Gem & Lita with granddaughter Cassy at the Souris Swinging Bridge

The summer of 2020 has proven to be one of the best times to experience what has been in our own backyard all along due to COVID-19 not knowing how long our travel advisories to far-off places will be in effect. Think beyond the popular destinations and immerse in the great outdoors that Manitoba has to offer.

Travel Manitoba has unveiled the new slogan for our province: “Home is where the heart is”. Now is the time to show Manitoba some love so find your heart in our prarie province of Manitoba and discover new places to explore and experience. And don’t forget to observe sanitizing, masking and distancing.

Actually before the pandemic Manitoba was named by the world’s top travel experts as the No. 1 emerging North American travel destination for 2019 – “It’s a natural paradise where you can kayak alongside beluga whales in the arctic, lock eyes with a wild polar bear in Churchill, or spend your night in awe of the Northern Lights”.

And even before this, i.e., in 2016, our own City of Winnipeg had been chosen as one of National Geographic’s Best Trips of 2016 – the only Canadian city to make the list. Take pride Winnipeg! The international magazine called the River City a “multicultural, multi-lingual metropolis of 800,000” . The cold was mentioned though. Mosquitoes? No!

Visiting and exploring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, our No. 1 in the bucket list, is a great start, an amazing encounter with human rights as a “journey of inspiration from darkness to light”.

Another must-ee-um is the Lower Fort Garry, the national historic site on the banks of the Red River featuring original buildings dating as far back as the 1830s. This fur trade fort was the site of the signing of Treaty No. 1, the first of Canada’s numbered treaties dealing with the First Nations. Because of covid-19 the visitor centre and historic buildings remain closed to the public though it offers now a new visitor experience, “A Walk Through History” outdoor walking experience. Hopefully soon access will be back to normal.

About one and a half hour-drive north from Winnipeg via MB-7 N and MB 17 N is the Narcisse Snake Dens, the world’s largest concentration of red-sided garter snakes. The dens are the winter homes of tens of thousands of this particular types of snakes. During spring the snakes come up from these dens to the snake pits where they mate, and for the summer they disperse into the nearby marshes. The snakes return in the fall. Best time to visit the dens is during the latter part of April or the first three weeks of May.

Make a little pilgrimage to a shrine or go camping in St. Malo by taking provincial hwy. 59 South. St. Malo is a bustling community of bilingual francophone Metis and Quebecois heritage dating back to 1892. Visit the Grotto, a reproduction of the grotto in Lourdes, France, located along the Rat River. The river is also a part of the St. Malo Provincial Park where a reservoir, a man-made St. Malo Lake, makes for a perfect family-friendly beach. In winter, the park is a great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing destination. And every February the community hosts the St. Malo Festival of Friends.

Worth a visit is the small town of Souris, home to Canada’s historic longest suspension (cable-stayed) footbridge, known as the “Swinging Bridge” with a capacity load of 1,000 people and measuring 184 meters long spanning the Souris River that divides the town of 1,837 residents. Although a very small town Souris boasts three museums that preserve its historical heritage. Experience the sensation of walking over the swinging bridge from one end to the other! How to go there? Take the Trans Canada Hwy. 1 West just past Brandon and turn left to provincial road #250 to Souris. From Winnipeg you’ll be there in about 2 and a half hours.

With so much more yet to explore we’re taking one or two or several at a time! No passport yet but we’ll keep on travelling!