I hail from the Canadian Prairies. When people ask me which part of Canada I’m from, very few recognize “Winnipeg”. Telling them it’s right in the middle, between Vancouver and Toronto usually makes more sense (even though there are 2084.58 miles between the two major cities). They tell me they’ve driven across Canada (from Toronto to Vancouver is only across 2/3 of Canada) but they didn’t really see the prairies except out the window as they drove by. Actually, most Canadians say the same thing.
But the prairies, made up primarily of the provinces Manitoba and Saskatchewan, have more to offer than grain silos and wheat fields (and we have a LOT of wheat fields). If you are looking for gorgeous scenery, the prairies will provide. The flat landscape makes for incredible skies and we can see sunsets, sunrises and thunder and lightning storms for miles. The contrast of the bright yellow canola to a dark grey sky makes for a gorgeous photo opportunity, and I know plenty of Prairie brides who have been glad to wake up to a grey cloud over their wedding day for that exact shot.
Our summers can be incredibly hot (+34.4 degrees Celsius). In direct contrast, our winters can be incredibly dry and cold (it has dipped down to -42.2 with a wind chill that makes it feel colder). Don’t be discouraged! In both the summer and winter the prairies are one of the sunniest regions in Canada. The winters are bearable with a few good layers and Winnipeg boasts the world’s longest ice skating trail. The lake districts of the prairies are perfect for cottagers and campers alike. The northern lakes are clear and the forests lush.
The Prairies are also home to an abundance of festivals. In the winter, Winnipeg’s Festival Du Voyageur celebrates Manitoba’s bilingual heritage and explores the lives of the voyageurs, who worked for fur trading companies in the area. French songs about commuting by canoe and the good winds and traditional voyageur games are taught in schools to prepare for the festival.
The Saskatchewan Jazz Festival draws attendees by the thousands, spreading out over the city of Saskatoon. Jazz, Funk, Blues and Pop acts grace the patrons of the festival with hours of music and dance. Having run for 25 years, this festival is guaranteed to be a good time.
The Winnipeg Folk Festival is one of the largest music festivals in Canada and still growing. Camping passes sell out in days and the endless line of vehicles to get in on the first morning has become a Winnipeg ritual (though the amount of traffic has been reduced significantly thanks to the festival’s eco ideals and efforts).
The Canadian Prairies are worth more than a drive-by when you visit Canada. They say the prairies are big spaces with a small town soul. Everyone knows everyone else; everyone is a neighbour, whether you are local or visiting. So come visit.
What is your favourite part of Canada? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.