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Manitoba, Canada

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Did You Know…?

  • Winnie the Pooh’s name is short for Winnipeg.
  • Piney is home to the only bi-national airport.
  • The province has more than a hundred Indian reservations.
  • Winnipeg was the world’s first city to establish the 911 emergency phone number.
  • Manitoba produces more than 25,000 pounds of golden caviar a year.

Home to polar bears

Manitoba extends 761 miles south to north, and encompassed in that great length is a rich variety of landscapes, flora, fauna and climate conditions. Southern Manitoba is a land of summertime grains and flowers — and the capital, Winnipeg. Heading north, visitors find rugged lake country in the middle and, beyond that, the arctic tundra.

For the less venturesome, the province offers city culture and memories, particularly in small towns, of early settlers. But Manitoba appeals most to active travelers, who go for trophy fishing, First Nations experiences and polar bear safaris, for example.

This province occupies a large piece of real estate in the middle of Canada, just above the American Midwest. Manitoba is a farming province, but one that is considerably more exotic than the description suggests.

At its far northern reaches, it is no longer a land of farmers. Just south of Churchill, which sits on Hudson Bay, is one of the world’s largest denning areas for polar bears. Churchill is the world’s most accessible and habitable area where polar bears live. By October and November, hundreds of the bears come to the coastline waiting for the bay to freeze so they can hunt seals. In summer, Churchill is the place to be for spotting white beluga whales; thousands gather in the Churchill and Seal rivers.

The province is home to numerous groups of First Nations and is notable for its art galleries with extensive examples of Inuit art. There are opportunities to learn, through various hands-on experiences, about the province’s original inhabitants.

Manitoba has great expanses of untouched wilderness, notable for the clear lakes and rivers which cover nearly a sixth of the province and offer a range of recreational opportunities.

These attractions are spread out over a large space. Manitoba is large enough to accommodate California and New York state with Rhode Island thrown in.

Winnipeg, the capital, lures visitors with its cultural attractions, sports competitions and annual events such as the Winnipeg Folk Festival; it is only 65 miles from the U.S. border.

The province is not well known to Americans but venturers know it better than others do.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Swim and snorkel among the beluga whales in the Seal River estuary. During summer, see both belugas and polar bears at the Seal River Heritage Lodge.
  • Attend Winnipeg’s Theatre in the Cemetery, which is a guided tour through St. Boniface Cathedral’s cemetery. Led by actors in period costume, you’ll hear stories about local history while visiting gravesites of fascinating historical characters including the province’s founder, Louis Riel.
  • Travel across the province on a snowmobile.
  • Sea kayak on Lake Winnipegosis and Lake Manitoba, which are summer nesting sites for the American pelican and bald eagle. You can fish, too, for perch, pike and walleye.
  • Participate in a traditional native feast and a sweat lodge ceremony provided by the Bloodvein First Nation.
  • Spend a couple of days digging for fossils in the Pembina Hills. You will work alongside staff of the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Eat traditional foods like bannock, caribou and ptarmigan. And sample Manitoba’s golden caviar.
  • Take a guided fishing trip to Selkirk, called the catfish capital of North America. The Red River has produced catfish of more than 50 pounds. Or, go fly-fishing in western Manitoba.
  • Try the Chocolate Spa Treatments at the Elkhorn Resort Spa & Conference Centre. Or, try a modern Turkish bath at Ten Spa at Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg.
  • See Churchill, the town on Hudson Bay that is known as the polar bear capital of the world AND the beluga whale capital of the world.
  • Learn First Nations skills such as soapstone carving or caribou hair tufting for wall hangings. Also, learn about native medicinal herbs and make a small teepee.
  • Take a guided bird-watching tour through the forests and tundra around Churchill. You’ll likely spot some impressive larger animals as well; it’s that kind of place. For example, view a range of wildlife at the Dymond Lake Lodge, which was built on the polar bear migration route. Besides seeing the giant white beasts, you may spot Arctic fox, caribou, moose and wolves. Or, watch summertime antics of polar bears at the Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge in Cape Tatnum Wildlife Management Area.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Attend the Islendingadagurinn (Icelandic Festival in Manitoba) in August in Gimli, the largest Icelandic settlement outside of Iceland.
  • Take a train journey on the Prairie Dog Central, traveling on restored vintage rail coaches that date from 1901 to 1913. The service is operated by an all-volunteer organization, and the train travels between Inkster Junction Station in Winnipeg and Warren, via Hitch ‘n Post and Grosse Isle.
  • Stay at a country vacation farm and enjoy the local small-town fall suppers and festivals.
  • Catch the St. Pierre Frog Follies in the French-speaking community of St. Pierre-Jolys, in August. Events include the Canadian Frog Jumping Championship.
  • Visit the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. Mennonites arrived here in 1874.
  • In the north, buy hand-made Inuit wall hangings and stone carvings.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Travel Manitoba at