Winnipeg may not be the most well-known city – it is guilty of making their mention on the television show The Office a newsworthy event – but c’mon, this city bred Neil Young. Do your homework CBS.
Like all relationships, I have a complex love/hate dynamic with Winnipeg. I love the smoldering summers, quaint big city vibe. I am also fully versed in the Manitoba way of going to socials, eating ‘nips’ at Sals, wearing Jets attire whenever (and wherever) I feel like, Folk- Festing in the summer, and of course… drinking slurpees.
For the most part, Winnipeggers live up to the “Friendly Manitoba” slogan; we are down to earth, helpful whenever possible. Kris Doubledee is a great example of a compassionate Winnipegger.
It is also interesting to note that Manitobans are not perceived as ‘farmers’ or ‘cowboys’ the way people from Saskatchewan and Alberta are often viewed. I like to think we have a more elusive, undefinable identity.
Stereotypes aside, Winnipeg is misunderstood. When I met other Canadians who have never been, they tend to view the city as a small town, or give me that ‘Oh.. I’m sorry [you’re from there]’ reaction. Americans either draw a complete blank, or are unable to generate an opinion beyond, “it’s cold?”
It is actually the 9th largest Canadian city and in my opinion, one of the most interesting. However, many feel it isn’t worth discovering. I admit I am drawing conclusions, but a handful of Canadians that I met told me they would rather visit Toronto or Vancouver when travelling cross-country, especially when flights are all within the same price range. Why go somewhere they know nothing about, when they could parade around bigger, more metropolitan cities?
I’m tired of people viewing us as a tiny, insignificant place. If the rest of Canada, and tourists from around the world would take a break from visiting the most “popular” cities – they may realize Winnipeg is a hidden gem, an enriching adventure waiting to happen.
What sets Winnipeg apart for me is that it’s diverse and cool. By ‘cool’, I mean a trendy, fun place, with a lot to offer in terms of culture, history, and education. The amount of creativity here is astounding, with great filmmakers such as: Guy Maddin and Deco Dawson (Dawson just won Best Short at TIFF), musicians including the obvious: Neil Young, BTO and The Guess Who, but I see many emerging and local bands including: The Revival, The Bokonists, and Inward Eye who can rock it just as good as the pros. Of course we have plenty of other notable personalities, artists, writers, athletes..(Check out Wikipedia for the complete list.)
Our football team may need a bit of work…
The city recently received a glimmer of recognition when Osborne Village was voted ‘Canada’s Greatest Neighborhood’ by the Canadian Institute of Planners. For anyone who has never been, Osborne is a bustling area dense with: hipsters, shops, pubs, and tattoo parlours. The stores have a wicked selection of vintage pieces, handmade jewelry, cute dresses (which always seem to be on sale at Hush..), and of course trendy mega market American Apparel provides their well known array of colourful clothing.
Kawaii Crepe and Un-Burger are two unique restaurants that have recently upped the “cool” factor of Osborne with hip decor and a delicious menu selection. Great to Instagram. #HungoverSunday anyone? Osborne is also a guarantee for a good night out. The Greenroom, Big Dancing, and The Cheer are solid go-to bars.
Although, it should be noted that Winnipeg is far from perfect. It has issues. A high murder rate, construction almost everywhere during the summer, mosquitoes, some dangerous areas.
But I think the city’s main problem is the open disrespect it receives. It sometimes seems to be part of the Winnipegger identity to boast about a desire to leave, but in reality, we all know it is not that bad. We have a lot of things to look forward to such as Ikea opening soon (November. 28th), the Human Rights Museum, new Bomber Stadium, and Victoria’s Secret – yay!
Remember it could be worse, we could be in Saskatchewan… (Kidding.)
I think I’ll stay awhile.
All photos courtesy of “Wpg guy”