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Fri Jul 20 2012: Winnipeg

Crossing over from Ontario into Manitoba on the TransCanada Highway we experienced a drastic change in geography. Gone were the irregular shorelines of Lake of the Woods, which in itself is quite spectacular when seen from an airplane. You can get a sense of this from the map above: the lake covers over 950,000 acres and has over 14,000 islands with over 30,000 kms of forested shoreline!

When we crossed the provincial border, it was like emerging from a forest into a wide open field. A field about 1,500 kms long... We had wandered out into the Canadian Prairies! We call it The Gap, that space between Ontario and the Rockies.

The Market at the Forks

Just the other day, at the Terry Fox memorial in Thunder Bay, we were talking to a guy from Winnipeg and we asked where to go in the city. He replied, "The Forks". Having no idea what that was, we punched it in the GPS and were pleasantly surprised to find a nice little touristy area located in downtown Winnipeg, at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red River - hence "The Forks".

Closeup of one of the structures surrounding Oodena Circle.

At one of the stores in the market, we overheard from the shopkeeper that there was a pow wow happening in the afternoon at the Oodena Celebration Circle, which was an open-air arena just outside the market. It was built by the city to host aboriginal and other cultural celebrations. "Oodena" is Cree for "centre of the city".

Participants in brightly coloured traditional attire!

We stayed for quite a while at the pow wow listening to the rhythmic drumming and hypnotic chanting and watching the many different tribes come together and dance around the circle. It was a feast of colours, and Neda remarked that we had lived in Canada for so long, but here in Winnipeg was the first time she's seen First Nations people so interwoven into the city and culture.

I found out later that we had actually visited The Forks on National Aboriginal Day, which was a pretty big event for Winnipeg. Some other shots of the Pow Wow:

The Forks was built on a site that was originally (and still is) a meeting place for the last 6,000 years. It was a popular spot for trading between early aboriginals, European fur traders, Metis buffalo hunters, etc. all the way to current day stores selling curios to nomadic motorcycle riders. :)

Human Rights Museum under construction at The Forks

Walking the Espalanade Riel
A bridge just outside The Forks
Named after the city's founder, Louis Riel

Thumpin' the doghouse!

I think what I'll miss most while being on the road is playing music. As far as entertainment goes, we don't watch any TV at all, but we did treat ourselves to an IMAX showing of The Dark Knight Rises. It was ok... I was very sad to hear about the tragedy in Colorado at the movie opening. These days, I get most of the news via social media, as I'm updating our pictures and blog online. Although we're seeing the world one small piece at a time, I'll have to be more diligent on keeping up with what's happening on a broader scale.

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