I am often asked why I live in Brandon. When they ask they have a look or sound of judging curiosity. I have a stock answer that I use, my husband lives there, which usually garners a chuckle and then the conversation is over. I do that because I get tired of people wondering why I live here, which maybe unfair considering all of the other places in the world I have lived.
Here is my real answer to that same question, why do I live here?
Brandon is the second largest city in the province of Manitoba. It covers a geographic area of 43 square kilometers (26 miles) and is home to over 48,000 people according to the 2016 Census. Brandon hosts a trading area population of over 180,000 and is kindly known as the Wheat City.
Beyond statistics and mapped area, Brandon can be characterised as a dynamic little-big town. Brandon has the ambiance of a small town with the services of a larger city. It can offer you a relatively seamless traffic commute at any time of day, which can boast a ten-minute car ride from our north to south borders. Or if you prefer, a walk from end to end could take anywhere from 60-90 minutes depending on your route and your pace. You will know that you have become a Brandonite when you complain the drive across town took you 15 and not 10 minutes, as expected.
Because we are located in a prairie province we have extreme weather patterns but the summers are something that will sink into your psyche and compel you to survive the winters. A prairie summer is full of hot sunny days with hours-long sunrises and sunsets. If you have never experienced the summer sunrise over a wheat field in full bloom Brandon is the place you want to try that first, it is truly an expression of our place and our people. It is a gentle reminder of possibilities, adventure and a sweet quiet calm that washes over you. It is one of our forever treasures.
Brandon has grown into the regional centre for the province due to location and available industry and services. Our demographics have changed and grown with the infusion of multiple cultures when Maple Leaf Consumer Foods double-shifted their pork production plant, and with citywide immigration influences.
Without a doubt, you will feel the sense of community in Brandon at your first encounter. Whether you enter from the north and roll into the valley or from the south and glide into the booming 18th street corridor, the emotion of the city will be communicated through the friendly faces, beautiful flower programs, known coffee shops and the long line up at the Dairy Queen in the summer. We like our geographic smallness and we appreciate the big amenities that help us medically, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
If you asked people why they live in Brandon they would likely tell you it is because of its size and available services, maybe because it is close to family or home to the Wheat Kings. But at the heart of why people move here, and stay here, is Brandon offers a compact, well-serviced, economically viable place to build a life and a family. Brandon has a way of weaving itself into the fabric of your life; we are our own Hotel California, you can check out, but you never really leave…and we are betting you won’t want to.