After a few weeks on the go it was time to chill for a while. I bid farewell to Churchill and climbed onboard the train for the 40-odd hour journey back to Winnipeg, which was to be my stop for the next few days. Not sure how much of a destination it is ordinarily and if not for my friend Angela living there I would likely have skipped over it.
Angela and I were penpals had met in person once, 16 years before, when a group from her school toured NZ. To be able to see her again was fantastic, especially on her home turf.
Winnipeg lies on the edge of the expansive prairies that span Manitoba and further west. Its origins as a trading area and garrison are perhaps not surprising given its location at the junction of two major rivers. Winnipeg in Cree means ‘muddy waters’.
Angela took me to a number of local attractions. The rivers meet at a place called The Forks which today is a destination for culture and entertainment. We wandered around the markets, as well as the nearby Fort Gibraltar and St Boniface Cathedral.
We went to the zoo in Assiniboine Park which was pleasant enough and housed some furred and feathered creatures that I don’t often see.
I didn’t like seeing the lone polar bear in its enclosure. I remember when there were two polar bears in the Auckland Zoo and now feel very strongly that they just do not belong in captivity.
Winnipeg has a famous historical bear connection: Winnie the Pooh was named after a WW1 army officer’s actual pet bear which he named after his home town, Winnipeg. That bear ended up in London Zoo.
I coincided my visit with Angela’s birthday and also Canadian thanksgiving – my first experience of this North American tradition. These occasions were spent with other members of Ange’s family and it was good to meet names that I had heard about over the previous 20 years.
We had a great day trip outside the city which I’ll cover next. We may have been in prairie country but we were off to the beach!