Manitoba offers natural wonders – boreal forest, northern tundra, 100,000 lakes – and cultural treasures – innovative art institutions, a packed festival calendar and a rich multicultural tradition
1 Secret symbolism, esoteric clues, occult
meanings! The Hermetic Code may sound like Dan Brown’s latest bestseller, but this one-of-a-kind architectural tour is a real-life investigation into the mysteries of the Manitoba Legislative building, a Winnipeg landmark since 1920.
In this riveting 90-minute exploration – designated a Signature Experience by Destination Canada – architectural historian Dr. Frank Albo unlocks the messages hidden within the stately neoclassical structure, connecting the building’s design to mythology, numerology, Freemasonry and some scandalous civic history. By the time you’re done, you’ll see the iconic Golden Boy – a five-metre statue that looks out over the city – in a whole new light.
2 The Canadian Museum for Human Rights,
the only museum in the world solely dedicated to human rights awareness, stands in downtown Winnipeg at the fork of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, for millennia a traditional gathering place for Indigenous peoples.
The Mikinak-Keya Spirit tour, developed and gifted by seven Elders of the Anishinaabe, Cree and Dakota nations, is a guided cultural experience that links the museum’s historic setting, innovative architecture and far-reaching mandate to Indigenous worldviews. Through ceremony, singing and storytelling, this contemplative journey explores the Seven Sacred Teachings, in which human rights and responsibilities are grounded in spiritual bonds connecting us to each other and to the land.
3 Polar bears may grab the most attention,
but there’s another big white mammal making waves – literally! – in Manitoba’s north. The Hudson Bay is home to the largest beluga whale population on Earth, and summer is the best time to meet them, as they venture by the thousands into the warmer estuarial waters of the Churchill River.
You can observe these gentle, playful creatures from a boat, using hydrophones to listen in on their chatty, chirping underwater conversations. Sea North Tours and Lazy Bear Expeditions also supply low-tech kayaking, paddle-boarding and snorkelling excursions: once you’re in the water, you might find that curious belugas want to check you out.
4 Watch curtains of coloured light shimmer
and stream across the night sky in Churchill, rated one of the top three locations worldwide for viewing the aurora borealis.
Science can explain the northern lights as charged particles hitting the Earth’s atmosphere. Inuit legends can speak of torches guiding spirits to the afterworld. But nothing can quite prepare you for the ethereal beauty of nature’s own light show. Whether you’re watching from the comfort of a domed viewing lounge or camped out on the tundra near a blazing bonfire, witnessing this astronomic event unfold across pitch-black subarctic skies is a transformative experience.
5 Manitoba may be at the heart of the continent,
but Lake Winnipeg – breathtakingly vast and beautiful – feels like an inland sea. With limestone beaches, rocky cliffs, lowland marshes and deep swathes of boreal forest, the complex ecosystems surrounding the lake are home to moose, deer, bears and teeming birdlife.
The Lakeview Hecla Resort offers rugged hiking and biking trails, along with a luxury Nordic-themed spa and an 18-hole lakeside golf course. The town of Gimli, founded on the lake’s southwestern shore as a haven for Icelandic immigrants in the early 20th century, is packed with cultural amenities, including a fourth-generation family-run general store, restaurants serving pickerel pulled from the lake, and even an annual summer film festival.