Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

I hate Winnipeg; can you help me?

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I hate Winnipeg. I know, I know, I'm not really supposed to hate Winnipeg, I'm just supposed to say that I hate it but secretly love it. Isn't that what unites all Manitobans -- our mutual love/hate relationship with Winnipeg? You know, where we sip on our Slurpees bitching about The Peg, but giving each other this look like a special secret handshake that whispers, "nah, I'm just saying that, I really love Winnipeg, there is no place like home." But the truth is I actually do hate Winnipeg. I despise it.

Now that I have that off my chest, let me back up a bit and try to explain myself. I live four hours from Winnipeg in rural Manitoba. This means that every time I go to Winnipeg I have a massive list of to-dos from finally checking out IKEA to renewing my passport, specialist medical appointments, stocking up at Costco, and generally shopping for all the things that simply are not available elsewhere in the province. It always feels like I rush into Winnipeg and run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying desperately to cross everything off my to do list. This usually leaves me exhausted and cranky and hungry. Instead of trying to discover a local gem of a restaurant or checking out one of Winnipeg's nice tourist attractions I usually hurry and grab something predictable at a chain restaurant, the whole time while glancing at my watch wondering if I can speed things up, and then get on the road to home before it is dark.

I know this isn't an ideal way to discover and experience Winnipeg, but it has been my reality. It has become nothing more to me than a place where I load my car up with required supplies and goodies, empty my wallet, and become very frustrated and tired. Over the last few years I have managed to squeeze in a few touristy type things amongst the chaotic quick trips, to such places as The Forks, The Assiniboine Park Zoo, and FortWhyte Alive. All of these were very nice attractions, but even these beautiful spots haven't been able to squash my inner voice that chants "I hate Winnipeg."

Maybe it's the long drive to Winnipeg, or the fact I really enjoy country living and am no longer a city girl. Maybe it's because the traffic in Winnipeg is annoying (I'm still afraid of Confusion Corner!) and the city never seems to repaint the lines (not everyone innately knows where the turning lane is!).

I dunno. But I know one thing. I want to change. I don't want to hate Winnipeg. I want to love Winnipeg. It is completely against my nature to hate a city and I know there is a lot to love about the city if I just change my typical Winnipeg behaviour. So please help me, Winnipeggers. Take a moment away from drinking your Slurpee and uttering tongue-in-cheek comments about Winnipeg and instead tell me where to go and what to see and where to stay and where to eat in Winnipeg. Share with me your best-kept Winnipeg secrets and encourage me to throw away my usual Winnipeg errands list and instead visit Winnipeg for the simple sake of fun, relaxation and discovery. My goal is to change my perception of Winnipeg and look back on the summer of 2013 and say "Wow, I love Winnipeg, what a great city!"


Little Gray Bird is a Nova Scotia girl learning to love Manitoba. She was born and raised in the beautiful Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and then spent many years living, attending university, and working in Halifax. Her life changed drastically six years ago when she and her husband packed up and moved to rural Manitoba without knowing anything about the prairie province. She currently resides in the Parkland region, where she enjoys spending time with nature and exploring all the great things rural Manitoba has to offer.

She chronicles her new prairie life and adventures at www.littlegraybird.ca.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 2, 2013 A10

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