As we all know, living in the great city of Winnipeg can present its challenges. We all are way too familiar with the extreme weather, poorly laid out infrastructure and the high crime rates.
Another challenge that looms in the back of every Winnipegger’s mind — especially those who happen to live on the banks a river — is flooding.
Around these parts we are all too cozy with the idea of flooding, as it happens each and every year in some varying degree. The root cause of flooding in our city is the Red River, but before we bash the mighty Red for being where it is, we have to understand that this river is essentially the reason that our city exists.
As waterways were once imperative for trade, the meeting point of both the Red and Assiniboine River was a logical spot to place a trading post and fort.
Therefore, the founding fathers of our city placed Winnipeg in a strategically and logically sound position.
But what about this Red River? It has some strange characteristics; the most noticeable is that it is a brown river, not red. Second of all, it flows from south to north, one of a small percentage of rivers that experience this strange phenomenon.
As we go about our city life, we encounter the Red on a daily basis. Some of us cross over top of it on bridges; some of us see it as we travel alongside of it. Others awake each morning and look out over the river, while some of us strap on our skates and enjoy the Red through winter sport.
Like most things in life, the Red is unique. It has both its upside and downside; it has oddities and norms, some of which I am now going to take a closer look at.
River related deaths
As much as we enjoy our river, both in the summer and the winter, the Red River has a dark side. It has accounted for the deaths of a countless number of people in both summer time and winter, most recently the tragic disappearance of Nathaniel Thorassie, the boy is presumed to have drowned as he was playing on the river with his brother.
In the summer time, the river happens to be just as dangerous. Those who use the river for leisure are always at risk of being caught up the current of the river and risk being pulled under.
Although the river can be nasty towards people, sometimes we can conquer it. Faron Hall was hailed as the “Homeless Hero” in Winnipeg, as he pulled individuals out of the Red River on two separate occasions. The incidents happened in May and September of 2009, instilling the city with a sense of pride. Yes, acts of heroism actually happen in Winnipeg. Hall won a host of awards for his acts, including the Mayor’s Medal of Valour.
Both in the summer and the winter, all sorts of people use the Red River for leisure. During the summer, you can get a ride on a Paddlewheel Riverboat and tour up and down the Mighty Red. In the winter, skating paths are cleared, and you can walk, run and skate up and down the river.
I have always stood by my claim that as much as we seem to complain about Winnipeg, there is a part inside each one of us that is keeping us here; it may only be low tuition rates, but you are still living in Winnipeg after all. If you want to enjoy life, it is imperative that you accept the place that you live. So, after class today, head on down to the river. You have a month and a bit left to skate.