Manitoba Stay-Cation #5: The Forks

I stopped by The Forks after church on Sunday, as I wanted to drop by Travel Manitoba to pick-up some brochures and maps. I was only there for a short time, but was excited to find a Farmer’s Market in the parking lot closest to the Travel Manitoba building. There were several vendors and one of them told me the goal was to eventually extend the market to cover the entire parking lot that sits closest to  . The Forks Farmer’s Market is open on Sundays from 11 to 4. You can follow the link to see a list of the current vendors.

Farmer’s Market:

Farmer’s Markets seem to be the rage, as they are popping up all over the province. The Forks is really the hub of the city with so many quaint shops, great food, permanent attractions and special events taking place there. I love that there is finally a larger market that is more accessible to those of us that live in the northern part of the city. Of course, St. Norbert Farmer’s Market is excellent, but it means travelling across the city to get there. The Forks is a perfect location and I look forward to dropping by after church more often.

The Forks:

The Forks

If you click on the image the link will take you to Winnipeg Reflections and there you’ll find many images of The Forks.

If you live in Winnipeg or are visiting, The Forks is an absolute must stop. It is a great place to immediately get into that “vacation” state of mind. The Forks really does have it all – from historical landmarks to the Children’s Museum there really is something for everyone. The skate park is always alive with youth (or at least those that are young at heart) and there are plenty of buskers to keep you entertained. The one of a kind Variety Heritage Adventure Park will keep children engaged for hours.  There are boat tours available and the river walk is beautiful when the water levels aren’t too high and flooding it. It truly is a remarkable public space with so much to offer and I guarantee first time visitors won’t be disappointed.

Manitoba Stay-Cation #4 ~ State of Mind

Over the past few days, I have come to realize something that never really occurred to me before….a “VACATION” doesn’t have anything to do with distance travelled or amount of money spent. I had a bit of an “a-ha” moment yesterday when we were heading out to Lockport to my sister in-law’s. The sunroof was open, windows down, great tunes were playing and the mood was light…..we were totally living in the moment and our minds were “unoccupied” with the pressures of life.  As I took it all in, it suddenly dawned on me that VACATION is really more about attitude and living in the moment than it is about location. We have travelled this road many times before, but for a change we decided to take River Road instead. This scenic drive took as along the river. It was interesting to look at all of the beautiful homes that rest along the banks of the Red River, some brand new and others many decades old. The drive took us no more than 20 minutes, but for those few minutes in time, we were in fact, on “vacation”.


I decided to look up the meaning of the word vacation and although we often think of a vacation as an extended period of time away from work or home, the root word is of course, “vacate” or to be “unoccupied“. In thinking about that I realized that vacation really is more about state of mind than anything else. Totally aborting all work, worries and thoughts that bog us down, even if only for a short period. It is about taking a break from work and the hustle and bustle of life.

My Reflections:

My mind is rarely still. I am one of those people who truly have difficulty enjoying the moment. I’m guilty of letting my mind wonder and ponder when I should be listening and more “present” and living in the moment. I’m aware of my short comings and this is one of my biggest battles. I’m one of those people who feel I need to be physically away from home to disengage, but perhaps I don’t need to escape the country and hop on a plane to be on vacation. Wouldn’t it be freeing to be able to accomplish that same euphoria that you experience on a tropical vacation, right here at home. There is nothing worse than living your life for vacation ~ constantly being in “wait” mode. What if we could mimic that by simply changing our attitude and state of mind. I think it is a conscious decision that takes effort to follow through, but the benefits could be priceless. Perhaps I can learn to stop and create those moments or hours in a day by simply deciding to disengage from my thoughts/work, and go to a “space” where my mind is in fact, unoccupied. Just stop and enjoy the moment. It doesn’t have to be on a sandy beach or a trendy tourist spot, perhaps it is just looking around and wondering what someone else would notice or think if they visited Manitoba for the first time. We live in a beautiful city, with incredible history and architeture. So often we become too familiar with our surroundings and with that comes a lack of appreciate for the beauty before us. Ice cream at the BDI sounds like a great “vacation” and wouldn’t take more than an hour. How about taking in one of the many free concerts or making a decision to explore a city park you have never visited?

This summer, as we continue to venture out and take in the sights and sounds of the city and our province, I hope to view my surroundings with “rose coloured glasses”. I want to be more observant and take note of all those things that I’ve never taken the time to notice or appreciate before. For the first time ever, I am not only proud to be a Manitoban, but I am excited to explore all that it has to offer! I hope that some of my readers will also take the plunge and go on a Manitoba Stay-Cation with my family and I.

I would love to hear from you. If you have favourite Manitoba shops, restaurants, quaint little villages, parks, campgrounds, etc. Please leave a comment below. I have lots planned, but I would love to discover all of those little gems that others don’t know about. Please let me know your Manitoba Musts!




Manitoba Stay-Cation #3: Souris, MB

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.

Victoria Park:

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.

Other Attractions:

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.

Woodfire Deli:

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.

Manitoba Stay-Cation #2 ~ Rain, Rain Go Away!

The first leg of our Manitoba Stay-Cation was certainly not typical for the Roys. The rain was so heavy on the drive out that I had to pull over at Minnedosa for a nap. The 2 hour drive up to that point had been gruelling, with “water ruts” on the road that pulled the van this way and that, blinding rain and the powerful off-spray from oncoming traffic along the highway. I was so tired I opted to stop for a 15 minute sleep. I have never had to do this before, but knew that I was way too fatigued to drive any further. We arrived safely in the late afternoon and unlike other years, spent all but the last day cooped up inside out of the cold and rain. Most of the Canada Day events were cancelled, but all of the “meals” were still served in the town hall instead of the various locations in town. Like most of Manitoba, Binscarth was blasted with several inches of rain within a small window of time. Basements flooded, sewers backed-up and the creek at the park spilled its banks. Despite the poor weather, we had a wonderful time visiting with family.

Binscarth Park and Pool:

This first set of pictures was taken at the Binscarth Park. I couldn’t find a picture of how the creek usually looks, but if you look at the first picture, you can see a narrow “black” line at the bottom of the green grass line and that is the top of the “subway”. The “subway”, as we always called it is a huge cement channel (like a square culvert) that runs beneath the Yellowhead (#16) Highway. I am not sure, but I am guessing the size of the subway opening is about 8 to 10 feet square. Usually the water runs over the base of the subway and is just a few inches deep.

The subway was one of our favourite places to play when I was growing up. The bottom gets all slimy with algae and we would race down the subway to get a running start and then slide on our bottoms into the open water on the otherside. Of course, I would “have a bird” if my kids did this, but we were generally not very well supervised. In fact, we would ride our bikes the mile out of town to get there down the highway. The park is located in the base of a valley, so this involved navigating the hill down to the park and mustering up the physical strength to make the climb on the way back up. No one wanted to be the one who couldn’t make it and had to get off and push their bike to the top of the hill. I don’t remember how old we were when we began this, but I never remember my parents biking with me. We were definitely very young. Oh, to be raised in the 70’s….were there any rules back then?

The very small creek would run through the subway and is usually no more than about 6 to 8 feet wide and only a few feet deep on this side of the highway. On the other side, it is much deeper and collects more like a pond before running through another subway that runs through a large hill. The pictures below show how the creek spilled its banks and flooded out some of the more open camping spots along the creek. The current was nasty as well.

These photos were taken upstream a few miles from the park. You can see these little streams look more like raging rivers with the high Manitoba waters and strong currents.

This last set of photos were taken yesterday, along Hwy #83 in the valley between Miniota and Virden. If you look at the bridge, you’ll be able to see where the river usually runs. The entire valley has been flooded in this area and the water is right up to the edge of the road.

So happy to have sunshine and warm weather! Stay tuned for our next edition of our Mantioba Stay-Cation!

Manitoba Stay-cation: Entry #1 Canada Day

I have made it my mission to stay in Manitoba this summer… and enjoy it! That won’t be too difficult considering all there is to do in and around Winnipeg during the summer, but most of it is contingent on the weather. I’m all for a “stay-cation”, but would not be too happy if that meant staying indoors to avoid the rain! Hopefully the skies will clear and we’ll be able to enjoy the heat and sunshine that we are accustomed to as Manitobans.

Destination ~ Binscarth, MB:

Every year we head out to Binscarth, Manitoba to visit family and partake in their Canada Day celebrations. I grew up in Binscarth and have wonderful memories of my small town upbringing. Binscarth is a pretty little village located west of Winnipeg on the Yellowhead Highway (#16) just 12 km from the Saskatchewan border. This tiny town of approximately 425 people has many successes to be proud of including being named the “Best Place to Raise a Family” by Canadian Living Magazine in 1999. The town has also received  both provincial and national recognition for Communities in Bloom. Recognition trees have been planted in the community to mark the successes of many former “Binscarthians”. To check out the list of those who have had a tree planted in their honour, follow this link.

Besides being clean and well cared for, Binscarth has the largest outdoor heated pool along Hwy 16. The town pool is located in a beautiful valley just outside of town. The scenic park has a wonderful serviced campground and concession along with the swimming facilities. The Binscarth Park and Pool becomes the hub for socializing throughout the summer months and holds many great memories for all who grew up spending their summer days at the pool. If you are planning a camping trip or are looking for a great place to stop on a trip out west, this is it.

Binscarth, MB

Canada Day in Binscarth:

Like many years, Tim’s work schedule will not allow for him to join us, but tomorrow after church the kids and I will be heading out to “the country” to unwind. The forecast isn’t great, but I am expecting it will change as I honestly don’t ever remember having bad weather on Canada Day at Binscarth! The festivities always start on June 30th with a social at the town hall and then continue right through to almost midnight on July 1st.  Here is what a typical Canada Day at Binscarth entails:

  • Pancake Breakfast at the town hall ($3 to $5 per person)
  • Parade
  • Swimming at the Pool
  • Museum Luncheon (sandwiches and homemade pies)
  • Museum tours
  • Longest Golf Drive contest
  • Horseshoe Tournament
  • Cribbage Tournament
  • Cow Plop Drop – Guess where the cow poop is going to land, and win cash! (So Binscarthian!)
  • Kids Games and Races
  • BBQ Beef on a Bun Dinner
  • Wiener Roast and Canada Day Birthday cake
  • Fireworks – the display is always fabulous and people drive for miles to take in Binscarth’s great fireworks show

For the full list of events and times for Canada Day 2014, follow this link. The day is packed full of engaging activities for the whole family and the costs are really quite minimal considering the great food and entertainment. If you don’t already have plans, why not join us for some good down home Manitoba fun in Binscarth. Google maps says the drive is over 4 hours, but I generally do it in about 3 1/2. Here are some pictures from our previous Canada Day experiences!

I actually had a hard time finding appropriate photos that didn’t contain other kids. Lots of my photos from years ago are not on my computer anymore, so it was way too much work to dig through those, but it really is a great time. For us, most of the fun is being around people that we love very much! I cherish our visit home for Canada Day each year. If Binscarth seems like too far for you to go, perhaps this post will inspire you to take in some events closer to home.