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572km (355 miles) E of Regina, 697km (433 miles) NW of Minneapolis, 235km (146 miles) N of Grand Forks

Tough, sturdy, muscular, Midwestern -- that's Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital. The history of its rich architecture -- brick warehouses, quarried stone banks, railroad depots, and grain elevators -- all testify to its historical role as a distribution-and-supply center, first for furs and then for agricultural products. It's a toiling city where about 650,000 inhabitants sizzle in summer and shovel in winter.

That's one side. The other is a city and populace that have produced a symphony orchestra that triumphed in New York, the first Royal ballet company in the British Commonwealth, and a theater-and-arts complex worthy of any national capital.

As a hard-working city in the midst of the prairies, Winnipeg has a lot in common with Chicago. Although a smaller city, Winnipeg also has a long history of immigrant assimilation and, due to its cultural mix, an extremely rich restaurant scene.