Arts & Culture

Winnipeg: love it or hate it

New book takes a look at our medium-sized city

Photo: Bryan Scott

“There is no such thing as a Winnipegger who doesn’t have a strong opinion about the city,” writes author and journalist Bartley Kives in his new book Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg. Kives, in collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott, explores Winnipeg citizens’ love/hate relationship with the city.

“We’re obviously not a big bustling metropolis where the city is going 24/7,” said Scott. “And we’re not the small folksy town where everybody knows each other. We’re kind of in a weird grey area somewhere in between.”

This concept is partly where the book’s name originated from, but the title can be interpreted in many different ways. Geographically speaking, Winnipeg is stuck in the middle of the country, isolated from other big cities. However, the title also represents how Winnipeg is stuck between its past and future.

“If you go back more than a hundred years ago, this was one of the fastest growing cities in North America,” said Kives.

“Throughout most of the twentieth century there was a stagnation, a decline, and what we have right now is an opportunity to do something different, to go in a different direction. There’s been a recent re-imagination of Winnipeg, but we’re still in danger of sliding back into the same morass.”

Winnipeg has made some exciting changes in the past few years with new developments like rapid transit and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. But Kives and Scott agreed that it’s up to the people of Winnipeg to make the right decisions for their city going forward.

“We can only hope that we progress in a way that is healthy for the city,” said Scott. “And I think that recognizing what we are, which is a medium-sized city, would probably go a long way as far as leading to those correct decisions.”

According to Kives, young Winnipeggers play an important role in the city’s future.

“I would argue that this millennial generation isn’t any different than any generation of people in their twenties in the sense that they have to get involved, because if they don’t, they leave things to people who don’t always have their best interest at heart,” said Kives.

Stuck in the Middle encourages Winnipeggers to explore their city with a fresh perspective.

“My ultimate goal is for people that live here — that it’ll open their eyes to parts of the city that they have perhaps never explored before, or maybe open their eyes to things they’ve passed by a million times but never really looked twice at,” said Scott.

“When they see the photos, they realize that deep down they really do love the city, even if that love is very buried.”

Kives and Scott will be signing copies of “Stuck in the Middle” at McNally Robinson on Dec. 14.