Art is a way of life in Eastman, which is why the Boreal Shores Art Tour is such a natural fit for this part of the province. With 34 artists in three regions, this self-guided driving tour to studios, homes, hen’s runs, old barns and more is a great way to to peruse the work of talented Eastman artists and go exploring along the way. Here are five ways we found art in Eastern Manitoba on the Boreal Shores Art Tour.
1. Art in the landscape
My partner Victoria and I hit the road out of Winnipeg early Saturday morning, where less than a two hour drive took us to our first stop. The Boreal Shores Art Tour covers three regions, each with its own unique natural features. It’s easy to see why artists are so inspired by the landscape here—the winding rivers, rolling hills, big skies and more already looked like paintings through the car windows.
A lot of the artists’ work captures Eastern Manitoba’s wilderness and wildlife. As one artist told us, there’s nothing like painting a wolf one day then watching one walk through her yard the next! Many artists also pull their materials from the landscape, from wood to stones to antlers and more.
2. Art in everyday objects
There are so many beautiful photographs and paintings to admire along the Boreal Shores Art Tour, but many of the art pieces on display have other uses too. Janice Charko turns felt and other fabrics into “wearable works of art”. Dennis Graham makes furniture from local wood with both form and function. Pat Fallis has even had customers use her pottery urns to bury loved ones. In Eastern Manitoba, just because it’s practical doesn’t mean it can’t also be beautiful.
3. Art in the homes
Over the course of the weekend, we were invited into many local living spaces to see works in progress and works on display. Small-town Manitoba hospitality abounds in Eastern Manitoba; artists and their families went out of way to make visitors feel at home. We were toured through kitchens with coffee brewing, climbed into the hayloft of a restored barn, and even visited some friendly chickens while hearing (and seeing) stories of lives lived in Pinawa, Lac du Bonnet, River Hills, Victoria Beach and more.
We were also invited to stay in the home of Rick and Fran, owners of the Staff House B&B. This century-old home in Seven Sisters Falls was the former staff quarters for hydro workers, but has now been restored to include a three guest suites, a high-end kitchen, even an in-house yoga studio. With good food and great company, it was the perfect place to recharge during our busy weekend.
On top of their artful hospitality, Rick is also an avid photographer whose work is featured throughout the house…and Fran’s homemade biscotti are their own kind of masterpiece!
4. Art in the community
From municipal governments to restaurateurs and seniors centres to hotels, there is support for the arts everywhere in Eastern Manitoba. The Boreal Shores Art Tour embraced this community spirit with a series of “Art Stops” along the the route, where visitors can paint a piece of a Stu Iverson photo to help create a mosaic that will be assembled and displayed in a public space.
These community supporters are ambitious, backing innovative projects like the Boreal Shores Art Tour and “The Saga of JD McArthur and the Winnipeg River Princess”, a dinner theatre presented by the newly-formed Eureka Group – Players and Puppeteers. We were blown away by the talented community performers, the original score played by a live band, and even a full-sized steam engine replica that rolled through the crowd. These community supports are also delicious—if you need a pit stop of your day of art-hopping I would highly recommend Tour supporters the Spicy Radish Cafe in Whitemouth for their homemade iced tea and Le Gouter in Albert Beach for a crêpe and some ice cream!
5. Art in the people
Every single person we met was so proud to show off their work and their community to visitors. The Boreal Shores Art Tour is the perfect reason to take a turn off of Highway 44, and the stories, recommendations, and art of the people along route were the perfect guides to our off-the-beaten-path travel through Eastern Manitoba.