Did I Speak Too Soon?

My previous post was written on a cold, windy and snowy night. I thought that was the beginning of winter. Apparently, I was wrong. But other Manitoban’s I’ve talked to are pondering the same thing! They seem pretty surprised that the weather is this nice during this time of year, and I guess I’m a little surprised to, based on what people here have told me about the winter weather patterns. However, I for one, am not complaining. Not one bit. (But I did check the forecast for this coming week and it looks like it’s back to getting a little colder again)

It has been quite lovely this past week. Occasionally colder, but we’re at plus temperatures right now, which is just splendid. Friends back home asked me about the snow here, and I told them that there was some, but that the weather has been great here lately. And most likely, it probably doesn’t feel that much colder here than it does in southern Ontario.

I’m still planning on getting all my winter essentials soon enough, but feel like I can go back to being relaxed about all of this. Not that I was freaking out – just making a list of things I need! However, from my observations, the winter is a little unpredictable here. Or maybe it’s just the weather in general. I mean, I know this isn’t Alberta with the unpredictability of the weather with the Chinooks, but it’s certainly more unpredictable than southern Ontario, or even northern Ontario weather. Once winter starts in Ontario, it generally starts and is there and doesn’t go away until such and such a date and then it’s gone. Here, I’m getting the feeling that it’s a little different.

Like I mentioned before, I wrote the previous post on a cold, windy and snowy night, but then it has felt a little bit like spring this past week (at least a couple days!) and I imagine it will get cold again sooner rather than later. Oh, and what about that big dump of snow that happened in May this past year that all my friends were telling me about? Normal? Weird? Unpredictable? Am I right about this Manitoban’s?

It’ll certainly be something I have to get used to (if it’s the norm!), but I’ll take those days that feel great and warm in the middle of what should be wintertime.

The Shovel Realization

As I’m sitting on the couch and watching Sleeping Beauty on my new TV, thanks to my “Biggest Fan!!!!” and um, my Mom, I feel like I have a myriad of things to write about. Let’s not even mention the fact that there is no snow in Hamilton right now, and that two of my good friends are on the same GO bus with Sheena (from MTV Live – I LOVE HER & her Hamiltonian roots) right now. That could be ME. But it’s not. I’m not bitter at all. Oh, and let’s not mention the fact that I had a “missed connection” with a friend because I thought we were meeting at the 18th Tim Hortons, and she thought that we were meeting at the Victoria Street Tim Hortons. Alright, rant over.

Instead, I’ve been driving on what I hope is the road, but not really sure. And as I type, I really hope that I parked in the right parking spot, but who knows? It’s covered in snow. I’m hoping for the best. Who knew that Winter Wonderland would be coming so soon? Oh yeah, apparently all Manitoban’s, right. I’m officially getting out of southern Ontario mode. Northern Ontario mode, here I come. The snow is perfectly abundant there and I have driven in blizzards there before, so I should be able to survive. (I should say, I don’t know what Manitoba mode is, so hopefully I’ll learn that soon enough and get with that).

I’ve realized that I’m not perfectly prepared for winter coming so soon. I’ve been pretty nonchalant about the winter and snow coming; just putting things off. And what have I put off? Let’s just see…

A shovel: Essential for every Manitoban. I was living in luxury in my apartment in Hamilton, with wonderful underground parking – never having to deal with shoveling. And Hamilton of course has sufficient plowing. The shovel was never personally needed.

An extension cord: This isn’t needed quite yet; however, one person in my apartment complex is already plugging in their car. Give me a break! It’s not that cold yet! But in time, I will need one. Ohh how I am just waiting for the -50 weather!

A good winter coat: I’m really not ready for it. I don’t feel like it’s winter time yet. It’s only November. I have a nice winter coat, you know, one of those ones you buy at Ricki’s, but I don’t have a real one. One that will keep the cold out. For now, I’m bundling up with sweaters, and wearing my awesome cargo jacket on top.

A couple pairs of long johns: Oh yeah, I finally get to have long johns. I’ve always secretly wanted some, and now is my chance. I finally have the legitimate chance to freak out about winter and go so far to get some thermal underwear. I am personally most excited about this one.

A pair of warm gloves: I’ve noticed that my nice, sleek, city gloves are so not adequate. My hands get cold so fast. So, so fast. My poor, poor hands.

A few pairs of non-ripped jeans: Honestly, nowadays it is so hard to find jeans without rips in them. I have one pair that has no rips. My lack of non-ripped jeans is seriously not a good idea for winter (anywhere, in fact). Wait! Will they be okay if I have my sweet long johns on under them?

A doorway mat: My poor cream carpet. I’m now all of a sudden at the point of taking off my boots before I enter my apartment, and fate had it that my huge reuseable plastic IKEA bag was sitting right beside the door when I had to do that. That shall be my boots spot until I get that mat.

A pair of ski/snow pants: I’m unsure on this one. People say that if you drive out of the city a lot, then these are essential. I think these will be an “extra” thing I get if need be.

That’s all I can think of right now, but there may be more as the winter rolls on. Oh right, and then there are the things I want, like a trapper hat. Yup, I am so getting one.

So, the Winter Wonderland is here. Donations are welcome to help my cause. Does someone want to build me a “Manitoba Survival Kit”? I’d love you for it!

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P.S. I still drive faster than the average Manitoban on snow covered roads.

Has Moving Made Me More “Canadian”?

I’m definitely not one for stereotypes, but I somehow find myself being engulfed by the stereotypical “Canadian” character that so many think about when they think “Canada”. Leaving southern Ontario has certainly changed me a little, or maybe it’s just me doing my best to adapt to the surroundings. Either way, I find myself being more “Canadian” since I’ve moved to Brandon.

First, the friendliness. Generally, I think a Canadian stereotype/expectation is friendliness, and I’ve actually seen that stereotype in action here. I’ve found that I’ve had to change and adapt my ignore-everyone-one-the-street thing. I find people here just don’t do that as much, and although I can do some ignoring sometimes (and I really try my best to – southern Ontario habit), it’s harder to do since there is that small town, friendly vibe to Brandon. I remember when I was younger in southern Ontario, walking on the streets and saying hello to people; however, that changed awhile ago. People are so entranced in their own worlds and aren’t interested in interacting with people they don’t know, just to say hi on the street. It’s weird to see that friendliness in southern Ontario. So here I am in Brandon, trying to get rid of my lack of stranger friendliness and just saying hi, or smiling.

And then there’s hockey. Okay, I will admit, I’ve only been to one Brandon Wheat Kings game (they won, by the way!), but the fact that I have even been to one is a huge accomplishment. Also, the fact that I’ve contemplated buying a ticket before for other games is another big accomplishment. See, I’m not a sports person. I don’t watch any sports on T.V., so why would I want to go to a hockey game? But there I was on Friday, enjoying the game and quietly (and secretly) getting into it, although I could do without Willie the mascot, as I have the obviously common fear of mascots and anything that looks like them.

Then, Tim Horton’s. The Canadian staple. In Hamilton, I would never spend any time at Timmies. If we’d go get a coffee of some sort (usually a chai latte or a frap) it’d be at Second Cup or Starbucks. None of this plain-jane Tim Horton’s stuff. Admittedly, I spent a huge amount of my time in high school at Tim Horton’s when I lived in northern Ontario in a small hick town in the middle of nowhere, but that was only because it was literally the only thing to do in town. That, and car tag. Now in Brandon, I find myself at Tim Horton’s a lot, enjoying a coffee or french vanilla with friends.

I’m certainly not complaining about my changes since moving here. It never hurt to be more “Canadian”, even though these are just stereotypes…but they maybe have a little truth to them?

Snow: The Inevitable Happening

There are first times for everything. Yesterday was my first Manitoban snowfall. I knew it’d be happening eventually…but was hoping that it would hold out for a little while longer. Of course, all of this came when I was informed that it was 15 degrees in Hamilton yesterday, and you know, you could easily go outside without a jacket on. How nice for those people. It seems like I’m living in a different world now, that’s for sure!

You Can Always Go…Downtown

The more and more I speak to people about the state of downtown Brandon, the more hope I have for the city and it’s downtown core.

Through speaking with friends, co-workers, business owners and some other important downtown people, I’ve learned that downtown Brandon used to be a great and prosperous place. Everyone was downtown. All the businesses you could think of were downtown. It was the center of Brandon. However, over time, it fell victim to what so many other cities have experienced. The urban/suburban sprawl. This brings in two of the biggest culprits of killing downtown’s all across the country, which are big box stores and chain restaurants. People seemingly gravitate towards those things, however unfortunate.

Luckily, it seems as though there is a vision for a new and better downtown core, and it’s not all talk. There seems to be some action taking place. Talking with one business owner, he was excited about the prospects of having outdoor cafe’s and not closing down the streets come next summer. Another thing that’s happening is the McKenzie Seeds building being turned into condos, which is a great investment towards the development of downtown Brandon.

And of course, you can’t forget about what’s already downtown. Today, after strolling through The Town Centre, I spotted a retro decor shop and insisted to my friend that we go in. It was fantastic (and a post about it may be coming soon!) and the owner was more than friendly. There’s also great shops like Ten Thousand Villages and The Marquis Project. And as mentioned before on this blog, good restaurants and pubs like the Chilli Chutney and Double Decker (I’ve heard some others are great, but haven’t been able to venture to those yet). These places have already started the revitalization of downtown and other businesses I hope will follow suit.

If you’re a resident of Brandon, or even the surrounding area and come to Brandon often, make sure that you’re voice is heard. You can take a survey at Renaissance Brandon and let them know what you’re thinking about downtown and how you think it can improve.

Alright, I’m stepping off the soapbox now. And no, I’m not trying to be an ambassador for Brandon. I just love downtown’s, and I really want to see this one work!

“Manitoba’s Second City”

I always love to hunt for a cities past. Maybe it’s just because I know that there was a sense of prosperity in a different time, and a different energy you can feel through old videos or photos. Or, maybe it’s just romantical in some way. Either way, I came across some vintage Brandon stuff which is wonderful and I’d like to share it with you!

This video talks about Brandon, as well as Riding Mountain National Park and northern Manitoba.

And some vintage photos and postcards –

Photos source: The Manitoba Historical Society

Hopefully there will be more to come!