On Thursday evening, we caught a flight from Victoria to Calgary, had a short layover and took off for Winnipeg – we arrived 20 minutes early. The Winnipeg airport has a sign that proclaims “WINNIPEG WELCOMES THE WORLD.” It’s very retro. It reminds me of being very young and seeing 70s stuff everywhere. All that said, it looks like it’s been kept in really good condition and I saw that a new airport is being built.
We caught a cab to the Fort Garry Hotel. You can tell right away that this hotel is from the rail era. At first we thought it was a Fairmont hotel because of the style, but it isn’t – it’s got its own history which is best explained on the Wikipedia page. We arrived around midnight and went down to a place called Johnny G’s for a beverage to finish off the evening of travel.
We started Friday bright and early – 7:45 AM breakfast, which was really 5:45 AM for us. The day was full of interesting discussion about various topics – too many to get into here. Lunch was great, and I had a chance to meet a lot of great people. Many faces were put to names – some of the people I met were folks that I have worked with for years but never met in person. Our presentation was towards the end of the day and I was glad to get that chance to speak to the whole room – something I hope to get to do again soon.
That evening we went out for Italian food. The name of the restaurant escapes me, but the service and food were really quite good. I sat at a table that had a wealth of design experience, and the stories that went around the table reflected that fact. Afterwards, we went out to a place called “Tavern United,” where I met more designers that I had worked with but never met. Plenty of fun, great discussion, and everyone was really interesting and entertaining. There was more to this evening, part of which included a secret handshake contest (I think that’s what it was) in the mezzanine at the hotel, as well as more lively conversations and general good times. For me, it ended around 2:30 AM with some high fives.
Saturday was another 7:45 AM start. The plan for the day was more presentations and then break out groups for 5 areas of GDC business. I lead the Web group – we had around an hour to discuss strategies, identify an important one, make a timeline for executing the strategy as well as assigning a champion for the cause. We could have talked for about a week straight though – the group members were fantastic and had so many good ideas. When all was said and done, we went with an idea from Brenda which made sense on so many levels, and fit the requirements to a T. After lunch we had to present what we came up with to everyone else and that went well. I presented in tandem with a really kick-ass guy named Aaron, who is also going to be the next president of the Vancouver Island chapter of the GDC.
Shortly after the presentations we had to set our course for the airport . We had a chance to walk around Winnipeg for about 20 minutes after we got our things from the hotel. Three observations about Winnipeg – two are seasonal, and the other is not: Winnipeg is beige and the river levels were quite high; the buildings are large both horizontally and vertically. Not really profound, but those were the things I noticed in the time I had.
A fast two days full of substance. Well done and satisfying. I’d gladly do that again.