Winnipeg a worthy getaway

Canada’s frosty centre has plenty of character

There are some cities many of us travel to that would fall under the category of “necessary evils.” I’m talking about places like Las Vegas Los Angeles or Toronto (relax Toronto I’m just kidding). You know what I mean — the sort of destinations that you feel obligated to see at least once due to their high profile on television and social media.

There is definitely no disagreement on my part that the Hollywood sign the Vegas strip and the CN Tower should be ticked off your bucket list but spending a few days in Winnipeg can be just as engaging delicious and fulfilling as any other getaway you’re contemplating this winter.

In the early 1900s Winnipeg dubbed itself “Chicago of the north” because like the Illinois capital it is a major interchange for rail lines. As a result the downtown core has an undeniable Chicago-esque feel in terms of the design giving it a lot more character than many other Canadian cities. The city’s original downtown is a 20-block area with approximately 150 heritage buildings known as the Exchange District which has been declared a National Historic Site. The Exchange District is teeming with cultural experiences from several city theatres museums art galleries and of course MTS Centre (home of the revived Jets). There is no shortage of ways to occupy yourself in the heart of Winnipeg.

Whether you’re heading to the ballet or about to watch a stage production a person has got to eat. Luckily this prairie city also impresses in the cuisine category. Restaurants like the rustic Peasant Cookery tapas hot spot Segovia or culinary creative Deer + Almond offer up fare that’s up to snuff with any major Canadian city. As well it’s rare that I’d opt for a vegan burger while sitting down in a restaurant for a bite but at Boon Burger Café that’s the only option — and an impressively filling one at that. Try their “spicy boon buffalo burger” and you won’t miss the meat.

If you’re feeling extra hipster the apparel-meets-barber shop Ordnry Clothing (letters purposely missing) is definitely worth checking out. Jokes aside they carry some interesting menswear lines with a small section for women’s streetwear and if you need a bit of a trim you can stroll upstairs for a quick buzz. The barber is relatively pricey but I think we can all appreciate a “two birds with one stone” sort of situation.

The Forks is a popular public marketplace and a major tourist destination and also a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. In the past this location served as a meeting place for the country’s indigenous people and is named after the point where the Assiniboine River and Red River meet. The indoor market offers a variety of food vendors for snacking as well as an array of antiques and locally made wares to peruse.

Starting January 24 at The Forks the frozen river which is steps away from the market will play host to a pop-up restaurant Raw: Almond conceived by the owner of the aforementioned Deer + Almond. Located on the ice in a heated tent the contemporary restaurant will feature some of the city’s top chefs during its three-week run. If that’s not one of the coolest (figuratively and literally I suppose) events you could take part in during a Canadian winter I’m not sure what is.

Even with the winter chill the city’s Assiniboine Park is well worth strolling through. Right next door to Winnipeg’s zoo the park’s sculpture garden has more than 300 bronze statues created by sculptor Leo Mol whose recognizable works can also be seen in other major cities like Ottawa and Washington D.C. The art is truly captivating. After taking some time to walk the grounds I felt a little jealous that our own city did not have something comparable.

Last but not least the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (set to open this fall) just outside of the downtown area is an architectural feast for the eyes. Though the content of the museum is still being hotly debated the completed exterior is beautiful. Like most government expenditures on architecture some people complain this is a “big waste of money” but not unlike our Peace Bridge I assume said individuals will be eating their words once the museum’s ribbon cutting takes place.