While life is getting more settled here in Brandon (even with a million things up in the air), I’m becoming more comfortable being here and not always telling people that “Oh, well, I live in Brandon, but I’m from Ontario – just moved here”, or something along those lines. A lot of people I’ve worked with or met DO know that I moved here from Ontario, but I sometimes mention my education, or mention some logistical things while filling out forms that may be different, etc.

Truthfully, I am becoming more comfortable with the idea that Manitoba is my home now. Of course, I’m always thinking about my next adventure and where it may take me (meaning, I HAVE already thought about where I’m moving next, preferably overseas). But while thinking about that, I thought, “Wait, I’m finally calling Manitoba my home. I haven’t even lived here for a year…but there’s a wanderlust spirit in me that wants to go and explore and work and live in other places…”. It’s a confusing time, for sure! I will certainly be staying here for awhile, I just never know how long. But the point of this is that it makes me stop and think, because I don’t know if I want to leave “home”.

So, the novelty is finally wearing off. It’s becoming normal and good being here. That’s probably why there is a lack of blog posts, to be honest! Manitoba will always have it’s quirks, and I intend on posting about more…but I don’t feel as alien here anymore. I’ll always be “from Ontario” in some sense, but now I’ll be “from Manitoba” as well. I can’t wait to confuse people with my life when they ask me where I’m from! It was hard enough having two hometowns in Ontario…


Getting Lost in Winnipeg

I recently flew out of Winnipeg to Ontario. My friend and I decided to go in the night before and stay at a friends house for the night. Needless to say, we had a crazy time, without intending it to be. We got lost. We had Thai food. We met Confusion Corner. We got lost again. Oh, and again. Oh yeah, and we almost got in a car crash (summer tires…) And you know, we experienced that city vibrancy that we’ve been missing. Here is a photo document of that night.

First, we hung out downtown for a little.

I loved that there were snow sculptures all around the city!

So after hanging out downtown, we were on our way. We accidentally ended up at the Forks. It wasn’t even intentional! I had never been there, and even though there was no one there and it was dark and snowy, I could tell that this place is awesome! And I found some Ontario type things while there…so I couldn’t resist…

Okay, then we got lost again. We went looking for our friends place…and we ended up on the other side of town. However, the great thing about getting lost was finding a street sign that bore my last name!

We FINALLY made it to our friends place, and of course, her place just happens to have an elevator. In the house. This is not an apartment building. Proof below.

Needless to say, our evening in Winnipeg was full of fun and adventure – most of it being unintentional! I can’t wait to get back to the city. Many more adventures to be had!

Louis Riel Day? A Brief History.

I support statutory holidays, even if I don’t know anything about them. Ontario has Family Day, some weird put together holiday just to get another stat holiday for the year. Now here in Manitoba, it’s Louis Riel Day. I’ve heard of this man here and there in the classroom, but don’t know much, to be honest. In fact, I’ve heard from a lot of Manitoban’s that they don’t even know that much about him. I decided to brush up on my history today and learn all about the man who gives us a well appreciated statutory holiday.

THE MAN: Louis David Riel, born October 22, 1844, near modern day Winnipeg. He was from a prominent Metis family, and was interested in the priesthood during his younger years, and attended a seminary in Montreal before his father’s death in 1864. After that, he was less interested and became a little rebellious and was asked to leave the seminary. He returned to the Red River Settlement in 1868. Riel was described as a fine scholar and gifted student, but a little odd and moody.

THE ACT: Things were getting messy here in Manitoba, or what would be known as Manitoba eventually. There were “eastern” interests and the influx of Anglo’s in the area increased tensions and anxieties among the First Nations and Metis people. Needless to say, stuff happened to create lots of unrest and Riel wasn’t putting up with it. Riel and others seized Fort Garry. They created a provisional government, and were so not letting Canada take authority over them and the land without any discussions.

Many people, even Anglo’s, were in support of Riel and what he and others were doing. However, the “pro-Canadians” were plotting against the provisional government during this time and in the end, one of them, Thomas Scott, was executed by firing squad. Lovely.

Then, the provisional government made their way to Ottawa in March of 1870. These talks between the provisional government and MacDonald led to the Manitoba Act, which created the province of Manitoba as a part of Canada.

THE AFTERMATH: There was a bounty on Riel’s head. Awesome, right? So, he had to flee. This was the effective end to the Rebellion. Riel fled to the States. But just because he was there, didn’t mean that his popularity disappeared. Even though he wasn’t even in Canada during election time for the Manitoba seat in Parliament, Riel was elected. Of course, that didn’t exactly work out and he was kicked out when he showed up in Ottawa.

The following years were interesting for Riel, with visions from God, and questionable actions like tearing his clothes off all the time. His mental state was certainly questioned at the time.

THE RETURN: Riel, with the request from others, mobilized another rebellion-type action in Saskatchewan (or, what was the North West Territories). He tried the peaceful way, but of course that didn’t work out. Things got violent and the government certainly wasn’t pleased. More troops were sent this way, and in the end, Riel surrendered.

We all know what happened after that. Things were looking down, and Riel was hanged for treason on November 16, 1885.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It’s so incredibly interesting that Manitoba chooses to celebrate Louis Riel. Certainly during his life, he was despised by the majority of Anglo-Canadians and was considered insane by most, and some to this day think he was a nutjob. And of course, he was executed in the end for his actions, yet remains to be the prominent founder of Manitoba. Oh Manitoba, how you intrigue me. In the end, I will gladly take a day off in Riel’s honour. And I mean, how cool is it to be a part of a province where the prominent founder was as hardcore and awesome as Riel?

My First Manitoban Birthday

To say the least, I was partly dreading my 25th birthday (there, I said it. 25th). However, as my loving Ontario friends reminded me, I always dread my birthday. It has something to do with being the first one out of my friends to reach a certain age and making life more dramatic by being dramatic about it. This birthday was no different, although this one is certainly more of a milestone. Maybe the drama was appropriate? Anyway, the other reason I was dreading it was because I couldn’t spend it as I normally do. Two or three parties with my different groups of friends, epic planning and epic decorations filling my apartment, and of course, the epic THAI dinner, which I couldn’t have here in Brandon, because Thai food doesn’t exist here unless you cook it yourself. (Side note: Can we petition for a Thai restaurant here in Brandon?)

To say the least, I was planning on spending my birthday alone, or at the most with one or two people. I know, SAD. In the end though, that’s not what happened!

Things started off with an amazing dinner at the one and only Chilli Chutney. If I can’t have Thai for my birthday dinner, then Indian will always be my second choice. I went with three of my friends and it was great! By the end of the meal, we had decided to go to one of the nicer places in town, Echo, for dessert. It was convenient to me because one of my friends works there and we had wanted to go visit her on her break anyway. Little did I know that “convenience” to me was actually a plan all along…

We got to Echo and the few of us were seated at a very big table! I was thinking, hey, we don’t need this, we can sit at a smaller table. But we sat down anyway, and then…all my friends started rolling in! I couldn’t believe it! A surprise birthday celebration just for me? Being surrounded by friends was great!

So in the end, my birthday wasn’t as sad or lonely as I thought it would be. I still missed my usual celebrations with my Ontario friends, but came to understand the friendship and love I have here in this province. Thank you friends for surprising me and making my 25th a great birthday.

I Heart Manitoba

Sometimes while writing this blog, it seems as though I talk about some of the negative things or weird things about Manitoba. I try to express that I’m not trying to take a stab at Manitoba, but it may not come off that way. Isn’t it funny how it’s always easier to critique rather than share the love? Well, I’ve realized that, so this post is dedicated to the things I love about Manitoba!

1. I love my friends from Manitoba. I know, total cop-out for this one to be first, but it’s true! I have made some of the best friendships right here in the friendly province. I don’t know what I’d do without some of these people in my life. They ground me, on many different levels, but I can just as easily let my hair down with them! You all know who you are 😉

2. I love the sky. The sky that goes for miles and miles. This morning as I was walking to my car, I just looked in awe at the sky which had streaks of pink, blue and orange in it. Going for miles and miles. Because of the landscape (nature and urban) in Ontario, you simply don’t get to see the sky in this way, and it’s such a bonus to living in the Prairie’s!

3. I love the genuine friendliness. I recently started a new job, and with what it is, I was expecting people to hate their jobs and hate each other. Nope, I was wrong. Everyone is too nice and friendly. Too supportive. Too helpful. It’s mind-boggling to me, but I love it! I think Manitoba has certainly earned the title of “friendly”.

4. I love the intentionally tree-lined streets. I first found this when I came to Manitoba for the first time about 7 years ago to Boissevain. What beautiful streets! The trees were canopies over the streets and were just perfectly lined up. It’s the same way in a lot of towns here, as well as many streets in Brandon. It’s just gorgeous. I wish this existed more in Ontario!

5. I love how much money I save living here. Yup, you heard it. I love it. Insurance is the huge thing. Coming from Ontario to here – wow. It’d be such a huge shock to move back and have those huge expenses again! And let’s not forget to mention hydro and gas prices lightning the load of bills!

6. I love (or do I?) how all the Sheri/Sherry/Sherrie’s are coming out of the woodwork. Completely and utterly random. I don’t have a common first name…unless you live in Manitoba/the Brandon area. It’s crazy! In the last 3 weeks, I’ve come across at least 5 different Sheri’s (a.k.a Sherry/Sherrie) on some level. This is something I have never experienced, and obviously something that Manitoba has brought into my already insane life. Woo!

Some true and sweet, and some kooky. But that’s a good thing! In time, I’m sure there will be many more things I “heart” about Manitoba. I’ll keep you posted 😉

The Case For Underground Parking

It seems as though I’m finally experiencing a real Manitoba winter. The temperatures are finally as low as I thought they may be, but you know, it’s winter, so I wouldn’t expect anything less. So far, I’ve been surviving well. It’s really not that bad. My memory of Ontario winters are fading fast, and these temperatures are becoming a new norm for me. That being said, I had my first Manitoba winter mishap, and will always call for more underground parking in this province. It’s really a great invention, why doesn’t this place utilize it more?

The mishap: Well, as I walked out to my car to go to work in the morning on Thursday, what did I see? I saw that my extension cord and/or the plug in had stopped working overnight. I was slightly worried. I tried starting my car…a few times, and it just wouldn’t start for me. Yay for car trouble on my 4th day at my new job. Anyway, I got things plugged back in and a few hours later, the car started again. Of course, this was during lunch time, so there was no point in going to work at that point…so I waited a little while longer, and when I tried to start my car again that time, it once again wouldn’t start for me. I frantically got in touch with friends, and to say the least, they rock. Thank you friends for picking me up to and from work! It was greatly appreciated.

This mishap just let me know how things were going to be here. I know we’ve been spoiled in the west so far this year, but I get it. When it’s cold, it’s cold (and as I type this – it’s not cold anymore, we’re breaking records with the high temperatures!) So I ask the question again, why so little underground parking? I know we have wide open space (room to make our big mistakes), so maybe we feel the need to use it, but hey, what about trying something different? The winter wouldn’t nearly be as much of a hassle here if people could park their vehicles underground. Nice and dry. Nice and warm(er). No plugging vehicles in. No scraping ice or brushing snow off the car. Woooo that would be wonderful! I can’t wait until the day I have a garage! It’s funny how you just take the simple things in life for granted, like underground parking. Or not having to plug your car in. Although at this point, plugging the car in is second nature to me. I couldn’t picture life without it at this point!

So, thoughts on the underground parking debate? For the cold, cold winters of Manitoba? Is this going to be my get rich quick scheme? Starting a company that specializes in doing underground parking for buildings? Manitoban’s would be flocking, right, right? Or…does nobody in Manitoba really care, because they’re just used to the winter as it is…?

A New Year in Manitoba

Well that was a mini-holiday hiatus I guess, wasn’t it? Ah well, now that the new year has rung in, I’ve decided to come up with a things-to-do-in-Manitoba-in-2012 list! Obviously I want to get in as much as possible before the world ends on December 21, 2012, so I thought having a list would be the most efficient way to accomplish things. So here I go…

1. Get used to driving on poorly plowed roads. This is not a stab at Manitoba. I simply come from a land where there is less snow (Hamilton is the bomb when it comes to this – other parts of southern Ontario, not so much, this year being an exception…), and when there is snow, the plows hit up all the roads, even the “less” important ones. Also, larger population, more driving, more tracks, more speed (!), more moisture = clearer roads.

2. Check out Winnipeg and see what it has to offer other than the airport (which is quite nice now, by the way). I know Winnipeg has a bad reputation, and to be honest I was little shocked when one of the Shopper’s had two security guards in it…but that won’t stop me from finding the good side of Winnipeg. And maybe once they get that promised H&M, I’ll find more purpose for going there often.

3. Visit Churchill. Alright, I’m not necessarily strict with the 2012 guideline for this, but it is absolutely something that I have to do now that I live in this province! We’ll see what happens with this “to do”, but how can you go wrong with polar bears and beluga whales?

4. Make myself a regular at Riding Mountain National Park and hang out with the bison. Enough said. (Confession: RMNP kind of reminds me of northern Ontario, and that’s partly the reason I fell in love with it this summer when I was there – so many trees! Wooo!)

5. Get to know the surrounding area better. I know this one sounds a little boring, but I think it’s important to know what’s around you! I know some rural towns south of Brandon, and Dauphin north of Brandon, Virden west of Brandon (mostly because of the reputation), but that’s about it. This shouldn’t be too hard to do, but nonetheless, important to me!

6. And finally, become a Brandonite. Wow. That’s a little scary to say, but I’ve been here since September and I’m still on the fringe, and I still think about Ontario and how I miss it sometimes. I hope to become a part of this community and grow in it. Maybe by the end of the 2012, I’ll have immersed myself in the culture here and wondered what I ever thought was so great about Ontario 😉

The Heart of the Matter

“And the danger is that in this move toward new horizons and far directions, that I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness”
― Sylvia Plath

Whenever new adventures and risks are taken, there can be negative consequences. I quote Sylvia Plath above because that’s sometimes how one feels after moving to a new place, having to leave behind everyone and everything they know. And sometimes, that someone is me. It’s not just me though, because my friend who recently moved here from Alberta feels the same way. So, we’re alone, together?

Moving somewhere new can easily bring loneliness into someone’s life, and especially around this season, it’s easier to be lonely. Usually, I’d be having lots of festivities with friends – birthdays and Christmas parties, and then I’d see my family soon enough and celebrate Christmas with them. Truthfully, my university friends made me like Christmas again. It’s not a favourite holiday of mine (as my one friend calls me “Scrooge”), but with them, Christmas turned into something great. Fun and stress-free. Not having that this year is hard, to be honest.

But of course, moving to a new place (or for that matter, starting something new, doing something unconventional, etc.) brings about sacrifices. Hopefully those things will create growth, strength and character, but it’s still always a risk. I know that I would have regretted staying in Hamilton and not coming out west to experience things here and just try something new. But what do you do about the loneliness that you sometimes find yourself in? I try to occupy my time with hobbies, my idealist ideas, work, and of course, friends.

But no matter what I do, I still left it all, just as my friend from Alberta did. We miss the places we come from, and the people we surrounded ourselves with. We talk about it. We go can on and on about it, but still try to encourage one another during the tough times of transitions, and try to see the greater good from our experiences.

In the end, although hard to admit, I think the danger that comes with the move toward new horizons and far directions is worth it, even if we can’t see it at that moment. So, here’s to new things, new places, new people, new traditions and a new journey.

Dear Ontario Friends

Not so long ago, you asked me about how the winter was going and how much snow was here and how cold it was. I’d like to provide you with photographic proof that there isn’t much snow, despite the fact that it is getting colder (I know it’s cold today because Beatrix wouldn’t come out on the balcony with me while taking pictures).

I know this is unusual, and I kind of fear that next winter will be horrible and I won’t be so prepared for it because the weather has been awfully nice here so far. Anyway, knock on wood, because I’d like it to stay this way.

Barely any snow here

Some packed snow and ice in the parking lot

A small amount across the road…

The tiny amount of snow left on my balcony

As you can see, things aren’t really as torturous in Manitoba as one may think.

Easing Myself Into Manitoba “Pride”

I’ve been a long time proponent of Manitoba. I have loved it here for several years, spending summers here since I was 18. Spending the summers here at a camp near Boissevain is what made me fall in love with this province in the first place, so I’ve always felt like I had the love, but did I have the pride? I was still an Ontarian at that point and I love(d) my former city of Hamilton fiercely (partly due to the fact that it has a terrible reputation – love you, Hamilton – always will). But the more time I spend here, the more comfortable I’m getting with the idea of being a “Proud Manitoban”. I think in my head, I will always still consider myself mostly Ontarian…at least at this point in my life. That could very well change in the years to come.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge sports person, but find myself getting going to more sporting events and even watching sporting events (ahem, Grey Cup…). When that game was on, I was obviously rooting for the Bombers. Why wouldn’t I? It made sense. But really, it was one of the first times that I actually felt a sense of pride to be a Manitoban. Our team was in the Grey Cup, and we gotta represent! Ha! Despite the loss, and the poor play throughout the game that got me all riled up and a little mad, I had to step back and say “Woooah. What are you doing? Are you coming to terms with the fact that you’re a Manitoban now?” Weird how those transitions happen when you don’t really think they will.

Oh, and let’s talk about the Twitterverse being all abuzz about “#snow” or “snow in Toronto”. I had to laugh. My Manitoban side was coming out. Really, Toronto? Really southern Ontario? We got snow in the beginning of November and no one was crying about it (except me – but that subsided, as did the snow). At that moment, I got why people dislike Toronto out West. It really DOES seem like anything that happens in Toronto/southern Ontario is the be all and end all and all other Canadians must be experiencing the same thing. So I found myself slightly annoyed, and slightly amused at everyone’s freak out. Through this small process, I also found myself becoming a more “Proud Manitoban”.

So here it is: I think I might be a Proud Manitoban. I say think, because I don’t want to commit to anything too soon. Also, this isn’t without its hardships, which will come in an upcoming post. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not Proud Ontarian either.

How about Mantario Pride?