If there’s one mistake lifelong Winnipeggers tend to make, it’s assuming everyone else has lived here their entire lives.
Thanks to decades of relatively slow population growth, it’s easy to assume the only people who choose to live here simply haven’t bothered to go anywhere else. This self-deprecating sentiment, so famously parodied on The Simpsons ("Welcome to Winnipeg. We were born here. What’s your excuse?") can actually wind up being annoying if you are in fact a newcomer trying to figure out the place.
Every year, the population of metropolitan Winnipeg actually grows by 10,000 or 11,000 people, according to Statistics Canada, and not all of this growth can be explained away by births.
But many of these new arrivals complain they find the city a bit impenetrable, on a cultural and historic level, which is ironic considering the overwhelming sense of place that characterizes the Winnipeg mindset.
The city’s new-found chauvinism, which can be felt in everything from the pride over the return of the Jets to the advent of Louis Riel Day, should go a long way toward helping newcomers "get" Winnipeg.
But in the meantime, we could all hone our sense of geographic self. To that end, I’ve devised a quiz to help acclimatize recent arrivals to this town.
I’ll publish the answers in the online comments section later on in the week. And as per usual, the person who sends me the most creative (as opposed to most accurate) set of annotated answers, via email, will receive a Really Lame Prize.
1. The City of Winnipeg was once situated:
A) At the bottom of a warm, shallow sea, about 300 million years ago.
B) Below several kilometres of Wisconsin glacial ice, about 20,000 years ago.
C) At the bottom of Lake Agassiz, about 9,000 years ago.
D) Below a Red River crest of 30.3 feet, during the 1950 flood.
E) Underneath four metres of snow, at the end of the 1997 blizzard.
F) As a pawn in the Phoenix Coyotes ownership saga, in 2010.
G) In what geographers and hydrologists now consider one of the worst possible locations for human habitation, given the potential risk of natural disasters.
2. Manitoba’s founder, Louis Riel, can be credited with which of the following actions?
A) Allowing the execution of Thomas Scott during the Red River Resistance.
B) Declaring the bison the official symbol of Manitoba.
C) Winning three elections to the House of Commons in Canada. D) Campaigning on behalf of the Republican party in the United States.
E) Acquiring U.S. citizenship.
F) Stopping Métis commander Gabriel Dumont from employing guerilla tactics against the Canadian military.
G) Refusing to allow his lawyer to argue he was not guilty of treason by reason of insanity.
3. Francis Cornish, Winnipeg’s colourful first mayor, is believed to have committed which of the following misdeeds?
A) A physical assault of a military commander in London, Ont.
B) A verbal assault on Winnipeg’s police chief, who was called a "toad-eating Communist."
C) The burning of electoral records at a St. Boniface polling station during an anti-Catholic, anti-Métis riot.
D) The ransacking of three Winnipeg newspaper offices as part of the same riot.
E) An incident where the Speaker of the Manitoba legislature was dragged out of his carriage and tarred.
F) Widespread ballot-box fraud during Winnipeg’s first municipal election.
G) An attempt to burn an effigy of Prime Minister John A. MacDonald.
4. Which of the following transportation factoids are correct?
A) The first human beings in southwestern Manitoba ventured here by foot about 10,000 years ago.
B) The first ship from England arrived at the mouth of the Nelson River in 1612.
C) The first rail link between Winnipeg and Vancouver was completed in 1886.
D) Stevenson Aerodrome, Winnipeg’s first international airport, opened in 1928.
E) The gap in the Trans-Canada Highway between Winnipeg and Toronto was completed in 1960.
F) The Winnipeg section of the Trans-Canada Trail was completed in 2000.
G) James Richardson International Airport opened on time and on budget in 2011.
5. Which of the following professional-sport factoids are correct?
A) The Winnipeg Victorias won their last Stanley Cup 99 years ago.
B) The WHA Winnipeg Jets last won their last Avco Cup 32 years ago.
C) The original NHL Winnipeg Jets won their last playoff series 24 years ago.
D) The Winnipeg Blue Bombers last won a Grey Cup 21 years ago.
E) The Winnipeg Goldeyes last won a league title 17 years ago.
F) Winnipeg sports fans are desperate people.
G) True North Sports & Entertainment brought the NHL back to Winnipeg so we can use Dustin Byfuglien as a scapegoat.
6. Which of the following rock-music factoids are correct?
A) Neil Young’s Down By the River was inspired by the flood of 1950.
B) The Guess Who’s American Woman is about Janis Joplin’s visit by train in 1970.
C) Harlequin wrote Innocence after being asked to pen a jingle for Clifford’s Ladies Wear.
D) Propagandhi named their breakthrough album Less Talk, More Rock on a dare from former 92 CITI FM DJ Brother Jake Edwards.
E) Chantal Kreviazuk recorded a cover of Leaving On a Jet Plane as a tribute to Teemu Selanne.
F) Doc Walker took its name from political-science professor and former Winnipeg North-Centre MP David Walker.
G) The Weakerthans’ One Great City includes references to the Guess Who, the Winnipeg Jets, Winnipeg Transit and Winnipeg Square.
7. Of the many myths uttered about Winnipeg, which one has a basis in fact?
A) Winnipeg is the world’s coldest city with more than 500,000 people.
B) Winnipeg is the most multicultural city in Canada.
C) Winnipeg has the largest number of francophones in any Canadian city west of the Quebec-Ontario border.
D) Winnipeg’s population was shrinking at one point during the latter half of the 20th century.
E) Winnipeg has more restaurants per capita than any other city in North America.
F) Winnipeg has the most days of sunshine of any Canadian city.
G) Winnipeg is Canada’s snowiest city.
— additional sources: Manitoba Historical Society, City of Winnipeg