It’s difficult to tell when it first developed its reputation as Winnipeg’s most… how can I put this… “bumpkinesque” neighbourhood. For years, the area was an independent town that grew with the development of the Grand Trunk Pacific and National Transcontinental Railway’s repair shops. The name itself is a portmanteau of “Transcontinental” and “Strathcona” (as in Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona, railway pioneer).
VELOCITYWG #8 is “Transcona” by Interactive Designer, Lee Froese.
Firebirds up on blocks, pink flamingos, beer guts and big hair, have been the staples of jokes about “Trashcona” for many years. This working-class neighbourhood huddled on Regent between Plessis and the Perimeter has unfairly (yes, I said it) been a source of humour for the rest of Winnipeg since it amalgamated with Unicity in ’72.
Most people I know from Transcona are pretty good-humoured, salt-of-the earth folks who laugh along with the jokes, and kind of embrace the “redneck” image. Like any North American neighbourhood founded on a single heavy-industry, the social and economic landscape is changing. Today, you’re just as likely to find someone in Transcona working as a graphic designer as working for the railway. And don’t forget that the Second Greatest Canadian, Terry Fox, was born in T-Cona.
What I like about Transcona is that it never quite integrated into the rest of Winnipeg, and keeps its small-town charm. Regent Avenue is quite nice when you get past the strip malls and car dealers, past the “Hi Neighbour” into “downtown” Transcona — a lovely tree-lined street dotted with small businesses, murals, and mom ’n’ pop restaurants.
Check out the Hi Neighbour Festival in June, the old locomotive on display at Kiwanis Park, or the Transcona Historical Museum. Grab a slice of pie at Dal’s Drive Inn, or stop in at Club Regent for some black jack, a tropical cocktail or two in the Jaguar Room, and then gape in amazement at the hundreds of colourful salt-water fish in their 150,000 litre walk-through aquarium.
But don’t expect to see any pink flamingos.
VELOCITYWG is a weekly design project: simple exercises in unfettered creativity with a common theme that’s near and dear to our hearts: celebrating the streets, suburbs, and cityscape of Manitoba’s capital.
VELOCITYWG, Rebranding One Great City, continues next week.