Monday, April 9, 2018

Winnipeg vs. Calgary vs. Halifax

This is a familiar sight to me. I've driven the U-Haul trucks twice across canada in 12 years. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. I'm from Winnipeg, Manitoba - stuck right in the middle of Canada. I was born there, and lived in South East Winnipeg (St.Vital) for most of my early life.

Winnipeg gets slagged on by many people in Alberta, BC, even Nova Scotia. It's a beautiful place in the Summer with the festivals and red & assiniboine rivers. The mosquitos are horrendous and the summers can be scorching hot. The winters can be brutally cold. I remember once working in -30 degree C weather for 2 weeks straight. On the 3rd week, the temperature went up to -20, and it did feel quite nice. It was still very cold. The cost of housing is cheaper than Alberta and Nova Scotia. My friends are still there whome I visit annually when I leave on vacation to visit family.

I left Winnipeg back in 1997 of June (so long ago) back then with a F150 pickup truck and some of my personal items in the bed. My first wife was already in Calgary, but little did I know, my marriage was doomed from the start. We split up amicably in 1998 and in early 1999 I met my 2nd significant other. In 2000 I had just bought a house in Erin Woods and by 2001 we had both decided to "leave the rat race" and move to the east coast (Halifax/dartmouth) where her parents were and made a start of it.

It was at this time we loaded up the U-Haul truck, and towed the car behind it. It was a long, treacherous trip. We left in March so the roads were still icy and snow was around. I never drove this far so I used Expedia or mapquest (?) to chart a route. We didn't have any GPS because back then they were very rare and expensive. It took us a little over 5 days to reach Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and eventually Cole Harbour where her family lived.

We would stay in Nova Scotia until 2012 when some terrible events happend earlier in the year. My mother-in-law past away along with her sister due to illness. Before that, a stepfather died a year earlier. While living in Nova Scotia gave me an appreciation on how different two areas of the Country can be. When you walked down the sidewalk people would generally say hello. The bar scene wasn't what I was used to (Country bars in Alberta) but they were unique in their own way. I really enjoyed the Old Triangle in Halifax due to the Irish bar and friendly people there. My wife's cousin would come in from PEI (Charlottetown) and play his fiddle to crowds during his tours.

Although I never lived in Prince Edward Island, I've spent enough driving and trips there to get an idea of what life would be like: Small town, everyone knows who you are, everyone knows where you're going, etc... To get on the Island I'd use confederation bridge. When you left the Island, it was $42 per car (!). That is the one reason I could never live there: You have to pay to leave.  People are so pissed at this they even tried to create a petition.

If you've ever watched Anne of Green Gables and fantasized about how lovely it would be to live there, ummmm... let me provide a little reality check for you: You'll make less money than anywhere else in Canada.... your cost of living will be higher than Nova Scotia.... and although the province touts an openness to new arrivals.... it's a pretty closed society - just like Nova Scotia.

And racism is alive and well in all provinces in Canada. My own father-in-law would use the N-word. He didn't hate them, it's what words he used back then. He also used the C-word than rythmes with Raccoons (a terrible horrible word).

We left Nova Scotia in 2012 and drove back across the country back to Calgary. You can find my travel stories in my blog, just check October 2012 when I drove back. I literally blew out a tire in rural quebec with no cell service. It wasn't a great time.

Calgary is very blue-collar but also conservative to the core. People lost their shit when Justin Trudeau won the election. I literally jumped for joy. I hated Stephen Harper and still think he's a condescending, arrogant,  and controlling asshole. But that's just me.

It got worse when marijuana was legalized - nobody will be allowed to puff or vape in public. Now I understand that you should never do this in front of Children or other people. But why should the city decide you can't puff or vape while waiting for the bus?

I'm not a huge weed spokesperson because it can become addictive - mentally. It is fine in moderation but one must be extremely careful not to let it control you. I've known people who refuse to try it and others who smoke tons and are doing absolutely fine. I'm not going to judge anyone.

My favorite Place?

Portage La Prairie, Island Park. I like it because my dad brought me and my brother there every weekend to feed the deer and birds in the sanctuary. It's where I got to know my grandma and uncles (even the crazy one who drew a knife on me). But he's dead now. Sadly, even one of my cousins past away from breast cancer a few years ago. I regret not connecting back up with Angela. But, I am not on facebook and never will be.

Every city can have great memories or bad experiences. Just take the good with the bad and chill out.

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