Winnipeg is undoubtably the rock and roll capital of Canada. Although it doesn’t get the attention that a city like Liverpool does (for obvious reasons), this cold, isolated city, has been a hotbed of talent, punching well above its weight.
Every summer, local rock historian and author John Einarson leads rock history tours of Winnipeg, and last August, Andrew and I finally decided to check it out!
The small group bus tour starts at the Forks and stops at many places associated with Winnipeg musicians including The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Terry Jacks and Neil Young. Einarson is a treasure-trove of fascinating stories, especially about Winnipeg in the 60s, and he supplements his stories with video, photographs and, of course, music!
(Randy Bachman’s home after he got a bit of money.)
Andrew is a huge Neil Young fan and, to be honest, we had already made a pilgrimage (ha ha, all the way from Steinbach) to snap a photo of his childhood home on Grosvenor. But the tour is chock full of stories about Neil and you’ll see the place he recorded his first songs, met Joni Mitchell, and “sat on the steps at school and dreamed of being stars.”
John’s story about Guess Who guitarist Kurt Winter is heart-wrenching. I’ll let John tell it. (You’ll have to take the tour.) He’s even got a Winnipeg story about a very young Barbara Streisand of all people. You’ll also stop by at the St. Vital Museum to see gold records and other awards.
To be honest, the tour covers a lot of neighbourhoods in Winnipeg that I’d never ventured into before. It was kind of strange to view a city I’ve been to countless times from a tourist’s point of view. Strange and delightful!
(Burton Cummings’ childhood home.)
Andrew and I have done a Beatles tour in Liverpool and have stopped by at Bob Dylan’s childhood home in Hibbing, Minnesota (not so far from here really), and, in all seriousness, this tour was just as exciting. I honestly didn’t think it would be…but it was. Highly recommended!
Oh, and by the way, there is a Mennonite connection here. Have any of you heard about the Hildebrandt boys of Steinbach? They, too, were part of the 60s Winnipeg rock scene. John wrote about it for the Winnipeg Free Press.