Whether it be roadside attractions, an abundance of a certain species, or a feature flower: Manitoba's towns and cities each have their own distinctive flair. So what are some of Manitoba's towns and cities known for? Read on for Manitoba's known but not-so-official capitals, and a few that really ought to be recognized.
1. Sunflower Capital of Canada: Altona
As the Sunflower Capital of Canada, it's no surprise that the town of Altona is an absolute delight to visit. As a warm welcome into town, you can't miss the 76 foot painting, a recreation of one of Vincent Van Gogh's sunflower paintings from the late 1800s by artist Cameron Cross. The town is also home to the Manitoba Sunflower Festival, which will be back in 2021.
2. Wolf Capital of the World: Thompson
While the elusive wolf can be hard to see in the wild, the city of Thompson shows its appreciation to the species through art. The Spirit Way Millennium Trail is a two-kilometre pathway that highlights Thompson’s heritage, culture and industry. The Spirit Way has 16 points of interest that averages two hours of trekking. Along with the beautiful wolf statues along the trail, you can't miss the Bateman Wolf Mural, Canada’s largest photo-to-mural recreation.
3. Prairie Crocus Capital of Canada: Arden
If you want to see Manitoba’s official floral emblem, visiting the town of Arden in the springtime is the way to go. Walk one of the town's prairie grassland trails to see thousands of crocuses that bloom each April, or snap a picture in front of the world's largest crocus monument. Each year, the town hosts a photography contest for the best prairie crocus shot.
4. Curling Capital of the World: Arborg
To be fair: With more curling clubs than Ontario and Quebec combined, Manitoba as a whole could easily be named as the Curling Capital of the World. But...since we'd like to stay a little more specific here, we have to give the title to Arborg, home to the world's largest curling rock.
5. Slurpee Capital of the World: Winnipeg
For many Canadians, Winnipeg will forever be known as the Slurpee Capital of the World. And you know what? We own it. We love this sugary, ice cold beverage even in the dead of winter. Since 2019, Winnipeg has held the title of Slurpee Capital of the World for 20 years in a row with an average of 188,833 Slurpees consumed per month.
6. Polar Bear Capital of the World: Churchill
Wildlife enthusiasts around the globe know Churchill as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, and it's easy to see why. The remote town is one of the best and most accessible places in the world to see polar bears in the wild. During the height of polar bear season, the bears outnumber the town in population.
7. Catfish Capital of the World: Selkirk
If one of your lifelong dreams involves reeling in a big ol' catfish - Selkirk is the place to go. Or more specifically, the portion of the Red River that passes by the city of Selkirk. The catfishing riches found in this region are appropriately celebrated with the Chuck the Channel cat roadside attraction.
8. Icelandic Capital of the World: Gimli
While the area known as New Iceland actually encompasses several towns on the western side of Lake Winnipeg, we have to give the title to the Gimli. Gimli not only has the largest population of Icelandic descendants outside of Iceland, it is also home to Islendingadagurinn, or Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, which will be celebrated online in 2020.
9. Retro Capital of Manitoba: Lockport
If you grew up in the area around Lockport, chances are you have a strong opinion of either the Half Moon Drive In or Skinners. But we're not here to debate which is better for milkshakes, burgers and fries! Both establishments contribute to the character of the area and make for the best retro-style dates and outings in the province.
10. Fossil Capital of Manitoba: Morden
In case you somehow missed it: the Pembina Valley is a bit of a hotspot for all things pre-historic. The heart of which is in Morden, Manitoba, where the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre holds the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in North America. What's more, the museum's Fossil Dig Adventure Tours have a nearly 100% rate for finding new fossils!