Issue 01, Vol. 01 Spring 2008 | Tell a friend
|WELCOME FROM CELES DAVAR||THE BELUGA'S SMILE||FORT WHYTE ACTIVITIES|
|WHEN NIGHT IS NIGHT||GET OVER YOUR OPHIDIOPHOBIA||SUBMIT A STORY TO WIN|
|Come out to play in Manitoba|
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
EMAIL CELES DAVAR
Welcome to the first in a series of newsletters called "The Manitoba Notebook - Outdoors!" My name is Celes Davar, your Outdoor Ambassador, and I am president of Earth Rhythms, a learning adventure company located beside Riding Mountain National Park. As a photographer, naturalist, and adventure experience creator, I've discovered amazing people, places and things to do in this province that are not well known. The seasonal cycle in Manitoba invites us to participate in outdoor activities in different ways at different times of the year.
Today's travelers are seeking and collecting experiences. We'll show you what kinds of Manitoba experiences are authentic, offer fun and learning, and offer a story about Manitoba outdoors that you'll never forget.
Four times during the year, we'll steer you to off-the-beaten-track places to explore outdoors, and provide tips about how best to take part in some things you've never done before. You'll meet some of the unique folks who offer these experiences. Sometimes, we Manitobans forget that what we consider to be ordinary is "extra-ordinary" in the eyes of a traveler or anyone who is "in holiday mode". If you have some story ideas that you would like to share, please email me!
Consider this your invitation to discover Manitoba outdoors, in new ways, in all seasons!
When Night is Night — Not Streetlights
Paddling up the Bird River, we slow down. We have to. It's quiet. It's hot.
And, it's late spring. We are all quiet - six canoes - moving swiftly along one of many historical Canadian highways - a wilderness river. I realize that the other paddlers with me (school students and parent chaperones) who attend Brandon's EcoOdyssey high school 6-month environmental program (with national award-winning teacher David Barnes) are equally mesmerized. My son is on this trip - his long arms lean into his paddle, and their canoe glides by as if we are standing still. It's an easy paddle leaving the south side of Tulabi Lake in Nopiming Provincial Park, heading up the Bird to Elbow and McGregor Lakes, and on towards the Manitoba-Ontario border. One part paddling, one part portaging, and one part resting, you are grateful for night time.
Snapping turtles appear slowly from below as giant reminders of the slow pace of evolution, rather than the extinction of species that tends to cloud our current reality on planet Earth. Great blue herons, the occasional short-eared or barred owl, green-winged teal and mallard broods, or an occasional bald eagle are common. The reference on the map indicates that it was produced by Manitoba Department of Natural Resources - Parks Branch.
It's the quote that catches my eye - "In nature, everything is written but to gain some understanding, its languages have to be learned."
Manitoba's waterways offer an eclectic mix of paddling and nature viewing experiences quite unlike other provinces. Lake Winnipeg is the fifth-largest freshwater lake in Canada. The Assiniboine and Red Rivers in the south are large, slow flowing shallow rivers that bring Canadian aboriginal history, the fur trade, and early Canadian commerce into focus. Spring finds that the prairie potholes in the Minnedosa region warm up quickly. They are shallow, bowl-shaped and quickly absorb the high overhead sun rays. Canada Geese, mallards, blue-winged teal, shovelers, and bufflehead wing in at night in April, and by morning are scouting for nesting habitat.
Many top American and European birding tour companies seek out Manitoba in May and June. Our prairie potholes harbour nutrients and an explosion of invertebrates that sustain hundreds of thousands of North American ducks.
It is these same nutrients that make these very potholes on local farms suitable for stocking with local rainbow trout which is harvested usually by net in the fall - stocking the freezer for the winter.
The Beluga's Smile
The first time I saw the belugas was from directly overhead. I was lucky enough to hitch an afternoon ride with a biology team aboard a shaky old DeHavilland, outfitted with the equivalent of lawn chairs for seats. The team on board was used to seeing the otherworldly sights of Churchill and didn't think much of the show in the Churchill River as we zoomed toward Hudson Bay.
"What is that!" I screamed over the headset. I couldn't figure out what I was seeing. Bat-shaped objects, glowing white, floating in an inky green river. Hundreds of them, maybe thousands.
"That would be the belugas," one of the boys answered. He had seen them a million times. But I hadn't and vowed to one day get a closer look.
My day came many years later aboard a Zodiac on its way across the bay headed for this historic and huge Fort Prince of Wales. Our captain simply pointed to the starboard side and there they were, curious belugas getting a closer look at us. I flopped my belly onto the inflated side of the boat just as a mother and her calf, still gray, surfaced. The pair twisted on their sides to get a better look, made slow blinks and chattered like they were glad to see me. Right before they slipped into the water, I'm pretty sure they smiled. I smiled too.
Get Over Your Ophidiophobia
Back in the day, I would swim with the snakes — clamber down into the cool limestone crevasses and mingle with the millions. That was before anyone knew that the Narcisse Snake Dens were a treasure, a reptile research utopia and home to the world’s largest community of red-sided garter snakes. And right here in the heart of Manitoba! All this fame has led to viewing platforms for visitors.
But if you think you’ll be safe from a personal encounter with a slimy one, think again. The first warm days of spring send a signal to the males that it’s time to start jockeying for position and await the arrival of the females. The action starts when dozens of males wrap around a single female with hopes of mating... READ MORE
Fort Whyte Activities
FortWhyte Alive has something to offer for everyone - 364 days a year. Whether you want to learn a new skill such as sailing, enjoy a fun Sunday family afternoon together, join a guided group tour through forests, wetlands and engaging exhibits, or just re-connect with nature as you stroll the trails, it's all waiting for you at FortWhyte. Below are a couple:
Evening Guests - Bats in Your Backyard!
Buffalo - Monarch of the Plains
It’s My Moment - Your Story Could Win!
A chance to kayak with Beluga whales? Wow! Share your best Manitoba travel moment for a chance to win. Here's a recently submitted fishing moment from Vickie Emms, from her experience in Baker's Narrows:
PHOTOS, FISHING AND MORE
Now, I am not a water lover, I fear the depths, but since I am an avid photographer and had a life jacket, I decided I wanted to try fishing. Well, the photo opportunities while on the lake were the most amazing I've ever had. I could get so close to the Loons, my favorite bird, with its lonesome call. I could see right in their beautiful red eyes, I was that close. I got close to the Bald Eagles, and we parked the boat... READ MORE