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“You have two hours in Winnipeg,” said the cabin steward. “Enjoy it.”

Manitoba was a surprise. My mind was blank on what this province might be. It could be so many things, but also nothing.

Once the Via Rail train arrived to the Ontario-Manitoba border, a thick blanket of trees fell back and revealed open, bursting plains in golds. I was charmed.

Via Rail calls each transition corridors and once the Manitoba one began, I felt nudged back in time, when existence was simpler and nature was the jewel of beauty, not what was a glorified manmade machine.

Winnipeg is a diamond in itself. The downtown is called the Chicago of the north and it definitely had that feel of history carved in marble and stone — a resonance of a grand past melding quite well to the present day.

The most compelling thing about Winnipeg is the devotion to the arts, the food scene and the staggering amount of festivals (19 plus!). I was sure nothing could compel me to live in the prairies ever again, after concluding that Calgary held some depressing views (looking at those endless skies all your life can lead to an empty feeling) but Winnipeg made me rethink my ignorance.

I was so happy to connect with my designer, Janelle of Bloom & Brilliance once the train stopped in Winnipeg. She took me to the distinctive Exchange District, the French Quarter (she speaks French, uh huh), where we ended at the Forks, a green space downtown where the Assiniboine and the Red Rivers converge. I’m not sure what rocked the most, meeting her or exploring Manitoba. Basically, it all felt right and good.

Hopefully my photos tell you everything you need to know. Sign up for that damn Via Rail trip already, would ya?

Manitoba

Reflections after dawn

Reflections after dawn

Modern farming by the rails

Modern farming by the rails

Valley - expansive & majestic

Valley – expansive & majestic

A lonely tree

A lonely tree

Heading towards a bridge

Heading towards a bridge

The autumn like colors surprised me!

The autumn like colors surprised me!

Little House on the Prairie...

Little House on the Prairie…

Wild horses

Wild horses

Winnipeg

Tree lined streets of the Exchange District

Tree lined streets of the Exchange District

Me & my designer, Janelle!

Me & my designer, Janelle!

The new Centennial Concert Hall

The new Centennial Concert Hall

Red River College kept the original facade

Red River College kept the original facade

Red River College - modern addition to the original facade

Red River College – modern addition to the original facade

Parliament building

Parliament

Grand Forks

Grand Forks

Strolling by the junction of the Assiniboine & Red Rivers

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If you want more information on the various travel packages from Via Rail, you can contact them through many channels.

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Website: www.viarail.ca.

Facebook: Via Rail Facebook.

Twitter: @Via_Rail.