“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!

Things I Have Learned So Far

This is my month end report. I’ve been living in Manitoba for about a month and a half, and here you’ll find a compilation of things I have learned so far.

1. If there is any construction going on at the Superstore, the world stops.

2. Even if it’s not winter yet, many Manitoban’s will dress like it is.

3. People drive slow here.

4. People always think they have the right of way while crossing any street, anywhere.

5. No one says “dinner” in regards to supper. It’s more a lunch thing here, and it’s a little weird to me.

6. My health “card” won’t be a card. It will be a piece of paper. I was shocked when I learned this, but it will be okay. I’ve accepted it.

7. Laundry detergent is a lot more expensive here than in Ontario.

8. Gas is a lot cheaper here than in Ontario.

9. The weather is actually warmer to me than it appears. Less moisture in the air means that I am warmer in general. When it’s 8 degrees out, it actually feels like 13-14 degrees to me. It’s a wonderful thing.

10. Although I sometimes feel like I’m in in the middle of nowhere, and a little lost and lonely sometimes, I haven’t and will not regret my move to Brandon, Manitoba. Ever.

The Unlit Province

That should be Manitoba’s new slogan. Forget “Friendly Manitoba”, it’s all about “The Unlit Province”. Upon arriving to Brandon, I have continuously noticed how dark it is around the city come evening time. The street lights come on, but they aren’t particularly great, and they aren’t everywhere. It’s rare to see a street with street lights the whole way down, on both sides. Whenever I’m driving at night, I’m constantly squinting (and no, my eyes don’t need to be checked!) and I’m watching out for anything that could creep up on me. I don’t want to hit anything! Honestly, driving around Brandon at night is like driving in the boonies.

Another issue is the lack of highway lighting. For example, when I was coming home from Thanksgiving from Boissevain, 40 minutes south of Brandon, I couldn’t believe that the number 10 highway wasn’t lit. At all. Not a street light to be found. It was pitch black. For a high way that has a decent amount of traffic, I was confused as to why they haven’t invested in some street lights. I was totally paranoid that I was going to hit something…and guess what? I almost did! A coyote was right on the shoulder of the road when I drove by it, only seeing it right as I drove by – because it was so dark!

So Manitoba, I have a bone to pick with you. Why don’t you light up your streets and highways better? Bring the province into the light!

Never Say Never

Just a year ago, I was in Manitoba. Specifically, Brandon and my Manitoban “hometown”, Boissevain. I was here for a potential wedding (long story), and just to visit, because I hadn’t been out here that summer.

I had two Thanksgiving dinners, and one, in which I remember vividly talking to my friend’s mom about social work in Manitoba and how it’d be so great if I moved here and did social work (although, I’m questioning how much Manitoba needs me at this point). I was pretty non-committal, but I thought about it. For real. I was like, hey, maybe I can do that.

However, as great as the week long visit was, I specifically remember nearing the Ontario border on my drive home and telling myself “I’ll never actually move here, it’s just a summer infatuation”…as I looked around at the frosty ground and the uninspiring cold, flat land.

I got back to school and didn’t think much more about moving to Manitoba – especially to Brandon. I got through the year at school (somehow!) and I was jobless, although was promised employment at my student placement from the past year. This was awesome…and then a 3 month contract turned into 1 month, and then 1 month turned into 1 day. I didn’t know what to do with myself (while waiting to see if this job thing was going to pan out – it never did), and then the thought of camp entered my mind. I was asked to go, and I was extremely careful in my decision making. It took me forever to make my decision. I didn’t know why this was something I was going to do in my life right now, but in the end, I decided to go. I was officially going to be in Manitoba at the end of June.

I get to Manitoba. I’m fearful about my decision and ask myself and others the purpose behind being there. I had hoped that there was some purpose behind going. I mean, I was done school. Why would I go to camp for the summer? It didn’t make sense to me at all. Still, I went. And let’s just say, if I hadn’t of gone, I wouldn’t be in Manitoba right now. Purpose?

Honestly, within the first week of camp, my mind started meandering over thoughts of moving to Manitoba…and for some reason, not Winnipeg, but to the southwestern area of Manitoba; the little pocket of Manitoba that I have come to know and love. I always said that I would never live in Brandon, yet this was the place I felt pulled to to move to. Insane. Completely insane.

Much like my decision about coming to camp, it took a painstakingly long time to make the decision. Well, it felt like forever to me. At the beginning of August, I made the decision to at least try to find a job. If I got a job here, then I would move.

Needless to say, after some long thought and serious decision making, I decided that I was moving here regardless of employment. I figured that I would be unemployed in either Hamilton or Brandon, so I may as well be unemployed in a place I feel like I should be at this point in my life. And that was that. The next day, I sent in my 60 days notice to my landlord; a week and a half later, I packed up, along with my friend Tari and headed back to Ontario. I was there for about 2 weeks and BAM, I was gone. I think those 2 weeks were the most overwhelming and stressful weeks of my life…but I don’t regret spending the time I did with friends and family, when I really should have been packing up my apartment.

And now I’m here, wondering how in the world any of this ever happened. Like the title suggests, never say never. I said that I would never live in Brandon (I had said that for many, many years), and just last year, I said that I would never be moving to Manitoba in general. Oh how things can change. I’m still navigating the new waters and trying to find my place here. It’s tough. I just hope that the time will come sooner than later that I’ll have a few things figured out, and in the meantime, I’ll still work on the farming machinery and country music.

Unexpected Diversity

Throughout my fine summers in Manitoba, I got the picture of a very white-washed province. And let’s be honest, most of rural Manitoba is very white-washed, but has a great Aboriginal presence as well. That’s as far as diversity went for me when I’ve been out here.

Once I moved to Brandon, I thought that I would be giving up diversity and culture. I thought that I wouldn’t see a person of either white or Aboriginal descent for days upon days, months upon months. But Brandon has refreshingly proven me wrong.

When I step out into the city, I see so many different backgrounds and cultures. Diversity is all around, although somehow surprising to me. Spanish, Chinese, Korean, African-American, Aboriginal, Indian (East – thank you very much) and many more are all in this little city.

For some reason, Brandon is quite the little hotspot for diversity, and thank goodness for that! I know others may feel differently, but I for one love the diversity and am so pleasantly surprised by it. It makes me feel not so far out of touch with the rest of the world. It makes me remember some things of home, but also makes me realize the great potential this little city has.

P.S. I think I have officially coined Brandon as “the little city”!

The Deceptive 3 Year Old

Warning: This post may potentially mock my beloved friend, Adrian.

When I drove into Brandon, Manitoba on that fateful day of September 16th, I had no place to live. I was homeless. My amazing friend Adrian (who knows that he will most likely be a part of this blog – a lot) graciously put me up in his lovely basement apartment for a few days before I could move into my new apartment. Now, Adrian was just as desperate to find a place to live as I was nearing the end of August, so he took this basement apartment, even though he called the neighbourhood, “sketchy”.

Truth be told, he has talked to AAA Alarms and MTS on the phone and the people on the other end have even acknowledged that he lives in a “bad” neighbourhood; even though I think this is white people being potentially racist. However, they may not be. Maybe it’s all true. I saw this when I realized that Adrian had put me in a very dangerous situation by allowing me to crash at his place. You see, there is a “child gang” on that street. The leader? A deceptive 3 year old who is ready to distract you with their cuteness and have the others TAKE YOU DOWN. I’ve even seen meetings happen right in front of my eyes. The deceptive 3 year old sits everyone else in the gang down and tells them how it is. It’s crazy stuff. Crazy.

I feel so lucky to not have any harm done to me during my stay at Adrian’s. I mean, who knows what could’ve happen if I had stayed longer. You can never trust a 3 year old. They are so extremely dangerous. I can only hope that Adrian’s life will be safe from danger in the time being. He’s keeping a close watch on this child gang and he is prepared to do what he must if and when the time comes. But let’s hope that it never does…

The Lay of the Land