Classic Attraction: The Forks
Early aboriginals used the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red rivers as a rendezvous, and modern Winnipeggers have followed suit with gusto. There are historical exhibits and artifacts, peaceful gardens and river perches, an artisan and food market, ongoing festivals, community events and possibly the country’s best downtown skate park.
Even Burton Cummings in a Speedo couldn’t draw this much attention on a sunny afternoon.
“Whiteshell Provincial Park is beautiful anytime, but it’s really quite special around early fall. You canoe into a lake, portage to the next, camp out on an island and, if wild rice is plentiful, you can go out and pick it. Entire families would pick up and leave from my community and go live there for two weeks or a month in early September… It was a pretty special time for the Ojibwa communities from the Interlake and along the east side of Lake Winnipeg.”
—Phil Fontaine, three-time National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
“I spend time every weekend in Birds Hill Provincial Park. I have a horse, and there are miles of paths to take the horse on. When I’m out there in the middle of all this rugged nature, I don’t feel like I’m even close to Winnipeg. You can get lost in the forest… in fact, I probably would get lost if the horse didn’t always find the way back. And, from downtown Winnipeg, it’s only a 40-minute drive north on Highway 59.”
—Tara Birtwhistle, Gemini Award winner and principal dancer at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet
“In August comes Folklorama, a celebration of cultures from around the world, with more than 40 pavilions competing to deliver the best shows and food. I’m a huge fan of the Israeli pavilion because of the outstanding performances of the Chai Folk Ensemble. It’s great to check out all the action and then wind down with a glass of red wine at one of the outdoor patios along Corydon Avenue, where the people-watching is unbeatable!”
—Gail Asper, president of The Asper Foundation, the group spearheading the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The Fort Garry
THE SOARING FACADES, elegant décor and all-around majesty of Canada ’s turn-of-last-century railway hotels are notorious. The Fort Garry, named for the former military post at the nearby junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, is no exception—though it’s the only hotel left on the trail blazed by the CPR that is independently owned and operated.
THREE RED AWNINGS on a waning white-brick, three-story building hide an offer you can’t refuse in the heart of Winnipeg’s famed Exchange District: the city’s best Italian food, period. So says Jennifer Jones, homegrown skip of the current Canadian and world championship women’s curling team.