I’m on my way, by bus, to Winnipeg, Manitoba. The city takes its name from Lake Winnipeg, the Western Cree word for muddy water. Early nineteenth-century settlers heading west to take up offers of cheap land took the newly constructed railway to Sarnia, but impenetrable forest forced them to continue on by steamship over Lakes Huron and Superior.
The Canadian Pacific Railway line finally reached Winnipeg in 1881, and the city now developed rapidly. Poor immigrants, hoping for a better life in the west, packed into overcrowded trains chugging across the country. They slept on the wooden seats and purchased food at stops along the line. Some were high-spirited, unruly, even destructive, and women in towns and settlements hastily gathered up their children to protect them when the trains filled with “rowdies” pulled in.
The new railway line effectively divided the city of Winnipeg in two: the well-off Anglo-Saxon population…
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