I am proud to call myself a Winnipegger. I was born and raised here, growing up in St. James and North Kildonan.
I have been asked to share with you my favourite Winnipeg haunt. It is really hard for me to choose just one favourite place in Winnipeg. I love The Forks, Rainbow Stage, the Pantages Playhouse and the Exchange District, but I guess my go-to place these days is Assiniboine Park.
It is a place I have enjoyed for as long as I can remember. I lived very close to the park until I was about five, and my grandparents lived a stone's throw from the southeast entrance, so we would go there all the time. I remember regular trips to the park and particularly the zoo. I have such fond memories of Aunt Sally's Farm and the bear enclosures in their prime. Of course, riding on the steam train was the biggest treat, and to this day I still love the smell of train tracks.
After our family moved to the north side of the city I visited Assiniboine Park a lot less. It really is since I moved out and purchased my own home closer to the park, and particularly since I've had kids, that I discovered all the park had to offer. It is a glorious place for families. My three-year-old son loves to visit the duck pond, look for frogs in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden ponds, play at the new children's nature garden, visit the zoo, or just roll around in the wide-open grass. Of course it doesn't hurt that Sargent Sundae is just across the bridge.
We love to bike to the park as a family and just see where our instincts take us. I just love that there are so many improvements being made. There is a renewed vibrancy to the entire space.
I think what personally draws me to Assiniboine Park is its British flair. The grand entrance off Corydon Avenue with its tall canopy of trees invites you in. The Pavillion, where, incidentally, we had our wedding rehearsal dinner, takes you back in time. The Lyric Stage, modelled after the famous Globe Theatre, lets you watch the symphony under the stars, and the English Gardens let you escape to another world. With my partial British heritage, all of this strikes a chord with me and makes me feel at home. A walk through the garden on a beautiful day can absolutely lift my spirits! On a side note, I love flowers and enjoy planting flowers, I am just not that great at maintaining them, so I love strolling the English Gardens for inspiration when my own is not faring so well.
Stacey Nattrass is the anthem singer for the Winnipeg Jets. She has performed with most major arts organizations in the city including Rainbow Stage and the WSO. She is currently enjoying a maternity leave from her job as a music specialist in the Seven Oaks School Division. Stacey is the proud mother of two boys, a three-year-old and a three-month-old. Performing runs in her family. Her brother, actor Carson Nattrass, is directing Footloose at Rainbow Stage this summer and her aunt is opera singer Tracy Dahl.