Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Homeward Bound

This morning I tagged along with my Man and the Francophone to the St Boniface Museum, where they were speaking to a couple of school groups about the guitar. St Boniface is the oldest building in Winnipeg, the largest oak structure in North America, and was built to house the order of the Grey Nuns, in whose hands it was a school, hospice, and mission. It is where Louis Riel went to school, and it is from spalted oak that was part of this building that the guitar's back and sides are made.

I think the class enjoyed the presentation - they certainly were attentive, and they had a bunch of questions afterward. They really all just wanted to get close to it and touch all the pieces for themselves. This one kid who sat in the corner away from everyone else and looked bored through the whole presentation came up afterward and asked to play the guitar - which he did really well! So that was kind of inspiring.

After the school visit, the lovely Phil drove my Man and I up to the Winnipeg Trading Post so I could loo0k at mukluks. Sadly, they didn't have any in my size. But while I was looking at mukluks, my Man was picking up lunch next door at Kelekis, a Winnipeg landmark, which sells hamburgers, hot dogs and fantastic shoestring french fries. The cheese dogs are diner classics - two per bun, sliced down the middle, smothered in cheese and onions that make your hands stink for hours. The perfect final meal to have in this great town.

My Man had one more school visit, so I headed back to the hotel to pack, and to visit the two other Winnipeg landmarks I'd been told were of note. I bundled up against the - 44 degree wind chill and headed up the road to Reiss Fur Company to feed my new fur obsession. Run by the original family, Reiss is closing its doors this year, when Harry Reiss retires. Mr Reiss very kindly opened up his showroom and gave me a tour of his beautiful coats. Mink, fox, lynx, beaver - they were gorgeous - and at at least a third off their regular prices, a great bargain. Sadly, even at a third off, $2500 is out of my league...and while a fur coat is appropriate for - 44 Winnipeg, I can hardly see myself on a Toronto streetcar in floor-length mink. But it was good fun to stroke all the coats and fantasize.

After Reiss, it was a short walk down to Toad Hall Toys, a sprawling jumble of a place carrying everything from model trains and planes to books and board games. I'm told the staff travel the world to source toys from across the globe - and I could easily have spent hours browsing their crowded shelves.

Back to the hotel for a last drink with the Francophone before hitting the road with Jacques to pick up my Man from the CBC where he'd been conducting an interview for The Nerve with an American general about the use of music in prisoner interrogation. They drove me to the airport, and here I am in the Maple Leaf Lounge, drinking a glass of wine and looking at the Winnipeg sunset across the tarmac.

Winnipeg has been a great adventure. The people we met were charming (and very French!) and the city has a sad sort of charm - I would like to come back when it was better weather for walking, in order to really get a feel for the place.

But I am glad to be going home.

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