Winnipeg new and old
Winnipeg - Friday, November 15, 2013
by:Timothy W. Shire

We visit Winnipeg several times a year and even though as the years go by, I am becoming more and more familiar with this city, it seems to me as a place with many secrets. It’s rich cultural heritage and prominent place in the political evolution of Canada, make Winnipeg a fascinating place.

On Wednesday morning, I drove from the west side of the city to its centre then north about one third the way to the northern fringe, before turning around and coming back to my favourite place, “the Forks,” site of the huge
Human Rights Museum which will be perhaps another year before it opens its doors to visitors.

Once again, it seems always the case, I am struck by the architecture that seems to be caught in the time warp of modern North America. On Main St. there are so many old buildings that are truly fascinating, while the bulging east end of Portage Ave. has this curious mix of glass towers and structures that clearly were designed by someone with a serious hang over. One building you will find in the Portage canyon is fitted with unusual “hangover” balconies that jut out of the building over the street below, truly unsightly.

As I drove through the thoroughfares, I was reminded of the hot spot issues in Winnipeg, with the growing population and its chronic need for mass transit, which apparently is being addressed. From Charleswood to downtown, or the newer upscale neighbourhoods in the south, the one way commute time in the morning and rolling home, is about one hour and fifteen minutes, which seems utterly ridiculous for a city of this size.

The other issue in Winnipeg is that of crime and safety. During my drive, I did not enter the aboriginal ghetto north of Portage, but from crime statistics and news stories, this seems like a place that is as miserable as Saskatoon or north of Dewdney in Regina. Clearly, the urban aboriginal world is one that can not be ignored and is truly an embarrassment to our country and all of its citizens. Pity that the federal government feels so little obligation to live up to treat obligations, preferring to fight Canada’s First Nations tooth and nail in court, to the tune of $106 million this year alone in legal fees and all of those legal battles, will be won by the First Nations people.

Click on
“the pictures” to see some of the highlights of my drive Wednesday morning, much of which was done with the window open as it was that warm here in Winnipeg.