The entire world seems to be groaning and ranting at winter right now, and I’m not entirely sure why. 1) It’s the middle of January, which as far as I know, is the middle of Winter. This shouldn’t be a shock. 2) Grumping doesn’t raise any temperatures other than your own. 3) Few places are colder than Winnipeg, and we somehow seem to live through it and find things to celebrate about it. So, this is going to be my “Winnipeg in the Winter” series, where I celebrate all things winter and cold! The cold doesn’t have to be inherently terrible; it just takes forethought and planning to enjoy. Today, I’m starting with the Forks!
The Forks, located in the heart of Winnipeg, is the meeting place of the Red River and the Assiniboine River, and has been used as a meeting place for centuries. Indigenous tribes, fur traders, farmers, settlers, and modern Winnipegers alike all use(d) the Forks for social purposes, to spend time together! (Well, back in the day, it was to meet other people to trade goods with, but that requires spending time together….) In the winter, we embrace the cold, and enjoy the river walk, the skating trail (which holds the Guinness World Record for longest skating trail), the warming hut competition, a restaurant (that looks like a pile of snow), and countless other things. If it didn’t get cold, we would just have the same boring but slightly colder rivers. If you are going to go cold, go all the way!
PSA: Part of enjoying the weather is dressing properly. That typically means an actual parka, not a pea-coat. And winter boots, not fashionable riding boots. Being as chic as you possibly can loses its appeal when you’ve spent the eighteenth day in a row inside. Dress for the weather (not for a photo shoot), and enjoy the vitamin D!
Of course, we brought the dogs with us! Given that they are huskies, they were all for wandering around on the cold ice. It was a beautifully sunny day, and aside from the people who stupidly let their dogs run around off-leash, it’s a great place to go for a dog walk. If you are sans-doggo, you can walk on the river walk like we did, or throw on a pair of skates if you feel like really embracing the cold. Some years they will even have curling rinks set up, and you can have an impromptu game with new friends! You can rent skates there, or bring your own, and they even have chairs available for those who need a little help making their way down the ice. (I kind of want one of those chairs, just to put in the kitchen. They look pretty badass to me.)
The restaurant is what is beneath the snow and tarps there! I’ve never eaten there myself, but it is supposedly quite the experience. Word of warning- there are “shifts” because it is so popular, and you will have to leave at your designated time, even if you aren’t done. Tickets are $170 CAD, so weigh whether or not world class chefs are worth it for you. It’s not for me… (It looks fairly hipster. If you are of that persuasion, I say go for it!) The boys did enjoy crunching around the tarps on the ground, though!
The warming huts are pretty cool. Every year, there is a competition for the best/most creative warming hut, and it leads to some very beautiful, very odd, and ingenious huts that not only shelter you from the wind and the cold, also just look very cool. Different architects, construction companies, and evening environmental design students in the city submit designs, and then the leading ones are built. They range from the truly traditional to the absolutely avant garde, and if you head to the Forks for no other reason, I would go to see the huts. This neon Hygge Hut is actually above the River (on the same level as the Forks Market itself), and is possibly one of the most eye-catching things I’ve ever seen. I don’t know that’s it’s actually hygge (see my posts on hygge here and here), but it’s a lot of fun to hang out in. As you can see, it has the Thorn seal of approval!
The tropical bubble warming hut is just entertaining! It’s surprisingly warm inside- despite being a frozen tundra of a city, Winnipeg is incredibly sunny and bright, and this hut capitalises on that. Although the palm tree and beach ball aesthetic let you escape to a warmer clime for a few minutes, the Adirondack chairs keep you firmly ensconced in the Canadian ethos. Plus, it would a lot of fun to sit in this hut when it is snowing! (Note to self: see if it is possible to build this in the backyard for winter reading sessions. With a little heater and some tea, that seems the height of hygge…)
Annnnnnd the Parthenon “hut”. This isn’t a hut per se, but it’s pretty freaking fun to wander through, especially when watching two huskies try and figure out what the swinging posts are and why they always seem to be in the way! Although this hut may not be as warm as some of the other huts, I love that it is interactive and creative. I also love that the black posts are countered by the red, green, yellow, and blue shell of the building, as it really makes it stand out from a distance. Also, as a historian, I just have to applaud the use of history in this hut. Stay cool, history fans.
And of course, we had to indulge in some good old fashioned dog wanders, as you can’t bring them somewhere new and then forbid them from smelling everything possible and checking the pee-mail. Thorn made a pretty bold jump up to the top of the walkway, and while she was debating how to get down from such a perch, Thor decided to ponder on the state of the world as a whole. (There aren’t enough treats, and more places should be dog friendly.)
What is your favourite part of winter?