Why I hate Winnipeg.

My last post, in which I stated my hatred for Winnipeg as a means to vent and get some weight off my chest, ruffled some feathers. I received a number of private messages and comments on different social media sites by Winnipeggers (some of whom I know and some I do not) defending their home, sweet home. While there were some folks sending positive energy my way, I wanted to address the folks who took offence to my comments by providing some context.

Before we begin, I do find it a little bit funny that a city’s people, who spend a lot of their time crapping on this place, jump immediately to its’ defence when an outsider says the same things. Well… guess what, everyone? I live here now. I’ve had multiple years to form my opinion. If I was going ever to think it was defendable, I would have thought so by now.

Here we go.

First of all, Winnipeg isn’t pretty. People’s defence of it with the words “Manitoba is beautiful” doesn’t hold weight for me. Most of Canada’s provinces are breathtaking if you can travel across them. Manitoba, compared to the other provinces I’ve been to (which is more than half them), isn’t special. In fact, for scenery and overall beauty, it’s literally last on my list so far.

Cap off everything I just said with the fact that that’s a conversation about the province as a whole, and not Winnipeg itself, then you get where I’m coming from.

Winnipeg (the city in which I spend over 98% of my time) is not beautiful. It’s dirty. It’s grey and dreary. It lacks overall colour and personality. My PERSONAL theory as to why that may be is tied to my belief that Winnipeg is a city without a purpose, but that’s a different conversation (sort of).

The food in this city, overall, is not great. Just because there are a lot of places to eat, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the food is any good. I will give you the point that what Winnipeg lacks in overall food quality, it makes up for with the variety of options to procure it. Obviously, there are a couple restaurants that are exceptions to this, but that’s a common theme in more or less any city.

On the cold front (see what I did there), I love winter. The cold doesn’t really bother me. I’ve never been shy to say that I’m from Halifax. Halifax at -25ºC is less bearable than Winnipeg at -40ºC. The length of the ‘deep freezes’ here is difficult to deal with, granted. That said, all in all, winter here isn’t as bad as the hype would have you believe.

I’m not born here. I don’t have a pre-existing love or hate for Winnipeg. Actually, if you had asked me before I moved here to name any significant cultural contribution Manitoba has to offer, I wouldn’t have been able to. I’m fairly certain most Canadian kids (outside the prairies) learn very little about Manitoba because nothing really happens here.

Unfortunately, one of Manitoba’s strengths economically (the fact that it doesn’t rely on any one particular industry) is one of its weaknesses in regards to enticing outsiders to come live here and feel excited about it.

Folklorama is something I love about Winnipeg. It lasts 2 full weeks, and I try to get to as many pavilions as I can. But it only lasts 2 weeks. I’m not a festival goer, so the plethora of festivals in this province don’t appeal to me personally, but you could argue they’d be an attraction for other folks.

So I do stuff, I get around, and I try new things. It’s just not usually as good as I’ve experienced in other places.

I realise there are other cities or towns in Canada that would be worse than Winnipeg for me. But I’m not stuck in one of those places. I’m stuck here. I’m unable to leave Winnipeg based on the circumstances of my personal life.

For a guy with no deep or personal ties to Winnipeg that knows he will never be able to escape, can you see how this would feel like a prison without the walls and bars?


5 thoughts on “Why I hate Winnipeg.

  1. Pingback: Positive energy. | MarkAdam.ca 

  2. Here’s a message from Cliff. Cliff is a fellow Winnipeg resident. He doesn’t care for sharing on social media for a number of reasons, but he asked me to post his message here.

    Have at it:

    I’m coming out swinging fully in favour of Adam here.

    I Hate Winnipeg in the same way that a close relative hates another close relative. That is to say, I *love* Winnipeg, I just don’t like it very much right now. At all. The dude’s an asshole, really.

    Again, in the same way, a person can struggle against their relative (blood, or in Adam’s case, marriage) as long as they want. They can give that relative all kinds of slack, attention, olive branches galore, and still be spurned. They can call that relative out in a fully justified circumstance and end up the Bad Guy just because they rocked the boat (or Ox Cart as the case may be).

    This kind of forced relationship begs for conflict. It incites conflict. It is the most infuriating kind of conflict for both participants and observers because both parties are completely right and utterly wrong.

    Sometimes, this kind of conflict can be remediated through shared hardship and toil, other times it splits a family. I take Adam’s side because while lots of people are offering sympathy and support (good on ya), more are coming down on him with Victim Blaming and outright “Spirited Energy”-driven hostility.

    Well, I’m from Red River, Assiniboia, Winnipeg, and I’ve got his fucking back.

    First: The Passage

    Winnipeg is a drab, desolate expanse of blue collar suffering and urban sprawl. It’s a grey- brown, muddy shade of concrete cast against a blue sky. In winter, It’s the same with a sloppy coat of plaster scattered roughly, piling up until it decays towards spring in yet another new shade of brown. The splay of ice adds depth of contemplation as you navigate its narrow sidewalks until with great hubris you glance inwardly, say “I’ve got this!”, search longingly between the buildings for that rich gradient of opal blue, only to slip clumsily and avoid an oncoming SUV trying to catch that yellow light.

    In the Spring, after the last unwanted cacophony of snow and rain (slain), it’s Dogshit Season. B*b**n’s gnarled fingernails cling to the boulevards as the passing season’s dregs of sand and salt encase the final scraps of snow in an earthen coffin. A big “Fuck You” is given to the budding trees, eager wild vines and medicinal plants (commonly regarded as weeds) ache to breathe. Landscaping professionals grind away and destroy their bodies, freeing precious turf grasses from the certain death laid upon them by months of futile ice mitigation, while judiciously destroying the ‘weeds’ which we used to use in healing, hoping to avoid a dreaded, and demoralizing complaint.

    The curbs are uneven. A Power Broom drinks ‘Mix’ like a seasoned alcoholic and spews gaseous death in rebuke. A comfortably positioned individual deigns to disembark from his Owner’s Ship and in the same breath, praising the Outdoor Janitor whose lungs are filled with Winnipeg’s Worst turns to casually remark “You missed a spot”.

    A pedestrian walks by, trying to drink in the newly refreshed air, finally gazing into the open sky searching for that opal blue near the horizon of their childhood. “Aww…” they exclaim, dropping heel onto turd. “Fuck.” Another day ruined.

    Winter is fucking hard here and dominates our psyche as such, though It’s not the worst winter available, it’s just ‘blah’. ‘Blah’ is way harder to contend with than ‘Awful’, because ‘Awful’ can be reasoned and dealt with. ‘Blah’ merely informs anxiety and continuation of habits.

    ‘Awful’ is a Polar Bear who doesn’t like you right now. ‘Blah’ is a thousand weasels, gnawing at your tendons for fun.

    Second: “Sombody Else’s Problem”

    It’s the City (workers). It’s the Cops. It’s “The Natives”. It’s “Them Colonial White Pieces of Bread”. It’s the “Chi-Uh-Neese”

    No, it’s you.

    It’s all of us. It’s Winnipeg, because if you want a nice place to live you have to *make it fucking so*. Very few of us even make an attempt, because stepping out is hard, standing up is worse, and voicing your opinion gets one stoned to death unless one has a massive backing of friends and family willing to vouch for you.

    This is not a social dynamic unique to Winnipeg, but it reinforces the idea that Winnipeg is a small town with the aspects of a city, rather than the inverse.

    There are pockets of genuine good will, but they have to be sought out. They will not find you. The cliques will not hold the door open for you until you’ve done it for them tens of times, or better, hold a voucher for entrance.
    This needs to be changed.

    Third: Long Term

    We have a hard time with this. Long, and hard.

    From our failing infrastructure, to our half-assed-motor-centric city planning, to our half-baked social goals and aspirations, to our ‘intentional/ unintentional’ ghettoization of racial/ cultural groups, Winnipeg is not prepared for the establishment and maintenance of a next-generation community, or next-next-gen cultural identity.
    We can’t even get equivalent water and road service to all communities.

    If you look at the base facts and figures of Civic treatment of Winnipeg’s population BY Winnipeg FOR Winnipeg, it’s no wonder that a new adoptee might look around and wonder “Where the fuck is my family?”.

    For those Winnipeggers who look at Adam’s articles and say “Fuck him, he should learn to love it/ accept it/ go somewhere else/ go back where he came from, I say

    Fuck *You*.

    Why aren’t you making him feel welcome and supported?
    Why aren’t you joining the City’s work force to be a better city worker?
    Why aren’t you being a better driver?
    Why aren’t you painting your house a different colour?
    Why aren’t you, as a restaurant owner, taking his experienced criticism and pushing yourself to a higher level?

    Why aren’t you cleaning up you dog shit?

    I love this town, but I don’t like it very much right now. I’m sure I’ll come around in time, but not unless each of us pull our own goddamn weight.

    Recognizing and being humble about our own faults will help.

  3. I left Stonewall, Manitoba as soon as I was old enough to make the break. Funny, I never thought I’d miss it. Now, I live on Prince Edward Island with my little east coast family, and I wish I could go back.
    The grass always seems to be greener, doesn’t it?

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