Confession: I have had a draft of this post sitting in my dashboard for at least 2 years, and Little Gray Bird’s post on Manitoba books was the nudge I needed to finally finish it. She writes,
“When I moved to Manitoba I really didn’t know much about the province. One way for me to get to know my new province was through books. I started searching for books that centred around Manitoba. Over the last five years I have found quite a few Manitoba themed books that I have really enjoyed.”
She’s compiled a great list of books including fiction set in Manitoba and non-fiction about the province, along with a few kids’ books. I’ll echo her recommendations of the Manitoba Book of Everything and A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba (I got my copy of the latter from former WoMHer Laurel when she moved away from the Peg… her loss, my gain!).
I’ve mentioned before that prior to moving here, my love affair with the city intensified when I read two particular books by Carol Shields: The Republic of Love and Larry’s Party. Since then, I’ve seen The Republic of Love described as “a valentine to the city” and I think that’s an apt assessment. I was so excited when I saw it was being made into a movie. I think we’re always at risk of being disappointed when our favourite books are adapted for screen (don’t bother with the movie Suburban Girl if you love The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing as much as I do!), and this was no exception. On top of just generally feeling let down by the adaptation, the essence of that book was lost when they set the film in Toronto (apparently, they couldn’t afford to shoot it here).
But back to the books, what I loved about them was the ethos of Winnipeg that Shields wove into her stories. Shields’ Winnipeg is the epitome of a “big small town” where everyone is connected and these connections run deep. I shared one of my favourite passages from The Republic of Love in a post from a few years ago, Geography is Destiny. I first read these books when I was probably only 18 or 19 years old, but it took me ten years to follow through on the yearning they stirred in me. (And I admit, in daydreams, where I’m really meant to be is River Heights. On Grosvenor. Just like Tom and Fay.)
I also have a great book called The Imagined City: A Literary History of Winnipeg. It includes archival photos and illustrations and excerpts from dozens of books, as well as poems and songs about Winnipeg. Just now, as I was examining it, I noticed that on its back cover is the poem “In Winnipeg at Christmas” by Rose Fyleman. I recognized it from a song that’s on the Fred Penner Christmas album. Apparently, in the 1940s, school children in Winnipeg memorized this poem!
The book highlights sources from the early days of the Red River (European) settlement (accounts from fur traders and missionaries) to the present day (popular novelists like Miriam Toews, Beatrice Culleton, and Carol Shields). It must have been a fascinating project to work on, and I’m glad I came across it.
Speaking of Beatrice Culleton, another of the books Little Gray Bird mentions is In Search of April Raintree. I’m not really sure what prompted me to buy this book a few years ago, but I found it profoundly moving. I have a vivid memory of sitting on the bus, reading this book, and willing myself not to cry, the story was so heart-wrenching. Then stepping off the bus downtown and thinking, how many among us have experienced these things? Too many. While I’ve always believed that most of us can’t even begin to understand the complexities of living in the legacy of residential school abuse and the other injustices that Aboriginal and Metis people endured and continue to endure, this book drove that idea home even further. This was an “On the Same Page” title for 2008/2009, and one that I think every Manitoba – no, every Canadian – should be required to read, no matter how difficult it may be.
To sum up, I think everyone likes to see the place where they live represented in fiction – the good, the bad, the quotidian. Please share your own favourite Winnipeg or Manitoba books with me and with Little Gray Bird! In the meantime, I think I’ll revisit these titles over the holidays. Thanks for the inspiration, Little Gray Bird!
Today I had the chance to finally pop into a shop I’ve been meaning to check out for several months. While I was at it, I realized that there are actually three awesome businesses within 2 blocks of each other. Hence I have dubbed the stretch on Main St. between Hartford and Kilbride the Terrific Trifecta. Allow me to elaborate!
A L’Epi de Blé at 1757 Main (at Hartford): I’ve been into this amazing French bakery a few times specifically for the macarons. I think they are one of the only places around town that sell these little beauties, and they are simply divine. You can get a cup of coffee and sit at one of a couple of tables to enjoy a treat, or get your bread and pastries to go. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. Read more in The Times community newspaper.
Just a block up the street is Baraka Pita Bakery and Mediterranean Deli at 1783 Main, a Lebanese place that locals know for some of the best shawarma in town. I’ve only been here a couple times, but my mouth starts watering every time I go by. The staff is friendly and helpful and the food is great. You can eat in or take out, and there’s also a small market with fresh pita and middle eastern foods, as well as pastries and to-go tubs of baba ghanouj, hummus and other delicious dips. Read more in Marion Warhaft’s Freep review, and on Food Musings & Zollipop.
And then just down the block is the place I first visited today, Newbridge Toy Shop at 1791 Main (at Kilbride). I chatted for a few minutes with the owner and saw how much fun she is having with her new business, and for good reason. This relatively new shop is full of high quality, unique toys including a huge assortment of puppets, dolls, china tea sets, stuffed animals, vintagey-looking tin windup toys (totally rad robots!), puzzles, science games, art supplies… the list goes on. One stand-out item I saw is the beautiful child-sized baby grand piano! This place is all killer, no filler and the prices are very reasonable. Looking forward to going back to pick up a few Christmas gifts…they do gift-wrapping and phone orders, too!
So, what do you think? Are there other businesses in this vicinity that are worth checking out?
Heads up right off the bat: this post isn’t completely about Winnipeg. Partly it’s just reflections on a trip I took this summer, and partly it’s observations, comparisons and random thoughts resulting from those travels. It involves imperial cookies, public transit, and concrete jungles, and the admission of my continued low-grade identity crisis. You’ve been warned!
This summer I took a trip to Ontario with my mum and siblings. I’d been to Toronto a couple times for conferences and whatnot, but never spent much time exploring. Aside from that, though, I’ve never been anywhere else in Ontario, unless you count Kenora, which most people in Manitoba don’t.
So, over four days we spent time in Stratford, Niagara Falls/Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Toronto. Driving from YYZ to my sister’s place outside of Brantford, I was reminded a lot of the Lower Mainland, where city after city run one into each other. That part was not particularly attractive, but wow – once we got out into the country, it was just stunning. My sister and brother-in-law are living in a beautiful restored farmhouse that has a pond in the backyard. You can hear the neighbouring farm’s cows lowing in the day and the crickets’ and frogs’ surprisingly loud din at night. It was completely idyllic.
We spent the following day in Stratford, which is an absolutely lovely town with a proper main street full of interesting and locally-owned shops – just my kind of place! We didn’t catch a play but I would love to come back here some day. Mostly so I can go to Olive Your Favourites, a newly-opened olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop that I adored! We drove out to Goderich (once called “the prettiest town in Canada” by ER II) for dinner and to see the beach along Lake Huron. We hadn’t heard Goderich’s story until earlier that day: last August, an F3 tornado ripped through the town, destroying industrial facilities on the shoreline, ravaging its iconic town centre, killing a man, and injuring dozens. Now that I’ve had a chance to look at photos of Goderich “before”, the destruction is even sadder. (Especially since this is just what a lot of inner cities look like – no tornado necessary.) It’s so sad to know that this little town had a bustling downtown just torn apart. The Mayor of Goderich estimates the damage to be at $100 million.
Anyway, as we left the beautiful drove into the Niagara area though, I started to feel overwhelmed by all the concrete. There are bridges bigger, longer and higher than any I’ve seen before. The major tourist area around the Falls is jam-packed with development, and because it’s on a slope it feels even more dramatic. There are so many massive complexes built so close together. The thought that kept coming to my mind was, “This would be sheer insanity if there were some sort of natural disaster”. Just thinking about how all these structures got built blew my mind, and in kind of depressing way.
But then, driving into Niagara-on-the-Lake, we saw that it was this picturesque small town and it was hard to believe that it’s just minutes away from a complex web of freeways. (Side note: there were imperial cookies on prominent display in two bakery windows. Except they call them empire biscuits.) It made the concrete jungle we’d seen earlier that much more depressing, to think of all the natural beauty that had been destroyed to built those superstructures.
Even after all that, the funny thing was, once we drove to our hotel in downtown Toronto, I got sort of sad and nostalgic about my Vancouver days. Seeing so many people just hanging out in downtown Toronto on a Sunday afternoon made me yearn for my younger years in the West End or Kitsilano. But then walking through the endless construction between Union Station and Rogers Centre I got that overwhelmed feeling again, like I was going to suffocate if I didn’t get some fresh air or see some grass soon. (Kinda like in the movie Waydowntown, I guess.) But it was worth it to see the Jays play the Yankees – I’m not a baseball fan by any stretch, but man, big league games are fun!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I spent much of the trip alternating between thinking “this place is insane, I’m so glad I don’t live here” and “wow, this is so awesome, I can see why people want to live here.”
It’s funny — I was talking with former WoMHer Aaron, and we were trying to pinpoint exactly what it is about Vancouver that we miss. I think he summed it up best with these thoughts. What we loved about life there was that we could just walk out of the house and go. We were young; the city was our oyster. Transit was so good that you didn’t even need to check to see when the next bus or train was coming, you just knew from experience how long it would take to get somewhere, and you could count on it pretty reliably. (I was surprised to see Greg G mention this very thing – not having to check for bus times – in his post on living in downtown Winnipeg!) In some ways we didn’t know any other way of life in Vancouver; Aaron owned a car for the first year (while he lived in the North Shore) but after that most of our gang of friends was car-less. We rented or used Zipcar when we needed wheels. No big deal. But because we didn’t have vehicles, we almost always chose to live along excellent transit corridors. And it was very convenient to get from one major area of town to another.
I miss those days. I get that feeling – freedom of movement, real urban vitality – sometimes when I’m in the Exchange, and I imagine that living in Osborne or Wolseley might feel like that, too. As much as I love my neighbourhood of Glenelm, it just isn’t the truly walkable neighbourhood it could be. Not many neighbourhoods in this city are. Don’t get me wrong. I do use Transit here in Winnipeg. Taking the bus downtown from my neighbourhood is extremely convenient and I love that we can get there and not worry a bit about parking.
But mostly I think my strange, contradictory feelings about Ontario are just a reaction to how different my life is now: I’m a wife and mother, and my time’s not just my own anymore. So, that’s not to say that I couldn’t live a life like that in Winnipeg, just that stage of my life is over (or at least on long-term pause). I also recognize that even the best transit in the world wouldn’t make Winnipeg Vancouver; being so mobile in BC was a lot easier thanks to the mild weather (though it was a giant PITA when the Skytrain would stop running because of 1cm of snow!). And there are 2.3 million people living in Metro Vancouver, which makes building transit infrastructure more more feasible, and totally necessary. I also recognize that while I was in Vancouver my life was heavily oriented to consumerism (eating out once or twice a day, shopping on my lunch break and on the weekends for fun), and that’s something I’ve moved away from, for the most part, thankfully. But I still struggle to figure out who I am and where I fit into the city as an individual, outside of my roles within my family.
So, I know, I’ve just complained about the massive development in one breath and then how I miss the vibrant accessibility of big cities in the next. But I don’t think these things have to be mutually exclusive. (In a recent Maclean’s article about urban sprawl, it was mentioned that Calgary’s new city planner Rollin Stanley’s motto is “No place is worth visiting that doesn’t have a parking problem.”) An interesting thought in the context of Winnipeg, which has often been described as a big small town.
If you’ve stuck with me this long, thanks for reading my rambling and disjointed thoughts. And let me know – what feels “big city” to you about Winnipeg? What feels “small town”? Are these good things or bad things?
The other day, I heard a new-to-me Winnipeg word. At first I thought I was just not following the conversation properly; one minute we were talking about gardening, the next, soup. But it turns out that folks here call our clay-rich soil “Manitoba gumbo”. And voila – even after 4+ years here, there are still local references to be learned. Then yesterday, I saw a tweet from Nadine of Save Money in Winnipeg:
— nadine chappellaz (@couponwinnipeg) October 25, 2012
Uh oh, I thought… I didn’t realize we weren’t calling it Autopac anymore! A few Twitter conversations later, it’s revealed that while yes, Autopac is still called Autopac, sometimes younger folks or Winnipeg newbies have no clue what this funny sounding thing is! (Random memory: visiting the city as children, my sister and I are in the back seat as we drive up Pembina, chirping “Autopac” every time we see a sign, which was every block or so!)
Anyway, I’ve been keeping a list of such local terms, expressions, and references since before I even started this blog, and would love some help in identifying more of them for the blog’s glossary. The idea here is to develop a list of things that locals know but outsiders would generally be clueless about. Some of these are things I’ve written about before and others are new, and my list obviously reflects my own experiences – I didn’t grow up here so I don’t know many of the ’80s and ’90s references that my husband is constantly explaining to me (though I finally know the theme song for Menard’s!).
Anyway, I’d love your input – please share your additions, thoughts, etc., in the comments!
- Autopac: The insurance product sold by Manitoba’s public insurer, MPI.
- Bud, Spud & Steak fundraisers
- City Park: How older Winnipeggers refer to Assiniboine Park.
- “Come on Down”, the phrase used in Kern Hill Furniture radio ads (I even saw a tennis court in Grand Beach with this on a placard, and felt pleased I knew the reference!)
- Dancin’ Gabe: Our city’s most iconic and loyal sports fan!
- Gumbo: Manitoba’s clay-rich soil.
- Halloween Apples!
- Honey dill sauce
- Imperial cookies
- Jeanne’s cakes
- The LC
- Matrimonial squares
- Mini loonie pot: Listen to any amount of NCI FM and you’ll know what I mean. I can’t find references to this particular game from anywhere outside of our province!
- Schmoo torte
- Meat Shoulder
- Social table
- Unicity: The amalgamation of seven municipalities into what we now know as Winnipeg.
Keep ‘em coming!
Have you guys seen the hilarious Twitter account @Stats_Canada? It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at some little-known facts about our great country. I’m not sure who the geniuses are behind it, but they may be involved with CBC’s This is That? (Or just working with them?) Anyways, over the last couple months a few of their tweets have caught my eye. For example, did you know that…
Last year, 2,213 babies born in Manitoba were named “Winnipeg Jets”
— Stats Canada (@stats_canada) September 17, 2012
16% of people reported missing in Winnipeg, MB are later found driving in endless circles around Osborne Junction
— Stats Canada (@stats_canada) September 10, 2012
And, not surprisingly:
56% of Manitobans are convinced they’ve travelled to the future when visiting other provinces
— Stats Canada (@stats_canada) July 25, 2012
This account is pretty much solid gold, and guarantees me a couple of laughs every day. Check it out! And in case you’re worried that they only make fun of Winnipeg and Manitoba, I assure you all cities and provinces are fair game. Here are some of my other faves:
78% of Canadians approve separatism if Quebec takes Just For Laughs Gags with them
— Stats Canada (@stats_canada) September 11, 2012
(and I don’t take separatism jokes lightly!)
30% of New Brunswick residents forget to name New Brunswick when listing the provinces
— Stats Canada (@stats_canada) August 8, 2012
Pesky New Brunswick
78% of Canadians are in favour of changing the name of the “Greater Toronto Area” to the “Greatest Toronto Area”
— Stats Canada (@stats_canada) August 22, 2012
I’d love to hear your faves, too!
A news release from the city reminded me that it’s time to band our trees again! The city “strongly recommends that you band your elm, ash, maple and ornamental (basswood, cherry and apple) trees as soon as possible.”
Banding trees results in some pretty unsightly trunks, but it helps prevent cankerworms from wreaking havoc on our beautiful urban forest. Over the last couple of months I’ve noticed a lot of trees tagged to be taken down, and my heart aches a little each time I spot one. Some of these trees must be decades old, and each contributes to the character of our city and the gorgeous canopies that shade our streets.
Last fall around this time, my awesome brothers-in-law did a tree banding blitz and banded each of our families’ trees. I asked them to snap some pics so I could share the process with others.
To band your tree, you’ll need foil-faced insulation, staples or heavy-duty tape for younger trees (like this one), a tub of Tree Tanglefoot and something to spread the Tanglefoot with – a putty knife or similar. I’m sure you can get these at lots of places around town, but I got my supplies at Jardins St. Leon. Here are Trees Winnipeg’s instructions for banding:
- Cut a 15 centimetre wide band of foil-faced insulation long enough to wrap around the tree trunk.
- Place the insulation side on the bark so that the foil is on the outside.
- About 1.5 metres from the ground, tightly staple the band to the tree trunk. Make sure you fill in the bark’s cracks and crevices.
- Spread a layer of Tree Tanglefoot on the band.
- Encourage you neighbours to band together to keep your neighbourhood green.
According to Trees Winnipeg, a good rule of thumb is to band the trees on the September long weekend and take them off on the May long weekend. If you want to save some time, the organization will also come and band your trees for the very reasonable price of $10-$15 per tree, depending on the size of the tree.
I’ve really enjoyed reading the new-ish blog “It feels like the first time” over the last couple months, especially the posts on Winnipeggy stuff. I had my very own “first” today, and as for this post’s title, well, you know what they say about imitation. Anyway, today was my first time using LeisureOnline to register my kiddo for swimming lessons. I really wanted to get him into this one particular class, as it is only offered twice during the fall session, and only one of them is at a time that works for us.
Having lived in Winnipeg for the past 4 (!!) years, I knew that the first day of registration on LeisureOnline (or campsites, or folk fest) can try the patience of saints, but I, myself, had not yet experienced it. The time I’d ever signed up for was a few weeks into the registration period, a couples country dancing class that we never even got to go to, because registration was so low that they cancelled it. (Probably “couples country dance class” should have tipped me off, but what can I say? I’m a nerd.)
Anyway. Since swimming lesson registration starts a day earlier than everything else, I knew I would be in for a special kind of frenzied chaos. A week ago, I made sure I had my login and password and the course code for the class we wanted. I practiced logging in and finding the course. I set myself an email reminder to register at 9am. I was prepared and was not going to do anything that could jeopardize my chances of getting registered!
At 9 this morning I was working away at my desk and opened a separate window to get “in line” at LeisureOnline. I thought it seemed like a pretty good system: if the site is too busy, it puts you on a 5 minute countdown and tries to connect to the website again. You just sit there while the work is done for you. I kept working away, waiting to get onto the site. After about an hour and twenty minutes, elation! I was on! I logged in and quickly found the course I wanted. Hit “register”. Score!
Nope. I then got a message saying that I didn’t meet the age requirements for the class. (I’m not 6 to 36 months.)
Turns out that each member of the family has to be registered in the “family account”. When I signed up for LeisureOnline a couple years ago, it was just me and my husband. It hadn’t occurred to me that I’d need to add my son, but of course, that makes sense. And so, I learned I had to call 311 or visit a pool in person to add him to my family account. I called 311. It’s busy. 311. Busy. 311. Busy. I feared this was a losing battle.
At 11:05 there were only 4 spaces in the class left. 311 was still busy. There’s no callback system, so I kept trying until I got through at 11:15. I get put on hold. At 11:27, a very friendly agent comes on the line. He adds my son to the account and asks if I’d like to register for something over the phone. Joy! Within 2 minutes I was off the phone, having snagged one of the four remaining spots.
So, two and a half hours of mild panic, annoyance, self-reproach, and then delight, I am now officially a Winnipegger who has faced the wrath of first-day registration with LeisureOnline and survived, thanks to a little luck and the helpful folks at 311. There’s a first time for everything!
As you may have heard, Portage and Main is celebrating its 150th birthday tomorrow, and Christian Cassidy suggested we blog our birthday wishes.
The intersection has been mentioned here on WoMH before, but my favourite post was Aaron’s “All Roads Lead to Portage and Main” – somehow the spot where these two streets meet is symbolic of Winnipeg as a place where everyone knows each other. There’s no six degrees of separation here. It’s more like one, or two, and I love that.
My birthday wishes to you, Portage & Main, our most famous intersection, are simple. I wish for you to remain an internationally recognized reference to Winnipeg — our humble, big little city, the heart of the continent — for another hundred and fifty years and more.
May you continue to inspire artists, musicians, and businesses who see you as the perfect namesake. Feelings of pride and comfort are inspired among those who recognize the reference!
Most importantly, I hope that someday people will be able to walk across you at street level. A well-planned intersection, shared between pedestrians and cars, can be a thing of beauty!
If we ever want to become a truly walkable city, opening Portage & Main to pedestrians would be the most visible sign of our commitment. (Until the city is actually allowed to do it in 2017, though, how about some improved navigational signage in the underground? Driving through Confusion Corner is a walk in the park compared to trying to figure out how to cross from one side of the street to the other!)
Many happy returns of the day!
Just saw Ace Burpee’s tweet:
Which prompted me to get on it, already.
My aunt is alive today because of someone else’s heart. It takes all of two minutes to sign up – and you’ll be leaving the legacy of a lifetime.
So please, consider signing up for life!
It’s been almost two years since I wrote a post called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting in Winnipeg” – which is the #3 most popular post I’ve ever written (two years later, I’m still getting comments on it)!
There are a few new things around town to report on, so I thought it would be fun to write a follow-up post to share some of them, plus a few notes from the trenches of my own experience. As always, I’d love to hear any suggestions/recommendations you have for resources and services around town. Here we go…
Winnipeg is now home to a wonderful new Birth Centre, run by registered midwives and the Women’s Health Clinic. It is the first of its kind in our province and one of only a few in Canada! For those of you not familiar with this marvelous new facility, it offers a wide range of maternity-related services, including pregnancy, birthing, and post-partum care services along with counseling and education services.
I had the pleasure of attending the Birth Centre’s grand opening last October and it is an absolutely gorgeous, peaceful, and well-planned space that any family would be lucky to use. (Check out photos here.)
There is tons of info available on the Birth Centre at the Women’s Health Clinic website – be sure to check it out! But be aware that there is a severe shortage of midwives in Manitoba. If you’re hoping to get a midwife so that you can use the Birth Centre – or have a home or hospital birth – contact one of the local midwifery practices as soon as you know you’re pregnant. If you don’t get in right away, you can ask to be put on a waiting list.
St. Boniface Virtual Tour
Last month, St. B launched an online “virtual tour” of their maternity ward. Video segments show footage of the hospital’s maternity ward facilities including LDRP rooms, hydrotherapy tubs, and showers, along with the process of getting saline water injections and discussion of medication options such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas), narcotics, and epidurals.
This virtual tour is a good complement to the monthly in-person information session offered at the hospital, because it uses actual footage of the hospital facilities, showing a patient arriving at the hospital, going to maternity triage, and labouring**/recovering in an LDRP room. They also show scenes from the NICU and L&D rooms, as well as explain what happens during a more complicated birth such as forceps or C-section delivery. The videos are actually really informative, and I commend St. B on giving women and their families a chance to really get a feel for the actual environment they’ll be in during labour and birth. Here’s the first in the series:
While I’m talking about St. B’s maternity ward, I’d also like to mention how valuable it was to have access to a lactation consultant while in hospital. While it would have been beneficial to see her sooner in my stay (we were told the policy was not to put in a request until 24 hours post-partum, so we didn’t see her until a full two days in), it was tremendously helpful and reassuring to have consultations with such a tender, knowledgeable, and caring lactation consultant (thanks, Susan!). I hope St. Boniface will do all they can to employ more LCs; they provide a much-needed, critical service to any new mother having difficulties with nursing.
Public Health Services: Postpartum Home Visits, Breastfeeding Support, Infant Nutrition Classes
After leaving the hospital, what I didn’t really understand was that we weren’t being left to our own devices, dazed, confused, and sleep deprived. The Winnipeg Health Authority has a truly amazing team of public health nurses who do home visits to new parents in the days following discharge from the hospital. We had the pleasure of visits from two different nurses who were outstanding in their gentle, patient, knowledgeable homecare of both me and my son.
When we left the hospital, the LC I’d been working with said “It breaks my heart that I can’t tell you to call me with questions or concerns” – she only works with hospital patients – but she gave me a sheet listing breastfeeding support clinics across the city, hosted through the WRHA. You can either sit in on a support group meeting – where breastfeeding mothers and their babies meet for socializing and peer support – or book a time to have a consultation with a lactation consultant. I did both of these things and they were absolutely critical in surviving some of the major nursing challenges my little one and I faced. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful these services (totally free, by the way) are.
Through the WRHA I was also invited to attend a class on “starting solids” at Access Transcona. This was a really helpful session that cleared up a lot of confusing advice regarding first foods, allergies, and breast & formula feeding. The class was taught by a nutritionist who gave us tons of tips and instructions and dispelled a lot of myths. I’d highly recommend this class to any new parent!
When we took prenatal classes, one of our instructors was Becky Heather, who has since gone on to open Purely Baby, a centre offering prenatal education, fitness, massage, craniosacral and herbal treatments, and a variety of other programming including breastfeeding support groups, playgroups, etc. The centre is located on south St. Anne’s Road. I haven’t had the chance to visit or attend any of the programming yet (I’ve got my eye on the Moms Renewal Group!), but am thrilled to see more services being offered to expecting women and their families.
Birth Roots Doula Collective (which I have had several very positive experiences with) and the Manitoba Association for Childbirth and Family Education are two more options for pre- and postnatal programming and services.
Car Seat Inspections
Someone left a comment on my original post about the local firehalls offering free car seat installation checks. Thanks to that comment, we dropped in to have our seat checked at the Kimberley station, and were really glad we did. The guys who inspected our seat were super-friendly and gave us a lot of helpful tips. For a list of the locations that offer this service, their addresses and hours, check out the MPI Child Car Seat Installation page.
Winnipeg Public Library
I want to give another shout-out to Winnipeg Public Library. I mentioned in my original post that I’d made good use of the library’s extensive collection of pregnancy books, and that use has continued. Since giving birth, I have probably looked at every book on breastfeeding in the library’s holdings, and devoured countless books on infants and sleep, starting solid foods, entering toddlerhood, and of course, motherhood in general. Each new phase of my little guy’s life brings lots of opportunities to read a new book, and I’m so grateful we have such a wonderful library system here in Winnipeg. A couple of points to mention, for those of you who aren’t regular library users:
- Library cards are free and easy to get
- WPL will quickly transfer requested books to your branch of choice (for free), and notify you by email or phone when they arrive
- I have had really good luck with suggesting new purchases – I think they have ordered at least half of the books I have suggested!
- Your library card also gives you access to WPL’s online resources, which includes Consumer Reports – very helpful for researching those big baby-related purchases
We haven’t registered for any library programming yet (there’s something for everyone, from infants to adults) but it’s great to know there are so many offerings in French and in English. See also Nadine’s recent post on Save Money in Winnipeg for more ideas on how to get the most of the library.
Baby Consignment Shops: MCP and Once Upon a Child
You can spend a LOT of money on clothes and gear for your little bundle of joy. Too much money, if you ask me, when so many barely-used items are available to purchase second-hand from one of Winnipeg’s fantastic babies & children consignment shops. My two favourites (mainly because they’re in my neck of the woods) are Mom’s & Children’s Paradise (MCP) at 990 Nairn Ave and Once Upon a Child at 1600 Regent Ave W. I’ve been amazed at the quantity and quality of items available for purchase at these two places. Once, at MCP, I bought a onesie and the next day saw it on clearance at Superstore – so you can imagine how lightly used some of these items are. For those of you in the south end of the city, Bug N Boo is another option for infant & kids’ consignment, though I find their prices higher than those at MCP and Once Upon a Child.
I think that’s it from me for now, but I’d love to hear your comments about what expectant mothers in Winnipeg should know about services that are available to them.
** Although I think these videos are a fantastic idea, having had a less than optimal hospital birth experience with a lot of unwanted (and in my mind, unwarranted) interventions, I am cynical about the portrayal of availability of drug-free labour support. I say this not specifically as a criticism of St. B; I think there are some pretty significant improvements to be made to maternity care system-wide. Every woman’s labour and birth is totally different and totally unpredictable, but there are some universal changes that would benefit everyone.
My advice to anyone preparing for birth – inside or outside the hospital – is to be as informed as you possibly can about labour and birth. I started off with reading all the “standard” pregnancy books like this post’s namesake, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. After coming across Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s book, Your Best Birth, at the library, my eyes were opened to another way of approaching birth – a woman-centered, demedicalized view that emphasizes choice and empowerment through informed consent and understanding. Soon after, I watched The Business of Being Born (available on Netflix!) and read a bunch of other great books. Among those I’d recommend: ”The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Better Birth” by Henci Goer, anything by Ina May Gaskin, and The Midwifery Option by Miranda Hawkins and Sarah Knox for an excellent Canadian resource (there aren’t many of them…yet!).
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that having a doula was one of the very best decisions we made regarding pregnancy and birth. Our doula was a strong advocate for us when things got crazy during labour. She works out of the Birth Roots collective.