When I set out for work yesterday morning the wind chill was -50 degrees Celsius. According to the astronomy department at the local museum, it was colder in my city yesterday than it was on the surface of Mars. So take note space entrepreneurs: if you’re thinking to pitch Mars as a tourist destination, Winnipeg is your prime market.
If you travel to Thompson to the north of Winnipeg (yes, there is stuff north of Winnipeg besides polar bears) you will be hard pressed to find a hotel room during the winter months. The population of the town swells in the coldest months of the year with car manufacturing companies on location to cold-test their vehicles. (Random thought: I wonder where the Mars Rover was cold-tested?)
Many years ago, on a tour of the canals of Venice, we learned about the risks and challenges of living on land that had been, rather tenuously, reclaimed from the sea. I commented that it seemed odd that people would opt to make their homes in such an unforgiving place. My partner turned to me with a look of incredulity and said, “Well, we live in Winnipeg.”
But honestly I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Call my crazy.
We’ve had record low temperatures in December. The streets– even the main arteries– are a corrugated mess of deep ice ruts that mean you take your life in your hands every time you change lanes. That is if you can actually figure out where the lanes are. The roads are littered with automotive debris from the unlucky ones. I’m wearing my smooshed-in bumper from my Christmas day mishap like a good-luck charm. I figure I’ve had my turn. Even so, I am white-knuckling my way through the exit ramps and intersections where the buildup is the worst. And in case the snow pack wasn’t enough, water mains keep bursting and turning streets into ersatz skating rinks.
I can’t remember seeing the roads this bad for this long. It seems to have been a perfect storm of heavy, warmish, snowfall followed by a deep freeze that has rendered the packed snow and ice resistant to the scraping of the snow plows.
But we’re still going places. Oh, I suspect that there were a few more people than usual opting for a New Year’s Eve night at home last night, but when I was still on the roads around 8:30 pm I was far from alone. It takes a lot more than ridiculous cold and treacherous driving conditions to keep a Winnipegger from carrying on with life.
Although, I have to admit at -50 I am not taking a lot of leisurely walks along the riverbank. I could, however, safely talk a walk on the river by now–that is if I didn’t mind risking frostbite and hypothermia. I contemplated suiting up and walking up to the road to take some pictures for this post, but since taking pictures requires the removal of my mitts, I decided that wasn’t happening.
Instead, I stumbled across this bit of fun from a Canadian business. This story is from Ontario, but the same spirit of thumbing one’s nose at the worst winter has to offer applies.