We had been looking forward to our two night stay in Winnipeg, and it didn’t let us down. Our Airbnb was once again low-cost, but we had the whole downstairs area to ourselves, with a comfortable bed and the ability to cook and clean without using an ironing board for a table. Also, the owner wasn’t preaching any late night sermons (see previous post for details) and we were well rested for an early start to explore the city the next day.
We first drove to The Forks, a vibrant space in the heart of the city next to the meeting point of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. Of course, we couldn’t resist buying a delicious coffee from a trendy coffee shop to accompany us on our walk. We saw many artistic and architectural structures on the way. We walked by the iconic Canadian Museum for Human Rights and crossed the Esplanade Riel footbridge to the French quartier of the city, where we saw the St Boniface church and enjoyed the view back across the river. It was a warm and beautiful day, and the streets were quiet until just after lunchtime.
In the afternoon, we drove to the Royal Canadian Mint for a tour. There are two mints in Canada – in Winnipeg and Ottawa – with the one in Winnipeg responsible for making the country’s (as well as dozens of others) circulation coins; up to 15 million can be made in a day! The circulation currency is produced in Winnipeg because of its central location, making it easier to distribute coins around the country. On the tour, we saw the production lines for the coin-making, but unfortunately were not allowed to take photos. We learned a few interesting facts, including that Canadian coins have a steel core, making them magnetic, whereas American coins are not. Also, apparently the finished coins are transported in trucks with other company markings to make them a less obvious target for theft.
Our last stop of the day was at a public park and sculpture garden west of the city. It was a great way to wind down, and the setting sun had its usual effect of making the autumn colours look even more incredible. We also saw a Winnie the Pooh statue in the park, where we learned that the history behind the name. Apparently, a WWI soldier bought a black bear and named her after his home city, Winnipeg. The bear ended up in London Zoo where A. A. Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh books, visited with his son Christopher Robin. Christopher named his teddy bear after Winnie, and the book character then inherited the same name.
We only had the one day exploring Winnipeg, but we were pleased we’d taken the time to stop and see some of the city, and felt fortunate the weather had allowed us to enjoy all the outdoor spaces.