Local Walks

Navigating Hope: It Starts Now.

May 24, 2018. Gail and and I step off our front porch. We wait for our dog-child Styxx to appear in the front window, as he always will. We wave goodbye, as we always do, and make our way across busy Portage Avenue. We stroll down the quiet residential streets of Winnipeg’s west end, beneath canopies of just-emerging leaves. Winter is behind us. In its place is a fresh explosion of heat and green. This is a time of renewal. Lawn mowers hum with the season’s first cut. Above us, an arborist’s chain saw chatters loudly. And there’s the high-pitched chorus of children playing at recess. 

We are on our way to CancerCare Manitoba.

This is not the walk we had planned to take, back in January and February. By rights, we would be well into our plans and preparations for a long walk later this spring. The Camino Frangicena was in our sights, a long pilgrimage from Cantebury to Rome crossing Britain, France, Switzerland and Italy.

A small lump altered our direction. It would take us on a very different path. (more…)

Little White Walks: On Omand’s Creek, Part Two

The ninth of a series of jaunts in the key of white. This week: the second half of a walk on Omand’s Creek from the Assiniboine River to Brookside Cemetery.

Passing through the concrete conduit beneath the Sargent Street bridge marks something of a transition point for the frozen Omand’s Creek. Behind me, the landscape has been commercial with big box stores, parking lots, hotels and busy roads lining the straight-jacket course of the creek as it makes its way south to the Assiniboine River. Ahead is all industrial. And my passage upstream this warmish winter afternoon all the more challenging. (more…)

Little White Walks: On Omand’s Creek, Part One

The eighth of a series of jaunts in the key of white. This week: the first half of a walk on Omand’s Creek from the Assiniboine River to Brookside Cemetery.

I stand at the mouth of Omand’s Creek. Behind me, the broad Assiniboine River surges by on its way to meet the Red River, just a few kilometres to the east. Ahead is the diminutive Omand’s Creek, my frozen path for the next six-plus kilometres.

It is late February and winter still holds a tight grip on the land. The waters of both the Assiniboine and Omand’s Creek are solid ice and walkable. A thin layer of snow blankets their flat surfaces and the surrounding landscape of bare tree limbs and dead bullrushes. It is a comfortably warm day under the clear prairie sky. The temperature hovers just below freezing. The sun warms the back of my dark parka. Perfect conditions for a walk along one of Winnipeg’s most under-appreciated waterways. (more…)

Little White Walks: An In-Spired Walk

The seventh of a series of jaunts in the key of white. This week: a walk to the top of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. 

This post is dedicated to Gail, my partner for life. Together, may we continue to climb towers of hope for years to come.

 

From high above, Gail and I can see the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers on the horizon. We can trace the River Trail’s course as it winds along the surface of those frozen waterways. Below us, a blanket of snow stretches across the broad plain of a territory known, these last few decades, as The Forks but, for centuries before that, as the home of First Nations people. All around us lies Winnipeg with its high-rises and bridges and train tracks, a belt of development tightening its buckle around the city’s earliest settlement.

This is our view on this wintery afternoon. We are about 100 metres above the rivers, perched atop the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHC) on a slender circular platform surrounded by a delicate mesh of steel and glass.  (more…)

Little White Walks: River Trail, Part Two

The sixth of a series of jaunts in the key of white. This week: part two of a January 26, 2018 walk along Winnipeg’s Assiniboine and Red Rivers.

As I approach the Osborne Street Bridge, a form slowly reveals itself below the bridge’s concrete arches.

The first of the warming huts.

The warming huts are the latest iteration of our city’s on-again, off-again romance with our frozen rivers. In past, ski hills have thrust their avid adventurers from high above the river’s eroding banks down to the Assiniboine’s icy surface. So too have tobogganers been sent gleefully on near-death thrill rides from the heights of wood platforms down to the frozen Red River.  (more…)