After seeing the York boats at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, continue on a journey of historical discovery through the Interlake. Head north on Highway #9 with a stop at Winnipeg Beach.
Revel in the opportunity to stroll along the soft sandy beach, quiet and calm at this time of year. The Winnipeg Beach Canadian Pacific Railway Water Tower looms overhead, a reminder that the C.P.R. once had 13 trains running the line between the beach and Winnipeg. In 1913 it cost just fifty cents for a round trip fare. Take a walk down Main Street before continuing on to Gimli.
Just an hour north of Winnipeg, Gimli was first established as an Icelandic settlement, but soon welcomed homesteaders from the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Germany. Today, it is still known as the heart of New Iceland. Learn more about New Iceland and the people who settled here at the New Iceland Heritage Museum. Open year round, the museum tells the story of this chapter of Manitoba’s history and features a full-size tent and pioneer cabin.
Before leaving Gimli, stop at H.P. Tergesen and Sons Store. This provincial historic site is the oldest operating store in Manitoba. While the pressed tin exterior has recently been upgraded, the building retains much of its heritage 1898 charm. Filled with unique, clothing, accessories, housewares and gift ware, pick up a knitted Viking helmet toque to keep you warm on the rest of your Interlake journey.
Keep heading north with a quick detour to an important historical landmark: the World’s Largest Curling Rock in Arborg. Okay, maybe calling this an important historical landmark is a bit of an exaggeration. But this massive rock stands 12 feet of the ground, has a 50-foot circumference and represents Manitoba’s long history of curling excellence. Curling quickly became popular on the prairies, with Manitoba’s first club opening in 1879, because of expansion of the railway and the Scots who travelled west on it. From Canadian to World and even Olympic champions, Manitoba has been and continues to be home to some of the sport’s best.
Next, hurry hard to Hecla Island. Opened as a provincial park in 1975, Hecla Island was first settled in 1876. Rugged shoreline and lush forests are a perfect backdrop for the quaint Hecla Village.
Follow the one kilometre self-guided trail through the restored village, tracing the history of the Icelandic settlement of the area. The community hall, church, school, and village store among other buildings bring to life what was once a bustling community of over 500 people during the 1920s and 30s. Spend the night at theLakeview Hecla Resort, enjoying the views of the lake from Seagull’s Restaurant. Try the Fish Shack pizza, which features pickerel and a pine nut pesto on house made fresh crust and fired in an Italian brick pizza oven.
For more historic places both in the Interlake and throughout the province, see ourlist of heritage sites.