Alright, I think I’ve discovered that I love places that are a little rough around the edges. Hamilton, Ontario may be one of the greatest loves of my life…and in general, Manitoba is another love. Guess what? Both of these places are a little (maybe even a lot) rough around the edges.

I’ve never really had the desire to move to places that people rave about or are obsessed with (read: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver), but it’s the places that no one really wants to be that I end up in. Now, let’s be clear, Hamilton and Brandon are two very different cities, and one would probably equate Hamilton to Winnipeg more quickly than one would to Hamilton and Brandon. But let’s just say this: Brandon has a lot of potential, much like Hamilton, but it doesn’t really know what to do, much like Hamilton (although some awesome things are happening there right now).

I think most people would say Brandon is the place where there is “nothing to do”. The culture and arts aren’t great. The nightlife is suffering, and there is even a lack of variety in restaurants. So does Brandon need a renaissance? Mmhmm. But much like Hamilton, Brandon right now is trying to turn things around, and hey, these things take time.

For example, Brandon is working on the “downtown pedestrian mall” (although many Brandon residents scoff at this attempt at downtown renewal), and there are already many things in place that make the city at least a little worth it. There is the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, which has been around for 100 years, there are numerous trails and parks within the city, but even more just a short drive outside of Brandon. And although I hate that there isn’t Thai food in this city, at least there’s Indian, as well as some awesome Italian food, and a few great pub spots, with live music. Not to mention that there are always different events going on at the Keystone Centre.

So what am I getting at? I’m saying that yes, Brandon needs a little bit of an upgrade, but just because things aren’t flashing in your face as to what you can do here, doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do. You have to look a little harder, much like you do in Hamilton. There isn’t something new constantly going on and maybe it’s not the “coolest” place, but it has a good start for a city of about 50,000 people. However, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Like I said, I always end up in the places that are a little rough around the edges and that people generally don’t end up in. It’s make you creative, and it gives a little character to the city. So in the end, the renaissance may come, but for now, I’ll take what Brandon has to offer.

*ETA: I think some people in Brandon DO know what to do, but many others are satisfied with how things are here. It’s just a matter of bringing vision to life.