Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Northern Living Series:

Joel A Scott // Winnipeg, Manitoba


02 / 08 / 17




In our third interview for the Northern Living Series, we hear from Joel Scott, an author born and raised in beautiful Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here he speaks on his city's incredible cultural diversity, the bounty of hockey rinks and snowy day "courtesy" tows....



Background: I have lived in Winnipeg (or as it is known "Winter-peg, Mani-snow-ba") for all but 4 years of my life. During those years, my wife and I moved away to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Interestingly enough, the funny thing about moving away (and this is typical of Winnipeggers) is that when a person moves to another city, more often than not, they move back home. This is exactly what happened in my case and we are now raising our young son here.

On embracing cultural diversity: 
I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that keeps me in this city, as it isn’t as simple as saying there is one thing. There are so many things that Winnipeg has going for it. The city is diverse, bringing cultures of all kinds together. It is here that Winnipeg differentiates itself from other cities like it. I would strongly argue that Winnipeg embraces all of its various cultures. Look no further than the hundreds of ethnic restaurants that it offers.

Outside of its restaurants the city is well known for the music, art, and entertainment scene. It truly is unlike anything I've ever seen before. On top of that, the city recognizes its heritage and as you walk around downtown, you can’t help but notice is beautifully aged, yet perfectly preserved architecture, some of which are a few hundred years old.





On humidity and windchill: Winnipeg is unique in the sense that the temperature fluctuation from the hottest point in summer to the coldest in winter is very drastic. On a hot summer day the temperature will reach 35◦ C (95◦F) and during the winter the temperature can and will dip down to -35 C (-31◦F)Of course, neither of these temperatures is taking into account humidity or windchill. If you were to add in the humidity in the summer, the temperatures can easily get to 40◦C above. Conversely, if you were to add the windchill in the winter, the temperature can reach 45◦C below.

On Shifting Into High Gear: Winnipeg and winter activities are synonymous with one another. It may not be obvious, so I don’t dare make assumptions, but Winnipeg is known for hockey. At any point in the winter, a person can pass any one of the 200 hockey rinks and see two teams of 6 or more using them.

Outside of our favourite pastime, the city does a great job of creating activities. From the annual “Festival Du Voyageur,” the largest annual winter festival in Western Canada, to the citywide rivers that are maintained as ice ponds for public skating, there are no shortage of things to do. While most cities shut down as winter shifts into high gear, Winnipeg seemingly gets a second breath of life and becomes one of the liveliest places in Canada.




On getting out: Typically, I can be found in any one of the many coffee shops in this city. As far as my favourite coffee shop goes, I can usually be found at Espresso Junction. It is found inside the Johnston Terminal at one of Winnipeg’s staple attractions, The Forks. The Forks is a Winnipeg landmark where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers junction. The Forks is the home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, as well as many other attractions. At any given time of year, you can find an eclectic assortment of people at The Forks.

For a bite to eat, I tend to make my way back to Sana SoupHouse downtown and Nu Burger. Both offer delicious meals that you just can’t find anywhere else in the city.




On Winter Driving: Winnipeg has a population of approximately 730,000 people. While this may seem small in comparison to other “big” cities, it is a good size for Winnipeg. It keeps the traffic jams and congestion to a minimum, but I suppose logistical problems can be the most challenging thing about living in Winnipeg. In the winter, after a blizzard, the roads become very difficult to navigate. On occasion the roads become so treacherous that the highways shut down for the safety of the population. 

Aside from travel, any year where the winter doesn't want to end can also prove to be a little challenging. Not so much because it seems to last forever but more because you can’t help but think the longer the winter goes, the shorter the summer becomes!




On "courtsey" tows: After a large snowfall in Winnipeg, the city puts a residential parking ban on. This means that if a road area is a part of the ban, you must move your vehicle off the streets during the time allotted for snow plowing. If you choose not to, the city may tow you car away. Knowing this, some choose to chance their luck. 

During an evening out, a friend of mine decided that he would chance parking his car on the street during the parking ban. Unfortunately, when he came out later that night, his car was missing. In this instance you can usually call the local impound lot and find your car. With a taxi ride followed by a simple payment, you can have your car back.

In his situation, he received what is called a “courtesy" tow. Rather than sending the car to the impound lot, a “courtesy" tow has your car moved a couple of streets down. The problem is that you have no idea which street and in what direction your car is located. It may not sound like fun to look for your car when it is cold out and that's because it's not. However, anyone that has experienced it and now watches a friend go through it, can't help but smile. 

On keeping feet warm: Many people in Winnipeg opt to wear 'Sorel' boots in the winter. Imagine knee-high boots, insulated more than any boot you have ever looked at, designed for one purpose and one purpose only…to keep your feet warm. Aside from Sorels, Mukluks are also very popular. Picture a soft boot made out of either sealskin or reindeer skin, lined with fur. They come and go with trends, but never fail to provide warmth to your feet.




On summer 'stay'cations: I try to vacation only during the winter months if possible. Don't get me wrong, I love the winter, but there is no way I am leaving this city in the summer. Winnipeg has some of the most beautiful summers in the world. On top of that, leaving in the winter provides a nice break from the cold. 

When we leave Manitoba, we spend half of our time travelling to a tropical destination for pleasure, and the other half of our time to another part of the world where we can do some good. Thus far, we have visited the United States expansively, as well as Mexico and Jamaica, and are set to go to Rome and Ethiopia later this year. When I vacation for pleasure, I look to travel to places that I haven’t been to and that offer a wide range of culture. I think that if you are going to travel the world, then you must experience something that you are unfamiliar with. 



Thank-you Joel! You can find more from Joel at joelascott.com.

P.S. The Northern Living Series: An American In Sweden, and A Homestead in Nova Scotia

2 comments :

Sarah said...

Very interesting! Looking forward to seeing some of the sites Joel recommended when I'm in Winnipeg next week!

JackieK said...

I lived in Southern Manitoba for a couple of years and visiting Winnipeg was a highlight. We went to an amazing Caribbean parade and festival, a CFL game where my cheers for the visiting team were met with a chuckle from those around us, and to the races. Not to mention city shopping.
A 90 year old woman I know in Kingston arrived in Winnipeg during a cold spell and was interviewed in the airport regarding her visit. 'I love Winnipeg,' she declared'and would move here if it wouldn't upset my children'.