We’re Gonna Party Like it’s 1799

On Friday, October 28, the MCA is hosting the Canadian Cycling Association’s annual general meeting right here in Winnipeg. Once the boring business end of the day is over, the fun begins with a good old-fashioned Winnipeg social at Fort Gibraltar. And it doesn’t get much older fashioned than that.

Fort Gibralter was built in 1809 by the Hudsons Bay Company as a fur trading post at the fork of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. It seems this location was chosen mostly to irritate the HBC’s arch rivals, The North West Company, as it was situated just spitting distance from their fort.

As you can imagine, things went fairly badly for a number of years, with the two groups fighting and calling each other racially inappropriate names. The fort was destroyed and rebuilt a whole bunch of times, until someone eventually said “fuck it” and it was abandoned for good. Then it was destroyed one more time.

Eventually someone figured out that every Canadian city worth its pemmican needs a fort, and Fort Gibraltar was rebuilt so people could get a taste of what it was like to party in the early 1800’s, but with less bloodshed, scurvy and rotten teeth.

For you out of towners, a “social” is a Winnipeg phenomenon and nothing like the “pinkies up soiree” the name suggests. It is a big party held in a hall or church basement, generally to raise money for an engaged couple or hockey team. People drink rye and cokes, and dance the night away around a pile of purses to such favourites as Money Money and I knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll.

Good times. Later in the evening, when it’s time to fuel up for your Saturday morning spin workout, the food will come out – kielbasa, cold cuts, rye bread, mustard, pickles and ripple chips… and the centrepiece of any social buffet, the cube cheese.

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that something like this is only as fun as the people who show up. So please fun people, mark the date in your calendar. Or better yet, drop Twila a line to reserve your tickets – they’re only $10 each, which should leave plenty cash for a rye and coke or two. Details are here.