Wintertime Fun

In the midst of the terrible cold in lovely Manitoba (and I mean it, it’s been gnarly lately), someone along the way decided that it would be a fabulous idea to have a winter festival to celebrate the different cultural communities that make up this place. And in the gnarly cold, this means lining up for stuff…outside. But hey, the cold creates character, right? In all seriousness, the┬áLieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival is one heck of a party, even if it’s in the cold! For those who don’t know, the festival comprises of different pavilions all over the city from varying cultural groups in our area. There is food, music, entertainment and some history lessons!

I had wanted to go last year, as I was like “Oh my! Something to do in Brandon! In the winter!”; however, I unfortunately had no one to go with and didn’t feel like trekking out alone. So this winter, I was determined to go and I rounded up some people to trek out into the cold with!

The first pavilion we hit was El Salvador. It was probably the most tame and most family friendly that we went to. I wanted to make sure I could get some vegetarian food somewhere, so this was a good pavilion for that. I had a quesadilla, but not in the way we would think of one. It looked like a thin, flat pound cake. And ohhh it was so sweet! It had some cheese in the middle, but I think my favourite part of it was the bread part. So good! The music and dancing was fun, and it was nice seeing something that you really don’t see everyday. And really, who knows too much about El Salvador? I sure don’t! So it was good to learn and see something different.

Next up was the Irish pavilion, complete with Paddy’s Pub. I’m not going to lie, there were incredibly adorable old Irish men in their little green get-ups which I loved. The music was fantastic, as were the dancers. They were incredible! If I’ve researched correctly, it was mostly Irish stepdancing. I wish I had gotten a picture of all the dancers, but I wasn’t close enough to them to get one. The girls had on these incredibly bouncy, full on ringlet wigs and their costume dresses were intricate in traditional detail. They were just amazing!

After the Irish pavilion, we headed to the Scottish one! What can I say? I LOVE KILTS. So many kilts. And I also happen to know one of the big Scottish families in the area (accents still intact), who were all participating in different ways – serving food, selling tickets and announcing all the acts! Again, there was a great live band performing. But to be honest, I was in the back and I was distracted by all the kilts, so I wasn’t paying too much attention.

Finally, we hit up the German pavilion. The only one we had to wait in line for! Pretty good, eh? I had heard that the German pavilion was always one of the best at the Winter Festival, so I suppose it was fitting to check that one out last. We certainly stayed there the longest! It was quite the show with non-stop entertainment. Lots of tuba and trombone sounds and some fun dancing acts. Who knew the orchestra could make The Village People’s YMCA sound German? Now, I don’t know if it’s the Dutch in me, but I don’t know if I was fully prepared for the German’s boisterous event. Lots of “zigga zigga zigga oi oi oi’s!” Lots of dancing participation from the crowd. But hey, I guess that’s why it’s one of the most popular pavilions, right? You know you’ll end up having a good time, because it really is just a big party.

***On a side note, the chef’s name at the pavilion was Larry De Vries. Ever since I’ve moved here, people have always ask me if I’m related to Larry. No folks, I am not related to Larry. And now I just can’t stop thinking about Larry’s ancestry…is he half-Dutch, half-German? Is he actually more German than Dutch, but the name De Vries has just been passed down because that’s the way the cookie crumbled? So. Many. Questions.

All in the all, the night just got better and better. It’s great that Brandon has this festival, and I’ve only heard good things about it from people who attend. A friends of mine said “Why in the world do they have to have it in the winter? It’s so cold!”, but I think that’s the point. It’s nice to have something in the winter that gets us out and having fun. Winter can be so blah and keep us in, not wanting to do anything. The Winter Festival is a great way to break things up. I’m already looking forward to next years one and I’m going to make sure I go to some pavilions that I didn’t get the chance to go to this year!

P.S. I really did have pictures and even a little video, but they are deciding to not upload! Sorry!

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…?

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!