Reasons to Visit Winnipeg #2: The Parks / by Deborah Clague

My favorite thing to do when visiting Winnipeg is take a walk through LaBarriere Park, a pristine greenspace on the outer limits of #YWG that few people seem to know about as its forest trails are often devoid of anything other than squirrels, rabbits and the occassional teenager using the cloak of privacy the park offers to practice the correct method of marijauna inhalation outside of the prying eyes of their parents.

The parks 84 hectares are split between well-manicured lawns hosting empty baseball diamonds and picnic tables, to a lush forest that alternately resembles something out of a medieval fairytale to the haunted woods of the Blair Witch Project (depending on the season). When I lived in Winnipeg, I would walk my ol' dog Reggie here on a daily basis and use the relative solitude and anonymity at LaBarriere to sing. Yes, sing. Outloud, terribly, to an audience of elm and oak. It was my 70s rock phase too. Despite sounding worse than nails on a chalkboard, there is something so liberating about doing things in public that you normally wouldn't have the confidence to do otherwise. This statement can also cover my most memorable moment at the park when I hiked in on two people doing the, uh, "horizontal polka". The couple, in their 50s based on the dendrochronology I observed on their bodies, was moritifed. I got out of dodge and couldn't stop chuckling to myself wondering if poison oak on the nether regions would be something they suffer in addition to extreme embarrassment.  

If legal, socially acceptable pursuits are more one's fancy, Winnipeg parks still have a lot to offer. Assiniboine Park, the biggest at 1100 acres, has a zoo, several restaurants (fine dining and casual), skating rinks/ponds, a conservatory housing exotic plants, an English garden, a cricket field and outdoor stages that showcase local music and performances by the famous Royal Winnipeg Ballet during the summer. One could spend hours there in serenity away from the city's traffic woes, noise and other annoyances. It's an oasis. 

Outside of the -40 degree celcius winters, most Winnipeg parks are a slice of zen which is why I name them the #2 thing to see and do there.