Summer in Winnipeg

A few summers ago, my friend Joe and I visited Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, and came to the conclusion that Canada is like the hybrid child between America and Europe. When driving into Canada, we didn’t notice a change geographically, but suddenly there was French on all the signs and British flags everywhere. There were differences culturally as well. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful and friendly- giving us loads of advice of what to see and do in Winnipeg as soon as they heard we were Americans on our first trip to Canada.

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Me with Canadian money right after arriving in Winnipeg, 2013. c. Leah Putz

One of our Winnipeg favorites was the Manitoba museum, which is part historical museum and part science museum. Within the historical museum is the opportunity to walk alongside time and see how Manitoba has changed throughout the years, taking the viewer from Jurassic times right up to today. Alongside the exhibits are numerous plaques and videos to help you understand the gravity of what you’re looking at. The science portion of the museum is full of countless interactive activities for all ages. Although this area is geared more towards children, we also had a great time experimenting with the different activities as adults.

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Joe and a giant sloth skeleton at the Manitoba Museum, 2013. c. Leah Putz

If you cross the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge from downtown, you will find yourself in the French Quarter, which is a very interesting part of Winnipeg. Foodies should definitely make a stop here. We had some amazing crepes and, of course, the Canadian delicacy poutine. This combination of cheese curds, gravy, and french fries is one of the greatest, most artery-clogging dishes created by mankind.

 

Me before the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge, 2013. c. Leah Putz

Poutine in the French Quarter, 2013. c. Leah Putz

The French Quarter is also home to Fort Gibraltar, Winnipeg’s reconstructed fur trade fort, which gives people a chance to step back in time to a key location for the Canadian fur trade in the 18th century. The fort is full of people wearing authentic clothing from the time the fort was active as well as completing authentic tasks so visitors can get a true sense of what life was like for fur traders. For instance, we got to see a woman making a mug out of leather and a blacksmith making tools. The experience in the fort was very interactive; the employees engaged us in conversation and had answers for every question we could come up with.

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Fort Gibraltar, 2013. c. Leah Putz

Consider Winnipeg as a vacation destination this summer. We certainly had a blast taking in the history and the culture, and we loved how many friendly people we met.

 

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An Art-Lovers Guide to Minneapolis

When you think of artistic cities, Minnesota doesn’t usually come to mine. But maybe it should. Minnesota has a history of producing brilliant artistic minds such as Prince and Bob Dylan, and there are many places in the city of Minneapolis to see beautiful and famous works of art. Here are the Twin Cities’ top five places to see works of art and architecture!

 

  1. Basilica of Saint Mary

 

Reminiscent of the catholic cathedrals it’s modeled after, the Basilica of Saint Mary can’t be missed amongst the modern buildings of downtown Minneapolis. Built in the early 1900s, the building belongs to the National Register of Historic Places as it was the first basilica in the United States! Since the 1990s, an annual weekend music festival called the Basilica Block Party has been held at the Basilica.

 

  1. Cathedral of Saint Paul

 

Overlooking downtown St. Paul stands the magnificent Cathedral of Saint Paul. This Cathedral is one of the largest in the United States, and it is a signature of the St. Paul skyline. Though the current cathedral wasn’t open until 1915, a chapel has been at that location since the early 1800s when St. Paul was a small community known as ‘Pig’s Eye.’ The Cathedral itself is a beautiful work of art, complete with rose windows and a bronze baldachin over a statue of Saint Paul. There is also an exact replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta in the Cathedral, so if you’re unable to make it to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, it may be easier to get to St. Paul to see the replica of one of the most famous and moving sculptures of all time.

 

  1. Walker Art Center

 

This modern art museum is home to many well known works of art, such as Andy Warhol’s 16 Jackies and one of my favorite paintings, Chuck Close’s Big Self-Portrait. It’s location near the Basilica of Saint Mary and the Sculpture Garden make it an ideal place to visit as you can see many different things in this one block area.

 

  1. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

 

Right next door to the Walker Art Center and the Basilica of Saint Mary sits the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Functioning as a sort of outdoor museum, the Sculpture Garden is home to countless famous works of art, the most well known being Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg, which located at the center of the garden.

 

  1. Minneapolis Institute of Art

 

My personal favorite on this list is the Minneapolis Institute of Art, locally known affectionately as the M.I.A.. One of the largest art museums in the country, I still have yet to see all it has to offer despite having been there countless times. The museum has a large collection of paintings, prints, and sculptures from all over the world and often features temporary special exhibits. Right now it is housing the Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibit until the end of May, which allows viewers to catch a glimpse into the brilliant director’s mind.