Portage and Main

Winnipeg, MB - Is Portage and Main really the “coldest and windiest intersection in Canada?”

A few days ago when we were in Buffalo, B’s Assistant Coach Doug Jarvis was telling me on the bus ride about Winnipeg and the weather… Having never been here before, I hadn’t known too much about the city.

And what peaked my interest the most was when he told me that the crossroads of Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg were often considered the coldest corner in Canada. I thought, “I wonder what makes this so….”

So, when we arrived in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon - in the dead of February - I knew I needed to do some investigating…

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WOW, was it COLD. I’m not sure if I had it in my mind that there would be a wind tunnel whipping at me, ice covering the road, snow mounds on either side… But it was colder - and windier - than the walk over to the intersection, that is for sure. Shedding the gloves to take that photo above probably didn’t help — but right at the spot of the sign in the photo below, at the outside of Scotiabank, felt about 20 degrees colder than the area of sidewalk - near the bank and blocked from the wind - that I sprinted to minutes later.

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Being from Michigan - and living in Boston - we get our fair share of cold spells. And I haven’t been to every intersection in Canada, but I’ll side with the long-standing legend.

For those not familiar, I dug up some information on the famous corner in the center of Canada, that links the East and the West…

The well-known corner is located in downtown, where Portage Avenue (Route 85) and Main Street (Route 52) intersect, and was once the center for the banking industry in Western Canada. The corner still houses a slew of national banks, with access below ground through the pedestrian underpasses (something else I encountered for the first time) that make up an underground mall.

In 2012, the intersection celebrated its 150th birthday (quick history lesson time…) - according to the Winnipeg Free Press, Henry McKenney purchased the parcel of land that was “low and swampy, covered with scrub oak and poplar” where the north-south and east-west “ox cart” paths crossed - and eventually built the business and banking center of the city.

As for the corner’s famous frigidity, the long-standing cold weather legend remains unproven.

But for all those who have been to the intersection, you can give your own proof - or disproof - in the comments below.

-Caryn Switaj ^CS

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