When you visit Camp Morton, a tiny provincial park tucked away 8 km north of Gimli, it’s easy to understand why Monsignor Thomas W. Morton choose the spot in 1920 to develop a Roman Catholic summer camp for children.
Crashing waves, verdant lawns, and fresh air abound - it’s pure solitude along the shores of Lake Winnipeg. The church closed the camp in the late 1960s, but remnants of its ornate architecture is left behind, making Camp Morton an idyllic spot to reflect and recharge in nature. Here's why an escape to Camp Morton is more meditative than most visits to a provincial park:
The silence of abandoned buildings
When approaching Camp Morton via PR 222, an old stone wall marks the property. Due to age and heaving grounds, the wall now precariously balances on an acute angle. It’ll catch your attention, and it sets a whimsical tone for your adventure. You feel like you’ve stumbled upon a secret world.
In 1974 Camp Morton was designated a Manitoba Parks property, and welcomed visitors to wander the lawns. Plan for at least two hours to explore the grounds, reading about the history and imagining how these quiet buildings were once filled with the laughter and prayers of children. If only these walls could talk.
The stack-log cottages, which is where camp staff stayed, are an Insta-worthy stop. Get an up close look at an early example of a construction method popular through out the region at the time. In the distance, the sky blue chapel stands out from greenery. The chapel was once the centre of camp life, but now serves as an indoor picnic shelter for family gatherings. Behind the chapel is the decorative water tower and pump house that provided water from Lake Winnipeg to the entire camp.
The soothing sounds of Lake Winnipeg
Next, head to the public beach accessed by climbing down the sandy shoreline. Camp Morton’s beach is wide and secluded – we guarantee there will be no crowds. Play in the soft sand or explore along the rocky shore. Search for the secret grotto built into the bank of the lake. Paired with the rhythms of crashing waves, you can’t help but take time for contemplation.
The calmness of camping and cabin life
You can easily explore Camp Morton on a day trip, but to fully appreciate the site’s healing qualities, we recommended camping there. We eagerly checked into our yurt, which was perched high on the limestone cliffs overlooking Lake Winnipeg. Three steps out of the door and we were greeted with beautiful vistas of the water. Sunrise over the water each morning was breathtaking.
Camp Morton has six lakeside yurts available to rent, which can comfortably sleep a family of five. Yurts are outfitted with basic comforts like heat, electricity, and ample space to stay indoors in case of poor weather. Cooking outdoors, building bonfires, dining alfresco - camping is good for the soul. Renting a yurt at Camp Morton is an accessible way to experience the great outdoors if you don’t own camping equipment.
For those who require more creature comforts, such as running water and flush toilets, Camp Morton also has 10 log cabin vacation rentals hidden in the forest at the centre of the property.
The zenness of fresh air
If you need even more ways to breath in Lake Winnipeg air, Camp Morton has the most idyllic picnic spots we’ve ever discovered in a provincial park. We chose a table overlooking the water’s edge: unobstructed views of the lake, shady spruce trees, no close neighbours and just the sounds of waves crashing.
The sunken garden was another treasure my kids discovered while out on a walk. A small stone bridge led us into a circular clearing where the sun seemed to only shine. It was a scene straight out of a children’s book as my kids pranced about the bushes, each in their imaginary worlds, talking to themselves. The soothing affects of Camp Morton had grabbed a hold on them as well.