Manitoba road trips: Bridging the west

Posted April 30, 2021

This summer fun itinerary is jam-packed with quirky roadside attractions, unforgettable hikes and cute small towns.

This summer, we're featuring an amazing collection of road trips that will help you explore every corner of Manitoba. The Bridging the West road trip takes you through on a journey west through Treaty 1 and 2 territory, to a collection of small towns, roadside statues and more.

Part one

Photo Op: Giant Fire Hydrants and Smoking Pipes

What better way to start your adventure than with a few iconic giants? First, pull into the town of Elm Creek - you can't miss the massive fire hydrant that currently holds the title of the second largest hydrant in the world.

Also holding a second place title is the giant tobacco pipe of St. Claude. The pipe commemorates the early settlers who came from Saint-Claude, France - where the main industry was the manufacturing of pipes.

Manitoba Dairy Museum

While in St. Claude, stop into the Manitoba Dairy Museum to get a glimpse of pioneer life and how dairy production has evolved. The museum is housed in a variety of buildings including the town's old Canadian Pacific train station.

Glass Bottle Buildings

Second Chance Car Museum

Cottonwood Campground

Town of Treherne

Next up: the town of Treherne!

The Glass Bottle House and Church is a unique site made up of a group of glass bottle structures. The site includes a house, bathroom, church and wishing well and was constructed from over 5000 bottles. The project was started in the 80's by creative locals Bob Cain, Dora Cain and Fred Harp.

For the history buffs, there are two museums in town: The Second Chance Car Museum and the Treherne Museum, which houses a collection of objects from early life in the region.

Need a place for the kids to let off some steam? The Treherne Aquatic Centre is a beautiful community pool located near the Cottonwood Campground replete with a mushroom fountain, lazy river and diving board.

Summer is for drive-ins

Treherne is also home to one of the most coveted drive-ins in the province and is a must-try in the summer months! L&J's Drive Inn offers all the usual suspects like burgers, fries and onion rings - located next to a small green space where you can enjoy your meal in the shade.

Hiking and camping in Spruce Woods Provincial Park

Ready for some outdoor adventure? Pine forest and boreal woods blend with grassy hills and the meandering Assiniboine River at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. The park is home to the Kiche Manitou Campground, where you can set up camp and enjoy a night under the stars.

The main beach at the Kiche Manitou campground is a true family playground, with clear waters and canoe and paddleboat rentals.

But one of the most popular activities in Spruce Wood Provincial Parks is hiking. With many trails to pick from, here are two to try on this summer adventure.

Option 1: Hogsback Trail

An easy to moderate hike, this 1.2 km adventure provides beautiful views of Spruce Woods Provincial Park, from the sandhill prairies to freshwater springs to the scenic Assiniboine River valley. Find the entrance down a long dirt road off highway 242.

Option 2: Spirit Sands

Sand, cacti and prairie slithering skinks make up this desert-like landscape that is completely unique in Manitoba. The most challenging trail at Spirit Sands will take you to the Devils Punch Bowl, a bowl-shaped depression that measures 45 metres deep to reveal a pool of blue-green water. The route can be difficult in the heat of summer, so bring plenty of water. Don't feel like hiking? Hop onboard a covered wagon with Spirit Sands Wagon Outfitters and let two regal Percheron horses be your guides. This 8 km trail will take about two hours round-trip.

Photo Op: Sara the Camel

You'll know you're in Glenboro when you see Sara the Camel, located at the junction of Cochrane Street and Highway #2. Sara is emblematic of the desert-like Spirit Sands of Spruce Woods Provincial Park.

Hungry after your hike? Glenboro Drive In is another great option for some tasty treats.

Part two

Old town sights in Wawanesa

Just north off Highway #2, nestled deep in the valley of the Souris River, and situated at the backdoor of the rolling sand hills of Spruce Woods Forest is the small town of Wawanesa.

One of Canada's largest insurance companies, Wawanesa Mutual Insurance, has its humble beginnings in this idyllic prairie town. The original one-storey Wawanesa Mutual Insurance office is a provincially designated national historic site and home to the Sipiweske Museum.

Walk the town's streets to see the Souris River bridge and historic churches, or head down the self-guided trail along Cliff Street for sweeping views of the Souris River valley. Interpretive signage along the trail offer insight in to the geology of the cliffs that are unique and an unexpected discovery in the middle of the prairies.

The Wawanesa Community Park and Campground offers a reprise from the scorching prairie sun with a pool and splash pad. Transient and seasonal camping spots are available in the park alongside the Souris River, and the nearby dam touts good fishing in a region sparse of many freshwater lakes.


Criddle/Vane Homestead Provincial Heritage Park

Take a 15-minute drive north out of town along PR 340 and step back into prairie settler history at Criddle/Vane Homestead Provincial Heritage Park. English pioneer Percy Criddle, his wife, his mistress and two sets of children settled the land in 1882 and recreated a genteel English lifestyle in the middle of the open prairie.

Onward to Souris

Continue on to the next leg of the journey where the town of Souris awaits. Souris is known for its Swinging Bridge, its free-roaming peacocks (which have earned distinction as honorary ambassadors of the community) and its park.

Bakery delights

What better way to start the day than with a yummy pastry from Minary Homestyle Bakery? This small town bakery has gained notoriety for its scrumptious fritters and made-from-scratch granola bars.

Town of Souris

There are plenty of ways to spend your time in Souris. Sip tea at Souris Visitor Centre and The Plum Museum, a heritage church museum and Victorian tea room.

Or, get to know the town history at the Hillcrest Museum and Souris Railway Museum.

Your kids will love the opportunity to once again splash the day away at the Souris Community Pool, with four slides, a lazy river and a beach-like entry.

It's easy to pass a few hours walking the trails at Victoria Park, a 20-acre oasis that is one of the oldest parks in the country.

Swing life away
Souris Swinging Bridge

This Manitoba Star Attraction draws in brave visitors from across the province to the quaint town of Souris, to cross Canada's longest swinging pedestrian bridge. The 184-metre bridge was rebuilt completely after the floods of 1976 and 2011.

Dining in Souris

As a small town, Souris packs a punch when it comes to dining options. Casual favourites like ice cream and burgers can be found at The Dairy Bar, while Woodfire Deli serves up pizza, salad and soup. Other options include Tak Lee Cafe, The Whistling Donkey, and Antlers and Oak Diner.

Overnight stay in Souris

For overnight stays, Souris and the surrounding area has a number of great options for accommodations.

• Victoria Park Campground
• Rustic Retreat Bed and Breakfast
• Sweet Dreams Bed and Breakfast
• The Guest Room
• The Dolmage House Bed and Breakfast

Rustic Retreat Bed and Breakfast

PART 3

Oak Lake Beach

After spending the day and night in Souris, there's just one more stop on this western road trip. Head 30 minutes west of Souris and cap off the adventure with a day spent at the beach at Oak Lake Provincial Park.