Winnipeg Travel Blog

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Giant ground sloth, museum of Manitoba

I rattled* through the very end of Ontario, through a time change and lots of other interesting things, like I passed through the Arctic watershed: North of here all rivers drain northwards into Hudson bay, and also I passed the latitudinal mid-point of Canada, but this doesn't mean I'm half way to Vancouver, only half way between Canada's southern and northern extremes.

It would be great if I was half way across Canada already, but I still have all of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia to drive through first! Yikes! (Andy wonders to himself if he has set a task too big in driving to Vancouver and back, Nah, its only what 1/5th of the circumference of the planet?)

Into Manitoba! Woo Hoo it only took me a week to get out of Ontario! (admittedly If I hadn't stopped to sleep, eat or visit stuff I could have done it a lot quicker, I'm talking a LOT quicker, maybe even as few as 5 days, who knows)

I stopped at the Manitoba tourist information centre (located within mosquito slapping distance of the Ontario tourist information centre just the other side of the provincial border) I had been contemplating driving straight through Manitoba, and maybe stopping to see Winnipeg on my way back instead (kinda trying to save a few interesting things to do for the return journey) but the nice lady at the info desk presented me with no less than three different tourism guides and a free Manitoba pin (the guides themselves wouldn't have been enough to make me stay, but the pin! How could I refuse!).

Elvis impersonating inukshuk, museum of Manitoba
I found the things I wanted to see in the guide and headed for Bird's hill park, just to the north east of Winnipeg, this park has a campground that is the closest one to Winnipeg that I could find, also its on a hill (couldn't have guess that from the name) so its dry following the recent floods (I've seen some of the effects of the flooding just from the border to Winnipeg).

The park itself is HUGE! its so big it has its own dedicated highway exit complete with ramps and curvy bits (I do like the curvy bits). Then the campground itself is just a subsection of the park, and the campground is massive as well. Its terribly well organised with named communities of sites in small clusters orbiting the shower block. Now the showers you do have to pay for (unlike the Ontario parks) but considering the nightly fee is less than half the Ontario parks price ($12.

a Moose at the museum of Manitoba
50 CAD per night instead of $36.75 CAD in most Ontario parks) I don't mind so much. That being said for 12.50 you gets what you paid for, the loos were abused and dirty but the sites were relatively clean, the clientèle – mostly high-schoolers and young families, with the odd retired couple thrown in for good measure. Boy did I stick out like a sore thumb.

The following morning I drove down to the Forks' in Winnipeg. This is where the Seine and Assinboine rivers meet and is the site of some historical significance to the area, there were various forts built, destroyed and built again all in the great fur rush between the Northwest Company and The Hudson's Bay Company. I took a wander through the park and read some of the national historic site info boards. The park recently held the Aboriginal day celebrations so there were clean-up crews working around the site of the outdoor concert.

Lazy dog aboard the 'nonsuch'
The Fork's also has its own indoor market place, a bit like Toronto's St Lawrence market or London's Covent Garden, it was filled with boutique style shops and cafe's, selling all sorts of curios from touristy kitsch to Chelsea buns (I really miss Chelsea buns, following the sad closure of Fitzbillies in my home town of Cambridge). I visited a shop and then had an agonising few minutes when I couldn't find my wallet, my heart sank still further when I returned to the car and it wasn't where I thought it was, then rebounded seconds later when I discovered I had 'put it somewhere safe'. silly boy.

After a beef sandwich I walked over to the Manitoba museum, just in time to catch the start of a tour, its a huge museum so the tour was a great way to catch the highlights and then afterwards find your way back to see things you had missed in more detail.

The nonsuch, museum of Manitoba
The museum is one giant walks way, taking you through Manitoba's geological prehistory and Natural history as well as events in our own social history that have shaped Manitoba (the influx of the Europeans, settling and farming, and the evolution of technology to name a few). The place was just closing as I finished at the titanic exhibit (every museum has one, but some hide it away better than others). My last area of the city I wanted to see was the old French quarter, so I found my way over the bridge and located the cathedral and the university, and a few other buildings that had some architectural stubbornness to them.

After a terribly indecisive half hour of driving across the city and back looking for a place to eat, I went back to the market at the forks and had a tasty Chinese.

The Museum of Human rights, to be completed in 2012. currently looks a bit like a disney ride under construction
Tomorrow: on to Riding mountain National park maybe or moose mountain in Saskatchewan if I get that far.

*I say rattled, everything makes noise in my car now, even without the camping gear there are always odd buzzes and creaks but when the car is fully loaded it almost has its own rhythm depending on the speed I'm travelling at. Between 0 and 20km/h its like Kraftwerk playing in treacle, between 20 and 60 I get a full range of Percussion from a slow 60s rock n roll beat to 80s cheesy dance music, much over 80 and I only seem to get crazy frog. Luckily I have a radio to drown it all out.

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Giant ground sloth, museum of Mani…
Giant ground sloth, museum of Man…
Elvis impersonating inukshuk, muse…
Elvis impersonating inukshuk, mus…
a Moose at the museum of Manitoba
a Moose at the museum of Manitoba
Lazy dog aboard the nonsuch
Lazy dog aboard the 'nonsuch'
The nonsuch, museum of Manitoba
The nonsuch, museum of Manitoba
The Museum of Human rights, to be …
The Museum of Human rights, to be…
St. Boniface Cathedral
St. Boniface Cathedral
photo by: mga_galang_paa