Discovering Manitoba

Beaudry Park

Asters attract a butterflies to the open prairie in the parkThe air is hushed with the whispers of spring birds. Thawing branches of ancient trees snap and creak and sometimes sigh.

A footfall and then another heralds the arrival of a huddle of deer, suddenly frozen to a standstill among the scant protection of the naked forest. You remain motionless, eye-to-eye with the leader, who then signals the rest and moves on, across the trail, to the still-frozen river.

The trail has been packed by skis, but now the rotting snow gives way to booted feet and the walking is not easy. It doesn’t matter. The forest of Beaudry Park is worth any amount of discomfort if this is the only time you can come.

Later, in summer, this will be a cool, leafy haven for slithering creatures, garter snakes and the like, and the air will perfumed by the wildflower of the moment, the undergrowth thick enough hide a whole herd of deer. And it does.

Beaudry Park is only 10 KM west of Winnipeg on PR 241, but many people are unaware that it exists. The river bottom forest, that lines the banks of the Assiniboine, is made up of giant and ancient elms, basswood, cottonwood and maple trees. The forest shelters many types of ferns, asparagus, and wild cucumber. Wild grapevine clambers up tree trunks 40 feet into the canopy. Lovely wildflowers such as the giant yellow lady’s slippers and closed purple gentian grow among the bracken.

“My sister and brother and I cut most of these trails for horseback riding whenwe were kids,” said John Perrin, son of the Perrin family who once owned what was then called Beaudry Farm and is now known as Beaudry Park. The property was expropriated several decades ago.

In 1942, the property was purchased from the Pilkington family of England by John D. Perrin Sr. The 1,200 acres of prime land meandered along the Assiniboine River for five miles, spanning what is now PR 241 and encompassing a series of pretty lakes and marshes.

There are 14 miles of trails through the park, a favourite place for cross country skiers in winter and a lovely place for a hike in summer. In addition to the river bottom forest, there is open meadowland rich with coneflowers, wild Monarda (bee balm) and monarch butterfly-nourishing milkweed. The gold dust bejeweled purple prairie clover is just one more of the many lovely wildflowers in the park.

The park is so close to Winnipeg that it is hard to understand why it is not more used. Take a Sunday drive and discover this lovely piece of Manitoba.

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