Peg Gratitude: Day 22 – Manitobah Mukluks
Last winter I got myself a pair of mukluks from Manitoba Mukluks. They are toasty, they are comfy, and they. are. gorgeous.
Intrigued by the name, I researched the company before I made my purchase, and I was thrilled to learn that many of their products are made right here in Winnipeg. Those that are made internationally are clearly marked as such; the company is transparent about its international production policies and is committed to ethical sourcing of leather and fur. Manitobah Mukluks is Indigenous-owned, and when I had to made an exchange for a different size, I was delighted to discover that their headquarters are located in North Point Douglas, just a stone’s throw from my neighbourhood. Talk about local!
This year I asked Santa for a pair of Manitobah Mukluks moccasins to wear as slippers around the house, and lucky for me, I got my wish. My feet have been super toasty and the subject of many compliments ever since.
I’m grateful we have such a wonderful local footwear company in Winnipeg. Seeing the cool footprints left in the snow by my mukluks always makes happy – something I am extra-grateful for in the long, cold winter!
Peg Gratitude: Day 21 – Local Beer
When I moved to the ‘Peg 11 years ago, I believe there were only two local breweries: Fort Garry and Half Pints. A few years back the liquor laws changed and craft breweries began popping up at an impressive rate. At first I could keep track of all the new additions (thanks in great part to the Beer Winnipeg blog and the beer proclivities of Winnipeg Twitter) but now there are enough that I’ve lost count. It’s awesome. To me this is a better indication that we’re becoming a cool big city than any piece of sexy infrastructure or big box store.
One Great City, Nonsuch, Torque, Barn Hammer, LBJ, Grain to Glass, Farmery… there are so many great options to choose from. Whether it’s a cool location, beautiful branding, delicious food at their brewpub, awesome collabs or supporting a great cause, I love that so many local brewers have something unique about them, and I appreciate all these things. And, not to overlook the original two, it’s hard to beat a Stir Stick Stout or Fort Gary Rouge.
I’m grateful for local beer!
(Now, can we please get Pedal Pub to come set up here??)
(And can someone please buy Hamilton House and turn it into a brewpub? Please?????)
(No seriously. That would be amazing.)
Peg Gratitude: Day 20 – Local Artists
I got the most stunning, perfect Christmas gift from a dear friend this year: a print from Nice Art People of an elm tree ring, from Elmwood no less, like this one. I’m so excited to hang it up.
It joins my small collection of lovely Winnipeg-themed or Winnipeg-made artwork. I treated myself to the Ty Johnson “Great City” print at Tiny Feast (RIP) several years ago, and to a cool Guy St. Godard watercolour print of 1960s Portage Ave at the Signatures Show last year. For my birthday this year I got a beautiful print of a succulent that had been for sale at Sam’s Place (can’t remember the artist and too lazy to open up the frame!). I’ve got my eye on a few poignant Kal Barteski prints. And the Manitoba Dainty Tray print from Happyland Print Shop has been in my etsy cart off and on for far too long – one of these days, it’s going to look great in my kitchen.
Winnipeg is home to an astonishing number of talented artists who make my life and all Winnipeggers’ lives more beautiful with everything from paintings and prints to sculptures and murals. So grateful for Winnipeg artists!
Peg Gratitude: Day 19 – Winnipeg Public Library
I’ve always been a library fan. I was a massive bookworm as a kid — one of my fondest childhood summer memories is getting stacks of books from the Lac du Bonnet library while visiting my grandparents at their cottage. As a teen in a just-before-the-internet world, the Lethbridge Public Library was my gateway to all the worldly books and authors I could possibly want.
When, after completely messing up stints at both the local university and college, I stumbled into the Library and Information Technology program at SAIT, I felt like I’d finally found “my people”.
All this to say, I love the library — and Winnipeg has a good one! My local branch, Henderson, is one of the busiest in the city and I love that it’s easy to get to and has decent hours. Whether it’s browsing, putting books on hold for pickup at my convenience, using the online databases for research, downloading eBooks or attending programs, I appreciate all the awesome services and programs happening at the library.
At the budget delegation meetings last month, many people came out to protest cuts and closures to library services. One person’s remarks stuck with me. He said something like, “The Westwood branch is not dead wood. It’s a branch of a living tree, and a tree that connects our community to a greater forest.”
It’s a tough time right now, as we await the fate of the Westwood and Fort Garry and West Kildonan branches of the WPL, and to see whether the discriminatory security measures at Millennium will be replaced by inclusive supports.
The proposed cuts remind to be grateful for the access that I am privileged to have. While we’ve still got a library, I want to say thanks to WPL for all it offers to me and my family.
Peg Gratitude: Day 18 – Schools
I am so grateful to live in a city where parents don’t have camp out overnight to get a spot in French immersion, or take part in a lottery to get a spot in their catchment school. Coming from BC where this seemed to be the norm, I never take it for granted that our kids are able to go to a Francophone school with terrific teachers and staff, with no hoops to jump through!
I know several people who work in the education system, and from what I understand, it is not an easy place to work, with ever-present budget constraints, large classes and inadequate resources to meet student needs. In this stressful and challenging environment, the hard work and dedication of the personnel never ceases to amaze me. Teachers and elementary school staff are the unsung heroes of society and I’m extremely grateful to the staff at École Taché!
Because it is not our neighbourhood school and a little far for everyday biking (in great part due to a lack of infrastructure, not necessarily distance), we have (free!) school bus service and have always had terrific bus drivers who do unexpected, thoughtful things like give the students Christmas gifts or make donations in their name. I’m very grateful for this, as well.
And although my kids don’t go to the neighbourhood school, Glenelm School, I am also grateful to have this institution in our neighbourhood. It’s a special little community-minded school that is beloved by its students’ families. From welcoming a fledgling pickleball league, to participating in our GeNA tree planting ceremony, to hosting an epic community BBQ every June, this school is a huge asset to our corner of the world. I am lucky to consider myself part of the extended Glenelm School family!
Peg Gratitude: Day 17 – My Midwives & Doulas
I’ve said it a million times: getting a midwife was like winning the lottery. I had the pleasure of having care from with two doulas from Birth Roots and two teams of midwives at the Winnipeg Birth Centre; all these birth professionals were such a special part of my life during pregnancy/postpartum. It’s hard to put into words how privileged I felt to work with them; it’s a special kind of intimate relationship we don’t experience often in our lives.
Although the province needs many more midwives to meet demand, we are incredibly fortunate to have the skilled, compassionate and midwives that we do have. I will always be grateful that I got to experience their care first-hand.
Peg Gratitude: Day 16 – The River
Welp, thanks for tolerating my inadvertent hiatus from my “things I’m grateful for in Winnipeg” series. Turns out that planning to write a post every day in the busiest month of the year was a bit ambitious, but it’s my blog so I’m going to bend the rules for myself – I’ll complete my 31 gratitude posts as I’m able.
It’s New Year’s Eve and I have a cold and am happily spending a quiet evening with my computer and then hopefully finishing s3 of The Crown and then heading to bed. I’ve never been a NYE party kind of person and having small kids makes me even less enthused. Still, it’s the end of a decade and folks are being all thoughtful and nostalgic on Twitter and it’s put me in the mood for reflecting.
Shortly after I moved to Winnipeg I got a copy of In Search of April Raintree. I read it that first summer, on the bus, biting back tears. Apart from a few especially graphic scenes, I can’t remember that many of the story’s specifics, but I do recall that bridges and the Red River feature prominently. Every time I cross the Redwood on foot or bike, I look down and think about the book’s heart-wrenching tale and how it’s close to so many Indigenous people’s lives, and about Tina Fontaine and about the Drag the Red crews and the red ribbons.
I forget the river is there until I am crossing it. And when I’m there above it, suspended at a distance, it feels overwhelming, all-consuming. Standing looking out at the vast, endless brown waters I feel small and vulnerable; at the mercy of its might. In other parts of the city people may think of the river and think of an awesome skating trail. In my part of the city I think of the river as a stark and important reminder.
I struggle to know how to say this in a way that is respectful and sensitive. It sounds awful to say that I’m grateful for the river because it reminds me of a horrific aspect of Canadian society: missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. But in a way I am grateful because it reminds me that we must do better, we must work towards reconciliation. We must keep trying, try harder, do more to make amends for our actions. I’m grateful for the river as a constant, solemn reminder.
Peg Gratitude: Day 15 – Winnipeg Transit
I use transit a few times a week and it’s a breeze because I live close to a very well-serviced route – I’m grateful for that.
Being a transit operator can’t be an easy job (that’s probably an understatement), but in my experience, operators are unfailingly polite, often cheerful, and always professional – and I’m grateful for that!
I often look forward to taking the bus because it gives me some “me time” to listen to a podcast, catch up on texts or email, or read the news or Twitter and not feel guilty because I really should be doing something else. I’m grateful for those small moments of solitude. And I’m also grateful for the chance to spend time around people from all different walks of life – I think taking public transit has helped me be a more empathetic and aware citizen.
It’s been a rough year for Transit, but also a tentatively exciting one, with the announcement of a proposed new Transit Master Plan. I know that there are lots of folks working VERY hard behind the scenes to make transit as good as it possibly can be – and I’m grateful for that too.
Three cheers for Transit!
Peg Gratitude: Day 14 – The Exchange District
Who doesn’t love the Exchange? I sure do. It’s gorgeous, easy to get to and to navigate, has tons of cool places to shop and eats, is always putting on neat events, and did I mention it’s gorgeous? A while back I tweeted this photo of Albert and said I thought it was the prettiest street in the city – and promptly got nearly a hundred likes. What a beaut!
A few “only in the Exchange” things I’m grateful for:
Seeing movies at Towne 8 – this theatre feels nothing like a living room and that’s exactly what I love about it. It reminds me of what it felt like going to the movies as a kid. Never crowded, cheap tickets, good popcorn – heck yes.
Having coffee anywhere – a good portion of my young adult life was spent in coffeehouses, and when I’m sitting at Parlour or Forth or Miss Browns with a cup of delicious coffee, preferably looking out a window, it sounds cheesy but I just feel extremely like myself, in a good and comforting way.
Shoe shopping at Canadian Footwear – ok, so there are other locations around the city, but I really like this one because a) clearance centre! and b) easy-peasy for me to get to and c) top-notch service & really good quality footwear for my whole fam jam. I don’t think there are many free-standing shoe stores anymore, and that’s exactly what is special about this one.
I suppose I love the Exchange because it feels nostalgic and old school yet fresh and exciting – all at once. I’m so grateful to live close to such a great neighbourhood!
Peg Gratitude: Day 13 – Local Journalism
This one will be short and sweet. I’m so grateful for the outstanding local journalism we have here in Winnipeg, thanks to CBC, the Free Press, and other local sources!
One of the best purchases I made this year was a digital subscription to the Winnipeg Free Press. I’ve wrestled over the years with paper subscriptions – I love getting a physical paper, but I just can’t keep up with the volume, and I feel gross about how a lot of the sections are just going to go straight into the recycling bin (sports, autos, etc.). The digital subscription is perfect because I can get all the news I want, including the Canstar community papers, and none of the waste.
Speaking of Canstar, I love our local paper, The Herald. There’s always something interesting in it, and personally, I really appreciate how the paper has always been interested in what our neighbourhood association is doing – a lot of folks say they hear about our events through the Herald, so we know it has excellent reach!
I’m also very grateful for CBC online news and radio programs (nothing against TV news; I just rarely watch it!) as well as La Liberté for shining a spotlight on the Franco-manitoban community, and the Uniter, which can always be counted on for good hyper-local content too. And a shout-out to the independent local journalists doing important work, too.