The only thing that could possibly be more autumn-y than October in Winnipeg would be if a pumpkin spice latte was to have a love child with a decorative gourd dining table centre piece. This would happen while It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown plays in the background while the neighbours across the street rake leaves.
We tell you, Winnipeg is just that special when it comes to the start of scarf-wearing season, when golden foliage crunches under foot and the hockey season begins.
So with that in mind, here’s a poetic primer on how to get the most out of this autumn in The Peg.
The sounds and smells of the great outdoors right now are more whimsical than a bearded man foraging for chanterelles amongst the woodlands of St. Boniface or Assiniboine Park.
St. Boniface -- as has been stunningly captured atop by our new friend Brixton Photography (aka Anna Mawdsley) -- is a peach of a neighbourhood to experience this season. Its historical landmarks, like the Cathedral de Saint Boniface and Riel House are even more stunning at this time of year when framed by yellow leaves that are just hanging onto their branches. And those views! From everywhere you stand on Tache Avenue looking west you'll see the city buttressed by golden hues as the Red River glides by.
Everything in Assiniboine Park right now is bursting with beauty, from the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden, whose statues are now accented by a backdrop of yellow hues, to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, whose animals can soon be spotted playing with pumpkins (which is just about the cutest thing you will ever see).
Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in fall (photo by Ron Boily)
Much like our wanton to listen to Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, this time of year immediately makes us yearn too for Oak Hammock Marsh and FortWhyte Alive, both of which celebrate the season with events centred on their bird-filled skies.
Countless ducks and geese flock to Oak Hammock Marsh at night throughout early- to mid-October, and to mark the occasion they hold Migration Dinners (October 2, 5) along with other special events like the Thanksgiving Birdseed Sale (Oct 8-9). Thanksgiving itself is the best weekend all year to watch these creatures take flight, so all day (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) during this weekend they celebrate with activities like horse-drawn wagon rides (12:30 to 4:30 p.m., $5 per person), so you can get right in the midst of the migration.
Two other events of note in the marsh are the Astronomy Night (October 20, 7 to 10 p.m.) – where visitors can explore the night sky and learn how birds navigate using the stars from Oak Hammock’s rooftop viewing centre, and the Migration Farewell Concert (October 23, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.), the pièce de résistance where you can experience the sweet sounds of live classical music melding with avian audio (that’s tech speak for bird talk) all while sampling a fine selection of wine and cheese.
Geese at FortWhyte Alive in the fall (photo by Tara Kenny)
At FortWhyte Alive, Goose Flight Feasts take place Wednesday through Sunday, all the way until October 23rd, while you can also take in the Sunset Goose Flights at the same time starting at 5 p.m. During the Sunset Goose Flights you can watch thousands of geese land on the waterways just after the sun goes down, while FortWhyte’s staff provide an interpretive centre presentation featuring bonfires, a bannock bar, and other great concessions.
For most people – ourselves included – fall just isn’t fall unless you eat a lot of pumpkin pie, so that’s where we’ll start this nurture section.
There is no shortage of great pumpkin pies to be had in the city – so rest assured that those decorative gourd centre pieces you see right now will all be put to delicious use – but several spots should be singled out for upcoming Thanksgiving tables.
First off, Tall Grass Prairie (859 Westminster Avenue, 1 Forks Market Road) takes pumpkin to a whole new level at this time of year as we would dare wager that no spot in Winnipeg brings in this many gourds. If you were to look into the kitchen right now at its Forks Market location you would see hundreds of pumpkins waiting to combined with the onsite-milled heritage flours, before being made into delicious organic baked goods.
Stella’s (multiple locations), another reputable Winnipeg institution, also does incredible work in the pumpkin pie category, while Lilac Bakery, La Belle Baguette, Dessert Sinsations Cafe, The Penny Loaf Bakery, Sleepy Owl Bread, Baked Expectations and Chocolatier Constance Popp are just some of the shops doing wonders with pumpkin, cinnamon, allspice and sugar.
And what’s more nurturing than pie? Cute animals!
The Winnipeg Pet Show takes over the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg on October 15-16 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and it will be the place to be for pet owners and prospective ones.
Canines, cats, birds, reptiles and more will be on display and strutting their stuff throughout the weekend, while you can also buy some amazing products and learn some great tips on how to take care of your furry family members at home.
The X Treme Dogs! Entertainment Ring will be doing dog agility shows twice a day -- which your kids will love -- while breeders, from reptiles to birds to dogs, will be on hand to show off their cute creatures. You can possibly even go home with a new pet of your own through animal adoption and rescue agencies.
I tell you, I would have a hard time attending without taking home my very own ferret – I love those little bandits!