|WELCOME FROM FRED||DRAGON BONES||CROCUS CAPITAL PHOTO CONTEST|
|TRAIN TO CHURCHILL||ASSINIBOIA DOWNS||IT'S MY MOMENT - NEW CONTEST!|
|Welcome to Manitoba!|
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
EMAIL FRED PENNER
This winter has been wonderful! My children are grown now, but I have many happy memories, pictures, and home videos of us together, bundled in snowsuits, with mittens on strings, touques, and scarves, building snowmen and making snow angels in our own backyard, or at Assiniboine Park. We loved to toboggan down the big slide there, and skate on the duck pond.
This winter, Winnipeggers have been able to skate from Assiniboine Park all the way to the Forks on the "Guiness-World-Record-holding-longest- naturally-frozen-skating-trail-in-the-world" (hey, I think there’s a song in there, do you?).
Now, Brandon is gearing up for the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair (March 30-April 4). And in the north, the Aurora Festival in Churchill promises lots of fun for all ages (March 21 – April 6). I had an Unforgettable Moment in Churchill myself and you can read it below.
As the Spring thaw approaches, I look forward to seeing the lavender petals of our Provincial Flower, the crocus, peeking through the last mounds of melting snow. You’ll see them in ditches or grasslands as you travel by road or train to any of Manitoba’s wonderful parks. They tell us that picnics, beaches, and the clear waters of Riding Mountain National Park are just around the corner. I had a wonderful weekend when I performed there last August and am looking forward to visiting the Park again this year. I can smell the wood smoke and burnt marshmallows now!
And by the way, if you visit fredpenner.com, you can use the promo code TRAVEL MANITOBA for a 15% discount on everything in the store, including Penner Pal memberships.
Train to Churchill
By Fred Penner
In the summer of 1975 I was in a band called Kornstock. We were a comedy show band and we were on our way to play the infamous Hudson Hotel in Churchill, Manitoba. Churchill is a very interesting part of the world because it is an international grain port and ships journey there from around the world. The Muskeg Express, as it is known, was an overnight excursion and it stopped at every town, village and camp site along the way. It was a most interesting trip and the train was filled with many colourful characters, each one with enough stories to fill a thousand train rides.
Train travel is very relaxing and you can easily slip into a daydream as you watch the blur of trees and telephone poles. Occasionally I caught a glimpse of deer running through the woods. Nature abounds. This is a welcome change from the usual urban of my life. But, as I said, it was an overnight trip and we were moving beyond the treeline into muskeg and tundra. The ground was very moist and soft and could not support the standard single telephone pole, so the technique for hydro lines was a tripod, that is, 3 shorter poles planted in a tipi like shape. It looked very odd, but it obviously was the most efficient design for this boggy terrain.
Once the sun had set, which was a spectacular vision on it's own, we had dinner and for dessert watched the Aurora Borealis.
This was very tasty. These Northern Lights, which the Cree call Dance of the spirits, are natural coloured light displays that occur in the ionosphere. With a greenish glow and a faint red, the lights do dance across the sky with awesome and unique beauty.
But the one image that is most powerful in my memory of this trip occurred at dawn. I awoke and rolled over toward the window in anticipation of darkness and stars, only to find that the sun had begun to announce it's presence. We were well past the tree-line and there was more water than land around us. The morning mist was starting to rise from the bog and the rays of the sun refracted the dew into a blaze of sparkling tentacles. I was dumbfounded, but I forced my eyes to open as wide as possible in hopes of retaining a permanent recollection of this spectacular image. This trip aboard the Muskeg Express was just the beginning of our Churchill adventure.
I hope that you and your family have a Churchill adventure as well. Perhaps you could take in the late-winter Aurora Festival. There’s something for every age happening there!
See Spectacular Dinosaur Fossils from China at The Manitoba Museum’s Dinosaur Dynasty exhibit
Get ready for a Jurassic experience as The Manitoba Museum presents Dinosaur Dynasty: Discoveries from China. This immense exhibit from Asia features over 20 full-size dinosaur skeletons, fossil dinosaur eggs that are millions of years old, and a dino dig pit for kids.
This exhibit, the first large-scale dinosaur exhibit in Manitoba Museum history, is a rare opportunity to examine specimens from one of the world's hottest fossil recovery sites. Dinosaur Dynasty boasts the largest collection of authentic Chinese fossils that have ever toured. More than 20 skeletons and 20 fossil objects will be displayed in an evocative environment. The fossils are accompanied by four original 70-foot murals that were created by Chinese artists and the Royal Museum of British Columbia.
Dinosaur Dynasty illustrates how a changing Earth led to the amazing diversity of these reptiles, over millions of years of evolution. Among the authentic fossils and life-size casts on view are the 70-foot Mamenchisaurus, the longest-necked animal that ever lived, and the feathered dinosaur Caudipteryx. Visitors will witness how dinosaur life begins-two very different fossil egg nests-and how it may have ended for at least one plated Toujiangosaurus. This exhibit is interactive, and offers guests the opportunity to touch a real, six-foot-tall dinosaur leg bone, along with much, much more. Children of all ages will also be able to experience their own dinosaur dig.
Dinosaur Dynasty is open during regular Museum hours, Tues-Fri 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and weekends 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
A trip to Winnipeg isn't complete without a visit to one of the finest horse racing tracks in Canada: Assiniboia Downs. Located on the western outskirts of the city just off the Trans-Canada highway, next to the Perimeter Highway, the track not only showcases exciting live racing from May to September, it also features year-round Las Vegas-style big-screen racing from some of the best tracks in the world, plenty of VLT action in a comfortable lounge setting plus buffets and brunches that are legendary. The track is open every day except Christmas from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Live racing begins on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, then continues under the lights on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings through to Sept. 12. Post time is 7 p.m. Tuesday evening racing is added in June and July. Holidays feature afternoon racing with a 1 p.m. post time and extra family fun. Simulcast racing from Florida, California, New York, Kentucky, Australia and other tracks is carried every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the Race Book which has individual carrels with private TV's. And Friday nights are free poker nights. Anyone can get into the draw to play Texas hold 'em for cash prizes and a trip to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
Crocus capital launches flower photo contest
Manitoba’s provincial flower, the Prairie Crocus, may be the most photographed wildflower in the province, and there’s now an opportunity for the best photos to take centre stage.
Arden, Manitoba - the self-proclaimed Crocus Capital of Manitoba - is launching its Wild Prairie Crocus Photo Contest. Open to all Manitoba residents, (except professional photographers and local organizers) winning photos will be displayed during the 9th annual Arden Crocus Festival May 2. Prize sponsors include Don’s Photo (Winnipeg/Brandon), Lansdowne Heritage Resources and Tourism Committee, Travel Manitoba, and the municipal organizing committee.
Entry forms are available from the Arden Post Office, or can be downloaded from the website (www.ardenmb.ca) and must accompany each entry. Contest deadline is April 24.
The Arden Crocus Festival began in 2001 with the dedication of a 9-foot tall steel crocus monument, billed as the World’s Largest Crocus. Thousands of wild Prairie Crocus bloom each April at a local heritage site in the village. Arden (pop.125) is located about 150 km west of Winnipeg and 5 km north of Highway 16.
It's My Moment - New Contest!
Keep sending in your unique Manitoba moments. Send us your favorite Unforgettable Manitoba story, photo or video to itsmymoment.ca and you'll be entered to win a Manitoba Homecoming 2010 VIP travel package to see the entire province. Full contest details available soon. In the meantime, here's a great moment from Lynne Ceeney:
AN AMAZING WILDLIFE EXPERIENCE
I was so excited as I had heard stories of John's friendship with this albino beaver. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see it myself. John shared that statistically only 1 in about 400,000 beaver are born white (or albino). This little one had two siblings both partial albino; while the parents were the traditional brown.
John invited me to stay and photograph this amazing creature in private, and he and his wife headed home. I was entertained for a good hour, while it swam back and forth, posing with every turn!
The beaver got tired and closed his eyes to rest for a bit; floating only a few feet from me!
All of a sudden, it seemed to realize that the light I needed to photograph was receding. The "photo shoot" was over....
.....and then the beaver was gone!
But the story does not end there:
Soon after my photo shoot, I was talking with Sharon Rogers. Sharon and her husband, John had the trap line, which included the stream where the beaver and his family lived. Sharon told me that her father-in-law was granted this trap line in 1947 and since that time they had recorded 6 white or albino beaver on their line. In 1970 they were able to live trap one and the Winnipeg Zoo gave it a home.
Sharon and John shared, that because of it's white hair the animal was not marketable. They had to set their traps, in that area, but they did not want to catch the white beaver. Trappers farm their lines and like farmers, have respect for the animals in their care. It would be totally foreign to take an animal if the pelt was useless. So John and Sharon had gone to Natural Resources for help.
Natural Resources were trying to find a new home for the beaver and with some urgency. The beaver's notoriety had grown and many sightseers were stopping at the same place I had, in the hopes of seeing the infamous white beaver. The location on Highway #307 where the beaver could be spotted was on a curve in the road that offered no shoulder. It was dangerous!
There was another danger that demanded some immediate action. Rumors were flying that a poacher was stocking the White Beaver.
We got word that Natural Resources had identified a possible "new home" for the animal. It takes a special talent to live trap a beaver and John Bartley is one man that can do it, but he turned Natural Resources down flat!
John Bartley told me that the white beaver would not be safe unless no other beaver family living in the new area. Beaver will attack one of their own; if it is different. The prospective new home was already inhabited with a family. John Bartley told Natural Resources that he believed the beaver would be vulnerable without his family to protect him. "It would be killed and I will not be a party to that."
Natural Resources kept scouring the maps to find a body of water uninhabited by other beaver. Concerns were escalating!
And then, just like at the end of the photo shoot, the white beaver and his family were gone. It could have been lack of food that prompted the move, or the family might have sensed some danger;......... or maybe someone they trusted, encouraged them to go. I wonder?
A few weeks later, I was glad to hear that John had seen the little beaver and his family, in the backcountry.
I was privileged to have seen and enjoyed the white beaver first hand and I will never forget it! And I will remember also, with admiration, the efforts of the trappers and Natural Resources to protect this very special creature!
You can see a display of photographs of the White Beaver in the Trappers Museum at the Alf Hole Goose Sanctuary, in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.
The Museum is open Saturday and Sundays June to September Long weekend.
Presentations for school groups and organizations can be arranged.
Contact John Bartley at 204-369-5218, or Cliff Brook at 204-369-5259.