Sunday, 24 April 2011

St. Boniface - April 10, 23 & 24

Ok, so I guess I'm already changing the format of the blog - but trust me, I have good reason.
I really, really wanted to find St. Boniface.

For those of you that don't know, Winnipeg has the largest french speaking population outside of Quebec, and it's situated on the east side of the river. If you need a little history about this amazing part of the Peg, you can read all about it here.
My interest in running to St. Boniface was purely based on getting to see a new part of the city, that really feels like it's own town.

April 10

Ok, so - I went the wrong way.
As you can see from the map, I headed too south to actually be in in St. Boniface proper. That being said, this was the first time I crossed the two bridges on Main st going across the Assiniboine and the Red.
This day was particularity overcast, but what was most striking was the water level on both rivers. Everyone in Winnipeg talks about 2 things: The Jets coming back, and flooding. It's a daily pastime in this city, for good reason. Almost everyone's turn of the century houses have some sort of foundation shifts or damages, and everyone is worried that one day the rives, will just wash a bunch of neighbourhoods away.


I headed south on Main then West, and ended up in the area known as Norwood West & Lyndale Park. As you can see, half of the park was under water.

Lyndale Park

I headed back to the place I was staying on West Broadway with a decent time for a Sunday, fueled by the chilly early April air.
I truly thought I was finding St. Bonifice - but nope, it was Norwood.

April 23

Earlier in the week I recalled this story to one of my multitude of new pals in Winnipeg - Meg from the West End Cultural Centre. As a side note - there are so many amazing people I've met here. I can't begin to list them all off, since - there's a lot of them. I can't thank them enough for their friendship, advice and generosity while I'm still waiting for the family to arrive.

Anyways, Meg asked me "Are you going to go see the statue of Louis Riel?" I had seen a statue of Louis Riel by the Parliament buildings on a run, so assumed that was what she was talking about. Apparently, the original statue that was supposed to be there was the one that is now housed at Le College de Saint Boniface on the other side of the river. It depicts Louis Riel naked and tormented about his role in a father of Canada, and struggle in exile. The parliament buildings thought it was a bit too avant-garde for the grounds, and Le College took it over to St. Boniface.

I had to find this statue.

I started by going across the east bridge to St. Boniface, having just skimmed it off a map. You'll find this is a common part to my routine - I get a general idea of where I'm running, but never want to get too specific as I really love the surprises along the way.
Provencher Bridge

The trip across Provencher bridge onto Rue de Provencher is basically, a trip to Quebec. I lived briefly in Montreal on an exchange as a teenager, and heading into St. Bonifice's busiest area brought it all back. Street signs, businesses, people walking around - everything, in French.
While I grew up in French immersion, Edmonton is not the most diverse place for French speaking besides le Faculte St. Jean. This, was another town. A city, within the city with history and an identity all it's own. The sidewalks and walk ways are all paved just a little different than the rest of Winnipeg's core, and you really feel like you're in a gateway to French Canada.
But, I got lost, and didn't find Le College and the statue I was looking for.
As usual, I didn't really care, because I headed north to see another site of Winnipeg at Whittler Park.

Ran back a different way I came, and even considered running across the CN rail bridge to Portage & Main. Good thing I didn't - a lumbering freight train crossed it 10 minutes later.

The view from the top of Whittler Park
I was determined that on Easter Sunday 2011, I would find Louis Riel.

April 24

Ok fine, I cheated. I looked closely on a map to see where to go.

If I didn't mention it before, living out here solo while my wife and two kids are still back in Edmonton is a bit of a drag, and a lonely, solo life at the best of times. I find running gives me something to do, and really cuts back the stress of being away from my wife and kids - going on 4 months now.
So, I got up at 7am on a day off, ate something, then hit the road. I'm either officially old, or officially bored... maybe a bit of both.
Whatever, don't judge me. Ok, where was I...

I headed south like my first attempt, then east, like my second attempt.
Didn't take long to find the college, and even the tomb of Louis Riel.

The tomb of Louis Riel

This run was something. Short, (only 6 Km) but really moving to see buildings, monuments and culture, smack dab in middle of seemingly nowhere. I lived my whole life in Edmonton, and areas and buildings like this are few and far between. Winnipeg seems to have them everywhere.

Then, I found it. The statue.

Louis Riel statue by Marcien Lemay
Floored by it's stature, it inspired me to learn more about Louis Riel, since as an Albertan, I only remember hearing about him referred to as a traitor in my history books.
Here in Manitoba, he's a god or a hero - maybe a bit of both.

The concrete surrounding the statue.
After taking another trip down Provencher, I headed home through The Forks.
The Forks is this great spot in Winnipeg where they have a mini-park and carnival, restaurants and shops, and they're building Canada's Museum of Human Rights. People were getting set up for Easter Sunday activities, and watching the river rise.. and talking about the Jets.

Ok fine, that last bit was a lie.

Welcome to the Forks!

Anyways, I really liked taking a couple tries to find this statue, and it really lets Winnipeg unfold out to me while running. A couple other Winnipeg pals have suggested some destinations and runs - feel free to comment on going anywhere else in the city.

This place, continues, to amaze.

Run details

April 10
Ipod: Genius playlist based on "Meet me in the basement" by Broken Social Scene
Temperature: -10C
Distance 8.3Km
Time: 46 mins

April 23
Ipod: Sklarboro Country, Episode 39 with Bill Burr
Temperature: +11C
Distance 8.3Km
Time: 44 mins

April 24
Ipod: The Nerdist 79 podcast with Andy Samberg
Temperature: +12C
Distance 6Km
Time: 36 mins

Thursday, 21 April 2011

April 9, 2011 - The Arlington Bridge

The Arlington Bridge - photo credit Bryan Scott

Winnipegers are funny people. I'll likely explore this ad nauseam over the coming posts, but really - they're funny. Not funny "ha-ha" more like funny "particular" with the way they like to endorse areas of the city, and take a lot of pride in their neighbourhoods. People from West Broadway are supposedly welfare cases and new home owners, River Heights residents are snooty, and Wolseley (where I was staying at the time of this run) is the granola belt, hippyville, mature neighbourhood of the Peg. This observation is merely a side note to this day's run and exploration, but I find whenever I talk to Peggites about this town, they're much quicker to point out they live in the West End or South Osbourne, before the street they live on.

Which brings me to Arlington Street, and the Arlington Bridge.

When I moved to Winnipeg in January, the place I stayed for the first month was on Arlington, in the heart of Wolseley, just south of the main artery here - Portage Avenue. Also, for all you "rest of Canadians", it's pronounced Port-AHge, not Por-tAWge, as the Quebecers would say. You'll get laughed at for that pronunciation, trust me.
Anyways, Arlington starts in the heart of Wolseley as you can see on the map. Speaking of which, I'm going to try and include a map every blog post to show the areas of the run, plus photos. Not sure I can completely recreate the run, but I'll try.

I started on a Saturday afternoon after the weather started to turn to the happy side of 0 degrees. I had seen that north on Arlington there was a bridge over the massive CN rail yards on the north end of Winnipeg. Just like Portage is a mental barricade for a lot of Winnipeg to cross, the rail yards are a physical barricade to they "not so best part" of the city. Basically, a lot of the north end is a rough part of town.. at least, my impression of it.

Heading straight north on Arlington I first hit Portage, then Ellice as two of the main streets. Once past Elice, you hit Sargent, which honestly - is the furthest north I had ever gone on foot in Winnipeg. While I expected the neighbourhoods to be markedly shittier, they weren't at first glance. Some of the people on the street could have just as easily been in Woolsley or West Broadway. The street starts to bend - pretty much like every street in Winnipeg... this will be a common theme in these blogs. Then I kept going north past Notre Dame and on to the bridge.

Looking north along the bridge. Pardon the finger on the left.
The bridge itself is kind of interesting. Covered in chain link fence and pigeon shit, it's a one lane, each way bridge that even has a set of traffic lights on the top to control traffic. The view though, is something else. It really feels like you're right on top of the city of Winnipeg. Miles and miles of trains, the downtown core in the distance, and row upon row of post-war housing in this area. Really something to see.
I'm truly starting to fall in love with this city. It feels so much more big city than my hometown of Edmonton, regardless of it having 2/3 the population. Business and residents are smashed together in a hodge-podge kind of way as it's not out of the ordinary to see a shoe repair shop or organic market, sandwiched between two houses on a not so busy street. Along the way on Arlington street, there's everything from a friend chicken place, a mechanic and a pho soup joint - parsed in between residences.

Looking west
The run back was pretty much an exact replica of the run there. Sometimes I like to "get lost" (I do that a lot for fun and exploration sake) but this one was a chance for me to pick up some pace and speed and try and get the 10K run done in under an hour. I got back to the house I was staying at with 4 minutes to spare.

Ipod: Sklarboro Country, Episode 37 with Howard Kremer
Temperature: +4C
Distance 9.8Km
Time: 56 mins

Next run - St. Boniface.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Welcome to Peglegged.

Ahhh... Winnipeg. Land of lakes, and floods, and water, and rivers and now - me.
For those who don't know me... let me start from the beginning.

My name's Brent. I'm just a guy from Edmonton who took a job in Winnipeg and I'm parlaying my love of running, to my new found love for the city of Winnipeg. After spending my whole life on a grid system of straight streets, and numbered avenues - I now live in a very different city.

First off, the streets here not only don't run straight - they change directions and names with seemingly no rhyme or reason. In an effort to discover more of this city, I run. Actually, with my wife and kids still back home - I run alot. I do 10-15K every Saturday and Sunday, then a couple 5-7K runs throughout the week.
Yeah, yeah, yeah - it's exercise, but truly - it's something for me to do to pass the time.

In the coming days I'll write up my posts about running the Arlington street bridge, crossing two of the three rivers, and the endless run that is Portage Ave.

Hope you enjoy it


The Red River sign. Main St.