Tonight the Sharks visit the city of Winnipeg for the first time since 1996. Since the Jets have been out of the league for most of my life, I don't really know much about them or their city. Because I am a responsible blogger and always do my research, I knew I needed to learn everything I could about Winnipeg, as fast as possible.
And so I looked up Winnipeg on Wikipedia. And it thoroughly bummed me out.
All the facts in this article are from Winnipeg's Wikipedia page, so please go there for sources and more information on any of the horribly depressing details you're about to learn about Winnipeg.
1. The Name
Oh boy, Winnipeg. You can't even get past the NAME of the city without encountering some seriously sad stuff.
The name "Winnipeg" comes from the Cree for "muddy waters".
Holy crap, that's uninspiring.
Not every city name has a great story, of course, but very few are as painfully dull as "muddy waters." It's literally something you would come up with if you thought long and hard about the worst thing to call a city. And meanwhile a city like Toronto has an entire Wikipedia page devoted solely to the interesting history of its name!
In order to help cure some of the depression caused by Winnipeg's awful name, I made the following picture:
That's the Marvel Comics aliens the Kree looking at the father of modern Chicago blues, Muddy Waters.
And they called him Winnipeg.
2. The Crime
Thanks to the ever-useful SONA Index, just about the only thing I knew about Winnipeg prior to researching this article was that the city leads Canada in sexual assaults. Aside from that, though, I assumed that most of the crime in Winnipeg was probably minor Canadian stuff. You know what I mean: driving while under the influence of poutine, moose-jackings, stuff like that.
I was wrong. Winnipeg is one big bad neighborhood.
In 2004 Winnipeg had the fourth-highest crime rate in Canada and the highest rate among areas with populations greater than 500,000. The crime rate was 50% higher than Calgary and more than double that of Toronto.
In 2009 the province of Manitoba (of which Winnipeg is the capital and largest city) had the highest violent crime rate in the nation.
In 2010 Winnipeg topped the violent crime severity index. The Wiki page amusingly tries to spin this positively by pointing out that Winnipeg was only third-ranked in OVERALL crime severity. Hooray for you, Winnipeg! You may be first in murders, but you're only third in robberies!
3. The History
The most important moment in Winnipeg's history was the General Strike of 1919, in which 30,000 workers walked off their jobs. The strike ended when the mounties rode in and killed and wounded a bunch of people.
Following the violence and unrest of the strike, things got worse:
The stock market crash of 1929 aggravated an already severe decline in Winnipeg; the Great Depression resulted in massive unemployment, which was worsened by drought and depressed agricultural prices.
If there was an Olympic event for "the most depressing sentence on Wikipedia," this one would definitely bring home a medal.
After World War II things in Winnipeg were finally starting to improve. Then I guess God noticed what was up and said "no way, screw you guys":
[...]building activity was checked by the 1950 Red River Flood. The disaster held waters above flood stage for 51 days. On May 8, 1950, eight dikes collapsed, four of the city's eleven bridges were destroyed, and nearly 100,000 people had to be evacuated. This evacuation was Canada's largest ever. The federal government estimated damages at over $26 million, although the province insisted that it was at least double that.
Well that's just awful. At least after that though things were looking up -
In 1953, Manitoba was hit with the worst outbreak of polio in Canada. There were 2,357 cases and 80 deaths.
More stuff happened afterward, including crippling depression during the 1980s, but I need to end this section before I jump out the window.
4. The Climate
Okay so everything so far has sucked pretty hard, right? At least the weather's nice.
According to Environment Canada, Winnipeg is the coldest city in the world with a population of over 600,000 [...] A normal year will see temperatures below −20 °C (−4 °F) 58 times a year and temperatures below −30 °C (−22 °F) 14 times each year. Average highs of 0 °C (32 °F) or less occur from November 13 to March 20.
5. Everything else
I'm rapidly losing my will to live, so I need to wrap this up. Here are some other bits of Winnipeg trivia that will put an icy chill into your very soul:
- The very first thing Winnipeg brags about in the "Arts, Culture, and Tourism" section is: "The Winnipeg Public Library is a public library network with 20 branches throughout the city."
- The section on "Transporation" includes this gem: "Winnipeg Bus Terminal, located at Winnipeg International Airport, offers domestic and international service by Greyhound Canada, Grey Goose Bus Lines, Winnipeg Shuttle Service and Brandon Air Shuttle."
- The Winnipeg Wikipedia page pathetically tries to take credit for inspiring Winnie the Pooh:
Winnipeg Bear, (also known as Winnie-the-Pooh) was purchased in Ontario, by Lieutenant Harry Colebourn of The Fort Garry Horse. He named the bear after the regiment's home town of Winnipeg. A.A. Milne later wrote a series of books featuring Winnie-the-Pooh.
To clarify: some dude bought a bear (in ONTARIO, not Winnipeg) and named it after Winnipeg. That dude then brought the bear to London where a young A.A. Milne saw it in the zoo and liked it, and eventually wrote books about it.
Keep your maple syrup-stained hands off my beloved childhood heroes, Winnipeg.
-One of the major political parties in Winnipeg is called "the Progressive Conservative party." Prior to 1997 they went by another name: "the Oxymorons."
- Finally, Winnipeg has a bunch of different "sister cities." At the bottom of the list of current sister cities there is the note: "Winnipeg and Minneapolis (USA) were formerly sister cities."
I'll bet Minneapolis broke up with Winnipeg. Then Winnipeg got drunk down at the library, beat up a guy, caught polio and froze to death.
San Jose Sharks
@ Winnipeg Jets
Thursday, Jan 12, 2012, 5:30 PM PST
Complete Coverage >
Prediction: I don't care if the Sharks win tonight. I just want them to make it out alive.
Bonus: I asked people to help me out for today's gameday by making a picture combining hockey and Ghostbusters. Only one person was there when I needed them: loyal reader ievans.
Thank you good sir. You rule.