My dad passed when I was fresh eyed, ready to take on the world. At a time in my life when I was about to learn how to tie my own shoes and grow a plant in a Styrofoam cup. I had just entered kindergarten. To my providence, my maternal grandfather, stepped in, and filled up most of the space where a father should have been.

Next Sunday is Father’s Day, an occasion to celebrate the men in our lives who have helped to shape us. Inclined to title this piece King of the Grill, I am not too far removed to know the role of a father figure encompasses so much more than an open flame and a pair of barbeque tongs.

This Father’s Day, instead of buying yet another tie, why not honour dad with something uniquely Winnipeg. Think wooden signs, bird houses, growlers! Create an experience for dad and treat him to homemade pizza or a table for two on your favourite patio. Buy him a certificate to have his oil changed or take him on a trip to your favourite Manitoba destination. Get ice cream, chat about whatever makes him feel like a king in his own right.

This year will likely be celebrated on a smaller scale, although dads tend to be pretty low key in general, as we think about broad shouldered men who wear tool belts, dole out the wisdom and don whiskers. Think too about the ways our fathers have adapted to change. How they are no longer the sole guardians of home maintenance and yard care.

While we are more familiar with mom’s mental load, the role fathers play today has expanded. No longer the traditional provider, men are free to embrace whatever makes them feel like royalty. Here’s to the brawn and humility, the bad jokes and fish caught. Here’s to the men who taught us how to drive standard and hit a baseball. Clarence Budington Kelland said, "MY FATHER DIDN’T TELL ME HOW TO LIVE. HE LIVED AND LET ME WATCH HIM DO IT."

 Here’s to all of the father figures in our lives living well.


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