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Winnipeg — small city or big farm town?

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Tractor trailers and other heavy truck traffic makes it's way across the Provencher Bridge and down the boulevard Thursday afternoon.

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Tractor trailers and other heavy truck traffic makes it's way across the Provencher Bridge and down the boulevard Thursday afternoon. Photo Store Photo Store

Summer holidays are now behind us and fall is definitely in the air and on the ground, evident by the number of leaves my old oak tree is shedding per minute.

I was fortunate this year to have done a bit of travelling, some by air but mostly by car and what I have learned is that I appreciate Winnipeg and its lack of automobile congestion.

I know our roads need a lot of attention and there is a big difference when travelling from Canada into United States, especially via the Pembina border. The inside of our poor trailer attests to all the bouncing around after that bad stretch of highway.

But after sitting in a vehicle for what seemed like an eternity on the 401 in Ontario and speaking with residents of Toronto and surrounding areas, our commutes and rush hours in Winnipeg are nothing to complain about.

How about going for a cruise in and around Minneapolis? Yikes!

If you miss your off-ramp, you might as well change your travel plans because the next turn is another hour or so down the highway!  

My husband and I went to California and rented a Mustang convertible – that’s the cool thing to do there, right?

Wrong!

Very wrong! Between the on/off ramps, residents merging crazy fast and changing lanes with barely a foot to spare in front of our cool car, we finally stopped to take a break and had to order our drinks with a straw because of shaking hands. OK, only I did, but I could tell my husband was a bit freaked out, too. By the time we turned the car back in (a week later), we still hadn’t figured out the stereo because we’d been concentrating on the freeway and directions so much.

Not so long ago, Winnipeg was affectionately referred to as a big farm town because almost everywhere you go you will run into someone you know or meet someone new and sure enough, they will know the same person you do. That’s part of this city’s charm. Even though Winnipeg has grown to over 700,000 and new communities and more traffic are popping up each day, we still have the privilege not having to drive one hour to and from work with no crazy off-ramps or octopus freeways stressing drivers out (mostly me, I’ll admit).

I love driving down our tree-lined streets and being able to avoid Ness and Portage avenues at the busy times of the day. I consider that a gift.

We will be visiting New York in the winter and I’m already not looking forward to the traffic or subway so, for now, I will count my blessings and not be upset when travelling over the Moray bridge at rush hour.

Virginia Sperl is a Silver Heights-based writer.

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