Today was a quieter day; mainly due to another of our planned tourist attractions being closed. Hence the early posting of my blog today.
After breakfast we drove out to the Canadian Mint. Quite a few people were milling around outside the doors and as we approached we heard a staff person apologizing again for the delay, but that the fire alarms were still ringing and even though the fire trucks had left, the Chief had not yet given the all clear to re-enter the building. Now that was familiar talk with John’s 40 years in the volunteer fire department back home!
Some people chose to leave and come back later or another day. Tours are held every 1/2 hour in the summer so no real risk of not getting in later. We decided to just wait. We knew the odds were pretty good that we would be allowed in soon, which proved to be the case.
Our tour guide was a chipper young lady named Michelle. We have two mints in Canada, one in Winnipeg and one in Ottawa. All paper money is made by the Bank of Canada. The Ottawa mint makes all the specialty coins and medals – like the 2010 Olympic medals on display in the gift shop.The Winnipeg mint makes our circulation coins. And this is the interesting part – we also mint coins for over 70 other countries! This is because Canada is the world leader in technology for minting coins. Particularly an electromagnetic plating process that makes the coins identifiable. The driveway into the Mint is lined with the flags of all the nations we have made coins for in the past or are currently making coins for today. Michelle told us that yesterday they were minting United Arab Emirates coins which was pretty cool since our son and his wife lived there for six years.At the back of the gift shop stands a security guard in front of a 23 lb solid gold bar. It is worth about half a million dollars! You can pick it up but it doesn’t go too far as it is attached by a chain at the bottom. Trust me on this – when you see robbers tossing gold bars and lots of coins into their backpacks to carry away in movies don’t believe it. You couldn’t possibly pack more than two of those things very far.We were having a bite to eat out of the back of the truck in the parking lot and a very distinguished-looking Indian fellow and his sari-clad wife came over. “How old is your vehicle?” he asked, waving a gold-ring bedecked hand towards Poppy. “She is a 2006,” we told him. “Is it for sale?” he shot back right away. We told him no and he remained talking to us for quite awhile, comparing places around the world we each had been. The whole time his wife never said a word. I suspect that, even though he spoke excellent English, she did not.We had on our list of Winnipeg things-to-do the Dalnavert House and Museum. this Victorian-era house belonged to Hugh MacDonald, the only son of our first prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald. It was the first house in Western Canada to have electric lights and running water. But…..it was closed for ‘restructuring’ – whatever that means.We wandered along the downtown streets and took a look inside The Fort Garry, a hotel built by the CPR in the chateau-style used at the Hotel Frontenac in Montreal, the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, the Banff Springs Hotel, and Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta – plus a few others. Gorgeous interior. We didn’t ask the nightly room rate.Feeling lazy and a bit tired after all the walking yesterday we decided to go back to our room and take it easy for a bit. This we do well wherever we are. Tomorrow we leave Winnipeg and drive north to Hecla Island, a former part of Iceland.