WINNIPEG: GATEWAY TO THE WEST
Winnipeg is the capital city of the province of Manitoba and is located where the Red River meets the Assiniboine River (a point often referred to as The Forks). The city is also at the most eastern point in the Canadian Prairies region so the city is often referred to as the “Gateway to the West.” It is also near a region called the Canadian Shield, which is characterized by many lakes and parks. The entire city is situated in the Red River Valley and has a flat topography, making it a very flood-prone area. It is the largest city in Manitoba with an area covering about 465 square kilometers and a population of 663,617 in 2011. Most Winnipeggers are white and come from families who originally came from Europe. Immigrants from the Philippines make up about six percent of the population making it the biggest Filipino community in Canada, second to Toronto. About 99 percent of the residents speak English fluently. More than 70 percent of people living in Winnipeg are Christians with the majority being Protestants and Catholics.
The climate in Winnipeg is characterized as humid continental with summers that tend to be very warm. Winter in the city is dry and windy, making it seem colder than what the thermometer says. Wintertime in the city also means that nights tend to be longer than usual.
Most Winnipeggers have jobs in the provincial and city government. Some of them have jobs in government-funded organizations, like the Health Sciences Center and the Manitoba Hydroelectric Energy and Natural Gas utility. Other residents work for the various large private-sector companies in the city, such as Shaw Cable Systems, Ipsos Reid, Manitoba Telecoms, and Great West Life Assurance. Winnipeg is actually considered as one of the more affordable locations in Canada to run a business in.
HOW IT BEGAN
Winnipeg was incorporated as a city in 1873. Its population grew rapidly soon after the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railways in the city in the 1880s. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 reduced companies’ reliance on the rail system for trade. This also meant that the Winnipeg’s real estate market became less attractive and the city’s economy slowed down.
The Great Depression of 1929 affected both the United States and Canada. This led to large unemployment rates in the city. The Second World War, however, brought good news to Winnipeg since it ended the effects of the Great Depression as the manufacture of items needed during the war stimulated the city’s economy. At the end of the war, housing development in the city received a boost. The Red River Flood of 1950 slowed down this growth with the destruction of dikes, bridges and other structure, as well as the evacuation of thousands of residents.
In 1972, Winnipeg was merged with most of the cities and towns surrounding the Assiniboine and Red rivers. The 1979 energy crisis and the recession of the 1980s led to the closure of many of the city's business establishments. In 1989, the city reclaimed and redeveloped many of its rail yards and made some successful efforts to diversify its economy by cultivating sectors in retail, manufacturing and tourism.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT...
╣Folklorama. This is an annual two-week event held during August. It is a celebration of the ethnic and cultural heritage of the native countries of the city's immigrants. First held in 1970, the festival is one of the biggest of its kind throughout the world. The festival features various pavilions representing a country in different parts of the city. Each pavilion has a cultural display, cuisine and other components, like games, gift shops, and parlors for henna tattooing.
╣Manitoba Museum. The museum is dedicated to natural and human heritage. It is the biggest center of its kind in the world and features a planetarium, science exhibits, and publications. The museum also organizes science programs for the youth, for teachers, and for the general public.
╣Assiniboine Park. Located at the Assiniboine Forest's northern point, the park was designed to have an English-style landscape. The famous Assiniboine Park Zoo is situated at the park's west end and features native and exotic animals in indoor and outdoor habitats.
╣Royal Canadian Mint. Located at the southeast part of Winnipeg, this is one of two plants that produce the coins in circulation throughout the country – the other plant is in Canada's capital, Ottawa, Ontario. It also produces the coins for other countries. There are interactive tours of the Mint available on the Internet as well as live guided tours of the plants.
╣the Forks National Historic Site. It is located at the point where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. It is where many significant events that helped in the formation of the Canadian West happened. Now, the site is famous in Winnipeg for hosting numerous special events and festivals which take place in the city annually.
╣Esplanade Riel. Completed in 2003, the bridge with its long white cables spread out to the sides quickly became one of Winnipeg's famous landmarks. It is located at the city's Forks district and is actually a bridge meant for pedestrians. It also features a restaurant on the bridge itself which provides visitors a great view of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.
╣Winnipeg International Children's Festival. This is an annual four-day event held every June in the city's Forks district. It features various live performances and educational programs for children to showcase diversity that the world can have.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
Greyhound Canada operates the city's public bus system. There are also train services by VIA Rail three times a week. You should know that city does not have an urban freeway system. Public transportation is good inside the city and the main roads in its suburban region. However, service can be inadequate in suburban areas in the outer reaches, particularly during evenings and on weekends.
The downtown area is also composed of a vast network of walkways, made up of skywalks and tunnels. The walkway spans about two kilometers and connects several shops and buildings.
If you plan to rent a vehicle, you will be glad to know the city is ideal for driving. There are on-street parking spaces in popular areas. However, do not forget that come rush hour, these spaces will become no-stopping zones to ease traffic flow. The city also has parking lots throughout the downtown area that can be paid to watch over the car on an hourly basis.