This is my first time in Winnipeg. It is located in the province of Manitoba, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. It is named after Lake Winnipeg, which is Western Cree for muddy waters. Often called the gateway to the west, it is also a rail and transportation hub. It is both the capitol and largest city of Manitoba.
Once the third largest city in Canada, the city faced financial difficulty when the Panama Canal opened. Why? The Canal reduced reliance of Canada’s rail system for international trade. Vancouver became more important, for shipping population, and prosperity. Winnipeg is barely over 700,000 in population.
Winnipeg has a broad economic base, with trade, manufacturing, education, and health care. The Royal Canadian Mint here produces all circulating coinage since 1976. A number of Hollywood movies were made here, The Winnipeg Jets are the NHL hockey team here.
Famous people, from Manitoba, might be difficult to find. Samuel Bronfman, Keanu Reeves, Monty Hall, Paula Abdul, S. I. Hayakawa, David Steinberg, like I said, not many.
But what am I going to do here during this brief stop? Did you know that Hudson Bay in Manitoba has the largest population of beluga whales? During the winter, Winnipeg has a pop-up restaurant, RAW-Almond on the frozen river. Winnipeg is also home to the world’s second largest Icelandic population, and hosts the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba every August.
Manitoba is known for bison safaris, but selfies must be taken at your own risk! Perhaps second are the bugling elks, found at Riding Mountain National Park. That said, one often quoted tourist in Winnipeg says, “When you arrive in Winnipeg, you have four directions to choose from. Three of those suck.”
But it appears Winnipeg is overlooked by tourists and Canadians alike. Sort of like Toledo, Omaha, or Pittsburgh in the U.S. I found this, however: “If you are coming to Winnipeg, try to come during one of our many festivals. In February you can marvel at ice sculptures, eat fresh maple toffee, and dance to the fiddle at Festival Du Voyageur. In June don’t forget to check out the Jazz fest, held at local venues around town. July is always a busy month with the Winnipeg Folk Festival – five days of folk music and general craziness – and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival – Canada’s longest running fringe. In August you can journey around the world with Folklorama. During Folklorama the many ethnic communities of the city rejoice in their own unique culture and put on cultural performances and feasts of local cuisine at various pavilions around the city.”
Most obvious is the outdoor nature of this area, with summers bringing long sunny days for camping, fishing, and festivals. Summer also means about 3000 beluga whales make their way here!
If I ever come back, I would head up to Churchill to see the Northern Lights again. You?