how to make them. The light in the round shapes throwing a glow-like effect in the dark can be as stunning as stained glass.  That’s the whole idea.

– Christa Van Daele