Sunday, February 23, 2014

Vancouver to Winnipeg


Oh Winterpeg.

After spending an hour shoveling a good foot of snow off my driveway in -30, it seemed like a good time to reflect on the past 6+ months since we uprooted our lives in Vancouver and made Winnipeg, Manitoba our home.

First things first, I want to make it clear that I knew as much about Winnipeg as I do about the planet Pluto (is Pluto still a planet?). I knew it's name (Winnipeg), what it is (a city in Manitoba), and that was about it. I probably thought about Winnipeg just as much as I think about the questionable planet of Pluto. Why would I need to? I lived in beautiful British Columbia, afterall.

Having absolutely no expectations of my own, they were set by the many people who shared their opinions with me. "Oh Jen, it's so cold your eyelashes will freeze shut together and you won't be able to open your eyes!".... "Jen, how are you going to survive? You complain when it's under +10 degrees Celsius!"..... "Oh, I'm so sorry.".... "Winnipeg? What's even there? What will you do?"... And on and on.

Thankfully, these comments helped set some ridiculously low expectations of Winnipeg, of winter, of our entire experience, which has thus far made for a rather pleasant one. You see, Winnipeg really is a great city. Is it Vancouver, (or White Rock)? No, most certainly not. But what it isn't, it also is. It's a great city full of {almost} every amenity you can think of, wrapped up nicely in a neat little package. There's no driving an hour to meet up for dinner with university friends who have since moved across the city. Almost everywhere is within 15 - 20 minutes. From the burbs to the boonies to the boozy epicentre of it all, it's all at arms reach.

I do indeed miss a lot of the natural beauty BC has to offer. The ocean, the mountains, the elevations, the cascading evergreens that climb past the clouds. British Columbia is a spectacular piece of this planet, one I've grown fond of more and more since I've left (you don't know what you've got til it's gone). On the other hand, life is busy. We (people like me) get so wrapped up in reality and daily going ons that taking in this spectacular setting provided to us by mother nature is an event, not a daily occurrence. I remember in the past couple of years taking the dogs down to Crescent Beach to run along the sandbars (well, when they were allowed to between Sept and May) and looking to my husband wondering why we didn't do it more often. Once, maybe twice a season we would do it. Why didn't we go regularly? The same reason we didn't go explore the historic building of Gastown, or the sea wall at Stanley Park, or the fresh market at Granville Island, more often that a couple of times a year. For us, living in the burbs and living life, these were events, not life. For us, moving to Winnipeg hasn't changed a whole lot of what we do day to day.

I know that there are those out there, particularly TRUE Vancouverites who don't move out of the city, who do take in all the city has to offer. To you, I bow my head, and say, stay where you are. There is plenty to enjoy in Winnipeg in the summer, but if you are a Grouse Grinder who enjoys 12 months of outdoor activity, you may not experience the same in Winnipeg.

For us, the transition has been surprisingly easy. Less the obvious reduction in social and familial activities due to being new to to the city, our lives haven't changed a whole lot. Is it cold? Sure is. Is it what I pictured -30 would feel like? Nope. I take the dogs out to go potty without a jacket on, and I live. It's cold, but if you're only outside in short bursts your body doesn't really experience the cold. Thankfully there's not much reason to be outside for longer than a minute at time, unless one is shovelling, in which multiple warm up breaks are required. The daily sunshine that pours through the windows and warms your cheek makes the months of cold worth it.

Cold aside, this city, like everything in life, is what you make of it. There are great festivals and galleries and events, and some of the best selection of food options I've seen within a city. There are lakes, tons and tons of lakes, within close proximity. We had a doggy injury which prevented us from enjoying lake weekends, but they truly are a Winnipeg thing. Lake life. Every weekend. How does it get better than that?

What's almost more exciting than the revelation that Winnipeg is, indeed, not a tiny little farm community, is that there is so much potential. A downtown where no one lives. A city of aging buildings waiting for rejuvenation. A population of people hoping for a place to be proud of. And it's happening. Slowly, but surely. And it's amazing to be here right on the cusp. Too see that potential slowly realized. And we can't wait.







8 comments:

  1. I must have came in to the game late - I missed why you moved.

    You description of your hometown sounds like Oregon. Mountains, snow, desert, rivers, waterfalls, the beach.......But it's the same thing - we have all of these amazing things less than an hour away, and life is so busy that we rarely do them. "Someday."

    My husband and I honeymooned in Victoria and it was amazingly beautiful. A lot like home.

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    1. Yes Vancouver is very much like Oregon! I absolutely love Oregon- the coast, and Portland - such a great place! And can't beat no sales tax! Lol.

      My husband got relocated to the middle of the prairies- a city in a province we'd never been to that doesn't have the greatest reputation as far as great places to live go :)

      But it is so much what you make of it. And going home every 4 months or so, I've realized I do all the "Vancouver" things just about as often as I did when I lived ther

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  2. This was such an incredibly well written, compelling piece Jen! So enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing :)

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  3. I've wondered how you've been doing since the move - and I love that you've found so much to enjoy in your new location :-) Life is what you make of it - and I love your optimistic attitude!

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  4. I love reading your blog posts! It's so nice to hear that you're cozying right up in the new city that you call home. We miss you very much. Good thing we have a little piece of you in the black pin tuck linens you left behind ;)

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    1. Thanks darling! Miss you and home very much also. I'm so glad you will think of me every time you pull out the pin tuck! Those linens were the best investment I made when buying rental items - they've been used so much by so many, lol!

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