We woke up on day 16 of our great wandering affair ready to make our first provincial border crossing of the trip. Looking back, it’s amazing how much time we were able to spend in our home province. There is so much to see in our own backyard and I’m glad we had the freedom to take it slow.
My first impression of Manitoba was that camping here is significantly cheaper then in Ontario. When we saw campsites available in Whiteshell Provincial Park available for twelve dollars I thought we’d hit the jackpot. However, this impression was short-lived. In the final step of the online booking process they blindsided us with a hefty “reservation” fee. A little put off we decided it was still a pretty good price for a night’s accommodation and booked the site. Upon our arrival at Whiteshell we were informed that in addition to what we had already paid for our site, we would need to buy a five dollar vehicle permit. As I rummaged in my wallet for the right change, they clarified that since we were staying for one night we would actually need two vehicle permits. One for the day of arrival and another for the day of departure, even though we would be in the park for less than 24 hours. Once we factored in tax and the price of showers (a dollar for every three minutes of freezing cold water) the true price of our twelve dollar campsite ended up being nearly forty dollars. While not the most we’ve paid for a night in a campground, we left Whiteshell more prepared to face the hidden fees at other Manitoban Provincial Parks.
In the park we encountered a young deer and its mother. We didn’t have the camera with us at the time but we were able to snap some iPhone photos.
The next day, we made our way to Manitoba’s capital, Winnipeg. With job interviews and birthday celebrations on the horizon we decided to take a break from car-dwelling and book a hotel. Thankfully we have a connection who was able to get us a serious discount on a great hotel in the city (thanks Dad). For the next couple days we were spoiled with the onsite pool, hot tub, gym, free breakfast, high-speed internet and most of all… showers.
We spent our first couple days catching up with our to-do lists. We did laundry, had a couple job interviews and booked an oil change for the car. By the time we were ready to venture out into the city it was my birthday and we had a full day of activities planned. Our first stop was the Royal Canadian Mint, where we were by far the youngest on our tour. In fact, we were probably the only ones not to get the senior’s discount on our price of admission! Once fully educated on the subject of Canadian coin production we made our way to The Forks, the historical site where the Assiniboine River meets the Red River. We toured the shops, visited the train station and caught a glimpse of the new Canadian Human Rights Museum, set to open later that week.
Getting hungry, we wandered around in search of a Spanish restaurant we had heard about and instead stumbled upon Nuburger, a gourmet locally sourced burger joint with a cool urban vibe. We devoured our burgers, loaded with all kinds of creative toppings. I really couldn’t have asked for a better birthday lunch.
We ended the day at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. We were a few days too early for the Salvador Dali exhibit, but we were able to take a look at some great Canadian and International art, including an exhibit on Inuit art and a few pieces from our beloved Tom Thomson and his Group of Seven friends.
On our last day in Winnipeg we visited the Manitoba Museum. The museum is divided into nine galleries that take you through the province’s history starting with the big bang and ending with Winnipeg as a young city in the 1920’s. The museum had a little something for everyone. Earth history, Native Peoples, European settlers, it truly encompassed the province’s diverse past.
My favorite exhibit was the Nonsuch, the ship built in 17th century England which would sail into Hudson Bay. This expedition was instrumental in the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The exhibit is a near perfect replica of both the ship itself and the English harbor it set sail from. The replica was actually built in the UK, and sailed the same route as the original before ending up at the museum in Winnipeg.
Winnipeg was tough to say goodbye to. We even extended our hotel stay twice. But when we did finally leave the city it was with excitement to be back on the road.
More on that next time…