Winnipeg is a modern city which hasnít quite reached the growth its founders intended. We visited the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature in the Exchange District of Winnipeg and learned about the history of the area and of the people who inhabited it. The Metis were (or was) a tribe formed through the intermarriage of natives (called aboriginals here) and the European trappers. They settled and lived in the area as a separate nation. Later, of course, the Europeans came in full strength and dominated the land.
The Forks in Winnipeg where the Red River and the Assiniboine rivers meet is said to be a meeting place for 6,000 years. When you look into the water from the bridge, you can see a definite line where the two rivers meet. It is quite distinctive. A Riverwalk depicts Winnipegís history, but much of it was closed due to flooding. The rivers and lakes throughout the Dakotas and in Canada are very high, and even flooded in some areas. Highway 29 between Fargo and Grand Forks had been closed for several days about a week before we drove on it.
A freeform arena at The Forks is a fascinating work of art/playground/rest. Huge brick freeform structures serve as perimeter walls and seem to be playground structures as well, as some have climbing pegs in them. A large outdoor stage was being readied for Canada Day performances on July 1st. We were there on June 30th. A prairie garden is also featured in one of the areas, but, as Ray pointed out, it really is just weeds. Black eyed daisies were the featured flower, but they were rather sparse (Text continued below photos)
Two magnificent life size bronze bison (more on this later) stand on either side of the grand staircase in the Legislative Building. They, too, were cast in France and shipment was received on them after the building was complete. The problem of how to get these huge bronze figures into the building without scratching and/or marring the magnificent marble floors was solved in a unique way. The heat in the building in a Winnipeg winter was turned off, the doors and windows were opened and the entrance hallway was flooded. When this was frozen, each bison was placed on a block of ice and slid easily into the building and hoisted to their resting position. The heat was turned back on and when melted, the remaining water was swept out the front door. Pretty clever.
Okay, back to the bison. When we were at the little zoo in Aberdeen, they had several bison/buffalo there. I admit I have never thought very much about this, but I donít know the difference. Ray didnít either, so we decided to ask our college age guide. Her answer was that bison are native to North America and buffalo are native to Africa. So, if she is correct, Buffalo Bill should really be Bison Bill. Naw, doesnít have the same ring!
I mentioned avoiding the crowds on Canada Day. Well, there donít seem to be any crowds in Manitoba. The campground we were at was only partially full on a four-day weekend (maybe it was just three days), The Forks wasnít crowded at all, and the highways are devoid of traffic. Mind you, weíre not complaining, just observing.
One more interesting thing. As we drive on Highway 1, one of the major thoroughfares, there are fields of yellow which are the same yellow fields observed in northern Germany growing canola for canola oil. On fields, other than these distinctive yellow ones, there are labelsĖoats, barley, rye. Now, Iím assuming the farmers donít need these labels, so they must be for the tourists. Kind of nice, but I still wouldnít know the difference without the labels.
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