Downtown Wind.

February 17, 2006

Head down and walking east along Jasper Avenue, the unforgiving E-Town wind cuts through my watchcap and hits my forehead like a pillowcase full of ball peens. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt wind like this and it feels good. It’s only -5° but it feels like minus fifty with that airflow. Everyone likes to call out Portage & Main in the ‘Peg as the windiest spot in Canada, and I don’t doubt it, but I’d lay bets on Jasper & 101 coming in a close second. Today, it may be first. That wind seems to stretch out into the ave’s tributaries as I walk along in my too thin, non-windproof jacket.

This shot of arctic air reminds me of being a young man in this city; braving any weather to see a flick at the Rialto or walking the cave-like halls of Edmonton Center on my way to Sound Connection – the now faded Holy Grail of Edmonton independent music stores – on 101 and 107. As much as my memory may tell me otherwise, I don’t think winters were any colder back then. When I tell the stories ten years hence, they will be. There seemed to be more snow back then, but then again, there seemed to be more of everything – more time, more money, and more freedom. I don’t think there really was more of anything, but I like the comfort of that illusion.

The hoary wind plays itself out along the clean stone lines of the long abandoned bank building. Fast air rips around my ears with that muffled, inconsistent grind that sounds like Mother Nature is shoving her elbows into a blender. With my woolen mitts I cover my already covered ears and dig into this pulsing East wind. My eyelashes are arcing together from the passive tears that I have started to shed. My jacket is insufficient and will not be worn tomorrow. My scarf trails behind me, flapping into the sun’s bed.

Vignette #37

6 reader comments (closed)



Jasper Ave & 101 st. Quite the familiar spot for me 30 years ago. My older sister use to take me to the Kresge’s (pardon the shitty spelling) every saturday for a banana split. As we’d walk along Jasper ave, we always passed an older gentlemen and a slightly younger woman standing on the Northwest corner of Jasper and 101.Bundled up against the forever howling wind. They would be offering passerbys readings from the bible.

The woman would always say”May I offer you a testimony of what Jesus did”?

I doubt I’ll ever forget that corner, or the banana split.

Feb 17, 2006 • 08:17



Reading this just made my bones ache and my spine chill….
I hate winter…
Bring on the SUMMER in full force and tons of shorts!

Feb 17, 2006 • 18:42


Prairie Dog

Tom, it sounds to me like you met my parents! Was the man in a crotchless clown suit?

I miss my crazy Dad.

Feb 17, 2006 • 21:03



It is my opinion that an assbreaking winter is required to fully appreciate the summer months. And winter is best appreciated in a downtown wind tunnel.

Feb 18, 2006 • 10:55


adam the ink slinger

I’m with Mike on this one. We need our winters to fully appreciate our summers. An Alberta winter makes an Alberta summer all the more glorious.

Feb 19, 2006 • 17:15


jann mann

Wind and downtown Edmonton are intertwined in my memory—and my memory goes back even further than yours! I can still vividly remember clutching a Mister Sound bag containing Shaun Cassidy’s new album tightly to my green and black head jacket in an attempt to stave off the northerly wind while waiting for the #1 to take me back to Jasper Place.

And I agree…how do we celebrate spring if there’s nothing to signal the end of winter?

Feb 21, 2006 • 14:35

StreetRag, An Urban Notebook

StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook



StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.

Read the complete story

Recent Vignettes

Podcast Episodes

The City

The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?

More about Edmonton