Discovering Manitoba

From Larter's Golf Course to Lockport: An afternoon meander down historic River Road

Captain Kennedy’s house now holds a popular tearoom.

Early evening sun glimmers off water that is, for tonight, utterly devoid of paddlers, motorboats or spring ice jams. The autumn foliage colours the riverbanks and partitions the first river lots surveyed in the province. Once the site of stately homes belonging to chief factors of the Hudson’s Bay Company, this 13 km stretch between North Kildonan and Lockport was home to Red River high society 150 years ago.

Some things haven’t changed much since the era of the fur trade – many well to do families continue to reside beside the murky Red.

Along River Road there are numerous points of interest, and Scott House is one example. If following the river north, Scott House lies to your left, facing the river. Now a crumbling reflection of period-style Red River construction – high-pitched roof, limestone quarried locally – Scott House once belonged to HBC labourer and Orkneyman, William Scott. Parks Canada has since assumed ownership of it, and has fenced off most of the site while it undergoes repairs.

After Scott House, stop-worthy sites come quickly. In short order, you pass Twin Oaks (still a privately-owned residence, it once belonged to Matilda Davis, who ran a boarding school devoted to educating young Englishwomen in the ways of sophistication), the St. Andrews Rectory and Anglican Church, and the Kennedy House. Now a unique teahouse, this stately home was the principal residence of Captain William Kennedy, an adventurer and leading figure in the arctic search for Sir John Franklin.

Shortly after passing Kennedy House, River Road descends nearer to water level. Marsh ecosystems, complete with bull rushes and lazy  geese, replace the magnificent homes that marked earlier points of the drive. To the right, fishermen lazily dropping their rods trolling for channel cat also become more frequent the nearer you are to town.

At the historic Lock and Dam in Lockport, a wall of metal and concrete is a jolt back to the present day and a reminder that, for all its late fall torpor, the Red River once presented considerable danger to riverboat traffic.

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