For this month, the Winnipeg River Arts Council features writer Ron Neufeld. Born in Calgary, he has also lived in the United States and British Columbia. Neufeld’s background is in the construction trades. After retiring in 2013, he moved to Vancouver Island where he began taking creative writing courses at the University of Victoria. In September of 2018, he moved to Pinawa, in order to be closer to family living in Winnipeg.
Since then, he has wasted no time jumping right into the lively arts scene in Manitoba. He has attended the Eastern Manitoba Concert Association’s performances and author readings at McNally Robinson’s Bookstore in Winnipeg. He also volunteered to help with set-up and takedown at Mary’s Wedding (the Theatre Projects play in Great Falls), signed up for the memoir writing classes offered by Winnipeg River Arts Council at the Lac du Bonnet Library, and recently agreed to serve on WRAC’s board of directors.
Neufeld grew up in a family of storytellers – refugees from the Ukraine who settled in Calgary after World War II. His earliest childhood memories are of Sunday evenings lying on the living room carpet listening to his parents, their friends, and especially his grandmother share stories of unbelievable hardship, suffering, and loss. But he also heard stories of resilience, hope, resourcefulness, and love.
In 2007, together with his father, he wrote and self-published his memoirs. Neufeld says, “These tales told by immigrants were often infused with laughter and so I learned that tragedy and humour are not incompatible.”
His constant companion is a Border Collie-Great Pyrenees cross named Magnus and he loves exploring his new community with his canine friend. He writes daily, both short stories and memoir, inspired by the beauty of the Whiteshell Provincial Park and the artists who live along the Winnipeg River. He cares deeply about nature and the environment, and wants to explore this topic in greater depth in his artistic work.
He says, “Landscape and how it shapes us is an important theme in my writing.”