A summer guide to Flin Flon: 24 hrs in this storied northern town

Posted May 02, 2024 | Author Jillian Recksiedler

Flin Flon, the northern Manitoba town with a curious name, is more than its mining identity. If you're travelling north, plan an overnight or two in this quirky town that is equally as proud of its rugged wilderness setting as its burgeoning arts and culture scene. Here's how to spend 24 hours in Flin Flon.

WILDFIRE UPDATE

Due to ongoing wildfire activity in the area near Flin Flon and Cranberry Portage, some travel destinations may be affected. For your safety and to ensure the best experience, click here to learn about conditions before and during your trip.

Chances are you know very little about Flin Flon except these two facts: it's a town built on rock and its name is based off a character - Flintabbatey Flonatin - from a science fiction novel. Flin Flon straddles the MB-SK border (technically some of it is in Saskatchewan) and it's identity is very intertwined with neighbouring town Creighton. It's a 7+ hour drive north, a town so removed from Manitoba's populated south that it has its own unique landscape and culture. There's no town like Flin Flon in Manitoba, so it's worth planning a summer long weekend to experience it for yourself.

Learn the history

The first stop of your day should be the Flin Flon Campground and Station Museum. It's here that you'll find a visitor information centre and the town's most famous resident: Flintabbatey Flonatin. Since 1962, the 8-metre-high statue of the town’s namesake (designed by cartoonist Al Capp of Lil Abner fame) has greeted visitors to Flin Flon.

Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin was the central character in a turn-of-the-20-century science fiction drug store novel, The Sunless City, written by J.E. Preston-Muddock. Local legend has it that a tattered copy of the paperback was found in the boreal forest in 1914 by explorer and prospector Thomas Creighton, who came to Flin Flon looking for gold like many others. In the story, Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin sets out in a homemade submarine to explore a bottomless lake and ends up journeying to the centre of the earth. On his way down, Flin Flon describes a lake lined with gold and silver. When the actual town was founded by Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting, Creighton’s nickname for the settlement stuck.

After waving hi to Flinty, head next door to the Flin Flon Station Museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the industry town's mining identity. The gold rush drew early prospectors like Creighton, but then the town grew in the 1930-40s under Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting with the discovery of copper and zinc.

Nowadays, The Flin Flon campground is home to the Blueberry Jam Festival, which occurs every second weekend in August. Two stages in the campground host numerous folk and rock acts from across Manitoba and Saskatachewan for a family-friendly forest dance party.

Shop Uptown

Ped's Threads, Flin Flon

Uptown Emporium, Flin Flon

Flin Flon Bombers Store

By late morning, wind your way through Flin Flon's hilly, scenic streets back to downtown (or uptown, as locals like to say). Flin Flon's business district along Main Street has many people buzzing about. With a large enough population (holding steady at around 5,000), paired with being isolated north of the 54 parallel, Flin Flon fiercely supports their local entrepreneurs. Spend your morning patronizing some of the unique small businesses found here.

Uptown Emporium
is a collection of handmade goods from artisans across the north. Shop for soaps, mukluks and wood carvings for your perfect souvenir. Their online shop also features nostalgic Flin Flon souvenirs. At the other end of Main Street, the Bombers souvenir shop is a must-stop for sports fans. Flin Flon's beloved Saskatchewan Junior Hockey Team is a major source of community pride and there is no better time to be in town than during a home playoff game at the legendary Whitney Forum. A copy of The Sunless City is found at Ped's Threads, an outdoors lifestyle store that also sells its own sleek line of outdoor clothing Wild North Lifestyle.

You Gotta Eat Here

The Orange Toad Cafe, Flin Flon

Inferno Schwarma, Flin Flon

Aurora + Pine Bistro, Flin Flon

You won't go hungry while exploring Flin Flon.

Breakfast:

Start your mornings with a flavoured latte or tea and fresh baking at The Orange Toad. This cute cafe sees a constant stream of visitors all day. Bonus: beautiful paintings and handmade jewelry from local artisans are available for purchase.

Kesley Dining Room
, the restaurant at Victoria Inn offers hot, hearty breakfasts to fuel exploring. Be sure to order a plate of lumberjack pancakes. The name says it all.

Lunch:
Inferno Shwarma and Donair
is a buzzing take out counter and pretty dining room that showcases Middle Eastern platters and wraps, as well as pizza.

Supper:
Mike's Ice N' Burger
Hut is the town's seasonal drive in that has an endless menu of novel ice cream treats. The food menu is where it's at - the burgers are the best in town and they serve deep fried pickle chips.

Aurora + Pine
is a 2SLGBTQI+ friendly bistro offering the most sophisticated comfort food menu in Flin Flon. Meats are smoked in house and bread is baked fresh. Think pulled pork bahn mi, watermelon salad, and sweet corn. The dining room is so sleek with brown, black, and bronze accents that you'll want to linger and visit long after dining is complete.

The Great Outdoors

Bakers Narrows Provincial Park

Bakers Narrows Provincial Park

Flin Flon is known for its water and wilderness. For the afternoon head out of town to explore Bakers Narrows Provincial Park, located 20 km south of town. There is not a prettier drive in Manitoba than this stretch of Highway #10 that winds through rocks and over lakes.

Stroll some of the park's quiet trails through the forest and breathe in the crisp northern air. The park's small network of trails are marked with signs and maps and maintained by volunteers. The Bakers Narrows Lookout Tower is another trail by the main beach that is a popular hike offering a bird's eye view of the landscape.

After you work up a sweat, take a dip in the crystal waters of Lake Athapapuskow at either the main beach or campground beach. Mobi mats are available at both beaches for those will mobility issues or strollers. The campground at Bakers Narrows has some beautiful waterfront nightly sites available, along with a half dozen provincial park yurts.

Bakers Narrows Lodge

Bakers Narrows Lodge

Bakers Narrows Lodge

Fishing is often the raison d'etre for coming to Flin Flin. Bakers Narrows Lodge, located lakeside in the park, is a haven for angler's arriving from all over North America. This drive-to lodge offers quaint vacation cabin rentals that families can rent for a few nights or a few weeks for a wilderness getaway. If you don't own fishing gear, Bakers Narrows offers fully guided fishing adventures to get folks out on the water for a few hours or a whole day. After fishing, sunbathe on the beach, take out a peddle boat or whip down the waterslide on the dock. Even if you're not guests at this iconic fishing resort, the main lodge is open for breakfast and supper for hungry explorers. Pickerel is always on the menu, caught fresh out the back door, and served with the lodge's signature batter.

Rock a Flin Flon Sunset

Flin Flon

Flin Flon

Flin Flon

Flinty's Boardwalk, Flin Flon

Flinty's Boardwalk, Flin Flon

In the early evening after supper, take a walk around town for an up-close look at the town's defining feature: the Precambrian Shield. Flin Flon was built upon rock offering a unique landscape, but also ingenuity when building a town (notice the network of wooden boxes that protect above ground sewer lines?). Flinty's Boardwalk is a community walking trail that spans 2.2 km; the trailhead arch starts at the shores of Ross Lake and gently winds along the water, culminating in a steep climb over a rock face to a stunning lookout. The finale on the orange rock feels more like you're hiking through the red rocks of Arizona or on trails in a Mediterranean climate. Low growth willows and brush dominate the rocky terrain making some unique photo ops you simply can't get anywhere else in Manitoba.

Catch A Flin Flon Flick

Big Island Drive-In, Flin Flon

Big Island Drive-In, Flin Flon

After the sun sets (and that's quite late in summer this far north), head to Big Island Drive-In Movie Theatre. Big Island is one of two drive-ins still operational in Manitoba, and it's a meeting place for the community. When you're as isolated as Flin Flon, having outlets for entertainment is essential for the community. Big Island Drive-In has been a tradition since the 1950s and the nostalgia continues. Projector technology has been updated by the current owners and it is state-of-the-art, allowing Big Island to showcase the latest releases. It is open Wednesday to Friday in summer, and is set deep in a secluded forest where the foxes and other wildlife play. The concession is outstanding, offering all the staples from popcorn and nachos to Slush Puppies and Milk Duds. However, it's legendary snacks like the pickeled eggs and dill pickles that the locals rave about. A visit to Big Island is definitely a Flin Flon thing, and makes for a wonderful close for anyone visiting this storied northern town.

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jillian, a marketer, communicator, traveller and Manitoba flag waver. Growing up in rural Manitoba during the '80s means I have a penchant for daytrips, maps (the paper kind), and prairie sunsets. I never tire of sharing stories about my home.

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