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Friday, September 22, 2023

A Week in Canada - Saturday in Selkirk

Selkirk is a town of over 10,000 located about twenty miles north of Winnipeg.  We had been looking forward to visiting it on this excursion for two reasons: it was reported to have some nice restauarants offering fish from Lake Winnipeg and there are many murals painted on building walls.

As we pulled into town, we headed first for Roxi's Uptown Cafe - rated #1 of 30 restaurants in Selkirk.  Roxi's was closed.  At 5 pm on Saturday??  We tried a few others - same story!  Perhaps everyone was back up in Arborg at the annual festival.  The streets were quiet - almost deserted.  The only signs of people were patrons at the liquor stores and cannabis shops.

We did have success locating numerous murals.  These are worth the stop in Selkirk even if you must leave town hungry.

Most of the murals can be seen by strolling Manitoba Avenue and looking up and down the side streets that cross.  The murals began appearing in 2018, as a result of  the Selkirk Mural and Public Art project established that year by the Interlake Art Board.

A fairly good guide to the art can be found at this link, where I found titles for some of the murals.

Community Round Dance


Memories - Annual Show and Shine car show held each August in Selkirk


The Healing Path


Don’t Judge Me Until You’ve Walked A Mile In My Shoes


Endangered Species


Mashkawigaabawid Abinoojiyag or Stand Strong Children 



 No titles for these.

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A Week in Canada - Arborg on the Icelandic River

About thirty miles northwest of Gimli lies the town of Arborg, population about 1300, on the Icelandic River.  We wanted to visit the Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village on the edge of town.

The heritage village contains a number of older structures relocated and preserved from Arborg and the surrounding area.


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The Brandson house with its flower bed was a favorite.

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The property also hosts the first of 53 barn quilts on the Interlake Barn Quilt Trail. (see What Is a Barn Quilt here)

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There were very few visitors to the heritage village while we were there since almost everyone in the area was "downtown" at the annual Arborg street festival.

We toured several buildings and especially enjoyed talking with the docent sitting inside the garage; he was the son of the original garage owner who is at the right in this photo standing by the 1936 Pontiac pickup truck.  Now retired, himself, he talked with us about teaching computer programming in the local high school.

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We took only an abbreviated look around town which had two of its main streets closed off for the festival.  Unfortunately, we did not discover the highlight of the town, its "World's Largest Curling Rock!"

Departing Arborg, we stopped at the remnants of Geyser on the Icelandic River.  There is not much left here beyond a monument with maps of the early homesteads and remembrances of Johann Magnus Bjarnason, teacher and Icelandic-Canadian novelist.



Leaving the area behind, we headed south back toward Winnipeg with one more stop planned for the day, dinner in Selkirk.




A Week in Canada - Airplane on a Stick, Gimli Manitoba

Gimli's second most famous aircraft, after the Gimli Glider, is the "airplane on a stick" found downtown on 1st Avenue near the New Iceland Heritage Museum.



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During World War II, the Royal Canadian Air Force established the "No. 18 Service Flying Training School" 2 and 1/2 miles west of Gimli.    Deactivated at the end of the war, the facility was reactivated during the Cold War and served as a training facility for jet aircraft.  Deactivated for the final time in 1971, the RCAF presented this CT-133 to the citizens of Gimli.


The CT-133 Silver Star is a version of the Lockheed T-133 Shooting Star built by Canadair; it utilized a Rolls-Royce engine in place of the U.S. version's Allison.

There was another CT-133 located briefly in Gimli during 1970 after crashing behind the lumber yard near the local Shell station.  Newspaper story from the nearby town of Brandon:


with photo here.

This post is one of a series of "airplane on a stick" posts written as we encounter airplanes along the highways.  Click here to see more.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

A Week in Canada - A Visit to the Icelandic Community of Gimli

 Based on the recommendations we had received at the Manitoba welcome center a couple of days earlier, we decided to journey north from Winnipeg to take a brief tour of the "Interlake Region" between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba.  We planned to visit three towns, Gimli, Arborg and Selkirk.

Gimli is about an hour's drive north of Winnipeg.  On our way out of town, we passed by the notable Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.  The five-dome building is an impressive sight reportedly modeled on Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine.




A short distance north of the city, the scenery quickly became agricultural with views of grain fields and sunflowers dominating.

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Gimli, a town of about 2,400,  lies on the shore of Lake Winnipeg and has a large Marina; it was founded almost 150 years ago by a colony of Icelandic pioneers seeking seeking escape from harsh economic conditions compounded by the eruption of a volcano.



Nestled along the town's shoreline among many nice homes, we came to "Viking Park," a reminder of the town's proud heritage.

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The metal panels partially encircling the rather menacing looking Viking recount the history of the founding and growth of Gimli.  They also describe Runes - the ancient symbolic "alphabet" of the Vikings who left numerous carved stones behind during their voyages.




Minnesota has a famous runestone found at Kensington It is certainly plausible in the minds of some that Icelandic Vikings, after discovering America, explored Lake Winnipeg, traveled the Red River south into Minnesota and ended up at Kensington. 

Linda gave the Viking statue a close inspection.



From the statue, we walked out for a tour of the harbor.



The harbor is protected from lake waves by a large seawall that has been decorated with murals painted by local artists.





One of the murals depicts a notable event in the town's history from 1997 when an Air Canada 767 flying from Ottawa to Edmonton ran out of fuel and was forced to glide to a landing on the abandoned runway of the former Air Force Base at Gimli.  A fascinating story, now remembered as the "Gimli Glider."



The harbor, largest on Lake Winnipeg, features a large collection of boats and an impressive harbor master's office with lighthouse.

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Fresh fish fillets are available along the dock.



The harbor is home to the M. V. Namao, a large research vessel that travels extensively throughout Lake Winnipeg.



At the end of the seawall, the harbor entrance presents an attractive view.




Our next stop in Gimli was at the New Iceland Heritage Museum in the heart of the town.  Exhibits tell the story of declining conditions in Iceland and both the hardships and opportunities found in the new land.

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By the 1890s, Poles and Ukrainians followed the Icelanders and brought their diverse agricultural skills to the area.



Before leaving Gimli we made a stop at the famous Sugar Me Cookie bakery.  The bakery is listed as a "must visit" in most info about Gimli. Vinarterta, the cake of New Iceland, is touted as the most famous product of the bakery. Second on the recommended list is the butter tarts. We tried both with the butter tart being favored by us.