In “Exploring Canada’s Wilderness,” columnist Michael MacDonald offers Public Service Announcements on region-specific survival skills. The following is parody, and should not be taken too seriously.
Traveling to Manitoba can be a frightening prospect given the sensational headlines in the news lately. We’ve all read about how Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes or that the word Manitoba means either “prairie of the spirit” or “land of the flesh-eating bacteria” in Ojibwe. Some people may have even seen the CBC documentary Manitoba: Danger Zone! But if, for whatever reason, you and your family find yourselves absolutely having to make a trip there, there are things you can do to minimize the dangers and protect your loved ones.
First of all, take the warnings about Winnipeg seriously: the city is rarely visited by tourists from the developed world, and the local inhabitants are known to be intolerant of Western morals and social values. In an incident widely reported last January, a couple from Toronto was forced to wear fleece parkas when they unintentionally wandered outside the officially designated tourist area near The Forks. It is also highly advisable to avoid visiting Winnipeg around the Festival du Voyager, which often takes a violent turn when local youth don beaver pelts and elaborately decorated moose antlers in order to commemorate Jet’s nine-win season of 1980-1981.
Not all of Manitoba is as dangerous as Winnipeg, however. The small towns and villages close to the border of North Dakota are relatively safe as long as one stays inside at night, and have been largely spared the violence that plagues the rest of Manitoba. Beaver attacks are increasingly rare here, unlike to the north. Officials are quick to cite “only” an estimated 3.61 beaver sexual assaults on lawn ornaments each month on average in the so-called “lawless zone” near the towns of Shellmouth and Dropmore. Visitors to Manitoba should be advised that the Canadian government has declared the area west of Provincial Trunk Highway 83 a “no-go” to all but military personnel after repeated incursions by beavers from the Saskatchewan side of the border.
In fact, few people realize that Manitoba has been under occupation by Canadian troops since 1870, affording a measure of safety in what would otherwise be a trackless waste devoid of civilization and the rule of law. While there has been some discussion of making Manitoba an official province of Canada, prospects dimmed after the radical Manitoban extremist group, the Affiliation of Curling Clubs, threatened to be “not very nice” and even “lodge a complaint with somebody in Ottawa” if Canadian rule was officially ever made permanent.
Finally, although travel to Manitoba can be extremely difficult, physically uncomfortable, and mind-numbingly boring, it need not be life-threatening if you follow the precautions listed above. Just remember: while Manitoba is clearly not as safe as Ontario or Minnesota, it’s still not as dangerous as Somalia or even Newfoundland.