Even though some of Parks Canada attractions in Manitoba remain closed during the pandemic, they are still offering plenty of fun for the whole family, both in-person and virtually.
From a virtual scavenger hunt, to activity print-outs, “learn-to-camp” tips and all manner of colouring sheets, your kids can learn so much about this province and the great outdoors from Parks Canada online.
Plus, one of Parks Canada’s best spots surrounding the city - Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site - has now reopened with plenty of physical distancing protocols in place along with it's all-star 19th century cast.
Book a tour
As of mid-July, Parks Canada is now offering two unique visitor experiences at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site.
The Fort was built in 1830 by the Hudson’s Bay Company and is the oldest intact stone fur trading post in North America, being composed of local limestone which is still well-maintained to this day.
It has a storied history, including being the site of the signing of Treaty 1 in 1871, while throughout the later 19th to mid-20th century it’s been everything from a penitentiary, to a psychiatric hospital and a country club.
Since the late 1950s it's been a noted National Historic Site, while each summer Parks Canada populates the grounds with historical interpreters who are living life like it was in its fur-trading heyday, providing a window into this region’s fascinating past.
This summer, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the fort is still partially open to the public (namely the grounds, as the small buildings don’t allow for social distancing) with the A Walk Through History and Guided Driving Tour experiences available for booking now.
A Walk Through History is a new semi self-guided experience (there are plenty of directional markers in place) that allows you to encounter and interact with the site’s many costumed interpreters. You’ll meet the blacksmith who is steadily constructing items out of iron, be regaled with tales about the formation of the fort and the region’s Métis history, and see artifacts up close.
You’ll also get to try your hand (make that very clean hands – here’s more on the site’s COVID-19 protocols) at making mid-19th century crafts, along with seeing how things like candle-making, weaving, carving and gardening were approached back in the Fort’s heyday.
This tour is available Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until September 6, 2020.
You can also reserve your spot on the Guided Driving Tour experience. This newly developed approximately 90 min experience takes place Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m., starting at the St. Andrews Rectory National Historic Site. From the comfort of your own car, you’ll visit 10 significant sites in the Red River Valley, all while being guided by a Parks Canada vehicle that will narrate the importance of each spot, with a particular emphasis on architecture.
Please call 204.785.6050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your spot.
Should you want to immerse yourself in the history of the region while still remaining at home, Parks Canada has you covered, too.
New for summer 2020 is Solve the Space-time Rift: Manitoba’s Virtual Scavenger Hunt, which brings you to seven Parks Canada Sites in Manitoba – many of which are in Winnipeg – using Google Maps. This online scavenger hunt was created to help celebrate Manitoba’s 150th anniversary and ensures you’ll want to visit these places in person once we can all safely do so.
For little ones, Parks Canada has also created a whole website full of at-home activities. It features great downloadable colouring pages focusing on species at risk and conservation. You can print pages featuring polar bears, the chimney swift, the Eastern Migratory caribou and more, all while learning about the importance of these animals to the ecosystem. There’s also a colouring sheet for celebrating Pride!
Parks Canada’s website also has plenty of resources to execute DIY projects at home, too. There’s one on moccasin designs, one on Fort building, campfire building (adult supervision please!), s’more making, and a whole site dedicated to games and activities that the costumed interpreters work through at Lower Fort Garry.