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Louis Riel Day Picnic

Updated on February 19, 2017
The Forks, in Winnipeg, will be teeming with people on Louis Riel Day, but they won't be having picnics.
The Forks, in Winnipeg, will be teeming with people on Louis Riel Day, but they won't be having picnics. | Source

Louis Riel Day 2017

Government offices in the Canadian province called Manitoba, are closed on Monday the 20th of February for Louis Riel Day. Riel was executed in 1885 for his fight for Metis people.

Most workplaces will be shut but having picnics is out of the question because it is winter. However, neighbours that get along with each other can rent a community hall and have a winter 'block party'.

The following blog is an old one, but it addresses how to plan for picnics and cleaning up after yourself, especially in public parks. Be kind to the environment.

Fall Picnic

People living in certain parts of Africa or Asia do not understand the noise about the summer and outdoor events such as picnics because they live outdoors all year long.

North American countries such as Canada on the other hand have long winters, that is why summer is a big deal. However, it is a bad idea to restrict picnics to just the summer.

The fall also presents opportunities to have picnics and enjoy the food in season, such as pumpkins. Kids love the outdoors, so let's make picnics a 365 day affair.

Labor Day Weekend Bring Own Plates

The environment should be a priority when planning summer cookouts, especially if your family is having it at a provincial or state park. The organizing committee should not buy any paper cups and disposable plates at all, instead encourage friends and family to do the following:

  • They should bring four bone china plates each.

  • Bring their own dishcloths for the washing up afterwards.

  • Bring bowls small kids use at home.

  • Bring favourite coffee mugs and at least two real glasses

This is not much. It can fit in a small basket and the environment will be better for it.

Boil or roast chicken.  Serve cold with carrots and beans salads.
Boil or roast chicken. Serve cold with carrots and beans salads. | Source

The Summer Family Cookout

You will have a fantastic Labor Day Weekend cookout in Canada or the U.S. because you are planning already, to avoid mishaps.

The family’s annual picnic has fierce competition because most kids have alternative families on Facebook and Twitter and the internet in general.

They’ll attend the picnic for sure, but instead of bonding with cousins from Vancouver and Atlanta, they might be on their Samsung or iPhone updating their feeds, ‘Bored out of my mind fam cukout.’

We don’t want that do we? That is why planning is the key, if families want to keep the summer cookout tradition lively.

Face to face meetings to decide who will buy the charcoal, make the fire, bring salads, games, meat, fruit, water, etcetera must be ironed out in someone’s house or local restaurant. Out-of-town family members? No problem. You can bring them in via Skype.


  • Organizing the family cookout is a business meeting so we need an agenda. Family members should phone in or send emails about what they will discuss at the brainstorming meeting. Maybe you should not do that on Facebook or Twitter.

  • A re-cap of last year’s cookout is a must. What worked? What didn’t? How many bread rolls did you throw out? Did the green salad wilt away because nobody was interested? Who fought with who? It’s family, so there’s bound to be some drama. How can that be prevented this time around?

  • Venue/Location. Traditions vary. Maybe it’s always held at the family home because of the big backyard and grandparents of course. It is the only time they see everybody under one roof or porch. Maybe the cookout is held at second cousin Samantha’s house because most family members live in apartment buildings.

  • Flexibility won’t hurt you. Be open to suggestions to maintain family unity. The cookout could be held at the local park for example (provided you get there early to get a nice spot under some trees).

  • Division of labour will be the main focus of the meeting. I know Uncle George has always made the fire, but does he like to do it or just forced by tradition? Grandma Jones makes a mean sweet potato pie. Your sister’s perogies are to die for, but must it be the same food every year?

  • Family members must volunteer to be coordinators or come up with names: music coordinator, video coordinator, grill, drinks, salads, kids, games, looking after older relatives and so on. I find 10 year-old kids and younger very receptive to responsibility. They think it is fun to show people where to park their cars or look after elders at family outings.

  • The meeting should also consider the family’s health, without compromising favourite menus. Eat well does not mean eat to freeze your arteries. Kids are also a challenge because they have a sweet tooth.

  • How much money will it cost this year? Contributions? Some family members had a great year playing the stock market and would like to donate $2,000 instead of the set $300 per head. This however, should not give them the license to call the shorts.

  • Drinks. We can’t avoid that, even church cookouts have some beer, wine and vodka hidden in the punch. Is it bring your own booze or they’ll be a budget for that?

  • The drinks’ coordinator must make sure that you have enough cooler boxes. Get extra from the camping store or Canadian Tire. You also need them for ice.

  • Soft drinks for the kids should include fruit juices and bottled water.

Spice-Up Cookout/Picnic

  • Find some tents or canopies from Sears or Walmart. Use them as serving islands, a canopy for the grilled meat, one for salads, one for drinks and another one for dessert.

  • We need an umbrella coordinator. Every car should have an umbrella because you know it’s going to rain after a lovely summer day.

  • Is the meat ready yet? I’m starving. The food coordinator should get the kids to walk around with plates of finger food such as wings, fish fingers and sliced apples.

  • Be kind to the environment. Use wet dishtowels to clean your hands after munching that last bone. You can have a big basin where people rinse the dishtowels.

  • Hire an artist for the day. Family members can sit quietly and have the artist draw their faces. You’ve seen them in Paris and other cities where they draw your picture.

  • Do you still have family albums full of photos? Ask family members to bring them. It would be fun looking at vintage clothes and tired hairstyles.

  • The music coordinator should tell everyone that music is on rotation. There’ll be time for old school, new school and we don’t know what school this is music.

  • Cell phones have the video option but it would be great if the video coordinator uses a digital video camera.

  • Adults always have their card games. The kids’ coordinator must come up with original games which will include grandparents. Remember, they are children at heart.

  • Have prizes for most games or the best Pharrell hat, the best dance, the best table tennis player, the list goes on.

  • Clean-up. Show the kids how to sort garbage into cans, bottles, left-overs, plastic bags and potato chips’ wrappers.


  • Meet after two weeks and view the cookout video.

  • Who will host next year’s cookout/picnic?


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