FTLComm - Winnipeg - July 9, 1999

Perhaps it is because of our watches still being on Saskatchewan time, or just the way things work out, but for several days it seems that we have been on the street, often Portage Avenue as the afternoon traffic hits its peek and Winnipegers are on their way home from work.

The picture above shows a fellow in a jeep who had emerged from a back alley on the right crossed through four lanes of traffic to this position then when the light changed crossed back across four lanes of traffic and dived into another alley across the intersection on the right. A man with a mission.

In moments a person can be confronted with ten lanes of frenzied traffic and in the next a placid stroll across an intersection with the harmonies of Mozart helping you along the way.

Urban life is a mixture of contradictions and compromises. The most obvious thing about a city is the sound level. So it is significant to see this man going about his business in charge of the sound he hears. With trucks, cars, and what seems like a habitation clatter, the need to establish a sound space for ones self seems like an outstanding plan.

With that in mind the next time you are in traffic notice how many drivers are talking on their cell phones.

Among the endangered species of this planet surely we need to give some respect for the perseverance of pedestrians. Making the scurrying journey across ten lanes of Portage Avenue on a single light is not an adventure for the meek. Notice the lady's apprehensive gaze toward the approaching traffic and the man with the white shirt toughing out the wind and being harassed by a photographer. In general Winnipeg pedestrians are not treated well, they must use cross walks or their attempt to cross a street will be ignored and even in cross walks they have to dodge vehicles of every king bent on ignoring their presence.

The mass transit system of Winnipeg seems to have an ample supply of passengers and it seems appropriate to use the buses simply because of the difficulty of parking in the central part of the city. The buses which are locally manufactured come in two distinct varieties. Large ones like the one in this picture and much smaller and easy to handle shuttle type buses that serve short feeder routes and in the downtown area provide a quick ride from point to point in a limited area. This picture is was taken near five in the afternoon Thursday and the bus stops along Portage were jammed with people and in some areas the
buses were lined up one after the other.

The volume of traffic shows up in this picture (at right) which shows the Radisson hotel with its oddball projection out of this East side oft he building at the eleventh floor.

Here is a nice touch to down town urban living. These two young people (below) are moving along the street picking up litter. We were unable to get a glimpse of the back of their shirts which had some identification on them. But, the idea seems like a good one and the effects of their work and the general neatness of downtown Winnipeg is a testament to the people who use this area but also to the formidable capabilities of the prevailing North West wind.

Winnipeg hosts an international folk festival starting this weekend and in preparation for this event this part of the City North of Portage and just West of Main is the site of the Chinese pavilion and this yard has a number of pagoda style structures and the magnificent gate now adorns the street which has had all of its signs modified to include Chinese.

One of the things that has always distinguished Winnipeg has been its exceptional mix of Canadians from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds.

The owner operator of this cart was no where in sight when I snapped this picture but it takes little imagination to recognise what we are seeing. There is no doubt about the extent of poverty in Winnipeg. In the Northern part of the city there are fires nearly every day of run down buildings being torched in the area that is quite simply a slum. With a huge population of North American aboriginal people living in the city unemployment is simply the norm, rather then the exception. Though financial institutions report modest growth in the Manitoba economy this year these are not good times for most people.