From the old “Moving to Canada” blog, originally posted on 10 July, 2005:
To begin with, I should say that, for the first time ever, I was on a Canadian train that arrived on time. In fact, it was half an hour early. Of course, that’s just the flip side of the casual timing that I mentioned in my previous posting.
At home, I am rarely out of contact with real-time news sources for very long, so one of the real novelties of travel is that I get to be surprised by an accumulation of news. We arrived Thursday, July 7 in Winnipeg, and one of our fellow travelers, someone we had spoken with in the Jasper station, told us she had heard that there had been a major terrorist attack in London. No further information. Then we walked out into the city. We passed the provincial parliament building, and noted that the flags were flying at half staff. It was another couple of hours before we learned that several dozen people had been killed by four separate bombs on public transport in London: horrid, but not another 9/11, not even (apparently) another Madrid. Such is the calibration of our times.
Winnipeg was a bit of a surprise. Knowing nothing about the city except its geographic location, I expected it to be like all the flat US cities I know, pedestrian in all but the literal sense. In fact, Winnipeg is a good deal more attractive than that, on a human scale, pleasant to walk. I had been warned that torrential rains over the past several weeks had caused an upsurge in mosquito activity, and potentially an early start to the West Nile Fever season. It sounded bad enough that we considered giving the city a miss — and we might have, if not for the extra fees that Via Rail would have charged to change the dates for our travel, about $600 extra on $700 tickets. I’m happy they dissuaded us, though, because Winnipeg is definitely worth visiting. I got a few bites, but nothing terribly unpleasant, and there didn’t seem to be any toxic spraying going on either. I wish we had more time to see the city, because we ended up spending most of our time (as planned) at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. (more…)