manitoba 101

When I decided to moved from Nova Scotia to Manitoba in 2007 I knew absolutely no one who had ever lived in Manitoba. Heck, I didn’t even know anyone who had ever vacationed in Manitoba. Most people when I mentioned the phrase “moving to Manitoba” they would laugh at me and think I was crazy. But not my friend Michelle. She was very supportive and inquisitive about my big move out west. Even after I moved to Manitoba we remained very close friends, sending emails at least once a week, and lots of visits when I returned to Nova Scotia for vacation. I would tell her stories about all my fun Manitoba adventures and we would joke around that some day she would come and visit me in Manitoba and see what this province is all about. Well she is now taking that one step further and actually moving to Manitoba! I can’t believe - one of my best friends from home is actually moving to Manitoba too! I am very excited!

So in honor of Michelle, I have put together a Manitoba cheat sheet of sorts - a list of some of the weird and little things I have discovered about Manitoba over the last six years. These are things that individually aren’t that big or important, but together I hope they will help paint her a picture of some of what is in store for her as she embarks on her own Manitoba adventure!

In Nova Scotia it is called electricity or power. In Manitoba it is called hydro. Whatever you choose to call it, it is significantly cheaper in Manitoba than it is in Nova Scotia.

In Nova Scotia it is called a slush or a slushie. In Manitoba it is called a slurpee and they take their slurpees very seriously. In fact Winnipeg is the slurpee capital of the world.

Cell phone service sucks in Manitoba. It feels like the equivalent to 2002 cell service in Nova Scotia.

It is rarely foggy in Manitoba compared to Nova Scotia. Must have something to do with the ocean/lack of ocean.

You will need to have a block heater installed in your vehicle so you can plug it in on super cold winter days. Ours cost around $150.

The health cards in Manitoba are perforated paper and contain all the names of all the family members. It feels very 1950s.

Winnie the Pooh was inspired by a real life bear named Winnipeg.

Vehicle insurance and drivers license all go through Manitoba Public Insurance - you cannot shop around for cheaper car insurance like you can in Nova Scotia - you can only buy it directly from the province. Sometimes this results in cheaper insurance, sometimes more. For instance our vehicle insurance dropped quite a bit when we moved from NS to MB, but our motorcycle insurance increased significantly.

Every single year you have to pay to renew your drivers license in Manitoba whereas in Nova Scotia you only renew your license every five years.

Manitoba will not care if you have a perfect driving record in Nova Scotia, you will start at the bottom and have to earn good license discount benefits.

For some strange reason the risk of getting a cracked windshield seems way more likely in Manitoba than Nova Scotia. We have gone through two windshields in Manitoba in six years compared to zero windshields in eleven years in Nova Scotia.

There is a much higher chance of seeing moose and other wildlife in Manitoba than in Nova Scotia. Please drive with caution and keep your camera handy!

It feels like there are more sunny days in Manitoba than in Nova Scotia. In fact, Dauphin, Manitoba has dubbed itself “The City of Sunshine”.

It is much colder in Manitoba in the winter than Nova Scotia but it snows a heck of a lot less which means you don‘t have to shovel or scrape as much as you do in Nova Scotia.

If you think Nova Scotia does a horrible job plowing the winter roads, just you wait until you see the job Manitoba does plowing. It is way worse than Nova Scotia!

Be careful where you buy a house in Manitoba by considering things like flooding and sump pumps. You don’t want to have to deal with the drastic Manitoba flooding and insurance claims.

Although Manitoba is known for having crazy amounts of mosquitoes, I have never seen an earwig or a june bug in Manitoba, both of which are excessive in Nova Scotia.

You know that feeling in Nova Scotia in the middle of the summer where it feels super humid and sticky? Well that doesn’t really happen here in Manitoba that often. The humidity is way less than Nova Scotia and in Manitoba there always seems to be a bit of a breeze which is quite nice.

Stock up on hand cream and lip balm because of the Manitoba dry air you will use a lot more of it than you do in Nova Scotia.

In Nova Scotia it is called primary. In Manitoba it is called kindergarten.

In Nova Scotia it is called a jelly filled donut. In Manitoba it is called a jambuster.

There is no concern about hurricanes here in Manitoba like you have in Nova Scotia, but watch out for those tornadoes - every once in a while Manitoba gets hit by one.

Quite a few Manitobans will hear your Nova Scotia accent and think you are a Newfie, even if you tell them that you have never even been to Newfoundland. You can entertain them a lot by saying the words “scallop”, “ham”, “can”, “pants” and east coast sayings such as “fill your boots” and “what a sin” as these words and phrases will bring out your east coast accent heavily and will make them smile and laugh. It is always a crowd pleaser, especially if you have a few drinks under your belt at a party.

In Nova Scotia it is called a plate of squares. In Manitoba it is called a plate of dainties.

In Nova Scotia it is called a hoodie. In Manitoba you sometimes also hear it referred to as a bunnyhug. This is technically a Saskatchewan term for a hoodie but it sometimes makes its way into Manitoba particularly on the western side of the province near the Saskatchewan border.

In Nova Scotia it is called March Break and generally falls in the middle of March. In Manitoba it is called Spring Break and generally falls the last week of March/into April.

I never ate perogies in Nova Scotia. In Manitoba they are a staple meal and you see them for sale at community functions and events, in arenas, at weddings, and regularly in the homes of Manitobans.

Manitobans will talk about catching pickerel while out fishing. They are talking about the fish commonly called walleye in the rest of the country.

Manitobans will talk about catching jackfish while out fishing. They are talking about the fish commonly called pike in the rest of the country.

Nova Scotia is full of wineries - so many that I’ve lost count. In Manitoba there is only one winery that I know of called Rigby Orchard Estates and it is located near Killarney in the south western corner of the province. They make a pretty good raspberry wine, keep your eyes open for it.

Gasoline always seems to be cheaper in Manitoba than in Nova Scotia. Usually by around 10 to 15 cents per litre cheaper.

In Nova Scotia it is called date squares. In Manitoba it is called matrimonial cake.

Watch out for the infamous intersection called “Confusion Corner” in Winnipeg. The first time you drive through it you will be scared to death!

Generally speaking Manitobans love to hate Winnipeg. Just check out the popular song “One Great City” by The Weakerthans for a perfect example. The funny thing is as much as Winnipeggers complain and love/hate about Winnipeg, many of them rarely leave the city and rarely explore the rest of the province and many suffer from “Perimeteritis” where they hardly ever leave the boundaries of the Perimeter Highway which circles the entire city.

Sometimes in Manitoba in October you will hear people say “Halloween Apples”. This is the same as saying “Trick or Treat”, just the unique Manitoba version.

There are lots of bison farmers in Manitoba. Bison is delicious and something I never saw or tried in Nova Scotia. If you can get your hands on a bison roast please try it! Yum, it tastes like roast beef but with less fat.

Nova Scotia lacks an NHL team and a CFL team. Not Winnipeg! Get ready to finally have a home team to cheer for! Go Jets Go! Go Bombers Go! Having a home team to cheer for really enhances the sporting experience!

My experiences here in Manitoba have been for the most part pretty darn good. My best advice to you is get out and explore Manitoba and all the unique and quirky things it has to offer. There is such a diverse landscape here, friendly people, and lots to discover.

What weird and obsure Manitoba information or helpful Manitoba advice would you offer to my friend Michelle as she gets ready to move to Manitoba?  Please join me in wishing Michelle all the best as she sets out to move to Manitoba and begin her journey of becoming a Manitoban!