MAN­I­TOBA: CUL­TURE AND NA­TURE: A MAG­I­CAL MIX

Most of Man­i­toba is still pure, wild na­ture, ripe for ad­ven­ture, punc­tu­ated by oc­ca­sional re­serves and min­ing towns. The bulk of the pop­u­la­tion lives on the flat Prairies, and most live in the cities of Bran­don, Portage la Prairie and Win­nipeg.

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY JUDY WAYTIUK

To­day, Abo­rig­i­nal, French, Bri­tish and Scot­tish her­itage blends with Viet­namese, Ja­panese, Ethiopian, Filipino and dozens more im­mi­grants and refugees which cre­ates a vi­brant cul­tural mix.

There is no bet­ter show­case to sam­ple that mix than through Folk­lo­rama, the early Au­gust cel­e­bra­tion of Man­i­toba’s peo­ple, where im­mi­grants and their chil­dren cre­ate pav­il­ions that show­case their food, his­tory, and cul­ture. Visit some four dozen coun­tries all in the span of two solid weeks (www.folk­lo­rama.ca). But visi­tors who don’t make it to Folk­lo­rama can drop into city neigh­bour­hoods and tra­di­tional eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties any­time; they all of­fer their own mini-cul­tural im­mer­sions: Co­ry­don Av­enue’s Lit­tle Italy; the city cen­tre’s tiny, vi­brant Chi­na­town; the Filipino stretch along El­lice Av­enue; and a sprin­kling of tiny, fam­ily-run South­east Asian eater­ies, from Ja­panese to Viet­namese.

Win­nipeg is the prov­ince’s dom­i­nant city, sit­ting just west of the pre­cise lon­gi­tu­di­nal cen­tre of Canada—30 km (19 mi.) east of the city, on the Trans-Canada High­way at 96 de­grees, 38 min­utes and 45 sec­onds west. But the en­tire prov­ince, smack in the mid­dle of Canada, is a play­ground for more ad­ven­tur­ous souls seek­ing the beauty and soli­tude of

un­spoiled na­ture. Rugged Pre­cam­brian Shield gran­ite, lush with forests and thou­sands of lakes to the north­east, gives way to rolling hills and vast, rich, agri­cul­tural prairie to the south­west. Dead cen­tre are three mas­sive lakes: Man­i­toba, Win­nipego­sis and Win­nipeg (Canada’s 13th, 11th and 6th largest, re­spec­tively).

GO­ING, GO­ING, GONE WILD

With all that wilder­ness, it’s no won­der many of the prov­ince’s more than ten mil­lion an­nual visi­tors are recre­ational hunters and fish­er­men headed for re­mote lodges and small towns tucked away in thick lake or river­side forests. As well, pad­dlers, hik­ers, pho­tog­ra­phers and wildlife view­ers love these nat­u­ral ar­eas, and fam­i­lies can pitch tents or park campers in one of dozens of pro­vin­cial parks, or set­tle into ho­tel rooms from two to five-star rated. In Rid­ing Moun­tain Na­tional Park, camp­sites and ho­tels abound around crys­tal clear, icy cold Clear Lake and the his­toric town­site of Wasagam­ing (www. parkscanada.gc.ca/rid­ing).

The three big lakes are fringed by sum­mer-ori­ented towns and vil­lages, and an Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber visit to far north­ern Churchill vir­tu­ally guar­an­tees sight­ings of in­creas­ingly-en­dan­gered po­lar bears in their nat­u­ral set­ting (www.churchill­wild. com; www.lazy­bear­lodge.com; www. fron­tier­snorth.com), and prob­a­ble dis­plays of aurora bo­re­alis. You can only get to Churchill these days by air; flood­ing washed out the rail line last year, and there is no road. In sum­mer, hardy ad­ven­tur­ers can go snorkelling with more than 57,000 white bel­uga whales that calve and raise their ba­bies near the mouth of the

Churchill River (www.ev­ery­thingchurchill. com). And there’s a whole lot more to be dis­cov­ered in this var­ied prov­ince.

WHAT’S NEW?

WAG, a.k.a. the Win­nipeg Art Gallery, mounts SakKi­jâjuk: Art and Craft from Nu­natsi­avut all sum­mer, along­side French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950 and The Im­pres­sion­ist on Pa­per, col­lected pieces on loan from the Na­tional Gallery of Canada (www.wag.ca).

The Man­i­toba Mu­seum has com­pleted a $5.8 mil­lion re­mod­elling, near-dou­bling of the space in its Al­loway Hall to more than 906 sq. m (9,750 sq. ft.) and is work­ing on a $19 mil­lion staged re­newal/ex­pan­sion pro­ject for al­most half its re­main­ing gal­leries over the next three years (www. man­i­to­ba­mu­seum.ca).

The Out­let Col­lec­tion Win­nipeg is now open with more than two dozen high-end brands and in­cludes spe­cial deals for tourists. There’s even an IHOP pan­cake house. It is lo­cated across from the city’s IKEA store, in the south end (www. out­let­col­lec­tion­win­nipeg.com).

CITY LIGHTS

Food­ies alert: Man­i­toba’s culi­nary scene is a ris­ing gem, from haute to heavy-duty chow­ing down. The lo­cal epi­curean web­site (www.pegc­i­ty­grub.com) keeps track of new hotspots and old favourites like the Sal­is­bury House with its Mr. Big Nip burger, the Goog ice cream sun­dae at the Bridge Drive-In, and the lat­est Broad­way Av­enue noon hour food trucks. Man­i­toba’s fa­mous fall sup­per cir­cuit of­fers home-cooked hearty, com­mu­nity hall fam­ily-style fare all au­tumn long, with list­ings at Travel Man­i­toba (www.trav­el­man­i­toba.com).

Sum­mer brings the Gold­eyes AAA base­ball to Shaw Park (www.gold­eyes.com). Bell MTS Place, the win­ter home of NHL hockey’s Win­nipeg Jets, mounts concerts and spe­cial events year-round (www. bellmt­splace.ca), while the city’s south end CFL Blue Bombers’ In­vestors Group Field tack­les big block­buster concerts (www. blue­bombers.com/sta­dium). In July, the four-day Win­nipeg Folk Fes­ti­val at Birds Hill Pro­vin­cial Park, north of the city, is fam­ily-friendly (www.win­nipeg­folk­fes­ti­val. ca), as is the Royal Win­nipeg Bal­let’s “Bal­let in the Park” at Assini­boine Park’s out­door Lyric Theatre (www.rwb.org).

Win­nipeg warms up win­ter with the Win­nipeg Sym­phony Orchestra (www.wso. ca), Man­i­toba Opera (www.man­i­to­ba­opera. mb.ca), the Royal Man­i­toba Theatre Cen­tre, Tom Hendry Ware­house Theatre (www.mtc. mb.ca) and Prairie Theatre Ex­change (www. pte.mb.ca). Year-round, Ther­mëa by Nordik Spa in the city’s south end (www.ther­mea. ca) and Ten Spa at the Ho­tel Fort Garry (www.tenspa.ca) pro­vide sybaritic plea­sures.

THE GREAT OUT­DOORS

Pro­vin­cial parks pro­vide groomed hik­ing trails and of­fer sum­mer camp­site book­ings by com­puter, and most are near small

towns where lo­cal mo­tels ap­peal to fam­i­ly­ori­ented ex­plor­ers (www.gov.mb.ca/sd/ parks/pop­u­lar_­parks/map.html). Whiteshell Pro­vin­cial Park (www.whiteshell.mb.ca) is a handy hour’s drive east of Win­nipeg and, fur­ther afield, wilder­ness wan­der­ers can take to lakes and rivers in ca­noes, kayaks, or fish­ing boats. Cosy resort com­mu­ni­ties like Grand Beach, Gimli, Win­nipeg Beach, Vic­to­ria Beach, Sandy Hook, Mat­lock, and many more lay claim to wide, sandy beaches. Gimli is a favourite week­end hang­out with its charm­ing ma­rina and beach-town at­mos­phere (www.gimli.ca). In Spruce Woods Pro­vin­cial Park, a day tripper’s hik­ing trail cov­ers forests, hills, a gen­uine desert, and the eerie, deep­wa­ter blue Devil’s Punch Bowl (www.gov.mb.ca/ sd/parks/pop­u­lar_­parks/western/spruce_ spirit.html).

HER­ITAGE AND CUL­TURE

Win­nipeg’s his­toric Ex­change District is home to the De­sign Quar­ter, a ca­sual group­ing of eclec­tic, orig­i­nal de­sign shops rang­ing from fash­ion to fine din­ing and fine art. The brochure for it can be found at the Win­nipeg Art Gallery. Out­side the city, his­toric gems in­clude Bran­don’s Com­mon­wealth Air Train­ing Plan Mu­seum and its sto­ries of World War II air fighter train­ing (www.air­mu­seum.ca); Thomp­son’s Her­itage North Mu­seum’s tales of the Abo­rig­i­nal Peo­ples of the area (www.her­itagenorth mu­seum.ca); and, in far western Man­i­toba, the Inglis Grain El­e­va­tors Na­tional His­toric Site (www.in­glise­l­e­va­tors.com) is the best re­main­ing ex­am­ple of an “el­e­va­tor row” in Canada. Win­nipeg’s Man­i­toba Leg­isla­tive Build­ing, the Tyn­dall lime­stone-clad beaux arts clas­si­cal seat of gov­ern­ment, opened on July 15, 1920, on the 50th an­niver­sary of Man­i­toba’s en­try into Con­fed­er­a­tion (www.gov.mb.ca/chc/hrb/prov/p040.html). Ar­chi­tec­tural his­to­rian, Dr. Frank Albo, leads small groups on “Her­metic Code” tours of the build­ing (www.frankalbo.com/tours).

In May, the Man­ito Ah­bee Fes­ti­val in Win­nipeg show­cases Indige­nous cul­ture and spec­tac­u­lar pow­wow per­for­mances (www.man­i­toah­bee.com). Fe­bru­ary’s French Fes­ti­val du Voyageur, cen­tred in St. Boniface, fo­cuses on Franco-Man­i­to­ban his­tory and cul­ture (www.fes­ti­valvoyageur.mb.ca).

MUST SEE, MUST DO

Lower Fort Garry, the na­tional his­toric site just south of the city of Selkirk, shel­ters an his­toric fur-trad­ing fort. It is also the site where Treaty 1, the first treaty be­tween colo­nial ex­plor­ers and Abo­rig­i­nal tribes, was signed, and where the North-West Mounted Po­lice—the pre­cur­sor to Canada’s Moun­ties—were first trained (www. parkscanada.gc.ca/fort­garry).

Quick Fact

THE ST. BONIFACE MU­SEUM, ORIG­I­NALLY

BUILT AS A GREY NUNS’ CON­VENT, IS WIN­NIPEG’S OLD­EST BUILD­ING AND NORTH

AMER­ICA’S LARGEST OAK LOG STRUC­TURE.

The Royal Avi­a­tion Mu­seum of Western Canada, near Win­nipeg’s in­ter­na­tional air­port, houses Canada’s sec­ond-largest col­lec­tion of vin­tage planes, in­clud­ing bush planes and a real fly­ing saucer—the Avro Avro­car (www.roy­alavi­a­tion­mu­seum.com).

The Cana­dian Mu­seum for Hu­man Rights, ad­ja­cent to The Forks Na­tional His­toric

Site, has two new ex­hibits ex­plor­ing refugee plights: Seek­ing Refuge, and Seek­ing Safety. From June 8 to Fe­bru­ary 2019, Man­dela: Strug­gle for Free­dom ex­am­ines the an­ti­a­partheid move­ment (www.hu­man­rights.ca).

SCENIC DRIVES

Bunk in at Rid­ing Moun­tain Na­tional Park’s Wasagam­ing town­site, and take the next day to drive to the park for early morn­ing wildlife spot­ting, a visit to the res­i­dent bi­son herd, selfie stops all around beau­ti­ful Clear Lake and ups and downs in the park’s unique to­pog­ra­phy. Re­turn to Win­nipeg via High­way 5 and McCreary and the self-pro­claimed world lily cap­i­tal of

Neep­awa, then the scenic High­way 16 Yel­low­head route through vast farm­land (www.dis­cov­er­clear­lake.com).

From north Win­nipeg, take River Road along the Red River to Selkirk and the Ma­rine Mu­seum of Man­i­toba (www. marine­mu­seum.ca), with Lower Fort Garry Na­tional His­toric Site about two-thirds along the 60-km (37-mi.) route. Tiny Lock­port, an his­toric cat shing spot (rent a boat and gear) and hot dog stand heaven, lies be­tween the two. From Selkirk, re­turn to Win­nipeg via pretty Hen­der­son High­way.

For a longer day trip, take High­way 44 east from Lock­port, through the Agas­siz Pro­vin­cial For­est and all the way to Seven Sis­ters Falls and the clas­sic hy­dro sta­tion there, then onto Pi­nawa for a visit to Pi­nawa Dam Pro­vin­cial Park and the pic­turesque town and lake. Stop to walk the sus­pen­sion bridge and hik­ing trails (www.gov.mb.ca/sd/ parks/pop­u­lar_­parks/east­ern/pi­nawa.html).

FAM­ILY FUN

Kids go wild at FortWhyte Alive, where bi­son roam on prairie grasses near a pi­o­neer sod house, teepee en­camp­ment and prairie dog town (www.fortwhyte.org), and at Assini­boine Park’s Na­ture Play­ground and Po­lar Play­ground (www.assini­boinepark.ca). Jour­ney to Churchill is home to eleven po­lar bears, in­clud­ing Nanuk and Siku, res­cued from the Churchill area.

For his­tory and fun, fam­i­lies can ride the vin­tage steam train Prairie Dog Cen­tral Rail­way from north Win­nipeg to the vil­lages of Grosse Isle and War­ren and back (www. pd­crail­way.com).

En route to Gimli, Oak Ham­mock Marsh In­ter­pre­tive Cen­tre wel­comes thou­sands of mi­grat­ing geese in the fall (www.oakham­mock marsh.ca); and, at the Cana­dian Fos­sil Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre in Mor­den, see mon­ster fos­sils from pre­his­toric Lake Agas­siz and the new 15-m-long (50-ft.) life-sized replica of Bruce, the world’s big­gest pub­licly dis­played mosasaur (www.dis­cov­er­fos­sils.com).

WIN­NIPEG • SHUT­TER­STOCK/THAMYRIS SALGUEIRO

1,338,100Win­nipegwww.trav­el­man­i­toba.comWin­nipeg Richard­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port, 10 km (6 mi.) from down­town

CHURCHILL TUN­DRA BUGGY • TRAVEL MB

SPIRIT PANEL AND THE­MATIC WALL, INDIGE­NOUS PER­SPEC­TIVES • CANA­DIAN MU­SEUM FOR HU­MAN RIGHTS

ATIKAKI PRO­VIN­CIAL WILDER­NESS PARK • DES­TI­NA­TION CANADA

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