Instead of taking our typical route home to Winnipeg from Binscarth along the Yellowhead (Hwy #16), I had done some advanced planning and decided to take an alternate route via Highway #83 through Birtle and then south to Virden. The road was re-opened, but the Assinaboine River and ground water was still very high along the highway. From Virden, we took the TransCanada Hwy#1 to Hwy#21 south. We stayed on this highway until we reached Hwy#2 and then began our trip eastward towards home. Our chosen “pit stop” was Souris, MB. I remember visiting Souris as a child as my dad coached the Binscarth Orioles Senior Men’s baseball team and we travelled through much of Manitoba to games and tournaments during the summer months. I didn’t remember much, but did remember “The Swinging Bridge”. Of course, my memories of the bridge re-surfaced in 2011 when the town was forced to sever the bridge due to extremely high water levels. The bridge was re-built in 2013 and is once again the longest bridge of its kind in Canada.
The Swinging Bridge:
The first swinging Bridge of Souris, (Plumb Creek) was built in 1904 by ‘Squire’ William Henry Sowden to help him sell land on the east bank of the Souris River.
Mr. Sowden owned land on both sides and the bridge helped him to cross the river and access his land on the opposite bank of the river. To learn more about the history of the bridge, check out this article on eBrandon.
The Hillcrest Museum:
William Henry Sowden also built the beautiful castle like home on the river bank just west of the bridge. The Hillcrest Museum was once home to the Squire and his wife. She had always wanted to live in a castle and thus he built this beautiful home to please his wife. The home was built in 1910 and is loaded with character. The tin ceilings are incredibly designed with some of them being 3 dimensional. Although there are only one or two pieces of furniture from the original home, the museum is set up to show what tools and accessories would have been used through the earlier years of the home’s existence. Some of the rooms have been set-up in themes such as a toy room, vintage clothing room, history of Souris room, etc. The museum is even home to a collection of more than 5000 butterflies. The admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children, so for less than $10 the kids and I had a guided tour of the beautiful home. As a lover of heritage homes, this was a real treat. This incredible home is considered to be in the Top 64 Canadian Heritage Properties.
Although we did nothing more than drive through the park, I immediately knew this would be a great place to camp. Plum Creek winds its way through Victoria Park and gorgeous treed campsites line its banks. Aside from the gorgeous camping spots, the park is also home to the town pool which is equipped with water slides and sprinklers.
In the few hours we were in Souris, we certainly didn’t have time to take in all the local attractions. There are actually many things to do when visiting this picturesque rural community. There were at least 2 other museums we didn’t visit. The history of Souris was very evident in the heritage homes and buildings we passed as we explored the small town (with less than 2000 people living there). The town is also known for the Agate Pits and for $20 the entire family can explore the pits to see what kind of treasures they might find.
Regarded as North America’s largest deposit of semi-precious gems, this twelve acre glacial deposit is known for agates, but the site has also yielded epidote, jasper, petrified wood and additional varieties of stones, unique to this area.
We totally lucked out when it came to lunch! We asked the young man at the Hillcrest Museum if he could recommend some place for lunch. He immediately directed us to the Woodfire Deli. The building itself is obviously close to 100 years old, but was recently renovated by the new owners of the building. The ambiance is wonderful with this old versus new contemporary design. The original wide planked floors have been beautifully refinished, but yet proudly reveal the decades of wear and tear. The deli seating is a combination of antique church pews and modern cafe style seating. The ceilings must be at least 15 feet high (maybe 20??) and the decor is very open and airy. The chalkboard menu and whimsical tile work make it visually appealing and very quaint. We absolutely loved the design and the wood fired pizza was delicious! The open wood oven is visible from the tables and the pizza was cooked to perfection. While the kids opted from something very plain, my pizza had roasted red peppers and artichoke. Scrumptious! I had asked if I could take a few pictures for my blog and “Buffy”, one of the owners came by our table and shared a bit of the history of the deli. The owners purchased the property last October and after renovating the space, just opened for business in April of this year. Although we only had the pizza, the restaurant also serves salads, sandwiches, cooking ingredients, gelato and fresh baking. I think Steve and Elizabeth have a real gem here. In perusing their website, I was intrigued to learn that Elizabeth is a trained holistic health coach and their recipes are made from whole ingredients.
Our Deli brings you all the quality of ‘slow food’ made simple and convenient. The Wood Oven is the heart of our operation, bringing a traditional, slow cooking method into modern ‘fast’ food.
For me, every good trip involves great food and that includes a Manitoba Stay-Cation! The Woodfire Deli was an incredible find and I can’t wait to take my husband back with us next time. I’m not sure if we’ll camp at Souris this summer, but it is definitely on our list of places to visit again.