It's deep into autumn, and the daytripping we're doing now around Manitoba officially looks different. Sure, there may be less hiking, golfing and beach time, but we can still explore by making a museum, shop or restaurant our main reason for hitting the road. Here are some ideas for day drives to take before the snow flies.
Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre
📍Morden - Treaty 1 territory
Bruce, the massive mosasaur fossil on display at Morden’s Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre holds the Guinness World Record in this category. At 13.05 m (42.815 ft), it took two years to excavate 80 million-year-old Bruce after he was discovered in 1974 in a local farmer’s field. It's worth the trip to say hello to Bruce, along with the other fascinating creatures Canada’s largest collect of marine reptile fossils. The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre recently launched a new permanent exhibit that gives a thorough and interactive explanation about the Plate Tectonics, also known as Continental Drift. One visit to this museum is equivalent to a year's worth of science class.
📍Neepawa - Treaty 2 territory
Did you know that one of the largest beer brands in Manitoba is based in Neepawa, in the heart of the prairies? What's unique about Farmery Estate Brewery is that their creative line of craft beers and malted sodas use hops and barley grown direct on their family-run farm. While brewery tours are not available at the moment due to COVID, a visit to Farmery's new craft beer store (located right along Hwy 16, so you can't miss it) is reason alone to plan a day trip to Neepawa. Pick up some flats of beer direct from the brewer as you start to hunker down for the cold season. You may also be inspired to start to your Christmas shopping early - the store stocks nifty Farmery merchandise for the season like toques and hoodies. Farmery has also experienced great success in producing hand sanitizer during the pandemic, so be sure to grab a bottle or two to help your family stay safe this winter.
Sam Waller Museum
📍The Pas - Treaty 5 territory
With Halloween around the corner, it's no better time to visit Sam Waller Museum for its collection of curiosities and oddities that the museum is famous for. While travel to the north from southern Manitoba is currently restricted due to COVID, residents of the region should make the drive to check out the strange collection in "Sam's Gallery" (named after the museum's founder). Stare in wonder at quirky natural history pieces such as a two-headed calf, fleas dressed in clothes, and a squirrel toasting to your good health. The museum is located in the historic (and haunted?) court house, hence why visitors will find a jail cell on display. For those looking for a new reason to return to the museum, a temporary exhibit titled "Lace Up: Canada's Passion for Skating" is on display until November 29 for anyone eager to get on the ice to enjoy the winter sport.
H.P. Tergesen & Sons
📍Gimli - Treaty 1 territory
H.P. Tergesen & Sons is an institution in Gimli. The store was established in 1899 as a general merchant and has been passed down through four generations of the Icelandic family. Though the building itself may be old and historic, the products inside are modern and fun. The store carries the latest in women and men's fashion, locally-made jewellery, unique Gimli souvenirs and is the best place in the town to buy books, particularly by Manitoban authors. This funky general store is worth the drive for an afternoon of shopping, no matter how far you must travel.
Chez Angela Bakery
📍Brandon - Treaty 2 territory
Follow your nose all the way to Brandon to Chez Angela Bakery, a relatively new cafe in the city's historic downtown that's well on its way to coming a pillar business in Westman. Owned and operated by couple James and Angela Chambers - he's the enthusiastic greeter to all visitors while she's the quiet genius working the dough in the back - Chez Angela is worth the drive as one of the province's top rustic bakeries. Visit in the morning (don't be discouraged by the line up outside the door) to start your day with a delectable array of buttery pastries, artisan breads (Wheat City sourdough is a must) and light breakfast fare like quiche, all made from scratch. Come back again for lunch to enjoy a latte and menu of sandwiches and pizza.
Musée Rivière Winnipeg River Museum
📍St. Georges - Treaty 3 territory
The contemporary design of the new Musée Rivière Winnipeg River Museum, which opened quietly in 2019 after a 2014 fire burned the original location to the ground, is an eye-catching juxtaposition to the historical significance of the Winnipeg River and the heritage of the people who live near and travel on it. Built along the river on land bequeathed by one of the first Quebec homesteaders to settle in the area, the Winnipeg River Heritage Museum is worth a visit if only for the picturesque views of the expansive river and quaint francophone town of St. Georges. Be sure to spend sometime touring the exhibits, learning the local First Nation, Métis and fur trade history through many family heirlooms, photos, and exhibits on display. St. Georges is 120 kms east of Winnipeg in the RM of Alexander, and the drive along Hwy 11 and the Winnipeg River to get there is easily one of the most scenic in the province during the autumn.