Saturday, November 7, 2009

Life and Times in the Peg

Magnet # 86: Downtown Winnipeg Drawing

Material: Plastic

Purchased By: Tammy

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day Winnipeg was incorporated into Manitoba in 1878. I've never been to this city before, so I did a little online reading to find out more about it. It's the capitol of Manitoba, the largest city in that province, and is located in its southern areas. Winnipeg is a pretty flat city with no hills and its temperatures are in the extreme highs or lows. The coldest it's ever gotten there is negative forty-five degrees Celsius. Heck, I'm freezing when it's that cold in positive numbers. I just don't know how they do it. But Winnipeggers have a long history of making do through tough times.

The French settled this area in the 1700s. It continued to grow, but didn't really take off until 1881, when the Canadian Pacific Railway came to the area. After that, Winnipeg experienced rapid growth, and diverse groups of individuals moved there, giving the area a unique multicultural nature. But when the Panama Canal opened in 1914, it took a great deal of business away, as it was no longer necessary to travel by land over Canada, or any other country, to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific. When the Great Depression hit the area, it only made matters worse. After World War II had ended, optimism soared in the city and a housing boom began. But it was short-lived. In 1950, the Red River flooded the city, devastating it. Four bridges were destroyed and although there was only one death, 100,000 people were evacuated, the largest amount in Canadian history. Not long after that, they were hit with a polio epidemic. Finally, in 1981, Winnipeg underwent a grand-scale redevelopment of its downtown area, a move that brought in businesses, residents, and tourists. Nowadays, Winnipeg is doing well again, with a highly diversified economy. It's known for murals that decorate buildings all over the town, and Hollywood has even come to town over the last decade. Films such as Capote, Shall We Dance, and X2 all shot in parts of the city. Unfortunately, it also has a great deal of crime, so much that it's been given the nickname of "Murder Capitol of Canada." Hopefully, they can overcome this, as the city seems to have earned some prosperity through all the troubles they overcame in the twentieth century.

If you're ever in Winnipeg, be sure to stop by their own local chain, the Salisbury House Restaurant. There, you can order a nip, their term for a hamburger (apparently the founder didn't like the word, and decided his patties are more nips of Salisbury steaks). They've also got their own version of the hotdog, which they call a winni. The restaurant itself is nicknamed Sals, and they have 20 locations, some of which are open 24 hours a day. Looking at some of their offerings, I can definitely tell this cuisine is a departure from what I'm used to seeing in the Southern United States. Sal's Supper Specials include dishes such as liver and onions, veal cutlets, and shepard's pie. I guess the locals need hearty meals to deal with the cold Winnipeg temperatures. Perhaps their most interesting location is at Esplanade Riel, a side-spar, cable-stayed bridge that is for pedestrians only and is one of only several bridges in the world that features a restaurant. Diners there can enjoy the unusual locale as they take in beautiful views of the Red River. Sounds like a pretty cool experience to me. I might have to pass on the liver and onions, but if I ever have the opportunity to visit Winnipeg and take in all the city has to offer, this place would be a must on my list.

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