Wow, Winnipeg was a blast! Its a great city to begin with and we were so lucky to experience it with Rhian, Colin, Kaya and Mahri, our old neighbours in Yellowknife but also native Winnipegers. We couldn't have had better hosts!
The traffic is fairly intense in Winnipeg and we managed to make wrong turns through some confusing intersections (they even have a bar at one corner named Confusion corner bar), so the stress has a little high when we arrived from a quick visit with another ex-Yker, Kim Philip. Beer and wine were quickly poured and it felt like we had just visited with Rhian and Colin last week, not several years ago. The girls got along great from the start. Léa and Kaya, who are only a month apart in age, connected beautifully considering they hadn't see each other since they were pre-schoolers. And with younger Mahri and older Amélie they had a great time playing as a foursome.
We did so much in Winnipeg its hard to recall everything - lets see: *tour of the Royal Canadian Mint (en francais) where we learned how they make all our coins and coins for many other countries
*visit to the Manitoba legislature were we took in a travelling exhibit on the Afghanistan war and the Canadian soldiers killed
*visit to the Assiniboine Park Zoo with a wonderful polar bear and northern research exhibit (while Steve took a slight detour to the Western Canadian Aviation museum)
*leaving the kids with a sitter and biking into town with Rhian and Colin for dinner at a great french restaurant in the exchange district (I actually felt like I was in Montreal!)
*a fun family swim at the YMCA to wait out the rain then a stroll through St-Boniface to pick up some books at the french book store and visit the grave of Louis Riel at the cathedral
*biking over to the famous Bridge Drive-in for ice cream and frozen chocolate dipped bananas
*taking in the Human Rights Festival opening concert and weekend performances for the Canadian Human Rights museum grand opening at the Forks
The Human Rights Museum is stunning architecturally... yet it is also mired in controversy. One of the reasons is that it cost in the range of $330 million. During the concert we sat near the Shoal Lake First Nation's peaceful protest. Turns out Winnipeg's drinking water comes from Shoal Lake yet the reserve has sub-standard living conditions and a long-standing boil water advisory.
I really do not know anything about the lead up to the building of the museum but I do know they did not cut any corners on the building or on the opening weekend performances - Winnipeg Symphony, Manitoba Opera, Winnipeg Royal Ballet, Verba Ukrainian Dance Company, Rusalka Ukrainian Dance troupe, Winnipeg Contemporary Dance, Winnipeg Slam Poetry, Aboriginal School of Dance, Delhi 2 Dublin, Ashley McIsaac, Marie-Pierre Arthur, Shad, Bruce Cockburn and Buffy Sainte-Marie. We took several of these in and they were fantastic, but did it need to be so extravagant? Anyway, you can research the subject yourselves and come to your own conclusions.
On our last full day in Winnipeg, after taking in the Human Rights performances, we headed back to Rhian and Colin's for a great dinner then drove to Fort Whyte Alive with the kids to watch the migrating Canada geese land for the night. It was a really cool fall experience, 100 or so folks from all nationalities gathered at a conservation area waiting for the geese to land at sunset. And as predicted, a beautiful symphony of thousands of geese appeared on cue...a great Canadian moment.
It was very hard to leave but we finally said our goodbyes until next summer in Yellowknife. After a basic oil change which lead to a radiator fluid change, transmission fluid flush and air filter change (just blew our car budget...but was necessary), we left the prairies and drove across the Ontario border to Kenora and have a great campsite facing the lake surrounded by deer and more geese of course! Today we are bound for Thunder Bay and Lake Superior.