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I’ve always wanted to experience my hometown for the first time – as someone who has never even mumbled the words, Minnedosa.
I want to drive around the bend on highway 10, expecting to see another long stretch of passing lanes and hydro poles, only to have the prairie sky seep into the seams of a valley.
With one eye on the road and one eye down below, I would gaze at the little houses wrapping themselves around the winding river’s edge, their windows twinkling like the opening scene of a movie.
For adventure’s sake, I would turn on my blinker and break-free from the highway. As I zig zag my way into town, I’d noticed how the houses go up and down the steep streets like they do for the hills of San Francisco.
I’d find my way to Main Street, with its storefront awnings and brown brick buildings, the hills looming above, giving a picturesque backdrop to the worn down potholes and post office.
A sign would point me to the beach where I’d sink my feet into cold sand and feel the last of the sun’s warm rays on my face. I’d watch a boat pulling someone on skis and hear the shrieks of kids in a paddleboat. Across the water, the shoreline would be crammed with quirky cottages and weathered docks. I’d see the beginnings of a bonfire.
The people around me would start to pack up their foam noodles and shake the sand out of their towels. I’d pull myself away from the pink sky and head back to my parked car. While driving back down the beach road, I’d get another glimpse of the river and the town surrounding it. Lush and alive. Warm and welcoming. An oasis. An escape.
I’d leave the way I came. My car climbing the highway out of the valley, leaving behind the glow of diners and dive bars.
And with each grain elevator I passed and Eat-More bar I ate, all the small towns would start to look the same – square, flat, with not a lot to flaunt. They’d blend into one another like blurry memories from a long time ago.
Behind the wheel, my mind would wander back to Minnedosa and I’d spend my night wishing it was up around the next bend, waiting for me.
Winnipeg: Canada’s foot fungus.
Winnipeg: Lock your doors. Protect your meth.
Winnipeg: Just stay on this side of Portage.
What have people told you about Winnipeg? It’s colder than Mars. It’s the murder capital. There’s too many mosquitos. Never heard of it. That’s somewhere in the middle, right?
This city is a punching bag. But I think it’s actually the people from Winnipeg who throw the hardest blows. We can’t say anything nice about where we’re from. And ten or fifteen years ago, I could understand why.
Growing up, Winnipeg seemed like and looked like an absolute dump.
There was nothing happening, no energy, and everything was painted shades of brown or bright teal. I told myself as soon as I’m out of high school, I’m out of Winnipeg.
Well after I got out of high school (barely), it turned out I couldn’t even get out of mom’s condo. But coincidentally, and luckily for me, that’s when this city found its pulse.
The best part of Winnipeg is today.
This city has been given an enema of culture, arts and energy. Sure, blame it on the Jets coming back. But I don’t care. The point is, Winnipeg’ has heard all the naysayers, internally and externally, and answered back with a 1919 soaked voice saying “we’re great. Fuck you.”
Our restaurants can hang in any major concrete jungle town. Our arts and music is influenced by the rainbow of skin tones making up our population. And contrary to everything you’ve been told your entire life, there are a million things to do here. If you think otherwise, you need to get your thunder thighs off the couch and see for yourself.
But despite our newfound groove, the world still thinks we’re a shithole. That’s because we aren’t like the city’s everyone talks about. We don’t pretend to be a bedazzled, all-accommodating, dentless metropolis.
We aren’t bragging, because we don’t brag.
We curated this city, and we made this change, for us. And we’re the ones who are going to enjoy it. I mean Christ, we put up with enough drooling prairie bullshit for this long, what do you expect us to do? Just continue living in a dump?
The next iconic, soul-filled city is here. Right in the middle of the continent.
Winnipeg is great. You’re just afraid to tell anyone.