Thursday, 7 January 2010
stereotypes and truth
Mention Winnipeg to your typical Ontarian, and the first comment will be about how cold the place is. I think of my family as completely typical, and when they heard I was visiting there for a few days every one of them: kids, parents, brother, sister-in-law, aunt, nephews: said some variant of: Why would you want to go to Winnipeg, Dad (son, bro, nephew, uncle, Richard) ? It's so cold!
I am back now, and I can tell you that the city is sick to death of non-residents talking about how cold it is. Can't you smug Ontario people think of anything else to say? they ask.
Here's my answer: Get over yourself, Winnipeg! Yes, we are smug, but you are a sub-arctic soul-freezing ice drift of a place in the winter. Cold? Of course they are going to notice. Maybe if the pyramids were in Winnipeg, people would talk about them too. But the conversation would go something like: Those pyramids are great, eh! Too bad they are outside in the freaking cold! When you treat visitors to a casual -40 with wind on top, day after day after day, those visitors (unless they be penguins) will be shocked. And if cold is the first and strongest impression of a place, that's how people will describe it. If you were describing Goliath to someone who didn't know him, would you talk about his good taste in sandals? (Goliath? Oh, yeah, you know, that guy from Gath. Dark hair, dark eyes. Needs a shave. Doesn't believe in the God of the Israelites ...) Or would you say: Goliath -- yeah, he's the big guy.
Well, Winnipeg is the cold guy.