Friendly Manitoba – Part 1
Every license plate here in Manitoba bears the phrase “Friendly Manitoba,” the province’s motto or slogan.
Let me first give you a brief overview of Manitoba’s geography and climate.
Manitoba is one of the 13 provinces/territories of Canada. The USA has 51 states. Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories. Manitoba is located at the south central part of Canada and is one of the three prairie provinces, which also include Alberta and Saskatchewan. This means that Manitoba has mostly flat lands, much like the Central Luzon in the Philippines.
Manitoba experiences the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. It usually rains in spring and that’s when flowers and trees bloom. We have warm weather in the summer. Temperatures begin to drop in autumn. And of course the dreaded winter. We have long and cold winters here in Manitoba. Snow usually comes around the last days of October and melts only around April. Although sometimes it still snows in May. Normally, the coldest temperatures we get is minus 33 C to 35 C, but the mercury sometimes drops up to minus 40 C and if you consider the windchill factor, it could feel like minus 52 C.
Inspite of the unfriendly temperatures in the winter, people here in Manitoba are very warm and friendly. Manitoba stays true to its motto.
I was searching the internet trying to find out how this province started getting called Friendly Manitoba. But the closest I got is a Forum thread from people who moved from Vancouver to Winnipeg and vice versa and another one was a blogger’s post where he bashed Winnipeg.
I live inn Winnipeg, the capital city of Manitoba. Winnipeg has been good to me so far. I’ve lived here for 17 years and I can attest that this is indeed a friendly province.
Let me just cite a few instances.
One of the first things I had to learn when I first came here is how to get around the city by taking the bus. The first thing I noticed is how people line up to get on the bus because in the Philippines, people shove each other to try to get in an already full bus. But people here are very polite. The driver would say good morning to you and have a nice day or goodnight when you get off. When waiting at the bus stop or when they are on the bus, people would talk to each other. The usual topic would be the weather because we have a very interesting weather here in Winnipeg.
Also, buses here run by schedule and if you are a regular commuter, you see the same people on the bus everyday and you tend to connect with them. I remember one Christmas break, my husband was on a two-week vacation after Christmas, but I had to go to work for three days between Christmas and New Year’s. So the moment I got on the bus, a few people said in unison, “Where’s the baby?” I used to bring my youngest son, who was still two years old at that time, to daycare, and he came with me on the bus. I would drop him off to daycare, which was just a block from where I worked. These people got used to the sight of us boarding that bus every morning. And somebody would always offer us their seats if the bus was full. So when I showed up without him, that was their main reaction. I told them that he was at home with his father. But that was kind of touching that they were concerned about me and my son and they just knew us from the bus rides that we took everyday.
There was another incident when I was just new here. I was applying for jobs here and there and I needed a typewriter to make resumes. There was this typewriter store on Portage Avenue and I went there to buy an Olympia typewriter. It was winter, January if I remember right. Temperature was probably around minus 15 to 19 C degrees. I was crossing the street to get to the other side of Portage Avenue to catch my bus home. The box that contained the typewriter was kind of big for my small figure and of course I was wearing my heavy winter jacket and I was trying to hug the box but it felt awkward and I took my gloves off because the box was kind of slipping from my hands. I wanted to have a good grip of the box because I didn’t want to drop it. I reached my bus stop and there was this elderly lady. She must have thought that this foreign lady must be new here in this cold country. She talked to me very slowly. She probably thought that I didn’t understand English that much. She wanted me to put back my gloves on for I might get frostbite. I explained to her why I took them off. And she was quite surprised that I talked fluent English.
So you see, Winnipeggers are very polite and caring people.
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