We left Churchill yesterday, Dan reluctant to leave his people (I’ve decided to call beluga whales “his people” since he loves them so much) and me bolting out the door, eager to get back to a city where it’s safe to walk outside after dusk. Our hotel in Winnipeg was downtown and had a security guard out front. So we exchanged dodgy humans for polar bears. I didn’t want to take photos of dodgy humans. Hungry, we went to the first place I found: a combined Indian buffet and pizza place a block from the hotel. Inevitably we weren’t suited to the food and we returned to our hotel disappointed and feeling ill. We both developed headaches, hopefully from lack of sleep (we woke up repeatedly overnight to look out the window at the sky but didn’t see Northern lights). By morning all was better.
Manitoba Legislature We had the morning free to wander downtown and Dan took me straight to the Manitoba Legislature; he’d been on his trans-Canada train ride earlier in the year. We seem to have visited provincial capitals and looked at their parliamentary buildings. I don’t know if I’ve even seen Perth’s. According to our very friendly, chirpy and surprisingly all-round excellent guide (great presentation content, mix of trivia, engaging historical stories, spoke slowly and clearly and invited questions frequently) the building was neo-Classical, and took design elements from Roman, Greek and even Egyptian buildings. I’d seen the Greek columns out front but hadn’t known the rotunda mezzanine was Egyptian in design. There were busts of Hermes and Medusa as well as Moses and two large bronze bison, Mani and Toba. I didn’t really like the mix of architectural styles but I did like the endless stories of things gone wrong. Like the foreman stealing 6 columns and putting them up in front of his house. Or all the bison on the door handles facing the same way because half weren’t cast in reverse by mistake. Or the Golden Boy travelling back and forth across seas because he made good ballast for a military-occupied freight ship. I was sad it was such a small building. Our guide made the 45 minute tour seem like 15 minutes.
Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) I wanted to catch the Group of 7 exhibition – I liked Janvier’s work; it reminded me of Kandinsky. Like the Legislature and one of the other parliamentary buildings we’ve seen in Canada there were fossils in limestone blocks outside, though these weren’t stained by hundreds of human fingers touching them, because they were on the street where people just walk by without noticing. I ate a delicious beef bourguignon for lunch next to the sculpture garden and another Henry Moore sculpture. There is a Henry Moore sculpture in almost every major city’s art gallery.
Assinibioine Park & Zoo We visited the zoo on our way back to the airport, just like in Washington, wheeling our cabin bags behind us. It was hot. I had to roll up my trouser legs and change into a tank top, luckily I had all my clothes in my bag! All I hear from Canadians is how cold Winnipeg is and awful. Today we walked around in sunshine and even saw emus and kangaroos in the Australian Walkabout (a seasonal exhibit with only two Australian animals). The Into Churchill exhibit was good, even if the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the polar bear exhibit faced a grass-covered hill, the polar bear on the other side. The flowers in the butterfly garden were in bloom.