When I was aged 6 to nearly 9, my family lived in Manitoba. I remember these years as the happiest of my childhood. The weather in Manitoba is extreme: the coldest winters with snow drifts higher than your head, and humid sticky summers where the mosquitos hover around you if you so much as breathe too heavily, let alone try to eat a popsicle stick (for my Aussie friends: icy-pole). We lived in a small neighbourhood called Mitchell, minutes from Steinbach and about an hour from Winnipeg, the capital. My dad was going to seminary so we lived in Mitchell for three years while he was doing that.
I think I enjoyed my time there because I had quite a lot of freedom to roam around on my bike and make forts in the bush. I had a great friend named Amy Costen in grade 1 who was my favourite friend and so I was rather distraught when her family moved away the summer in between grade 1 and grade 2. Happily, we kept in touch through letter writing and eventually emails and nowadays Facebook. We sometimes have years in between communication, but every now and then we update each other on our lives.
It was Amy and her husband Chris that we had the great fortune of staying with while we visited Winnipeg. We hadn’t seen each other in person in 18 years! Here is a photo comparison for your viewing pleasure.
Amy was the best tour guide and host ever! She took us on adventures around Winnipeg, and we did several of the top things suggested by the city of Winnipeg. We took in a free ballet performance in Assiniboine Park, we visited the zoo there as well and fell in love with the (rescued) polar bears on exhibit, we rode our bikes to the Forks (where the Red River meets the Assiniboine River) where there is a great tourist market and where you can find good coffee. Actually, the coffee we’ve experienced in Manitoba has been the best in Canada so far! We also got to roam different neighbourhoods of Winnipeg, marvelling at the beautiful tree crowned streets and all the flowers people are proud to grow. We saw the gardens at the park, Callum enjoyed the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, we went to a couple of cathedrals and a couple of markets, we visited the Royal Canadian Mint (where Canada makes not only its own coins, but coins for over 70 other countries) and we spent one day visiting my old neighbourhood in Mitchell and even found the very house my family lived in! It was quite funny because I remembered the street but not the house number, so while we were cruising around, I called my mom and asked her. She remembered that it was a small grey house. Callum had happened to park in front of a small grey house. “Was it 62?” I asked. “Yes! It was 62!” said Mom. Imagine that. It was very surreal to stand there and to visit the corner store (still a small-town corner store selling cheap candy) as well as my old school. Everything looked so much smaller than I remembered it….especially the big round rock which we were all kings and queens of in grade 1.
The day we said goodbye to Amy and Chris we went to Fort Whyte and saw some bison. Then, we drove and drove and drove allll the way to Saskatchewan. I will finish this post by saying Winnipeg has a lot more to offer than you might imagine. It’s quite artsy and has a lot of options for cafes and eateries. It seemed like a very liveable city to us…in the summer, that is. I’m not sure you could convince me to move there though because I remember those long cold winters. I was very happy to visit it though.