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Winnipeg, Manitoba

By Bryan Borzykowski

Brilliant bright red sunsets, brooding green northern lights and canopy-like oak trees describe Canada’s central most city and the capital of Manitoba. With 650,000 residents, one might expect this Prairie city to be a bustling metropolis, but unlike other major Canadian centers, Winnipeg is one of the most relaxed and friendly areas in Canada.

All it takes is a glimpse into the life of a Winnipegger to understand why “Friendly” is the first word on the license plates of Manitoba cars.
ituated just one hour north of the USA and two hours east of Canada’s most populated province, Ontario, Winnipeg is notoriously famous for its exceptionally frosty winters. Instead of clamoring for heat when temperatures reach –35 Celsius, you’ll find ‘pegger’s calling friends and dashing to the ice rinks to play a game of shinny. Take a look down a back lane and it’s almost impossible to miss two neighbors working together, shoveling snow off a driveway.

This camaraderie doesn’t limit itself to the outdoors or changing seasons. Winnipeg prides itself on its multi-ethnic population. Just drive down Corydon Street and you’ll see several restaurants representing different ethnicities. On Corydon’s west side you’ll encounter Chinese cuisine at Kai Ping, and on the street’s opposite end you’ll enter the Italian area where finding Gelati is as guaranteed as an April snowfall.

It won’t take long to notice the thriving Russian, Ukrainian, Indian and Asian communities around town, so don’t be surprised to hear a “hi there,” a “Pryvit,” or a “Ciao,” on your travels through Winnipeg. The more people you encounter during your stay, the more you’ll notice that Winnipeggers have more of a small town attitude than a big city complex. Conversation will often lead to some of the many things that humble the city’s residents. You’ll hear that Winnipeg is the Slurpee capital of the world, the home of Winnie the Pooh, birthplace of Neil Young, and this past year the city’s mayor challenged businesses and residents to build as many snowmen as possible to become the snowman capital of Canada. 

Although Winnipeg has its fair share of summer festivals like Folk Fest or Folklorama, and busy bars like the Pyramid Cabaret and the Round Table, its charm is definitely in the people you’ll meet. You might encounter Ami Hassan, owner of the Falafel Place, bellowing a big “Shalom” as you enter his restaurant, or Jay Churko, a local musician and manager of Music Trader engaging you in a conversation about Winnipeg’s thriving music scene. Whatever situation you find yourself in, it will be the warm welcome and friendly atmosphere that will bring you back to Winnipeg time and time again.

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