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 😉

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?

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.

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!

“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.

Winnipeg, oh Winnipeg

I don’t know what you’re assuming from the title, but this is by no means a Winnipeg bashing session, or in any way really has anything to do with people in Winnipeg…or the city itself. It’s really just about my observations regarding living in “rural” Manitoba (although I don’t think the city of Brandon is necessarily rural), and how everything seems to be centered around Winnipeg.

I’m used to things being tied up with a cute little bow in Ontario. In terms of getting things done, Ontario has it down pat. It’s called Service Ontario. You can go and get your license, health card, etc all in one place. And you can even go online and get some things done. I’m used to these service centers being available everywhere – large and small cities. However, when I moved here, I found myself frustrated that so much paperwork had to go through to Winnipeg.

I was surprised and frustrated when I found out that I had to send for my health card to Winnipeg. Why wasn’t there an office in Brandon that could do that? I just didn’t get it. And in my line of work, I’ll eventually have to do a Child Abuse Registry, which also has to go through to Winnipeg. Just another thing I don’t understand. And even getting my driver’s license the other day, they had to call Winnipeg to get all my new official license information. It’s all just a little foreign to me that an entire province can be so centered around one place.

I understand, Winnipeg holds more than half the population of Manitoba. But still, it’s not the entire population. And for many Manitoban’s, Winnipeg is a far ways away and is a completely different world. So my question is, why is the system so locked on Winnipeg? Brandon is small, sure. However, it’s still the second largest city in Manitoba and it services a large population in the south western region. So why can’t a little more be done here? It would be beneficial for both the city and the entire region.

Wow. Here I am, sounding like a bitter rural Manitoban who just doesn’t like this whole “Winnipeg is the center of the universe”…well, at least Manitoba. Am I crazy for feeling this way? Would no one else agree? I all of a sudden am starting to realize why so many Manitoban’s are bitter about politics in this province. It really does seem like an “us” vs. “them” mentality when it comes to Winnipeg and the rest of Manitoba. But are the rural Manitoban’s the only one thinking this way? Does Winnipeg pretty much just focus on itself and not have many worries about the rural areas? Or does Winnipeg care, or does it have the same mentality and bitterness? I honestly don’t know, so I’m not answering those questions. I hope to figure these things out in time.

The culture here is so interesting to figure out here, with there being only one large city in the province. How does Manitoba find balance to please everyone? Is it even possible? Anyway, like I said, I have no answers. It’s just some food for thought. Maybe I should get the premier on the phone…?