If you are looking for a great way to escape from hustle and bustle of the city take a day trip and hit the road to Souris, a small quiet town in southwestern Manitoba.
Souris is home to Canada`s longest historic suspension (cable-stayed) footbridge, known as the `Swinging Bridge“. Actually, a single person can swing the bridge which has a capacity load of 1,000 persons or approximately 74,843 kg. (165,000 lbs.) equivalent to 925 white-tailed deers. Measuring 184 meters long (604 ft.) the bridge spans the Souris River that divides the town of 1,837 residents.
The original bridge, still partly existing, was built in 1904 by Squire William Henry Sowden, a pioneer resident-merchant and land developer from Millbrook, Ontario, as a convenient way to provide him access to his farmland on the east side of the river and to take his livestock over the river to pasture. Ever since he donated the bridge to the town in 1907 it has evolved over the years to become the famous landmark of the community.
The bridge has a historical resilience of overcoming the destruction due to natural calamities. In 1912 flood waters destroyed the bridge sweeping away the decking. In 1961 it was destroyed by a cable break and rebuilt in 1977 after being wiped away in the flood of 1976. And it was again damaged in the flood of 2011. In the summer of 2013 the bridge was rebuilt, higher than the previous one, with a price tag of $4.5 million. Supported by four high-strength steel suspension cables the bridge is expected to last for the next hundred years.
In 2013 the Government of Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism granted the bridge the “Star Attraction Status“. Also the Canada Post commemorated the bridge with a special stamp.
Although a very small town Souris boasts three museums that preserve its historical heritage, namely; the Plum Museum with many displays and interpretations of early history of southern Manitoba; the Hillcreast Museum containing the artifacts of different eras of the town`s history and a collection of over 5,000 butterflies from around the world; and the Souris Railway Museum housed in an old CPR caboose containing some rare artifacts, memorabilias and records.
While in Souris spend some time in Victoria Park with its swimming pool, walking trails, beautiful campground, and a bird sanctuary known for its flock of peacocks.
And of course, don`t forget the most important must-do activity in Souris: experience the sensation of walking over the Swinging Bridge from one end to the other as what my family (Lita, Marie, Jer, Cassy and Cole) did.
How to get there: Take the Trans-Canada Highway 1 west just past Brandon and turn left to provincial road 250 to Souris. From Winnipeg you`ll be there in about two and a half hours.