|Winnipeg Main street, 1879.|
Contrary to this blog's ever longing love of the great city of Winnipeg, there is a dark side. It's called Winnipeg's north end.
People I've met here have defended Winnipeg's north end as getting a bad rap as one of the Queen City's scuzziest areas, and I haven't found reason to agree with them yet. I truly want to find the best little corners of Winnipeg, and maybe I just need to run a little further. These two runs were not that endearing to it's reputation. As my co-worker Jen said after these runs: "Wow. I don't even drive my car down there." Enough Said.
April 20 - The Slaw Rebchuk Bridge
I started this run with every intention to just get lost. Winnipeg has a way of turning you inside out, and a run into the exchange district (which I'll cover another day) doesn't help for gathering your bearings. I figured that I was maybe running north when I hit Notre Dame Ave, a main tributary through the Peg. I was wrong. I'm wrong alot.
|The end of the exchange district, just off Notre Dame|
After getting my legs underneath me (this is a common runners' thing, when my legs feel just perfect after about 15 minutes into the run), I decided to turn north up Balmoral. What could possibly go wrong right? I should mention for those of you that don't know me, I'm 6'5", 240 pounds, so running through some potentially dodgy neighbourhoods has never really bothered me.
Remembering my run to the Arlington Bridge, I could see another bridge over the CN rail yards, and figured I should go exploring. I ended up finding it - The Slaw Rebchuk Bridge. Supposedly, Slaw Rebchuk (which incidentally would have made a great minor league baseball name) was nicknamed "Mayor of the North End". How fitting to run accross his bridge on my exploring of the north side of this city. You can read more about this bridge, and Slaw here.
|The view from the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge, facing West|
|The Winnipeg Cold Storage building|
Another fantastic site from the bridge, besides the rail yards, is the Winnipeg Cold Storage facility. A huge structure, with chiseled lettering on the side of the building. The kind of small details on building that this city seems to love, and preserve. Frankly, it looks a bit like Yankee Stadium.
Heading back to the downtown core at about 7pm (I did this run after work) was bit of an eye opener. At one point, I got a big cheer by a hooker holding a John's hand, clapping and sarcastically screaming "You run there, honey! You're so fast!!" Hilarious, if not an apt depiction of this kind of neighbourhood. At the time of this run, I was staying with a friend in the West Broadway area (another area with a tarnished reputation), and it felt a lot safer than a few people I saw on this run. Like I said, I'm not judging or casting any aspersions - I'd love to find some of the north end's hidden gems. They just weren't on this run.
April 29 - North on Main
Kid waiting at a stop sign with me at the top end of Main: "Are you exercising?"
Me: "Yup. And I like to explore some neighbourhoods."
Me: "I dunno. It's fun?"
Kid: "Really? Whatever. See ya!"
Main Street is the "other" famous street in Winnipeg. Running north to south (sort-of... no street is ever straight here), it's home to a couple great live theatres, the Via Rail station, the entrance to the Forks, the Manitoba Museum and countless other amazing buildings.
Besides that, it's where alot of Winnipeg's transient people hang out in "no knife" bars, shelters and on the streets.
The run started along the Assiniboine, up and across Portage & Main. Advice for runners out there, try and find an alternate route. P&M is a mess to cross on foot.
|Portage & Main|
Heading north on the east side of Portage, I skimmed along the edge of the Exchange district and didn't realize that the Manitoba museum is right here.
|Statue south of the Manitoba Museum|
Heading through the Disraeli Freeway underpass, feels like the portal to the other side of the Peg. The underpass hasn't really been maintained, and you come out the other side to be greated by a gaggle of Winnipeg's less fortunate. On the run, I had to dodge a couple violently fighting outside a bar, a couple drunks passed out on the pavement and a few other people that seemed surprised to see a runner in this area. I looked around - I was the only one.
|Disraeli underpass. Note the murals on the west side.|
|Mural on the East side wall of the underpass|
That aside, north Main street does have a few nuggets for sights along the way.
|The seemingly abandoned, and aptly named - Yellow Warehouse|
Also, I highly recommend checking out the mural on the side of the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral on Main. You can read about this beautiful building here.
The run back was a lot like the run there, uneventful, except for the phone call from my wife that I took mid run, hoping she was calling to say our house had sold in Edmonton (it hasn't...).
I would really like to hear from Winnipegers out there about which areas in the north end I should explore. I had the plan to go today and yesterday, but Manitoba rain and snow decided for me otherwise.
I have plans on the books for a trip to the Zoo (thanks Jared), and a pilgrimage to my mom's first house (she was born here) in St. James. Pretty excited the weather's turned a bit warmer. Makes my running and blogging a bit easier.
Ipod: ESPN Fantasy Focus daily podcast
Temperature: +5C (and windy)
Time: 42 mins
Ipod: WTF with Marc Maron with guest Andy Dick
Time: 55 mins