Travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba – Episode 418

categories: canada travel

Hear about travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba as the Amateur Traveler talks to return guest Michael Soncina of Sonchy’s Adventures about this city on the great plains of Canada.


Michael says “I didn’t know I was Canadian until I went to Winnipeg. While I was there I went curling, I learned about trapper and aboriginal history. There was a lot of history about the railroad and the Hudson’s Bay Company. So all these big iconic things that make you Canadian you come in contact with when you are in Winnipeg.”

Michael took the train from Toronto to Winnipeg on Via Rail. “You know when you hit Manitoba because everything goes flat. Once you get to Winnipeg you need to focus on the city. One of the biggest attractions in Winnipeg is The Forks and this is the area on the waterfront right behind the train station. The first thing you will see when you pull into the station is the new Human Rights Museum. Right next to the Human Rights Museum is The Forks. The Forks has a long history: an aboriginal settlement, a trading community for the Hudson’s Bay Company (their first trading post in the province). Then after that, it became part of the main railway. And now it’s a social and tourist destination The Forks Market which is a large indoor shopping complex with food from all over the world, interesting shops on the top that sell Irish goods to aboriginal art. There’s a couple theatre buildings there [in the Forks], especially for children. There are some good restaurants.

“What people do in the winter time is skate. The Assiniboine and Red River are wonderful to skate upon. Around the time I went, which was early February, they had this warming hut competition so these engineers and architects from all over the world build these bizarre huts along the river. There was a huge festival going on when I was there the Festival du Voyageur. The Voyageur are French frontiersmen. These were your Davy Crocketts of the Canadian wilderness and they were French. There is a big festival to celebrate these Voyageur. They do it in Fort Gibraltar which is in the French Quarter of Winnipeg. You have an international ice sculpture competition. You have people wearing period costumes, coopers making barrels, blacksmiths making everything. They had war reenactments. There are a lot of outdoor activities. You can go snow shoeing. There are ice slides, huge music acts, a lot of French folk music, a lot of interesting foods.”

Michael recommends neighborhoods like the Exchange District and Museums like the Museum of Human Rights, the Manitoba Museum and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The real attraction of the Manitoba Museum is a recreation of the first Hudson’s Bay Company ship that came to Winnipeg. He also enjoyed a visit to Fort Whyte Alive which is a half hour outside of the city center. It recreates and explains aboriginal and prairie life.

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Show Notes

Sonchy’s Adventures
Winnipeg Tourism
Experiencing Winnipeg
Taking the Train in Canada
The Forks
Warming Huts at the Forks
Festival du Voyageur
Caribou (Drink)
Canadian Museum of Human Rights
The Exchange District
Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)
Manitoba’s Legislative Building
Manitoba Museum
Fort Whyte Alive
Half Pints Brewery
Saint Boniface
Winnipeg Railway Museum
Assiniboine Park
Journey to Churchill
Inn at the Forks
Mere Hotel
Osborne Village
Manitoba Theatre Center
O Tours


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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

6 Responses to “Travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba – Episode 418”

John Belyea


I listened with great interest the recent episode on travel to Manitoba. In theory, having a Canadian – Michael Soncina – as your guest providing highlights of the city should have been perfect. However, there were many factual errors which Michael – as a Canadian and Torontonian – should have been aware of:

– Winnipeg is not Canada’s most “southern” city. Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and, yes, Toronto, are significantly south of Manitoba. How much further south – the city of Toronto lies at a latitude south of Eugene, Oregon while Winnipeg is north of Vancouver, Canada. Winnipeg is also not Canada’s most northerly major city – Edmonton and Calgary, both larger cities, are further north.
– describing curling as a “uniquely Canadian” sport is a stretch. While we’re good at it (Men’s and Women’s Olympic gold in Sochi) it was invented by the the Scots in medieval times and it remains a popular sport in Great Britain (and Scandinavia).
– there is no Governor General of Manitoba only of Canada. Each province has a Lieutenant Governor who serves as the Queen’s representative
– Louis Riel remains a very controversial historical figure with many still considering him a traitor to Canada
– describing Winnipeg as Canada’s Chicago is a significant stretch. As more and more Canadian trade flows across the Pacific, Winnipeg’s role as a transportation hub diminishes. Unlike Chicago, Winnipeg has also lost almost all of its influence and role as a center of trade and commerce except on a smaller, regional basis. The Western Canadian cities of Calgary, Edmonton and even Regina are booming due to an abundance of natural resources such as oil and potash which Manitoba lacks.

I love your shows. They provide much inspiration and I’m hoping to travel to several of the destinations which have been highlighted in the next few years.

Keep up the great work!

John Belyea
Toronto, Canada



@John Belyea
– In the context used, curling can be referred to as a very “Canadian” activity. While it was not invented here, it remains hugely popular in the Prairies and the experience of visiting a century-old curling club in downtown Winnipeg (what he was describing) feels like stepping into a CBC film (see “Men With Brooms”). Basketball was invented in Canada and while it is remains popular here and in many other countries, most people would agree that going to a game in the States would feel like a very American activity.
– Louis Riel may be controversial in many parts of Canada, but that he was a key figure in Manitoban history is undeniable. Also, what you wrote here is almost exactly what Michael said.
– Describing Winnipeg as comparable to Chicago is still a very common analogy. While you might not agree with it, there remain a lot of similarities and it’s reasonable for him to repeat it.

Kalyn Murdock
Winnipeg, Canada



I think basketball was invented in the USA (YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts) but by a Canadian, so… we will give Canada some credit for that 🙂



@chris2x You got me there! Invented in the states but by a canuck.

Dave Courtney


@John Belyea
I will have to agree with Kalyn, in context the references to curling and Riel make complete sense from a Manitoban perspective.

And, as a Winnipger myself, I might also point out the often repeated notion that Winnipeg is a city that might never boom, but it also won’t bust. Our growth might be modest, but in recent years it has also been quite significant (especially with the advent of Centre Port). There is no reason not to consider Winnipeg alongside those Western cities.

Suffice to say that I think the “Chicago of the North” that the podcast describes is quite accurate. We might be more modest than some in the West, but we are a modest size city (with a town like atmosphere) with big city offerings.



John, glad to hear we did ok 🙂

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