Canada 2017 travel blog

The front of the old St Boniface Cathedral with the new modern...

A photo of the cathedral in flames - July 1968

The Grey Nuns' Convent - the oldest building in Winnipeg


A busy day. It became windy this morning & my satellite dish & tripod blew over so the first order of business was to find some way of stabilizing it. I started off at an RV place but they were no help – didn’t even have any tent pegs. They sent me to Canadian Tire but on the way I passed a Canadian Superstore, a large supermarket chain, so I stopped & did some grocery shopping.

There was also a Home Depot in the shopping centre & I found an older bloke there who was able to think laterally & we came up with one of those metal stakes you screw into the ground to attach a dog’s leash. I already had some bungee cords & it does the job fantastically (I think).

Then I went on to Canadian Tire because I’m not sure whether my front tires are wearing properly. A bloke came & looked at them & said they were definitely wearing a bit on the outside & I probably should get the alignment checked. He sent me to another place & that bloke said they were OK so for now I’ll just keep an eye on them.

After lunch in the motorhome, it was finally time for some sightseeing although I’d already seen a fair bit of Winnipeg just diving to all these places. The main tourist hub is The Forks, a very modern structure built at the junction of the Red River & the Assiniboine River where the settlement of Upper Fort Garry & ultimately Winnipeg began.

It’s right in the centre of town, behind a very grand Union Station but I couldn’t find anywhere to park the motorhome so kept going over the river where I could see St Boniface Cathedral.

I’m glad I did because what I found was fascinating. I didn’t know that the old cathedral built in the early 1900s (the 5th church on the site) was destroyed by fire in 1968 & only the facade survives. They’ve built a new, very modern cathedral behind the old one – it’s so modern I thought it was an office building until I went inside.

I was actually looking for the old convent which I’d read was near the cathedral but I couldn’t find any signs but got directions from some friendly folk from Montreal. The Grey Nuns’ Convent is the oldest building in Winnipeg & houses the St Boniface Museum which was what I was after.

The convent was built for the Grey Nuns who arrived here in 1844 & was an orphanage, a school, a hospital, an aged care home – in fact it was the centre for the nuns’ various works of education & charity.

The museum has a special exhibit featuring Louis Riel who was born here. He was a leader of the Metis people who were descendants of French & natives, & was instrumental in the founding of Manitoba although he ultimately got hanged by the Canadian government. The story is very complicated but it seems the Metis were ignored during the negotiations that resulted in the founding of Canada, they lost their land & Riel led a rebellion.

It's a nasty story about white British Protestants against Native/French Catholics & the British establishment won.



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