Discovering Manitoba

Winnipegosis: The land of Manipogo

The Mossey River at dawn, shrouded in mist, hiding its history and secrets.

Tucked away a mere one half hour north of the Riding Mountains and nestled near the south shore of the great Lake Winnipegosis is the quaint and picturesque village of Winnipegosis. Although steeped in legend and history, Winnipegosis is often overlooked as a destination. Yet there is much to discover in this seemingly sleepy town.

The village, with barely 600 residents, hugs the banks of the gentle Mossey River, which meanders to the mouth of the second largest lake in Manitoba. Winnipegosis was once home to a vibrant fishing industry, which attracted Icelandic, Ukrainian and English settlers around the turn of the 20th century. Third, fourth and fifth generations of those families continue to live and work in the village and a few still enjoy their livelihood from the bounty of the lake. An encounter with many of the village residents can result in fabulous whale stories of days gone by. A few original settlers’ homes dot the landscape within the Village, though many new homes are springing up while others are renovated and modernized. Immaculately groomed lawns, mature canopied trees and flourishing gardens are a testament to the pride of the villagers and the temperate climate of spring, summer and fall.

Because Winnipegosis is a four-hour drive from the bustle of the city of Winnipeg, it offers visitors and tourists an opportunity to escape the more heavily populated tourist areas. It presents an opportunity to experience the solitude of another era and feel the vibrancy of nature at her finest. There are no train whistles, no jet engines and no factories to detract from this unpolluted jewel in the Parkland.

A canoe ride up the lazy Mossey River, or a stroll along her scenic banks, will almost guarantee an encounter with a vast array of bird species in a quiet, pristine setting where time seems to stand still. It is common to witness the Bald eagle, Blue heron, osprey and pelicans in their natural habitat. It is just as common to see beavers and muskrats swimming along the river and deer sauntering along her banks. A full service campground is situated close to the edge of the Village and is just a skipping stone’s throw away from the public beach. Benches dot the shoreline, where the beach encourage visitors to contemplate the vast blue tapestry of the lake during magnificent sunrises silhouetting pelicans fishing for their breakfast. A quiet reprieve for the ears is promised in this calm and tranquil setting. It is always a good idea to pay close attention to every ripple and every wave! Fish stories about sightings of the legendary Manipogo swimming through these vast waters flow in and around the airwaves of Winnipegosis.

Winnipegosis also offers one of the finest rural museums in the province. It illustrates the lifestyles of the early immigrants as well as the natural history of the Cree, Salteaux and Metis. It was common for the early Icelandic settlers to raise as many as 12 children in a one room house. This history is exhibited in the Icelandic display in the museum and in the few remaining shanties throughout the village.

The Winnipegosis Museum is housed in the original CN Railway Station, built in 1897, and sits in the centre of the business district. Though many original train stations have enjoyed heritage status, it is rare to find such a large collection of   original artifacts from their interiors.

The last of the wooden freight boats, The Myrtle M, built specifically for the Lake Winnipegosis fishing industry in 1938, adorns the museum grounds. A tour through The Myrtle M or a stroll along the boardwalk into the entrance of the museum is bound to provoke a strong feeling of the days gone by.

Fishing, camping, swimming, hiking, golfing and boating are all part of the daily ambience of this historic and scenic village. All amenities are available within walking distance of the campground, beach and boat launch. Winnipegosis offers a refreshing opportunity to escape to a peaceful and captivating world, rich in history and the bounty of an unspoiled natural place filled with wildlife, bird life, fresh air and clean waterways.

- By Michelle Grimmelt

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