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?