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

1 comment:

  1. Great blog, Brent. I remember the first time I stumbled upon this statue of Louis when I first moved here. It was at night, and I was walking from the Australian Pavilion during Folklorama, trying to find a bank machine so I could go back for more drinks. My friend and I were so surprised to find this hidden gem.