While I’ve passed through the city of Selkirk on a few occasions, it was always on my way to somewhere else. I never really thought about Selkirk as a destination, neither had it dawned on me that I could spend a weekend there and actually enjoy it. But spend a weekend I did at Evergreen Gate Bed and Breakfast in St. Andrews, whose hosts, Rob and Laurel, introduced me to Selkirk’s intricacies and reassuring small-town charm.
A green space and a screened-in porch
For those who want to get away without going too far, Selkirk is a convenient 40-minute ride from Winnipeg, and Evergreen Gate, which is just a mere five-minute ride away from Selkirk, offers the ever-so-perfect balance of a home away from home. Driving onto the property of this bed and breakfast, I had this sense of entering a mini estate. The grounds were impeccably breathtaking with greenery and flowers everywhere (which I later learned had everything to do with Laurel’s green thumb and Rob’s lawn-mowing prowess – talk about dedication). As I entered the doors of the bed and breakfast, I was greeted by Rob who made me feel right at home, taking me from room to room. While each room possessed its own unique charms, it was the screened-in porch with its high ceilings and large windows that captured me the moment I set foot onto it. It would end up becoming my go-to spot on the cool spring evenings.
Lower Fort Garry
There’s one thing that is certain: you can accomplish a lot on a two-day visit to the city of Selkirk and its neighbouring towns. But if Lower Fort Garry is on your list of must-sees, then it’s advisable to dedicate a decent portion of one of your days to doing just that. For my family and I, we chose to start our journey into Selkirk with an introduction to the fort. While I had heard from just about everyone I talked with about what a tremendous and immersive experience Lower Fort Garry is, this was one of those times where the skeptic in me had to give way to the notion that seeing definitely meant believing. And so, for one day, I let go of my introversion, stepped back in time to circa 1852, and learned more than I ever thought I would about Manitoba’s fur trading past and the lives of those who lived in that era and worked at the fort.
River Road…and the Thomas Bunn House
I have always been fascinated by history, so starting my stay in Selkirk with a visit to Lower Fort Garry proved to be the perfect tie-in to my next destination: River Road. After my introductory stop-in at Evergreen Gate, I was off again – this time with Rob – to learn all about River Road, its heritage homes and historic sites, the Red River itself, and the integral role it played in Manitoba’s fur trading past. As Rob took me along the River Road, driving slowly and stopping occasionally to point out places of historic interest and the stories behind them, it wasn’t hard to conjure up images of these people in that space and time, such a vivid storyteller Rob proved to be. One of the most poignant stops along River Road, however, was to the home of Thomas Bunn, who was, essentially, Louis Riel’s right-hand man. The Thomas Bunn House, which Bunn built in 1862 for his wife, and which now operates as a bed and breakfast, is owned by Fraser Stewart and his wife Bev.
Fun fact: Many of the streets in Selkirk are named for key women and wives who were citizens of Selkirk, such as Eveline Street, while many of the avenues were named for some of the city’s most prominent men, like Robinson Avenue.
Boats on land and the quest for Brokenhead
My next morning started with breakfast by Rob, who proved to know the ins and outs of the kitchen just as well as those of River Road. As Laurel kept me company, regaling me with stories of her time living and working in Selkirk, her love of plants, and her passion for the area she calls home, our conversation switched from English to French, once we realized we both spoke the language. Once breakfast was done, it was time to explore the heart of Selkirk. And once again, I was transported back in time – this time to the 1900s – by Rob as we ran aground at the Marine Museum. Walking through the ships, I couldn’t help but note just how small some of the confined spaces were, and the fact that often enough, it was two or three people sharing the space!
After bidding adieu to the Keenora, Bradbury and the rest of the fleet, it was on to Selkirk Park, an amazing green space with its own skating rink, pool, boat launch, and campgrounds. And thereafter began my quest, in the company of a few friends, for the Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail. And what a quest it proved to be, getting lost umpteen times, winding up in Gull Lake, then on a back road along Beaconia Beach, and later in Grand Marais, only to stumble across Brokenhead as we were just about to give up! Was it worth the effort? Definitely! Would I go back if I had the chance? Undoubtedly!
All in all, my weekend at Evergreen Gate in St. Andrews, the city of Selkirk and the neighbouring areas turned out to be an unexpected and welcome surprise. What made it even more memorable was the people I met along the way. While Rob and Laurel are quite proud of their home-turned-bed-and-breakfast, there’s no doubt that much of that pride stems from their experience of having that home-turned-bed-and-breakfast ideally situated near Selkirk and on the historic River Road along the Red River. Their passion and vision for the area of Selkirk no doubt keep them going and made a believer even of the skeptic in me.
If you go…
Stay at…Evergreen Gate Bed and Breakfast in St. Andrews
Dine at…Zaika, Roxi’s, The Mighty Kiwi, Skinner’s and Half Moon
Journey along…the River Road with Rob
Visit…Lower Fort Garry, The Marine Museum, Selkirk Park and The Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail
Check out…the Red River North Tourism website for more details