Venture into the Interlake to enjoy a change of pace; slow life down to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. For those with a rural background, the smell of freshly cut hay will trigger a flash of memories as you drive along Highway 7 on your way north of Winnipeg. Perhaps those memories are of baling hay or sneezing from the dust (we hope not) but it’s one scent you can’t forget.
Here in the region we have some interesting, larger-than-life statues that are great for a group or family photo. If you have brought young ones with you on this journey, stop to see the largest mosquito in Manitoba, and possibly Canada. Just off this highway at Komarno on PR #229, it is worth the detour to see this huge metal replica and discover what the name Komarno means.
Continuing north you’ll see fields of waving grain, hay fields filled with bales along with cattle hiding in the bushes to grab some shade or cozying up to a smoky fire to help keep away the mosquitoes and black flies. Next stop, Meleb!
You can’t make a trip north on Highway 7and not stop to see the mushrooms that celebrate the food that is picked in secret. You are met with stone silence when asked, “Where do you pick them?” There are competitions between some family members and nobody is letting those secrets out. Three huge replicas honour the most common mushrooms found in the area. There are also miniatures of former schools from the Rural Municipality of Armstrong.
Off you go farther north, turning right on Hwy #68 to the east side of Arborg, where more surprises await you at the Arborg and District Multicultural Heritage Village, the newest regional Star Attraction. This is a circa-1930s village with buildings moved in from around the region celebrating Icelandic, Polish, Ukrainian, and Indigenous cultures.
Even with young ones in tow, there are so many buildings to explore, artifacts that will flood you with memories and an opportunity to bring the past alive for you or your children and grandchildren. Paintings of every church in the Interlake decorate the walls of the old hall, a memory in the making itself. Snap a photo of those kids up on the old fashioned full size stage or aboard the caboose!
We know that seeing “old stuff” is only good for so long. How about stopping for lunch, or ordering take-out and going to the outdoor Aquatic Centre to enjoy your picnic and a cooling off time? A picnic area along with the pool, slides, and a spray pad make this a wonderful place to spend some time. Then catch a family shot in front of Manitoba’s largest curling rock… you really can’t miss it!
After some cooling down, head out of town and turn left on Hwy #68 to Hwy #8, or continue to PR #222 and take a slower cruise south along Lake Winnipeg. You’ll travel past Hnausa, one of the older and less well known Icelandic settlements. In this area you can find Betsy Ramsey’s grave – this story is one told at the Arborg Heritage Village.
Keep moving south, eventually catching the scent of grains brewing at Diageo, the makers of famed Crown Royal as the massive brewing facility comes into sight. You are just north of Gimli now. Do you have time for fish and chips perhaps, or a selfie at the Viking statue on 2nd Ave?
You can always leave exploring Gimli and the lakeside communities for another day. If so head west on PR #231 to Hwy #8
and straight south to Winnipeg. It’s about a 60 minute drive and you’ll take with it tired smiles and joyous memories.
By Gail McDonald
Gail McDonald is the Interlake Tourism manager. www.interlaketourism.com.