This past Wednesday, we packed up the rest of our belongings, sorting through what we could part with for a year and what would join us on our travels. We cleaned, we packed, we said good-bye…to some. Then we drove into the sunset….well actually, we drove away from the sunset and headed east to Manitoba, where Soren will be spending the next year of his life.
I had been dreading the drive across the prairies for sometime, so my husband was gracious enough to agree to drive through the night. A road trip just isn’t a road trip anymore when you have small children. While Ben might disagree, I would say it was the right way to go as the kids slept the whole way and we arrived in Winnipeg around 8:30am, just in time for breakfast.
Winnipeg is truly a beautiful city in the summer. The temperatures have been up near thirty which means no bugs, with a cool breeze to keep us sane.
The city has a very unique milieu, one that I have not appreciated up until this trip.
The first fort was established by French settlers in 1738. They thought that Winnipeg would be the Chicago of the North and a major centre for trade because of it’s central location. You can see the pride in the buildings and the major european influence. I am still baffled how people can live in it’s winter climate of consistent sub-zero temperatures but as our friends tell us, it makes them appreciate the summer all the more.
I have heard before of the vibrant arts culture and it is evident in all areas of the city. After a day of recovery we went for ice cream at BDI and crossed the river and took a walk in the Kingston area.
I could have walked for hours just admiring the homes here. Most of them are Colonial or Georgian style but once and a while you will get something a little different. You almost forget that you are in Winnipeg…well, I suppose not, if you knew that this is what it was like. Obviously, the further out of the city centre you get the less heritage you see but that is even the same in a city like Cambridge.
The next day we took a drive down to The Exchange, which is a historically rich area of downtown filled with funky shops, restaurants and cafes.
Around the first corner we stumbled across an outdoor concert. People were gathered on the lawn as they ate their lunches and enjoyed a little break from their workday.
We hit up the Toad Hall Toy store and then the Red River Book Store:
The shelves…and floors were filled with used books on any subject imaginable. And after as much time perusing as the children would allow us we went across the street to “The Line Up” for lunch.
As we ate I was continually taken back by the preservation of history in this small city. While Vancouver has Gastown, it is out of the way and just one part in the midst of modern buildings. There is a distinct air, and I am not just talking about the occasional stench of sewer that makes downtown Winnipeg unlike anything I have seen in Canada.
I was especially taken back by the amount of advertisements painted on the side of the turn-of-the-twentieth century brick buildings. Around every corner, more than I have ever seen before, the signs are colourful and unique preserving the city’s history.
After naps, we headed out again, but this time to the other south side of the city to Assiniboine Park. With picnic in hand we laid out our blanket amongst the large crowd gathered to see the Ballet in the Park. As a dancer, Winnipeg was known as a time of mecca for Ballet dancers. There was a girl in my class that had auditioned for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and let’s just say it was a big deal and obviously something I have never forgotten.
I’d be lying if I said that I had never dreamed of seeing my little girl on stage in a tutu and delicate pink slippers. And while I haven’t given up on the the hope, I know it probably just won’t be as I had originally pictured.
On our way out of the park we hit up the children’s garden. It was well equipped to get the wiggles out and then we headed back to the house. All it all, a absolutely fabulous day!