Defending Winnipeg’s Honour

I’ve spent the better part of the past three months trying to buy a specific model of midi keyboard. Through the course of my journey I’ve searched local stores, ordered twice online from different places, become familiar with what’s popular in on-hold music, and even sent photocopies of my driver’s license to verify my address and identity.

The entire fiasco was a mess. I still haven’t managed to get the midi keyboard, and for now I’ve resigned myself to the seemingly impossible challenge, but that’s neither here nor there. I just wanted to share my frustration as I use this sentence to smoothly transition to my main point.

During one phone call to a retailer in Toronto, at the climax of my failed quest to obtain a midi keyboard, I encountered a woman who was pleasant and competent with a shrill but kind voice.

What made this woman memorable to me was a comment she made about her impression of Winnipeg.

“I’m from Toronto but I was traveling through Winnipeg by train, and I was not impressed. It was a Saturday morning, and I got out and looked around downtown and it was empty. It’s nothing like Toronto, and I was not impressed,” she shared. (Mind you I’m paraphrasing, but I cannot stress enough that she was not impressed.)

I’m ashamed to report that I sheepishly mumbled about downtown undergoing revitalization, before giggling nervously and making mention of Osborne and Corydon.

I’m not trying to make an excuse for my cowardice, but, I was trying to talk this woman into providing me with a full refund, and so I had to be gentle.

If she hadn’t been holding my credit card charge ransom I would have, of course, defended Winnipeg’s honour ruthlessly, and in hindsight I really wish I had, I really do.

Visitors don’t seem fond of Winnipeg—especially Rob Lowe—even some residents seem to resent Winnipeg.

I remember a night when I first moved to Winnipeg. I was standing in line with my brother to get into a bar. I was eating my tangerine and trying to look sober when I somehow found myself defending my decision to move to Winnipeg—a group ahead of me that had grown-up in Winnipeg felt I’d made the wrong decision.

At the time, the defense of my decision was lead by alcohol and the whimsy of being in a new place, but now having lived in Winnipeg for two years I can say with confidence that it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I cannot grasp why Winnipeg has such a bad reputation.

Winnipeg can get cold (but not unbearably), there are no mountains or skyscrapers, and the streets aren’t always swarming with people, but it is anything but a dead city.

It’s filled with easygoing people that keep it alive, and a seemingly never-ending array of festivals and events, good food, and enough culture to keep running from January to December.

Sure Winnipeg isn’t a metropolis like Toronto, it isn’t exceptionally beautiful like BC, nor is it cultural to the extent of Quebec – but it has also never claimed to be any of those things.

If anything Winnipeg’s claim to fame has always been friendliness, and that’s very impressive for a city to rely on its people to foster its identity.

I really wish I had said something to defend Winnipeg to that woman on the phone.

Having had time to think of a comeback I think I would have said, “Hey woman, I lived in Toronto and you know what? I wasn’t impressed, that’s why I moved to Winnipeg!”

2 Comments on "Defending Winnipeg’s Honour"

  1. Great article. I feel like since I moved to Winnipeg from Victoria, I’m constantly defending my decision — not only to my family and friends at home, but even (especially!) to people I meet in Winnipeg. I can say for certain that I’ve had a more exciting, busy, and culturally diverse summer than I ever would have had in Victoria. And more than enough in terms of beautiful architecture and landscapes. Maybe the Winnipeg winter will have me missing the grey, temperate west coast. But I’m already excited for all the new festivals, outdoor activities, arts, and concerts to keep me busy even when it’s cold. And I will actually see the sun! I’m so happy to be here.

  2. The people are friendly and we have lots of musicians. Compelling arguments, indeed.

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