Well I couldn’t visit Winnipeg, and not take a walk over to the corner of Portage & Main!
It was getting late in the day and the whole area seemed a little “sketchy” to me. All the working people had scurried off to their homes and downtown Winnipeg was turning shady with characters lingering in parking lots and on sidewalks.
I made a couple phone calls from the famous intersection, took some pictures, and decided to head back to the hotel.
Unfortunately, you can’t even cross the street, let alone get to the actual intersection at Portage and Main anymore, and the underground walkway looked very dark and scary, so I took a longer walk around the city’s hub before I headed back towards the Fort Garry hotel.
Never been to the corner of Portage and Main? Here is a blurb from its Wikipedia entry:
Portage and Main is an intersection in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It is located in the heart of downtown Winnipeg at the place where Portage Avenue (Route 85) and Main Street (Route 52) intersect. Together those two streets create one of the most iconic and famous street corners in Canada.
Portage and Main is the hub of some of Winnipeg’s main transportation routes. It was once the centre for the banking industry in Western Canada (the national banks have branches accessible from beneath Portage and Main). It has served as a temporary city square and meeting place for parades and events, including the famous Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. More recently, it has served as an anchor point for occasional street festivals and the winter lighting of holiday street decorations.
In 1976, the City of Winnipeg signed an agreement with private developers to open an underground concourse linking shopping malls under the four corner properties. This included a 50-year deal to permanently close the pedestrian crossings at the intersection, which street works were completed around 1978. The concourse and walkways are connected through the Winnipeg Skywalk. The Portage and Main Circus houses a concrete sculptural wall created by Bruce Head.
Portage and Main is the brunt of popular jokes referring to it as the coldest and windiest intersection in Canada. The phrase Portage and Main has come to refer to the city of Winnipeg as a whole. The long-standing cold weather legend is unproven, because there are no official temperature measurements at any street corner in Canada to confirm the coldest intersection. Winnipeg’s city centre is usually 3–4° C warmer than the airport, owing to the urban heat island effect. The lowest reading at the airport was −45.0°C on 18 February 1966.
There are numerous cultural references to the intersection, including the 1992 Randy Bachman and Neil Young hit song “Prairie Town”, with the chorus repeating the line “Portage and Main, 50 below”. The British band Blurt have a song named “Portage & Main” on their album Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hit. It is also the setting for the Stompin’ Tom Connors song “Red River Jane”. The intersection is also featured as a property on the Canadian Monopoly board.