Parks Canada Winnipeg has all the historic adventures you are looking for this August
While most people tend to think of Parks Canada as being all those gorgeous campgrounds and parklands you can vacation in across this massive country, we assure you that right here in Winnipeg they also tend to be the sites of some truly stunning historical attractions.
Whether you are looking to go back in history, or take a fun and insightful tour within Winnipeg’s most-visited tourist destination, Parks Canada Winnipeg has you covered with experiences that your whole family will adore at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, The Forks National Historic Site, and Riel House National Historic Site.
The Forks, where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet, has served as a meeting place for over six millennia for the area’s Indigenous peoples. This fascinating history is brought to life via a Parks Canada interpreter on the 6,000 years in 60 Minutes! tour, which take place Friday through Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. for just $3.90 per person!
Starting at the Parks Canada Information Desk within the Travel Manitoba Centre (where tickets can also be purchased), this guided leisurely stroll unveils the earliest history of the area, taking you through its ancient past as a bison hunting ground, to the present. During the tour, your zesty guide will regale you with tales that feature a colourful cast of characters, all while you walk around this verdant, nine-acre parkland that is brimming with tree-lined walkways, sculptures, stone pictographs and other public works that relate this area’s fascinating history.
Just try to keep your little ones out of the Parks Canada splash pads at The Forks (Parks Canada WPG)
For your kids at The Forks, Parks Canada also has a pretty sweet little water water park featuring foot-activated splash pads. Right across from these splash pads you’ll also find Parks Canada Adventure Store, where you can stock up on fun toys for the kids to play with, along with snacks, sunscreen and more. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday (until September 3).
Lower Fort Garry
Just 30 km north of the city is where you’ll find Lower Fort Garry, a National Historic Site whose near 200-year-old stone walls contain over 46,000 artifacts, all spread amongst 13 historic buildings. Within these walls is where you’ll find Parks Canada interpreters who are living life like it was 1851 – something your kids will get a real kick out of. Not only will these interpreters present to you tales of living in the mid-19th century – which can also hear during Stories at Sunset (this Friday, July 27), LFG’s newest event where interpreters will gather you around fireside to share music, stories, games and more, in a magical outdoor experience – they will also assist your family in all the daily tasks (which are actually quite fun, especially for young kiddos) that it took to the keep the fort running.
One can’t miss experience is the Beavers to Buicks tour (July 2 to September 4), where you’ll meet the brash characters who have called this place home throughout its incarnations as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading fort, a penitentiary, asylum, and significant historical site where Treaty 1 was signed in 1871 – which will be celebrated (featuring free admission) on August 3.
Hands-on experiences within the Fort will have you tasting and creating goods as they were done in the past. With the help from interpreters you and the kids can BYOB (Bake Your Own Bannock), using local ingredients and the simple technique of getting your hands dirty; have Fun with Fat – which will show you how to make your own tallow candles (which you’ll be able to take home); and make chocolate, which you can do using simple cocoa in the Heritage Chocolate Workshop.
All additional tours/experiences are just $7.30. For a full schedule of upcoming tours at Lower Fort Garry click here.
You can also step back in time to 1886 – right within Winnipeg – at Riel House National Historic Site (330 River Road), where costumed interpreters from Parks Canada present stories from Louis Riel's life, including his struggle to defend Métis rights – which would later see him labeled the Founder of Manitoba.
Here, in this house that belonged to Riel’s mother, and which remained in possession of her descendants until 1968, you’ll experience what life was like in the late 19th century, all while learning how the Métis peoples were formed by the blending together of Indigenous and European peoples and cultures.
Thursday Night Soirees at Riel House National Historic Site are the jam (Parks Canada WPG)
On top of interpretive programming (July 1 to August 31), Riel House also plays hosts to events throughout this summer. For starters, there are the Thursday Night Soirees (weekly, 6 to 8 p.m.), where you’ll be treated to Métis fiddle playing, dancing, and all the joie de vivre that one can expect when Winnipeg’s francophone heritage is celebrated.
Finally, there is the Métis Harvest Celebration and Corn Roast (August 25, noon to 5 p.m.), an annual celebration of the harvest featuring a feast of corn and bannock that is accompanied by live musical performances, and fun historic activities for the whole family.
To learn more about Parks Canada Winnipeg click here.