Warmest and fondest,
Warmest and cheeriest holiday greetings to you and your family and sincere best wishes to all of you for a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy 2021, rich with many blessings.
I am writing to you on our first real snowy day this year here in Winnipeg - a.k.a. "Winterpeg". We have had on and off light snows since early October, but never more than a light dusting, but overnight last night we had a light snowfall that has blanketed the city in a beautiful white, and it is still snowing and blowing a bit, below the sun in a pale blue sky ... a lovely winter day. It is not yet very cold - hovering between zero and minus 5 Celcius, but come January we are expecting more typical temperatures that will take us to minus 20 or colder for a few weeks at least.
I was talking with a friend the other day, who came to Winnipeg from South America. I said the weather here lately is crazy and unpredictable. He replied that the weather lately is completely standard for Winnipeg -- crazy and unpredictable is normal here. We know the winter will be cold in winter and hot in summer, but beyond that... every day anything can happen.
I am not sure of what years exactly you lived here - time is a blur for me - but I think you would find the city changed significantly since your time here.
First of all at the University of Winnipeg... [above] the campus has expanded significantly. Spence Street (along the west side of the main property) is now pedestrian-only, with some of the houses turned into student residences or offices and classrooms for specialty programs, and the rest gone and replaced by a massive fitness complex, available for use by students, faculty, alumni, and eighbourhood residents. Among other things, UofW has built a large modern science complex on Portage Avenue, a large residence nearby which can accommodate families, and has taken over a number of nearby buildings covering several blocks for offices & classrooms.
The downtown Bay store [below] permanently closed its doors earlier this month, and the magnificent building now stands empty. It has an historic designation, so must remain, but what will become of the inside, no one yet knows.How much activity was there at The Forks when you were here? The large area downtown where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers join. It has been a meeting place for aboriginal peoples for thousands of years, and is now a fabulous place for both locals and tourists -- with museums, restaurants, a permanent farmers' market, specialty stores and other types of shops.
At The Forks we also now have the Human Rights Museum, the first national museum built outside Ottawa. It is an impressive structure, and the interior is absolutely stunning, with alabaster walkways, spaces for contemplation, and always interesting exhibits, both permanent and changing.
While we don't know how many of them will survive once the pandemic is over -- indeed, some have already shut down their businesses permanently - Winnipeg has many more restaurants now than before (mostly from varied cultures), many more specialty bakeries too -- one of which only bakes with heritage grains; and several new stores that feature locally-produced foodstuffs.
At Assiniboine Park (our largest) there is now a permanent art gallery of exceptional quality. The Zoo has expanded its offerings to focus on conservation, animal rescue, and education. It now has an outstanding and very large polar bear exhibit (called Journey to Churchill; among other things, one can now watch the bears swimming: their pool is built over and around a glass viewing tunnel... beautiful and fascinating. We watch them, and they watch us. The bears there are now exclusively rescues, bears that for one reason or another have become unable to survive in the wild.
I hope this gives you a small glimpse of some of the changes in Winnipeg since you were here. The city has also grown a great deal, with many new neighbourhoods having been built in all corners of the city, most of them completely unfamiliar to me.
Do take care and stay safe. Wishing you and your family the very best of the Christmas season and every blessing in 2021.