Standort: / Meldung: "Johnny's Journeys: Extreme Weather of Manitoba"

Johnny Bliss

Disorderly artist, journalist, and late night moderator, with a fetish for microphone-based hooliganism.

26. 2. 2016 - 11:00

Johnny's Journeys: Extreme Weather of Manitoba

Tornadoes, -50° celsius temperatures, ice storms, and nearly biblical floods - these are just a few of things locals have to live with in the Canadian prairie province of Manitoba.

The Canadian prairie province of Manitoba has an unjustifiably bad reputation; growing up, I always just thought of it as a really bland and conservative province characterized by flat empty fields for hundreds of kilometres, cold winters, and not really much going on.

* - a city best known for always winning the title of "Slurpee Capital of the World", every year.

Some of these things, granted, are true. But only just somewhat. The province starts in the south with prairies, farmland and the regional capital of Winnipeg*, and ends in the north with arctic tundra, polar bears, beluga whales, and the remote community of Churchill. In the wintertime, the province has been known to get colder than Mars.

For good or for ill, just from weather alone, Manitoba is far from boring.

Canadian route-2

Johnny Bliss, 2013


Johnny Bliss, 2013

On my first visit, back in 2013, I was greeted by amazing colourful fields such as the above (wisely, I opted for a summer visit). Because the ground was so flat, I was constantly reminded of gazing out at the ocean, with no sight of land as far as the eye could see.

At this time of year, however, it is something quite different.

For one thing, the local bodies of water (namely, Lake Winnipeg) freeze over - to the point that people find it more economical (and safe) to drive over them: in short, the lake becomes the best road, while the roads themselves become so treacherous that people stop using them!

Not even this always works out, though. I met a local fisherman who told me that sometimes, when locals have driven out onto the ice too early in the winter, their vehicles have been known to break through the ice and go under. A costly, dangerous, and probably pretty embarrassing mistake!

Fisherman on the ice in Gimli, MB

If you think one can avoid the most treacherous weather in Manitoba by simply avoiding the winter, think again. Warmer seasons can see heavy rainfall, which can lead to severe flooding near lakes and rivers. Also, I've been told the frequency of tornadoes is rising, thanks to climate change.

Public Domain (Internet Archive)

I spoke to two young farmers in the prairie town of Arborg for more.

Young Farmers on Tornadoes & Floods in Arborg, MB

New Iceland

Weather is far from the only thing that makes Manitoba fascinating; also quite interesting are its historic communities, including indigenous First Nations communities such as Cree and Ojibwa, as well as the region of Gimli (aka "New Iceland"), the largest Icelandic community outside of Iceland, with a good 30,000+ people of Icelandic descent living there.

Check back here next Saturday, March 5th, for a Reality Check Special about New Iceland and the people living there, with me as your tour guide!

Johnny Bliss, 2013

Other Recent Stories

Meanwhile, in Iceland itself, winter is also no joke. On a recent visit, locals told me that severe winter storms have been "trending" in Iceland a bit like gale-force cat videos, increasingly so over the last couple of years. I asked two Icelanders, Tryggvi from Icelandic Mountain Guides & Elin from What's On in Iceland, to weigh in with some of their favourite storm stories.

Iceland, not Niceland

West of the Canadian prairies, in the rocky mountain region of western Alberta, Marcello Di Cintio is a travel writer based in the city of Calgary. He writes in-depth books about exotic places and the people who populate them. He wrote an award-winning novel called Walls – Travels Along the Barricades, about people forced to live fenced in at places like Palestine, India, and Mexico, just to name a few. But who is he, and how did he get into doing this? I caught up with him, and asked him to tell me his story.

Marcello's path to Travel Journalism

For Valentine's Day this year, I searched far and wide for a good love story, ideally a doomed Romeo and Juliet sort of affair. My search led me back to the First Nations native island community of Haida Gwaii, on Canada's Pacific Northwest coast. Jaadguusandlans, a Haida woman, shared with me some stories of what happened when two people in the same clan fell in love, and why it was considered so taboo.

Doomed love affairs in Haida Gwaii

For more from Haida Gwaii, check out the article I wrote!

Haida Sculpture

Johnny Bliss, 2013

On the other side of the world, I visited Uluru, that iconic big red rock of Australia. While I was there, I had a chat with a tour guide named Tick, who works for Emu Run Experience. He told me why Uluru is special to him.

Tick & the big red rock

Johnny Bliss, 2016

Johnny Bliss, 2016

Living the dream, my friends, living the dream...