I Could Totally Live In… Winnipeg, Canada

Feb 16, 2014 by

Wilkes Avenue Canola

Several months ago on my twitter feed, Travel Manitoba shared a beautiful photo. I was immediately captivated by the prairie image of an abandoned farmhouse and the expansive surrounding sky. Perhaps it was my inner prairie girl soul or my love of the mysterious and unknown that drew me so powerfully to the image, or maybe it was a combination of factors, but I immediately gushed and retweeted the image. Never expecting much from my twitter interactions, I was surprised shortly after this to find the photographer of this image commenting on my blog. He followed me on twitter (and I followed  back). We’ve kept in touch since, reading each other’s blogs, teasing each other via twitter and me tripping over myself to love on his photography. With shared prairie roots (and a touch o’ the Irish blarney in both of us), I have come to consider him a real friend.

And so… it is with deep respect and excitement that I am introducing my friend Kevin. For a while now, he has been thinking about a place to contribute to my I Could Totally Live There series. I am undeniably ecstatic with his choice.

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I could totally live there… wait a minute… I DID live there! And I would do it again!

I could totally live in Winnipeg… cop out? No… not at all. Biased? You’re goddamn right I am.

Bio Pic

What makes Winnipeg a place where you could live and not just visit?

I was born and raised in Winnipeg and spent my formative years stirring up shit all over Charleswood and St. Vital. I visit there as much as my schedule allows and every time I leave, a little piece of me stays behind. There are the obvious reasons, like low housing costs, quality of life and cost of living, outdoor activities and family and friends that I still have there. I really believe that these things outweigh the eagle sized mosquitoes and blistering cold that highlight the two seasons in Winnipeg… winter and construction. But what can I say? I love the place.

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What are 3 must-do things in Winnipeg?

1. Grand beach on a 35 degree Celcius day… one of, if not the, largest white sand beaches on a  fresh water lake in the world,
2. Skating on the Red River at Christmastime with a thermos of coffee and a flask of whiskey, and
3. Folklorama!!! Every country, every kind of culture and food… if you’ve never been… pull your head out of your ass and get there. Fricken amazing.

What 2 things must you eat in Winnipeg?
 

1. Hunky Bills Perogies… one of the greatest things to ever come out of Winnipeg.
2. Boon’s Burgers… it’s a vegetarian joint but the poutine and the burgers are out of this world.
Really, Winnipeg has some of the best cuisine in Canada and there is a long list of great places to eat.
Prairie Road At Night

What is 1 of your favourite memories in Winnipeg?
There are too many to list or possibly judge. But the most recent one that stands out in my mind was getting married in my parents living room, with the whole bridal party and all the guests wearing pajamas. You see my Dad, who was 91 at the time could’t leave the house, and we would be damned if he wasn’t at the ceremony. So the boys all wore tuxedo t-shirts and PJ bottoms and the girls all wore frilly PJ’s. We made an arch out of the 22 foot long train that my Mom wore when she married my Dad and we stood on linens that were given to my Grandparents at the turn of the century (not this century… the last one!) when they were married. To be able to share that with my Dad and the rest of my family was incredibly special. He died five months later and we were honoured that he was able to be there with us.

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Thank you so so so much Mr. Boyle for your contribution to my blog and for making me a proud Winnipegger and prairie girl. I am very much looking forward to meeting up with you and your beautiful wife Jenny this summer. I owe you a couple beers, I think!
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Don’t miss out on having a peek at Kevin’s photos from his recent show, Range. You can follow his beautiful photography at his blog, Kevin Boyle Studio and his antics on twitter as well. You won’t regret it.

Kevin Boyle was born and raised in the Canadian Prairies, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He began his photography career by accident in 2002 while photographing the darker side of humanity in his other occupation. After a decade of photographing people at their worst, he took his beaten up Canon 30D to Tofino. It was that weekend that, for the first time, he started seeing things differently through the viewfinder of his camera.

In 2011 two things happened in his life that altered his view of the world. He married his wife and his father passed away. After his father died, Kevin packed up an old, used Canon 5D, a busted EF 20-35mm lens and drove from Vancouver to Winnipeg. During that cathartic drive, in the expanse of the Prairies, he found a part of himself that had been asleep for a long time. He started to realize the beauty in desolation and that no matter how hard we try to fight it, time is unrelenting and inescapable.

Fast forward two years, countless hours of mapping, equipment testing and farm road driving and what you have is a new set of images with Kevin’s own personal vision. To him, this series of photographs represents Canadiana at its roots.Kevin has always had a strong connection to the past and believes that only by understanding where you came from can you continue to grow. By using a modern digital sensor combined with a 40 year old ‘shift’ lens, and a medium format film camera with a high resolution scanner, he has bridged the gap between past with the present through his photos.

These photos represent a simpler time without 200 TV channels, iPhones, Twitter and Facebook. They represent a place where the skies are alive with movement and the ground swallows what was once vibrant and alive. 

They represent a range of light, space and emotion.

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20 Comments

  1. Love the images and the story (no I most certainly did not tear up a little when I read about the living-room wedding) and the way the camera materials are mashed up between digital and antique is really, really cool. I mean other than the horribly cold winter, I would probably be happy to move to Winnipeg now!

    I guess it helps that Colleen is there… and burgers…

    • Colleen

      That wedding story is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. Kevin has a heartbreaking and super touching post about his father on his blog… I highly recommend you give it a read.
      And yes – come to Winnipeg. For Colleen AND burgers.

  2. Having made it to the Peg last autumn, I was reminded of what a neat city it is. I think a lot of folk glaze over the prairies but that’s where the real gems are!

    • Colleen

      I’m so glad you made it to Winnipeg and found it to be a gem. I would agree!

  3. So tempting – it is beautiful.

    • Colleen

      Hope you can visit one day. I think you would enjoy the prairie drives and the amazing prairie sky.

  4. Your mom had a 22ft. long train, and you got married in your PJ’s. Love that. And what a touching way to make sure your father could be a part of it. That night shot is just insane. So beautiful!

    • Colleen

      Katie – it’s such a beautiful story.
      Hope you manage to check out some of Kevin’s other photography. It’s so so stunning!

  5. It is great that you two connected via twitter and formed a great online friendship.

    Kevin, some really good reasons there for liking Winnipeg and I love the pyjama wedding!

    Not sure I’d be keen on a Canadian winter myself.

    • Colleen

      Yes – I’m really glad I’ve connected with Kevin like this too. I’m really looking forward to meeting up with him Winnipeg-style in a few months.
      Hope you manage to brave a Canadian (or more specifically a Winnipeg) winter one day. It’s really a feat of survival!

  6. Claire

    Beautiful photos. Now I’m getting that weird homesickness for my second home again and searching Aer Lingus flights to Winnipeg.

  7. Hi Kevin, I actually went over and read and commented on your blog before reading this post. I told you about my childhood memories of the prairies. Then I just read this and I actually swam in the Red River in Minnesota during four summer vacations there living and working on a farm. I will definitely start with a Prairie Fried Chickn* Burger at Boon’s! I have a very deep love for my Dad who is no longer with us either so your picture and story of the wedding made my day. Stay the path as you are doing awesome! 🙂

    • Colleen

      Mike, I’m glad you managed to check out Kevin’s blog – he’s super talented… he has a true gift. I love that you also have a connection to Winnipeg via the Red River. Very cool!

  8. Thanks Colleen for letting me play! And thanks to everyone who commented. I would reply to each one individually but I have a fear of Reply buttons.

    Sally: Winter sucks hard in Winnipeg. No getting around that, but for the same price as a house in Vancouver, you can have a place in the peg and one in Arizona… so there’s that.

    Emily: There are a lot of gems in the Prairies! The northern lights are amazing and being able to see the Milky Way with the naked eye is a real treat.

    Maria: Thanks! It’s pretty great. The food is really one of the best parts.

    Katie: Yes.. my Mom had quite the wedding dress… but in fairness, I had my tuxedo t-shirt “be-jewelled”, so we were pretty much even.

    The Guy: Colleen is a class act. I think we both breathed a sigh of relief when she found out I wasn’t a serial killer and she wasn’t trying to steal my identity to fuel a meth habit. I wouldn’t worry about the winter as much as the gigantic mosquitoes.

    Claire: I hear you… I just said to my wife I need to go back soon!

    Mike: Really glad you liked the photos and all the food at Boon’s is great! For vegetarians they cook a strong burger! If I said that 20 years ago, my friends would of beat the crap out of me…

    • Colleen

      Kevin I’m so glad you made it out to the playground!
      I’m loving the feedback this got and how everyone was taken with the story of your wedding. But seriously, that is the stuff of movies.
      Sending you my best – and I hope you take me up on those beers this summer!

  9. Beautiful photos! A Canadian road trip is definitely on my list. Love the pajama wedding 🙂

    • Colleen

      Yes a Canadian road trip is a road trip like no other. It’s amazing to watch the landscape transform whilst the road unfolds beneath the car!

  10. What a lovely story and beautiful pictures, hopefully I have a chance to visit Winnipeg this summer.

    • Colleen

      Thank you! I would love to show you around Winnipeg if we are ever here at the same time. Keep in touch. 🙂

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