Travellers have always come to Winnipeg. Either to stay or to make money and then move on. Those who moved on took their value from the city and its economic possibilities. But they also left behind a little part of themselves and their culture.

Those who chose to stay left an even bigger impact on the life of the city. Winnipeg has the second biggest French speaking community of Canada, outside of Quebec. Among the first settlers were the Scottish with Lord Selkirk. Nowadays the French speaking community is easier to spot than the the followers of Lord Selkirk…

But this is in a fairly recent past. Originally the travellers to Winnipeg were Cree, Dakota, Ojibwa and so on for millennia before even a white man set foot on this continent. The Forks, the confluence of the Assiniboine river and the Red river was known for its community of traders and trappers. Today it’s still a place for travellers as well as for inhabitants. The rivers were famous for their troubled quality of the water. The water was always rather muddy, in the original tongues spoken here it was called winnipeg, or muddy waters.

Muddy water, the origin of the name of the city Muddy water, the origin of the name of the city

In the French quarter of the city, known as Saint Boniface, an idea started 41 years ago to create a festival to the honour of the travellers. It would present the cultures of the travellers, the ones that stayed or from the ones that moved on.

They called it…

Winnipeg is a beautiful place to live, I love it. And really not as crowded as many other cities with the same number of inhabitants. Of course that also may be a result of past… let’s say “miscalculations”.

When in the late 19th century Winnipeg was growing and growing, the general consensus was that Winnipeg was going to be the central hub for North America. Railways were planned, Union Station was big and powerful. Many government buildings were built with the future in mind, meaning “on the big side”. Roads, streets and avenues were large and comfortable enough to accommodate lots of traffic.

Then came August 15, 1914. The BLOW to Winnipeg’s future was given by the opening of the Panama Canal. Within a few weeks it was clear that Winnipeg would never become the big city that it had been designed for. Instead of 5 million people estimated, the number of inhabitants is now about 700,000. The better part of it is that rush hour only lasts 20 minutes.

From a photographic point of view there is a lot of interesting things from this glorious (to be) past. The Exchange district is full of old and interesting architecture, there are sky scrapers, although the sky in the beginning of the 20th century must have been a lot lower than today’s.


Exchange district high-rise Exchange district high-rise

An interesting “side effect” from staying a smaller city is that activities are blooming. Economical activities as well as cultural activities. Take the Festival du Voyageur or the Folklorama for example. Yesterday started the 41st Festival. The Folklorama is held in August. Lots of other activities are here to enjoy and to take pictures of.

The speed of light is the fastest you can find in nature, wherever you are looking. However you can catch elements that go at the speed of light, if you’re fast enough. Well, the only “thing” you can catch at the speed of light is of course light itself. Now that’s just what we’re doing in photography: catch the light.

To catch a bit more spectacular light we have to be fast, very fast. But signs of these events are there, sometimes long before the events occur.

Tell-tale signs of upcoming thunderstorms Tell-tale signs of upcoming thunderstorms

The signs I am talking about are of course cumulo-nimbus clouds, with the promise of some heavenly fireworks, a.k.a. thunderstorms.

“Quarrying at Stonewall began ca. 1880 as part of an emerging limestone industry in southern and central Manitoba. The Stonewall quarries were noted for their continuous production of various limestone-based construction materials. The quarries were long the economic mainstay of the town.

While ordinary building stone was taken in the early years of settlement, the more significant aspect of the Stonewall trade was to be the high quality quicklime produced in the kilns by burning limestone. The whiteness of this product placed it in demand for use in plasters. Commercial quarrying ceased in 1967 with the depletion of high quality reserves of Stonewall Formation limestone.”

This is the text on one of the commemorative plaques in the quarry of Stonewall. Now, what does this quarry look like? While I only have pictures from today, we may get an impression of the past. The quarry grounds are still there and have seen little change since the closure.

Overview of the quarry of Stonewall Overview of the quarry of Stonewall

The now barren ground of the quarry starts to get some growth, but nothing really wants to grow on these rocks. These were the places where the original limestone was taken. Right now, some places look like snake pits, but I didn’t spot any snakes. After the quarrying of stone came the more sophisticated quicklime. It had to be burned in ovens called kilns.

Water. World’s most common element. What would we be without it? Probably dried out. In photography, water also holds its place. Of course not only in the darkroom where the chemicals are mixed with water to obtain your film’s and paper’s images. It also exists far before the processing of your material.

Let’s go outside and forget about the darkroom. Too smelly anyway. In Winnipeg, we don’t have much time to contemplate open water, apparently the season is too short for this. Frozen water, yes, we know all about it. See Freezing Craftsmanship for this. We got lots of experience with that.

Now, liquid water is a whole different approach for photographers. Some people like the reflection of objects in the water, but what about the reflection of water in itself?

 Water reflected in itself Water reflected in itself

That looks more like chaos to me. But nice and shiny. Here in Winnipeg, we have all kinds of quiet water, so I thought I’d start with something more wild.

Henk Von Pickartz
29 days 15 hours

Best of Luck in your new home Anton en Greet Dank je :-)

Anton Peereboom
30 days 11 hours

Best of Luck in your new home Anton en Greet

Henk Von Pickartz
1 month

Best of luck in your new home! Thank you! :-)

1 month

Best of luck in your new home!

Hilma Sinkinson
2 months 2 days

I am in love with your images of the cold prairie winters. I lived in the middle south of Manitoba and want to get a licensed ...

Dan Topham
3 months 8 days

As always, I enjoy your photo bytes and this one is right up there. After using the flip screen on lay Canon 60D I have ofte ...

4 months 12 days

You mentioned swimming by one of your photos. I see no one swimming. Can we swim at Fort Whyte? They seem to have a dock o ...

Vernon Cole
4 months 18 days

I am looking to see if there are any pictures of the original house situated at Munson Park

John Pelechaty
4 months 21 days

---Great blog once again Henk - enjoyed it very much....

4 months 27 days

Thanks for that piece of info. I had a hard time seeing that burn inside... :-)