Winnipeg

2011/08/18

Spent a full day in Winnipeg today, partly for memory rehashing and partly for new-stuff tourism.

I don’t have very many memories of Winnipeg, actually. I’ve been through a number of times and we lived here for a month or so one winter when my father was trying to find work.  It was not a terribly happy time.

First order of the day was to try and relocate the happy places, so I went for a walk downtown.  Tried a burger from VJ’s – unique flavor but overall I didn’t like it.  Then spotted some kind of wall-crawling contest going on near the corner of Portage and Main:

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There were two obviously inexperienced people rappelling down the face of this building while an announcer across the street egged them on.  Not sure what that was all about, but at least someone found a use for the Mountain Equipment Co-Op store that mysteriously exists here.

The first location I was looking for was the former storefront of Doug Sulipa’s Comic World.  I mentioned in a previous post that while we lived on the farm I discovered and got addicted to The New Mutants comic series, while it was still in its late teen issue numbers.  Comic World had a huge storefront on Portage Avenue at the time – if I remember right he claimed to have 100,000 back-issues in the store, and I believe it.  Comic nerd heaven!  Thanks to Doug, I back-filled every missing issue.  Even better, he had arcade games in the store.  The only one I remember playing was Argus, which I still really like for its music.  If I ever collect the musician powerup I’ve always wanted, Argus and Black Tiger will be tied for the first video games I remix the music of.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure the old storefront is gone, now replaced by part of this new mall:

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And right across the street, this fancy new building:

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stands where I believe the other notable location was: Mother’s Arcade.  I always thought of Mother’s as the most famous and professional arcade in Canada, probably because it’s the only Canadian arcade I ever read a magazine review of (I have since gone through all my old video game magazines trying to find that review, with no luck).

I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time in Mother’s, but it was a nice place.  The front was all fancy stonework with columns and looked like it had once been a bank.  Inside was nicely decorated in sleek futuristic lines like you’d expect from an arcade.  The game selection wasn’t really to my taste though – they had Dragon’s Lair, which was debuting to much fanfare at the time.  They even had a secondary screen on top of the cabinet so a larger crowd could watch.  I played it once and decided it was little more than an interactive slideshow, and thus not really a game.  They also had some uncommon games like Bubbles and Joust 2, but I mostly ended up playing Xevious.

There was another arcade not far away, off the wrong (ie north) side of Portage, but I can’t recall where it was.  My mother was nervous about leaving me there, but they had a better game selection.  There was a vertical-scrolling helicopter game that I no longer remember the name of, but played because it had an enormous screen.  But the real star of that arcade was Altered Beast, which I couldn’t get enough of to the point of making my mother angry by staying in there past the appointed hour.  It had such good graphics! And sampled voices!

 

Next destination was the Western Canadian Aviation Museum, which I’ve never been to before.  It was somewhat interesting and I took a lot of photos which will mostly have to be sorted out some other time.  It is a little cramped though – they need more space to properly display their collection.  The biggest surprise was seeing an Avrocar there – also known as the Flying Pancake, though due to budget overrun it never flew more than a meter off the ground:

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I then went on to Bird’s Hill Park, which I’ve only visited a few times before but had fond memories of.  It has a network of paved bicycle paths going through a variety of fields and forests, like this:

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If you’re a kid on a bike, this is a really neat place to camp.  There’s also a shallow lake with a wide beach that is great for wading and building sand castles.  The park is also home to an annual music festival, though I don’t remember if we ever attended that.

One of my most notable nightmares is associated with this place too.  When I was a kid I watched all sorts of science fiction television series, including Space: 1999.  One episode though, titled Dragon’s Domain, scared the snot out of me. Here was a large, man-eating tentacular horror with a single giant eyeball with a glowing brain behind it, and it could appear at will in any open doorway with almost no warning.  Anyway, somehow that monster got associated with this park and for two years I had a recurring nightmare that I was fleeing several of these creatures in a (non-extant) convenience store located in this park.  I got so used to the dream recurring that I eventually dreamed myself up an axe and fought back against the monsters, and the nightmares stopped.

 

Back to the present. After noodling around the park a bit it was supper time, so I went back into town and had a burger at Baked Expectations.  It was good, but not outstanding as burgers go.  But I did get another dessert, this time the carrot cake:

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It was very good as carrot cakes go, but I liked last night’s chocolate cake better.

Returned to my room to offload the day’s pictures, and was pleasantly surprised by an intense lightning storm.  I managed to get a few exposures from my window:

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