WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA: RIVERS, RAILROADS AND A VERY SPECIAL BEAR

From the deserts of the Negev it is now time to wend my way north towards the subarctic, beginning with a brief stay in the capital city of Manitoba, Canada.  Winnipeg is at the geographic center of North America and gets its name from the First Nations Cree words for muddy water (more about the Cree and the other indigenous people of Canada in a later post). Before the Europeans arrived in the area, Winnipeg was a fur trading center  for the indigenous people and was considered a major gateway to the west. Then the Scotts came along with  the Hudson Bay Company and with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway on 1885, the city was on its way to becoming a great financial center.  It remained on top until a recession hit in 1914, followed by the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 and the Great Depression. Winnipeg wallowed in the doldrums until after the Second World War although its new growth never rivaled its soaring beginnings due to increased competition in Winnipeg’s previous monopoly of agricultural products marketing and distribution.  Still, it is now a vibrant city with rich resources and it remains one of the largest cities of the Prairies.

The Railroad is an ever-present reminder of Winnipeg’s history, as we found out during our initial explore of the town. Armed with a map, our cameras and lots of water and sunscreen, my friend Lenore and I decided to hike along the Red River until we came up to its junction with  the Assiniboine River at the famous The Forks Historical Site  (more on this in a bit):

The hike was lovely – it was a sunny, very warm day (yes even far up north they do get a very brief summer) .  We took a leisurely pace, stopping often to look at and take photos of the flora and fauna we encountered:

The last three photos of this adorable peek-a-boo prairie dog, courtesy of Lenore.  There were miles and miles of prairie dog tunnels tunnels with multiple entrances and exits along all the parks and prairies we walked throughout our trip.

Before we got to The Forks we decided to visit the very beautiful and emotionally impactful Museum of Human Rights and along the pathway ran into a rather familiar face, for me:

 

The statue of Mahatma Gandhi was gifted by the High Commissioner of India in 2004 to be placed on the pathway to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.  In 2013, the pathway was renamed Mahatma Gandhi Way in honor of the man who fought so hard for the basic human rights for all. And, in a serendipitous moment – I had an in-depth discussion with  an artist who was hoping to build global awareness in honor of the upcoming 150th Gandhi birthday celebration coming up in October.  In support,  this artist  is part of an organization that wants to create global awareness and movement for the ideals of non violence. We had a very spirited conversation about my revelations in India and concerns for humanity.

I will write more about the Museum of Human Rights in my next post, as it was a very moving experience,  but let me leave you with a lighter quick story about another claim for Winnipeg’s fame.

There was a young Canadian soldier in the early 1900’s who met a trapper who had killed a female bear and then realized she had a little cub. This soldier not only was a veterinarian but a big lover of animals, and he immediately fell in love with the little cub and bought it for $20.  Her named her “Winnipeg” in tribute to the soldier’s hometown. Her nickname was Winnie.   Winnie was a gentle bear, but when she grew from cub to bear, she went to live in a London zoo, but being quite behaved, children were allowed to ride on her back.

One of the London children who became quite smitten with Winnie constantly begged his father to take him to the zoo to see the gentle bear.  In fact, this little boy loved this bear so much that he decided to change the name of his stuffed teddy bear from “Edward” to “Winnie.”

The boy’s name was Christopher Robin Milne and his father’s name was A.A. Milne.  Oh, and I forgot to say the full name of his stuffed bear was “Winnie the Pooh,” and it and other stuffed animals in Christopher Robin’s nursery — Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger—became key character’s in his father’s most endearing and enduring stories.

As Winnie the Pooh was fond of saying:

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

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7 thoughts on “WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA: RIVERS, RAILROADS AND A VERY SPECIAL BEAR

  1. Thanks for posting, Cindy. Most interesting and extremely well done.
    I am waiting on hurricane to leave Florida so business can get back to normal. We were very lucky in this area.
    Carolyn

  2. Fun to read about a place that’s almost close to home…… your take on Winnipeg is certainly far more favourable than what most Canadians feel about the city. So nice to hear a positive prospective than what we usually hear. Most Canadians are aware about Winnie the Pooh’s story, but I’m sure that it’s a story that most Americans probably didn’t know, so thanks for putting that out there.

    Can’t wait to see your pics of the north – hopefully you saw its of your favourite polar bears!

    Next trip? When and where?

    Diana

    • Let’s just say for now that I was thoroughly happy about the trip – pics to come 😉. To be honest, I only can write about the Winnipeg I saw which I admit was a tiny portion of the entire town but I did love what I did do and see there- more on Winnipeg on the back end of my Canada posts

      Next up is Costa Rica in December, with Peggy -I was there many years ago with my daughter and hoping to see more of it and get photos I wasn’t able to get last time due to camera/activity – should be great fun no matter what!

      How are you and Parker?

  3. Thanks Cindy! I love my city of Winnipeg and this is a wonderful bit about it. There’s so much more of course and I’m excited to read your next posts. The story of Winnie the Bear was made for TV at some point and it’s a sweet story to view. It’s title is: “A Bear Named Winnie.” The full movie is on YouTube although the sound needs some refining on there. Perhaps there are other places to view this movie as well: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0437088/

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