Winkler Bound

 *A story of my trip to Winkler Manitoba

Driving to Winkler is like driving home. The hour and a half car ride flies by as the mile roads mark the journey away from Winnipeg. For many, the moment you breach the perimeter of the big city is the moment civilization is lost. But for some, venturing into the country brings the opportunity to slow down and feel like you belong.
When you walk the streets of Winkler people stop to smile or wave, and instead of 7-Elevens on every corner you encounter churches. If you stop by the public library you can discover the history of Winkler from talking to a librarians rather then picking up a book. And after chatting they include some of the current main attractions of this growing city of over 10,000.
On this particular Saturday afternoon two teams take to the ice at the Winkler Arena. Both are dressed in the hometown hockey jersey of the Winkler Flyers. In light jerseys are the current Winkler Flyers team, and in dark jerseys are the 1991-92 Winkler Flyers team, who are about to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame.
“They are having a scrimmage game today to give fans a chance to see their old heroes on the ice one last time,” says Matthew Friesen, Director of Communications for the Winkler Flyers, (who let me take photos from behind the bench).
“People who can’t afford the $100 on the Jets game come here and spend $10,” Friesen says, who moved to Winkler for his job and stayed because he loves raising his family here.
“It’s a good place to live because really, you have everything you want here without a lot of the problems of a bigger centre. And Jonny’s Java is cool,” Friesen says.
The mecca for coffee lovers in town, Jonny’s Java, is located at 555 South Railway. The large sliver cube building holds both Jonny’s and Co-op Electronics. Upon the giant chandelier, concrete counter tops, and bright red coffee mugs make you feel like you’ve entered something reserved for coffee connoisseurs instead of a country coffee shop.
“When this one first opened and people walked in they would be like ‘I don’t feel like am I'm in Winkler anymore. I love it!’” says Megan Hiebert, a barista at Jonny’s. “It feels like you are in an actual city or something.”
But Jonny’s isn’t for coffee snobs. Instead there are those who come on coffee breaks by day, younger crowd at night and families that pop in for their fruit smoothies. Prices range from $1.50 for an espresso, to $4.95 for a large smoothie, and there are a variety of fresh baked goods. Their hours are impressive; open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on during the week, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
“We want to provide a great drink but we want to make and create friendships here,” Hiebert says. A slogan the whole town seems to be embracing.

For more information on Winkler, the Winkler flyers, or Jonny’s Java check out

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