I may have let this go a little longer than I should have seeing as this trip happened during the May long weekend. So, I took a little trip to Winnipeg. You’re probably asking yourself, why Winnipeg? Well, being the VP for the Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto I was invited to attend the Icelandic National League of North America annual convention, which was being held in Winnipeg. I thought, sure, why not? I have a couple friends in Winnipeg and I’ve always wanted to visit. Why? I don’t really know why.
I hopped on board early in the morning. I love plane rides, I find them really calming. I thought that was only fitting that I watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty as it was filmed in Iceland and I was heading to the convention. If you haven’t caught the flick yet, you should, and then you should book a trip to Iceland, because yes, it does look like that.
When I arrived I dropped off my luggage, got on a bus and wandered around the city. I made my way down to The Forks for lunch with my friend Marisa. I hadn’t seen Marisa since we lived together in Quebec City in 2012. We had met my first morning in Quebec. She walked over to me, speaking French as I looked at her puzzled and I said something like “Uhhh.. Je parle seulement un petite peu de français” and that was that. We spent the next four months cooking dinners together and exploring. It was great to see her and catch up, even if only for a little bit.
The rest of the day I wandered and chatted with strangers, as I often do. You learn so much when you speak with strangers! I explored the grounds of the legislature which were amazingly green and took a selfie with the suffragettes. Nellie McClung is Manitoba’s claim to fame here, while she was born in Ontario and ended up in Victoria she lived in Man for at least a little while. She was a popular speaker with the Political Equality of Manitoba which held a mock parliament discussing the vote of men. #funfacts
After walking for a couple of hours I picked up a novel and went on a search for a cafe to sit and read. I found myself in the Exchange District at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe, which was pretty neat for me as I had just worked with the Winnipeg Free Press for Nutrition Month. The cafe hosts town halls, music, book launches, lectures and educational seminars. Journalists will also conduct interviews in the cafe and there is a radio station operating in the space as well. Pretty neat.
After reading for a couple hours I made my way to the convention for the opening night festivities. A little mix and mingle and then took in a movie before heading over to stay with my dear friend Christin.
I met Christin when I participated in the Snorri program back in 2012. We didn’t really get to know each other until our last week of the program but we quickly realized we were kindred spirits. She’s a cool cat that’s for sure.
Friday was a big convention day with a lot of talks and selfies. The convention day wrapped up with the official opening ceremonies. Þórður Ægir Óskarsson, Icelandic Ambassador to Canada, was the keynote speaker. He’s from the same town as my grandfather and knows some of my family. During his placement in Canada he hasn’t met any relatives, but in his speech he said he was adopting me and others from the area as honourary relatives… I suppose that means when he is in London I can call him up for a place to stay… right!?
When the convention was wrapped up for the day I was picked up by Christin and her beau Justin. We made our way into town and met up with Christin’s friends for tapas before heading to the local legion for drinks and dancing. Can I just say, I would have never thought that my trip to Winnipeg would have included a night out at a legion. For real? My only other experience at a “Royal Canadian Legion” was when I was in grade 3 for a public speaking contest. Regardless, it was a fun night with cheap drinks, good tunes and a hip crowd.
After a couple hours of sleep I made my way back to the convention for the day. John K Samson, of The Weakerthans spoke in the morning. All I could think of was their song “One Great City!” and the lyrics “I hate Winnipeg” sang in my head throughout.
There was a little bit of a break during the convention, so I made my way to the hotel bar, ordered up a local Half Pints brew, pulled out my book and read. Twas’ a lovely moment.
The convention wrapped up with a gala dinner, some entertainment and nice chats.
When it was over, I made my way to Justin’s place for a house party/jam sesh. The evening ended with a couple of dudes talking about the action figures they were planning on making and me trying to come up with the most ridiculous suggestions.
Sunday called for a good sleep in and in the morning a good hearty breakfast in the form of leftover lasagna (aka the best!) with Christin before she took off for work.
I met up with my friend Sacha and we explored the city together. Sacha and I studied French together in Quebec City. It was the first time I had ever been in a class with someone with the same name. Boy was that exciting and just a little confusing for people especially as we were friends and sat beside each other in most classes. Good times.
I’m pretty sure we explored close to the entire city. Walked around, drove around and ate around. From what I’ve been told I had a true taste of Winnipeg with BDI Goog and Vjs Burger. I don’t know how to explain the Goog, but I’ve been finding myself craving one ever since.
We wandered around the city, making a stop at Little Sister Coffee just off Osborne Street. A cute minimalist coffee shop. We also stopped in at Make Coffee + Stuff, another minimalist spot, where we had some good chats with the guys working there and learnt a little bit more about the city.
We made our way to Saint Boniface which boasts quite a nice view of downtown Winnipeg.
Saint Boniface Cathedral was a sight to see. The massive cathedral was damaged in a fire in the 60’s leaving only some of the exterior walls. This is also where Louis Riel was buried.
That night I made my way up to Lake Winnipeg with Christin for a night around a campfire with songs and spider dogs. I’m always so surprised by how many people don’t know what a spider dog is! It’s a magical way to cook hot dogs, on a stick, over a fire. Simple and magical.
I woke up early Monday morning and took a walk to check out the lake. Boy oh boy was it chilly. Not the kind of May 24 I’m used to, that’s for sure.
We made our way over to Christin’s cottages, said hello to her family and drove into Gimli to check out the town. We braved the cold rainy winds and I grabbed this picture with the massive viking statue.
After a drive back to the city Christin dropped me off at the airport and I made my way back to the city. A nice trip and great people. Always the best 🙂