Bob’s Blog Contest

Now I ask You… Twenty Questions About Bob’s Blogs

One of the effects of the Covid Pandemic has been an increase in the number of people taking what have been called “staycations”: vacations at home, or at least in their home area, or province. In his first blog back in 2018, Bob referred to Rick Mercer’s comment on his last show: “If you can’t make the big trips, make the small trips, in your own back yard. I guarantee you it’s awesome.”

Since more of us will continue to do just that again this summer, we thought we should test your knowledge of Red River North, its highlights and history, with a few questions.   All the correct answers can be found in Bob’s Blogs So, here are a few questions to chew on:

Question 1: 

The locals refer to it as “the bridge to nowhere”. The official name of the bridge over the Red River on Highway #4 just north of Selkirk is:

  1. North Selkirk Bridge                  b.Highway Four Bridge    c.  Peter Dynevor Bridge       d. Red River North Bridge

Question 2: 

Many famous people are buried in the graveyard at St. Andrews on the Red. One of them is the man who scored the first regular season goal for the Winnipeg Jets when they joined the WHA in 1972. His name is:

  1. Terry Sawchuck          b.  Ab McDonald   c. Bobby Hull         d.  Bill Mosienko e.  Joe Simpso

Question 3:

The giant catfish on Main Street in Selkirk promotes the city as The Catfish Capital of Canada, maybe even the world! What is the catfish’s name?

  1. Chad        b.  Claude      c.  Cliff         d. Chuck

Question 4:

The beautiful pelicans that frequent the Red River from Lockport to Selkirk have been nicknamed “The Lockport Airforce”. What kind of pelicans are they?

  1. American White Pelican            b.  Eastern White Pelican            c. Great White Pelicans                                                              d.  American Brown-Bellied Pelican           e.   Pterodactyls

Question 5:

Which of the following statements is NOT TRUE?

  1. Selkirk has the largest solar-powered building in Manitoba.
  2. Selkirk has the largest outdoor pool and splash pool in Manitoba.
  3. Selkirk is the only Manitoba city with no parking meters.
  4. Selkirk has the second-best drinking water in Canada.

 Question 6:

The oldest surviving stone church west of the Great Lakes is found in Red River North. That church is:

  1. Andrews on the Red         b. St. Peter Dynevor           c. Little Britain United Church                                                                     d.  Clements Anglican Church

Question 7:

The Selkirk Fishermen Junior B hockey franchise is the longest running junior hockey team in Canada. What year was it founded?

  1. 1897       b.  1907         c. 1917         d. 1927

Question 8:

There are six ships on display at the Manitoba Marine Museum. The oldest is:

  1. The Lady Canadian        b.   The SS Keenora             c. The Joe Simpson         d.  The CGS Bradbury

Question 9:

A large number of native Manitoba orchids grow in the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve. How many species are there?

  1. 8               b. 18            c. 28            d. 38

Question 10:

True or False?

In 1917, the Dance Pavilion at Grand Marais was the largest dance hall in the British Commonwealth.

Question 11:

The first Premier of Manitoba, (1870-1871), who was MLA for St. Andrews North, is buried at the St. Andrews on the Red Church cemetery:

  1. John Norquay         b. Douglas Campbell          c. Howard Pawley        d.  Alfred Boyd

Question 12:

Which of the following statements is NOT true?

  1. Selkirk was the home of Manitoba’s second public library.
  2. Just east of Selkirk is the only 90 degree turn in the CPR.
  3. Skinner’s is the oldest hot dog outlet in continuous operation in Canada, having celebrated its 90th birthday in 2019.
  4. Little Britain United Church is the second oldest United Church in Manitoba.

Question 13:

The famous indigenous leader buried at St. Peters Dynevor is:

  1. Chief Poundmaker           b.  Big Bear    c. Chief Peguis         d. Elijah Harper 

Question 14:

Match each of the following Red River North communities with the area of the world where you will find a community with the same name:

  1. Petersfield                    1.  Derbyshire England
  2. Clandeboye                  2.  Scotland
  3. Libau                             3. Hampshire U.K.
  4. Matlock                        4.  Northern Latvia
  5. Selkirk                          5. Western Latvia                                                                                                                                                                                              6. Northern Ireland

Question 15:

The Gaynor Family Regional Library is involved in bibliotourism, one of the latest trends in tourism around the world. What year did this new library officially open its doors?

  1. 2012     b. 2014       c. 2016         d. 2010

Question 16:

Which of these statements about Lake Winnipeg is NOT true?

  1. It is the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world.
  2. It is the 6th largest lake in Canada.
  3. It is the only Canadian lake that drains into the U.S.
  4. It is the 3rd largest lake entirely within Canada.

Question 17:

Which of these statements about Lower Fort Garry (LFG) is NOT true?

  1. Lower Fort Garry was built after the original Fort Garry was destroyed in the 1826 flood.
  2. The Hudson Bay Company ceased operations at the fort in 1911.
  3. The first of the numbered treaties was signed here in 1871 between the government of Canada and the Ojibway and Swampy Cree First Nations.
  4. LFG was used as first training grounds for the North West Mounted Police.
  5. LFG was designated as a national historic site in 1951.
  6. LFG was once used as a penitentiary.

Question 18:

Which one of these statements about The St. Andrews Lock and Dam at Lockport is NOT true?

  1. It is a Camére style dam. At 240 metres long is the largest dam of this type ever built.
  2. It is considered to be the only dam of this type still in existence in the world.
  3. Prime Minister John A. MacDonald officially opened the dam and locks.
  4. The total cost of construction was $3.5 million.
  5. During construction of the dam and locks, special visitors’ excursions ran from Winnipeg to Lockport and back. The cost was 45 cents return and allowed two hours to inspect the project.

Question 19:

Match the following prominent citizens of Red River North with their claim to fame:

  1. Jimmy Skinner                1. prominent Metis lawyer and politician
  2.  Alexa Scott                      2.  MLA Selkirk 1969–1988
  3. Thomas Bunn                  3.  keyboard player for the Canadian rock band Crash Test Dummies
  4. Thomas Douglas             4. his house was also a library
  5. Howard Pawley               5.  Clandeboye speedskater who won Canada’s 1st world junior medal in 12 years
  6. William Prince                6.  the man Selkirk was named after
  7. Ellen Reid                        7.  hockey coach
  8. Donald Gunn                  8.  Indigenous musician

Question 20:

The section of the Red River from just south of Lockport to just north of Selkirk, has the reputation of producing the largest numbers, and size, of which fish?

  1. Walleye    b. Northern Pike      c. Channel Catfish    d. Goldeye     e. Rock Bass  f.  Sauger   g. Sturgeon   h Hammerhead Sharks

Kathy Freeman, Soap Stone Sculptor

Kathy Freeman is a soap stone sculptor, who resides in St. Andrews, Mb.

Heather Bailey, RRNT, Tourism Coordinator, came across Freman’s sculptures, while looking at pictures of the winning artists of the Interlake Juried Art Show.

After you read all about Freeman, head over to RRNT’s YouTube channel to meet her and see pictures of her amazing art.

“Kathy Freeman has been sculpting since the age of 14.  She had training in the “Sculpt 2000” program at Langara College in Vancouver, B.C. under the mentorship of Canadian postwar and contemporary artist, Mr. Jean-Guy Dallaire. Now, at 56 years of age, she finds it hard to believe that she has been sculpting seriously for over 30years, as well as repairing damaged modern and antique stone sculptures. Freeman loves the challenge of showing movement and emotion in static sculptures.  

Freeman is a member of The Manitoba Society of Artists, The Manitoba Arts Network and The Selkirk Community Arts Centre (Gwen Fox Gallery), and has had many successful exhibitions of her soapstone carvings. She has won numerous awards and ribbons over the past 8 years, and – now finds there is considerable demand for saleable pieces. Recently, she has felt a calling towards the more abstract and experimental, and she plans to explore along these lines. Freeman will also continue adding to her portfolio of happy, anthropomorphic stone creatures, while rolling around the idea of creating limited edition copies of some of her more popular pieces.

Being a competitive artist, Freeman is proud of her wins.

She began seriously competing in 2012. Here; here are some of her accomplishments: 

*1st PLACE in Sculpture @ 2012 Interlake Juried Art Show “Laughing Wolf”

*2nd PLACE overall @ 2012 Manitoba’s Rural & Northern Juried Art Show “Laughing Wolf”

*3rd PLACE & Honorable Mention in Sculpture @ 2015 Interlake Juried Art Show “Octopus” & “Narwhal” 

*2nd PLACE in Sculpture @ 2016 Interlake Juried Art Show “Happy Whale”

*3rd PLACE in Sculpture @ 2016 Interlake Juried Art Show “Maybe Next Year” (Young Male Walrus)

Kathy’s 2018 multi award winning piece entitled, “Contented Seal” has placed in the following shows, as well as having been chosen by  Manitoba Arts Network to join other  artists’ works as part of a year and a half long tour of the province. 

*1st PLACE in Sculpture @ 2018 Interlake Juried Art Show “Contented Seal”

*BEST IN SHOW @ 2018 Rural and Northern Juried Art Show “Contented Seal”

* WILLIAM J BIRTLE AWARD FOR SCULPTURE @ 2018 Manitoba Society of Artists OJCE show. “Contented Seal” 

Freeman often supports charity fundraisers, with donations of sculptures to art auctions:

In 2015 the Brazilian soapstone sculpture “Laughing Wolf”, was donated to the

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s annual “Black & White Ball” Charity Art Auction.

In 2016, the Brazilian soapstone sculpture “Maybe Next Year” was donated to the

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s annual “Black & White Ball” Charity Art Auction.

In 2017, the pink Italian alabaster sculpture “Intertwined Snakes” was donated to the

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s annual “Black & White Ball” Charity Art Auction

In 2016, the Brazilian stylized soapstone sculpture “Proud Seal” was donated to the

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s annual “Black & White Ball” Charity Art Auction. 

Freeman has twice donated sculptures for auction in support of the Selkirk Heritage Endowment Fund. The annual income generated by the fund is currently granted to the Marine Museum of Manitoba. Once the Selkirk Museum is formally incorporated, the SHEF income will be used to support its operations.  She has donated many hours of service in support of the Interlake Juried Art Show, the Interlake Art Board and the Interlake Art Board Mural Project.

Freeman has had numerous single artist exhibitions and member shows at the Gwen Fox Gallery. She has exhibited twice at Warehouse Artworks  in the MSA’s 2017 & 2018 OJCE shows, and the 2020 MSA’s online OJCE show. She is looking forward to a joint showing at the Selkirk Community Arts Centre in the summer of 2021, Covid situation willing.”

RRNT: How did you get started?

KF: “The first time I recall trying to shape an object was when I was about 6 years old. We lived in Vancouver B.C. The older houses there had wooden eaves-troughs. I discovered a broken piece in our yard, what a find! I sneaked into the house and “borrowed” my father’s pocket knife, thinking that if I shaved down the ends of the trough, they would (magically) come together and I would have a toy canoe! Ha ha, I guess I didn’t think that through very well. In grade eight and nine, then living in Surrey, B.C. my favorite class was Art, not because it was an “easy” credit, but because I loved it, especially when we were modelling with clay. I didn’t have much confidence in my abilities at that time, but I do remember an incident in class when we were learning to build up cups and things with the “rope coil” method. All of a sudden about six kids were watching me work. I was trying to make an open mouthed frog kitchen scrubby holder. At that time they were the rage for people to paint at ceramic green-ware shops. One of the kids asked how I could know what to do next and I think I said I could see it in my head. That was my first memory of my work making an impression on others. In my early 20’s, I bought some raw soapstone and immediately carved a huge “Whale’s Tail” with a leather mallet and two chisels, some sandpaper and wax, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve had some training in Vancouver through Langara College with my mentor, Mr. Jean-Guy Dallaire (Professional Sculptor, Photographer and teacher of the “Sculpt 2000” method of sculpting in foam and wax to produce bronze pieces.)” 

RRNT: Where do you find your inspiration?

KF: “When working in stone, my most common medium, I get my inspiration from the shapes and colors of the raw stone itself. I study a piece of stone, rolling it over into different positions until I “see” something in the stone. I lean towards marine animals as the sleekness of them lends itself well to finishing them exceptionally smooth and shiny, which is my preference.” –

RRNT:  What is your favorite piece?

KF: “At the moment, I’d have to say that my favorite piece is my multi-award winning soapstone sculpture entitled “Contented Seal”. This cuddly looking seal seem to tug at the heart strings of all who encounter it.”

RRNT: Where can people find your pieces on display and to purchase them?

KF: “I mainly show my pieces online, on my Facebook Page, “Kathy Freeman Sculpture”. I am a member of the Gwen Fox Gallery/Selkirk Community Arts Centre, and at times I do have pieces in the gift shop for sale, I also sell during solo, joint, and all member shows at the gallery. I am not a prolific sculptor, preferring quality over quantity, and I am at the moment, trying not to sell everything I make in order to have enough for a show of my own at some point in the next few years. I am also looking/hoping to be represented in “Downtown Big City” type of gallery, in Winnipeg, and/or my hometown of Vancouver, B.C.”

RRNT: Anything you would like people to know about you? About your art?

KF: “I will do, and have done commissioned work. When I take on a commission, I never make a client commit to buying until the piece is completed, and they are happy with it, and the price. I have not as yet had a client turn down a piece, but I don’t worry about that. I’ve never had trouble selling my work, although I do have trouble saying goodbye to my “babies” LOL.

Also I would like people to know that I do repair work on contemporary and antique/historic soapstone sculptures.”

Find Kathy@ Kathy Freeman Sculpture (




Instant Win(e) Cellar Winners!

The winning tickets for the Instant Wine Cellar were drawn on December 30th. The raffle was presented by Red River North Tourism in conjunction with Holiday Alley and intended to both raise funds and draw public attention to efforts to reopen Kennedy House on River Road in St Andrews.

The Instant Wine Cellar collected 245 bottles of wine with an approximate value of $3800, shared between three lucky winners. Tickets sales and donations earned just under $7000 for Kennedy House. “Since all the wine was donated with the purchase of tickets, 100% of the funds received will be applied to future Kennedy House programs and promotions,” said Lois Wales, Red River North Tourism President and Co-Chair of the Kennedy House Renewal Committee.

Over a dozen varietals of white and rosé wines and more than sixteen types of reds were distributed between the three curated prize packages. Each prize also contained a sampling of wine paraphernalia sure to please any oenophile!

The winning ticket was purchased as a birthday gift for Kit Muir by her uncle. Muir took home a collection of 122 wines with a value over $1800. She is already planning to share her win with family and many friends in the community. Second prize winners Ron and Heather Bailey were looking forward to ringing in the New Year with one of the bottles of Brut in their collection of 74 wines. Lorie Fiddler, the third prize winner, also talked about sharing some of her wine with friends and co-workers. She took home over $700 worth of wine and accessories. The prizes had been boxed ready for drive-by pickup.

“Key to our success was the enthusiasm of our many ticket sellers,” said Wales. “In particular,” she continued, “the willingness of WishMe and The Rectory Gift Shop to sell tickets made a huge difference and ensured success of this fundraiser.” Both boutiques offered on-line ordering and drive-by wine drop off and ticket pickup throughout the holiday season.

Owned by the Province, Kennedy House has been closed since 2015 awaiting some structural repairs. The Kennedy House Renewal Committee has been in discussions with provincial staff regarding possible public uses for the property, perhaps including a return to a tea room, popular for many years in the historic building. It is hoped a partnership can be established with the Province similar to that between The Rectory (St Andrews Heritage Centre) and Parks Canada.

Cynthia Boehm – Cree Artist

An interview with Cynthia Boehm – Cree Artist

Article and video by Heather Bailey

Cynthia practices the art form of her ancestors – Beadwork.  Beadwork was always part of her community and family home, something that she had always wanted to learn and once she took her first workshop, she fell in love. Cynthia says that “Beadwork is an art form I am very proud of it as it honours and respects the gift that was passed down through generations and has great meaning to me.”  Through beadwork, she celebrates her ancestors and Cree culture by learning the old style traditions.

Cynthia appreciates the different styles and types and had always wanted to learn the style portrayed in the picture below.  The first style portrayed below is referred to as “pointed toe” moccasins, made with smoked home tan deer hide, both of her grandmothers made this style and were the more common moccasin style before the rounded toe moccasins (second pair pictured).

This beaded art mask was commissioned by Glasgow Museums Resource Centre in Scotland (permanent collection of GMRC) this past summer 2020. This commission was extremely meaningful to Cynthia; her great grandfather came from Scotland in the mid 1800s to Canada.  He originally came to work for the Hudson Bay Company at York Factory and after marrying settled in Norway House with his family where her family home remains today.


Here is a cropped edit of the award winning piece from the Manitoba Society of Artists OJCE 2018 that was awarded first place in the overall show.

Follow this link and visit Red River North Tourism YouTube channel to see the full interview as Cynthia describes her art form.   What beautiful pieces from such a talented artist.  It’s All Right Here!

YouTube Video of Interview

Row, Row, Row Your Boats…

Red River North Tourism was pleased to be a premiere sponsor of the Red River Paddle Challenge on Saturday, September 26th. Sixty-two participants paddled the 45km (28mi) course. The race had a staggered start, with the entrants leaving St. Vital Park beginning at 9:36am and paddling to The Half Moon Drive In at Lockport.

The race was open to any paddle-powered craft, and this saw canoes, paddleboards, kayaks, outriggers, and a four-person paddleboard compete. This year, due to Covid-19, registration was limited to solo or tandem types, unless all paddlers were from the same household. This ruled out dragon-boats and war canoes, but did not affect the overall success of the day.

The challenge featured three checkpoints, and saw an overall record time of 3 hours 38 minutes set by Florian Haskerkehrer and Mateus Braga in the sprint canoe category. The weather held and it was a good thing as some paddlers were on the water for up to 8 hours.

Competitors were met at the finish line and welcomed to the RRN region by volunteers from Red River North Tourism. Every participant was presented with a Red River North Tourism gift bag and a participation medal from Red River Paddle Challenge. Each RRNT backpack tote contained bottled water courtesy of Brent Hayluk at WOW Water Selkirk; Barr Soap – Solid Hand Lotion by Christina Barr; a sampling of RRNT’s special blend of tea from Michelle Bloom at Three6Tea; a regional attractions map from Interlake Tourism Association, along with other informational material. In addition, WishME (Inclusion Selkirk) provided several special gift items created by local artists. These were added to a random selection of the gift packages.

Whatever the season there’s ALWAYS a reason to visit Red River North.

Kari Klassen of Ant + Oak and the Hummingbird Project

A sit down with Kari Klassen – the force behind Hummingbird Project and Ant + Oak

an article by Heather Bailey

Kari Klassen’s first venture was Hummingbird Project, inspired during her first round of chemotherapy. As she was leaving a chemo treatment, she and her husband Dallas were given a list of items she would need. Shopping was the last thing on Kari’s mind – all she wanted to do was go home! Over time, Kari realized there were little things that made the rounds of treatment just a little easier. That was the spark that created Hummingbird Project.

Hummingbird Project delivers a post-treatment comfort package to individuals: soft-bristled toothbrushes, tissues, lip gloss, queasy drop candy for nausea, tea for dry mouth, lotion for dry skin, and a hand painted rock for inspiration – small soothing things to help with the side effects. Originally, distribution was through CancerCare and 50-60 gifts were distributed every month. With Covid, delivery is no longer an option and now, fewer than 10 gifts a month are provided. Stay tuned though! An alternative distribution method may be available soon.

The second and related project, Ant + Oak, has become the principal business of the company. Ant + Oak was born out of Kari’s own experience, when well-intentioned friends offered impractical gifts. Going through breast cancer doesn’t mean you love pink, and scented items can often offend already sensitive senses. Kari and Dallas were frequently asked “What should we get someone going through cancer? Where do we go?” The initial answer was “I don’t know.” The answer today is: Ant + Oak.

Visit the Ant + Oak website ( to shop for relevant, useful, gifts that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of someone going through cancer treatment. Great care and thought are put into the contents of each gift basket. Kari will also customize a baskets, designing it to the personality of the recipient. Ant + Oak carries radiation and chemo packages, using locally sourced items as much as possible: cards are locally made and the goats milk soap is from Au Natural. Kari has a creative side and designs the, sometimes edgy, artwork for the t-shirts and mugs, and works with ArtJoy Designs for the manufacture. She now has her own blends of tea, including some for menopause and nausea. Kari is proud to support other local businesses. She believes in both giving back and paying forward!

The business has been in operation just for a year, the anniversary marked by the time that Kari herself has been out of treatment. Dallas handles all the shipping and their two sons pitch in to help when needed. Remarkably, Ant + Oak is doing well with business from Ontario and BC, but few people locally seem to know about the company. Kari would like to see the local customer base grow.

The Klassen’s have received so many positive responses from the care packages and gift baskets. They feel that is the measure of their success is in the creation of baskets with unique, useful, and inspirational items and messages that speak to cancer fighters.

So why Ant + Oak? The meaning behind the name is simple: Ant symbolizes family and community; Oak embodies the strength and resilience of the oak tree. Similarly, Hummingbird is for hope and healing, and seeking the beauty in each day. Both names represent the mission and vision of the company.

As I look at my watch, I realize that we have been chatting for quite some time but that is the kind of person Kari is; very approachable, warm and friendly. As the interview comes to a close, I ask Kari what she sees for the business in the future. Predictably, she has more ideas: to see the company grow online; to see her products available in gift shops across the city; and to partner with other companies. She knows that help with day-to-day living means so much to those going through treatment, so a partnership with a local home cleaning service is an additional offering she is considering. The Klassen’s would like to give back a little bit more and are always interested in new ideas and potential partners. If you think you might be interested, drop them a line through their website: Ant + Oak.

Kari is not completely sure what Ant + Oak will look like as it evolves but she knows she wants people to be inspired throughout their cancer journey, and to never feel alone.

The post-Covid future for Hummingbird Project is unknown: whether it becomes a nomination service or takes some other form. The Klassen’s are always available for comment, so feel free to contact them.

My final question to Kari: If there is one thing you want people to think of when they hear the name Ant + Oak what would it be?

Her response was straight from the heart. “When someone has cancer, it is hard to know what to say and what to do for them. And that’s okay. The one thing you can do, is be there. Sometimes being there means bringing them something that helps them through it, sometimes that is all they need. The best thing you can give them is your time – above all else your time is most important. If you are struggling to find out what to do or say a thoughtful gift is a great ice breaker. For the person buying the gift, they can be assured it’s being prepared by someone who has gone through the same thing, and it will be inspiration and useful.”

For Kari, connecting with customers is the added bonus of this business: talking, sharing, and helping others in their experience. Kari always keeps the lines of communication open. Those who have purchased or received her baskets often return time and again with questions or just for a chat. Many times, the gift doesn’t just end at delivery: it keeps on giving, long after.

Find them at



Selkirk Canoe and Kayak Club

A Paddle for Everyone

An article written by: Hope Pochinko, Red River North Tourism Summer Coordinator

Selkirk is full of things to do. Whether you enjoy field sports, shopping, or even just sightseeing: there’s something for everyone. Would you prefer to be on the water? Then I have the perfect activity for you.

Through July and August, Selkirk Canoe and Kayak Club has various activities to keep you and your family entertained.  Youth programs for children ages 8 to 16  take place every Tuesday and Thursday. Here, youngsters learn to paddle, to safely ride in the canoe, how to get themselves back up if they tip, and every step in between. Looking for a summer camp? Each camp teaches 16 kids under constant supervision whether on water or on land.

For those of you who are either interested in being a part of a motivated and dedicated team, or just have a competitive side, the Selkirk Canoe and Kayak Club offers dragon boat racing. If you decide to hop aboard the dragon boat, you can expect to compete in the Dragon Boat Festival at The Forks, where you compete against other teams from all over Manitoba.

All ages and skill levels are welcome to learn and continue to grow your kayaking, and canoeing skills. Lessons take place in the estuary, right along the dyke of Selkirk Park. The Estuary is home to gorgeous calm shallow water, and tons of animals to keep you company. The dock is fully accessible, built with handrails and a wheel chair ramp so that you can get onto the craft comfortably and safely. , Other accommodations such as different boat seats are available on request.  Everyone can be safe and enjoy our beautiful river scenery.

Selkirk Canoe and Kayak Club is an amazing stop to put on your to-do list either this summer or in the future. If life is too busy to commit to an extended stint at the club drop-in. for $15.00 a person or $40.00 for a family of 5.

So, next time you get the urge to be around the water, consider Selkirk Canoe and Kayak Club. They have something fun for everyone!

Another reason to come visit us in the Red River North Region.  It’s All Right Here!


Riverboat Restaurant and Lounge

Article written by: Hope Pochinko

The Riverboat located on Main Street and Eaton is a family restaurant owned by Doug Pourier, the restaurant opened in 1976, at that time, Doug worked as a cook for the previous owners. Throughout the years he worked his way up to management and finally in 1988 became the owner and turned it into the restaurant Selkirk knows and loves today.

Recently due to Covid-19, the Riverboat has had to make some changes to the way that they operate. In order to keep the public and customers safe, they have implemented a new cleaning system, whenever a customer finishes their meals and leaves the table, it is completely sanitized and made ready for the next customer. To keep track of how many tables are clean and how many are dirty, coasters are placed on each clean table, that way no customer is at risk. Another additional precaution that has been taken is that each waitress is required to wear masks while at work.

The Riverboat’s background and staff all help make the experience of going to eat here, something to enjoy. Many of Doug’s staff have been with him for over 10 years, the staff members also include a family of three generations.

However, they still have one more amazing feature that will surely make you want to eat there; the delicious food. Approximately 85% of all the food that is served is all made right in the kitchen, and Doug states that he likes to get all of their food and supplies “from independent companies instead of multinational corporations.” This means that along with a sanitized and healthy environment, they also provide their customers with the best quality food possible.

Some of their most popular items that you must try on their menu are the liver and onions, steak, and their Selkirk famous breakfast. My personal favorite from the Riverboat are the chicken burgers with fries and they’re delicious gravy.  I promise you, if I could I would drink a whole cup of it.

If you’re a foodie or simply looking for a new restaurant to check out. Then you must have a visit to the Riverboat. You won’t be disappointed, and with such a large menu, I assure you that you will find something for everyone!

New Resident Contest

Are you new to the area? Have you just moved to St. Andrews, St. Clements, or the City of Selkirk? If so, you are eligible to enter our contest!

We are giving away the chance to win a tour of the area! Three families will be chosen. (no more than 4 per family) Just tell us why you moved here AND what you like best about the area in a quick paragraph or two and send it to by Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 5:00 pm.

Winners will be drawn and notified by 1:00 pm on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Don’t forget to leave your contact information!

The tour will take place on September 27, where you will board a City of Selkirk transit bus at the Manitoba Marine Museum at 1:00 pm, and tour in comfort complete with a tour guide. The tour will be approximately 2.5 hours long and will highlight areas of interest within the region. Social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions will be adhered to and respected.

Come along for the ride, experience the region. It’s All Right Here! This contest is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook.

Olive Lillie

Olive Lillie – February 19, 1930 – July 7, 2018

an article by Heather Bailey

During the Advent Service at St Peter Dynevor this past Christmas a plaque donated by Interlake Memorial Services was unveiled in honor of Olive Lillie.

Olive was born and raised in Selkirk and spent her entire life giving back to her community.

When the Selkirk Friendship Centre opened, Olive was one of the first people to work there, she served as a board member and enjoyed organizing and coordinating its various events.  In recognition of her involvement in the Centre from 1968 and on, Olive was recognized as an Honorary Life Member.

In 1979, Olive was a member of the first committee to start the Christmas Advent Service at St. Peter, where she had been Baptized in 1930. Later she served as a vestry member and was cherished as an Honorary Life Member.

Olive helped form the St. Peters Local Manitoba Metis Federation – later amalgamated with Selkirk – and served on the Board.  She was an Elder Advisor to the Peguis Treaty Land Entitlement, Rupertsland Indigenous Council, Rupertsland Sacred Circles, the Wechetowin Council and the Residential School Response Group.

Olive was awarded Life Membership by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch Ladies Auxiliary Branch where she served on various committees.

Olive was not afraid of hard work and was always willing to give a hand: from packing parcels for troops in the Second World War to driving a truck load of sandbags during the flood of the Century.

Olive spent her life volunteering and helping those less fortunate; providing and making changes to services where needed; all the while raising her own family of eleven children, fostering others, and mentoring many more.  She was part of the group that formed the Selkirk Food Bank but in her inimitable style she personally picked up and dropped off donations so that no one went hungry.

Olive was supportive of the political struggles the indigenous community often faced and she was an instrumental in agent for change, as well as a source of support and comfort.

It was no surprise that in 2010, Olive was awarded the Citizen of the Year, for long-standing devotion and community involvement.

Olive was renowned in the community she served: as an elder and a healer she garnered great respect and much love.

Many of the details and information in this article was taken from the Citizen of the Year submission with express permission of the family

Bird Watching in the Red River North Region

an article by Heather Bailey

As winter turns to spring, before the snow and the cold retreat the sky becomes filled with skeins of geese and each day brings more and more. Spring is coming!

Then as fall starts to creep in and the weather turns cooler first the nights, then the days, the sky again fills with skeins of geese ready to return back south.

Other birds appear in the spring as well and soon their cheerful sounds fill the air. This is how most of us notice birds; unaware of what species they are, other than perhaps a few of the more common ones. But not all of us.

A group of birdwatchers meets at the Gordon Howard Centre approximately six times a year. This group first came together in the early 1990’s. They plan bird-watching outings throughout the year and participate in a Christmas Bird Count. Near the end of May, a combination picnic and birding excursion is held, coinciding with spring migration.

The Christmas Bird Count is held in late December. Christmas Bird Counts are organized in countries all over the globe and have been popular in North America for over 100 years. Here, participants select a date and record all avian sightings within a 24-hour period. Bird counts provide critical information to conservationists and professional natural resource practitioners. The data collected is used to assist with monitoring of bird populations and flight patterns. Counts from locations across the continent are amassed to provide an annual snapshot of the range, health, and strength of various species. In this way fluctuations in avian populations can be tracked and areas of concern such as habitat loss, urban expansion, the effects of weather patterns, and other environmental factors, can be assessed.

Just over 300 bird species breed in Manitoba and half to two thirds of those can be seen within the Red River North region at various times of year. Due to our proximity to rivers and an abundance of marshes and lakes, this region in general, and Oak Hammock Marsh in particular, is one of the top birding locations in the Americas. Birders from around the world come here to add to their life lists.

The Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas is an illustrated encyclopedia that defines the abundance, distribution, habitats, and conservation details of hundreds of Manitoba birds. Data collected over a five-year period by more than 700 volunteers was first published in 2014 and has been continuously updated since. This extraordinary resource is available on line at

Birdwatching is a personal activity, enjoyable when pursued alone or with other enthusiasts. For some, it is simply observing what comes to visit in their backyard; for others, it can involve customized excursions to specific locations around the globe, geared to adding another species to their life list. There are even competition bird counts: one group in Manitoba holds a record of seeing 200 different birds in one day.

The Selkirk group of recreational birders offers informative presentations on where to find birds, how to identify them by sight and by song, along with tips on feeding birds. Day outings and longer jaunts to various locales are planned. These may be a stroll along the pathways of Selkirk Park, a visit to Oak Hammock Marsh, or forays to other “hot spots” in the hopes of catching sight of a special bird. Spring and fall migrations can be exciting times as more rarely seen birds pass through. An active “rare bird” alert network reports the locations of unusual visitors.

Birding doesn’t require a lot of fancy gear: good binoculars help, and a guide book with range maps is most useful. All you really need is an interest in learning more about the colourful feathered friends that share our world.

So, if you have an interest in birdwatching, consider joining the flock at the Gordon Howard Centre!



Inclusion Selkirk

Inclusion Selkirk

an article by Heather Bailey

The mid 1950’s conjures up images of a simpler time: poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and soda shops; but for a group of mothers in rural Manitoba it was anything but simple. “Diversity” and “inclusion” were not words in common usage at the time.  Mothers of children with special needs had two options: take care of them at home or institutionalize them, as these children were not welcome within the regular school system.

So, in 1956, around a kitchen table, two moms put their heads together to try and figure out what they could do for their families and for others in similar situations. They formed a local association, and it has grown into the organization known today as Inclusion Selkirk.

The following year the Legion School opened, operating from the lower level of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #42 on Eveline Street. Four years later, through a donation of land from the City of Selkirk and invaluable continued support from the Legion, a one room facility on Jemima Street was built. “The School” remained in place until 1967 when the public education system in Manitoba changed to integrate all children into regular school programs.

The association then turned its attention to adults with specific needs and the school became a vocational training centre. The first participants at the centre had not had access to regular schooling so having a segregated day program was ideal for them. Later participants, however, had been in school and they were less interested in a segregated program. Needs had changed and this recognition is just one of the qualities that sets Inclusion Selkirk apart: forward thinking; a willingness to talk with families; and awareness of changing social environments to ensure programs do not stagnate.

There is acknowledgement that participants have differing aspirations and that families have varying needs and desires. And there is recognition that the individuals coming to the program have the capacity to work and contribute to society in ways previously unavailable to them.

Time for extra training is often something many employers do not have and businesses often expressed concern that individuals would not have the basic skills necessary to perform adequately on the job. It was decided to demonstrate that these skills were attainable and the Social Enterprise program was created to teach basic employment skills. The program builds skills capacity, ensuring employers need only do minimal training.

There are currently two skill development streams: Recreation and Social. Volunteer placements are made within local organizations willing to mentor those seeking first-time work experience. These include the food bank and soup kitchen, day cares, and the school division, to name a just few. This allows participants to gain experience in an area of interest, helping them to plan their future and consider future employment in a job in which they can be happy and successful.

Inclusion Selkirk coaches individuals on how to navigate all aspects of the workplace, even how to leave a job if it doesn’t work out. This can be seen in action at the Riverside Grill restaurant, and in the retail store, Wish Me, which offers unique new and local gifts. At both the retail store and the restaurant, individuals are taught basic employment life skills such as punctuality, standard working hours, how apply for time off or deal with sick leave, and how to establish a suitable relationship with their employer. Program participants will have had no previous opportunity to learn these workplace behaviors.

The experiences gained through Social Enterprise are real: there are progressive consequences and disciplinary actions for not meeting expectations, as well as experience with the general public to learn customer satisfaction; all important skills that cannot be under-stated.

Employers’ expectations must also be met and they must be able to manage all employees equally. Employers are not expected to retain employees who are not performing as required but Inclusion Selkirk maintains contact as a resource, assisting with communication.

The Social Enterprise program has proven that its participants can be valuable employees. The services offered by Inclusion Selkirk can be seen as a continuum. Some participants have come through the Social Enterprise program, worked and retired, and now take part in the recreation program. This continuum clearly contributes to personal satisfaction and success.

Community support is critical and the city can be proud of the continuing response to this program. The Selkirk Biz bestows an annual Inclusive Employment Award, where members of the community nominate businesses that are acknowledged as inclusive employers.

Families remain the driving force behind program development such as the   Welcome Home program initiated 25 years ago by another group of mothers who sought to bring their children “home” from an institution in Portage La Prairie.

Maria Freeman, Executive Director, says, “We build community, this in turn builds capacity and connections that support great things happening every day. Inclusion Selkirk is just one piece of the pie. Success lies in community. Selkirk is an inclusive community with strong relationships that have been built over years. That has only happened because Inclusion Selkirk is an active part of the community.”

The two moms who came together 62 years ago laid the foundation for an organization that now supports over 100 people living and working as a fully inclusive part of the community in the broader Selkirk region.

Now that’s a success story!



Gypsy Traders – It’s Worth the Trip!

Gypsy Traders – It’s Worth the Trip!

article by Heather Bailey – Tourism Coordinator, Red River North Tourism

Gypsy Traders is a local business, owned and operated by a mother and daughter team, Anita Schefchyk and Anna Massey.  It all began in 2015, with a few select items scattered throughout Benjamin’s Restaurant, available for purchase. In 2017, when Benjamin’s closed, Gypsy Traders found their permanent location at 238 Manitoba Avenue in Selkirk, Manitoba.  The shop is easy to locate and there is ample parking nearby.

The shop was born out of a love of antiques and creativity.  Mom Anita is a huge antiques fan and Anna can usually be found painting, up-styling, and over-hauling furniture.  They both love the chase:  hunting and picking through items, to find the perfect treasure.

Gypsy Traders fulfills a niche market – Millennials who have inherited furniture, too dark in colour for their taste, and others who were looking for that special item to fill a specific space in their home.  Gypsy Traders sells Country Chic, a Canadian environmentally friendly paint line and will teach you how to paint distressed furniture or they will happily do it for you.

In addition to antiques, they also carry local crafts; you can find Handmade moccasins, Coal and Canary candles, Antler Shed Jewelry, Amanda Lee Creations, Sagewick and Willow Artisans. (are these all brand names? Any that aren’t should not be capitalized those that are should be in italics) Gypsy Traders is proud to support local artisans. They do not take goods on consignment, rather, they purchase them for resale.

You will find that inventory moves fast: what was there last week is likely not to be found this week, and because things are one of kind, if you don’t buy it right away it will be gone.

During the pandemic, as a response to closure, Anna created Feature Friday.  It started on Good Friday, April 7th and has been going strong every Friday since. It is now a signature re-occurrence for Gypsy Traders.  Every Friday starting at 10 am, twelve to fifteen items will be posted on their Facebook Page “The Gypsies”, the first person to comment with ‘take it’ has bought the item pending e-transfer, for pick up at the store.

Gypsy Traders inventory is unique, with many one of a kind items, always of good quality.  They believe in up-styling or painting furniture but they are not a repair shop so they do not trade in broken furniture.  If you are looking for that special item, give them a call. They will add you to their ‘big book’ and when they come across what you are looking for they will give you a call to see if you are still interested.  As well, many people contact Gypsy Traders if they are selling something or have an estate to divest of. You can give them a call if you don’t know what to do with that certain item, they can give you suggestions as how to proceed.

Gypsy Traders also offers classes on how to paint distressed furniture and various home arts such as Braided or Rag Rugs, Junk Journals and many more.

Gypsy Traders is open four days a week: (state them here) Check them out on Facebook at ‘The Gypsies’ or on Instagram at ‘The Gypsy_Traders’ Things change weekly so check their sites often.

Not from Selkirk?  Make a day of it!  You can have lunch across the street at Roxie’s or other local restaurants and check out some other local shops down Main Street or Manitoba Avenue.  It’s all Right Here in the Red River North.



Pelicans – Our Large Friendly Neighbours

Our Large Friendly Neighbours

Hope Pochinko, Red River North Tourism Summer Coordinator

 Imagine this: you’re at the Selkirk Waterfront, watching the river stream by when a large white bird flies across your view of the water. You know the name of the bird the second you see it: a pelican. However, I bet you don’t know just how lucky we are to see them soaring above us.

These birds that predate back to approximately 30 million years ago, spend the warm summer months in the Interlake Region of Manitoba. Here, we are home to the largest number of Pelicans in Manitoba. They use their 3 metre wing spans to migrate to the Gulf of Mexico and points further south.

You may be wondering, what on earth is so special about the Interlake that makes these massive birds stay here for six months? Well, you’d be surprised to know that some of the most common places for pelicans to be spotted is downstream from rapids and hydroelectric dams. We just so happen to have a massive lock and dam of our own in Lockport. This dam offers the perfect conditions for pelicans to capture fish.

Pelicans use their bills sort of like a fishing net. They tip their heads down to strain out the water and then toss their heads back to swallow the fish. A pelican’s bill can hold up to 3 gallons of water.

These large white birds can weigh up to 13 kilograms and can stay aloft for an incredible 24 hours of flapping flight and soaring. Due to its impressive size and grandeur, you would think pelicans would be on everybody’s radar. Sadly, this isn’t the case and they are oftentimes overlooked. Pelicans are known to live as long 15 to 25 years – one captive bird lived to age 54! So, each time you see a pelican, it may be the same one you saw four years ago, or you photographed 10 years ago.

Pelicans return here year after year to breed, to give nest and to just live out lazy summer days along the river. Which makes them just like us! And just as much a part of our community as many of us are. 15 years ago, I moved to Selkirk and became acquainted with pelicans for the first time. I like to think some of those pelicans I see fishing at Lockport are the same ones I encountered back then.

So, next time you spot a pelican, don’t just look away. Give them a second thought and maybe even give them a wave. After all, they are our large friendly neighbours.

It’s all Right Here in the Red River North Region!






Poplar Forest and Campground

A Getaway Right In Your Backyard

Hope Pochinko, Summer Coordinator, Red River North Tourism

Summer is a more leisurely time for families to bond and to enjoy each other’s company.  It’s a time for memories to be made to hold close for years to come, to get connected to nature, and refill your vitamin D tanks. If you’re anything like me, life can get hectic. Sometimes so much so, that you lose touch with the beauty of nature around you, and drown in the constant buzz of city life. Sometimes we want to get away but really have no idea where to go.

What if I told you that you could get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, soak up some sun, just outside of Selkirk, a mere 30 minutes away from Winnipeg?  If sounds good to you, then Poplar Forest and Campground could be the next perfect getaway for you and your family!

Poplar Forest sets itself apart from other campgrounds by offering a variety of things to do as well as those extra perks that matter when you are away from home.  Owned and operated by Patti, Peter, and their adorable dog named Joe, it just may be the relaxing and fun atmosphere you need.

Patti and Peter began their campground around 17 years ago and work hard to bring the most memorable experience to everyone who stays with them. There are many trails to explore, a swimming hole to cool off from the warm Manitoba summer days, a campfire to sit around and play music or just sit back and listen, plus many more things to explore.

If camping isn’t your thing you can stay at the Bed and Breakfast in the Lodge, open year-round.    Each morning, you will find Patti in the kitchen at 5:00am preparing breakfast. Inside the Lodge there is a recreational room complete with a ping pong table and other activities for the family.  You can enjoy your morning coffee while the kids have a game of ping pong. A great start to the day!

Outdoor experiences abound.  Avid photographers and hikers alike will enjoy the groomed trails.  Of course, your trip wouldn’t be complete without sighting some wilderness friends.  Many guests report seeing deer and even the reclusive lynx.  Good thing you remembered to bring the camera!

Plenty of other options are available for you.   The man-made lake with sand bottom is great for swimming.  The lake is maintained daily and the water treated to prevent algae.   Small lights around the perimeter create a glowing experience in the water at night.

Poplar Forest has made sure there are activities for children – or the kid in all of us – to enjoy.  There is  a play area equipped with horseshoe pits and plenty of room for a game of badminton or volleyball.  Keep an eye out because soon to come will be playground and a small trout pond, perfect for any little fisherman out there who wants a quick catch.

This campground, with full amenities, is ideal for any type of camper.  It is equipped with outdoor but private showers; a communal washer and dryer; and even a little snack shack so that you can fix your sweet tooth quickly and at any time of the day. They have a working relationship with World of Water in Selkirk so all campers have access to drinking water.  No more dragging along those big water jugs!  Have a craving for a pizza? Frank’s Pizza can be delivered right to your campsite – no more dinner dilemma!


Overall Poplar Forest Lodge and Campground has something for everyone. Patti and Peter want to make sure that every visit is a positive one and all guests have the best experience possible.  They love hearing what their guests have to say and appreciate suggestions, as they are always looking for new ways to improve their facilities.

So, next time you find yourself getting antsy or needing a break from the city, consider Poplar Forest Lodge and Campground. After all, they are practically right in your backyard.


Happy Camping!




Canadian Birch Company Ltd

Canadian Birch Company article by Heather Bailey

Today, the Canadian Birch Company Ltd., owned and operated by Glenda and Rory Hart, is a successful provider of locally produced, distinctly flavoured, gourmet birch syrup. The company began, however, somewhat inauspiciously!

When it came time for their family to settle down after several relocations, the Hart’s found a beautiful piece of property, well treed with numerous birches, in the Balsam Bay area where Glenda had grown up.

Once they were living on the property they wondered if there could be more to all those lovely trees. An internet search provided the answer – Birch syrup.

The first foray was tapping half a dozen trees and using the barbeque to cook the syrup. It was not the best start but the potential was clear – it was an idea that just wouldn’t go away. So, several years later another tract of land with a large number of birch trees was purchased and the Harts jumped in with both feet.

At first, it was trial and error. Rory researched the European way of tapping the trees for sap and began with basic extraction methods used in Finland. The operation is complex: work in the forest maintaining vacuum pumps, hauling back to the sugar house, filtering and bottling the syrup, and preparing products for distribution. It is a year-round operation and this year the Covid pandemic has meant the family has had to do all the work of a larger group of staff.

Glenda took me out to the Birch Forest on a four-wheel drive for a first-hand look at the operation. From the trees to the drop line, lateral line, main line, wet line, dry line – there are literally miles of lines! And they require constant attention. All the lines are pressurized. If there is a break in a line the pressure will change and it is a process of elimination to find the break or damage. Bears have been known to bite and swipe at the harvesting lines (they’ve even hung out on the rooves of buildings!). Other critters can also do damage, so lines have to be checked and repaired on a regular basis.

Once the sap is collected it is filtered and cooked. Intricate equipment separates and concentrates the liquid. A hot air evaporator reduces the syrup further. Once the process begins, it is a continuous cycle which includes a rigorous cleaning of all equipment, and timing is critical.

The Harts are experimenting with growing and transplanting birch trees for sustainability, but it is a long process. It takes 40 years or more for a birch to reach maturity and moving trees is risky.

The Hart’s original business plan was simply to make and market birch syrup. However, birch syrup was new to the local market and it is not like the usual pancake variety, but rather a culinary syrup. In order to develop a market and educate clients, the Harts had to work beyond being just a bulk syrup distributor.

One of their most popular items is the Birch Bacon Jam. It is used on charcuterie boards, burgers, and mixed in beans. Another product, the Birch Whiskey Toffee Sauce, is the best ice cream topping you will ever taste! It can be used in an apple crumble or can replace the brown sugar mix of an upside-down cake. The Birch Que Sauce is a thin sauce with no fillers: it is pure birch syrup with some added flavourings and can be used as a marinade.

The Harts produce two syrups: Amber and Gold. Amber Syrup is the base for many of the products mentioned above and can be used for cooking meats and root vegetables, and making sauces. The Gold Syrup is lighter and closer to maple syrup but has a unique taste. Gold Syrup is delicious spread like honey on a tea biscuit.

All of the company’s products are naturally vegan, certified organic, gluten-friendly, sustainable, and Canadian-made. There are plans for new products on the horizon.

Go to to order any of their products on-line.  Follow on Instagram at @canadianbirchsyrup for recipes and videos of the operation. (My personal favorite recipe is the Birch Roasted Mushrooms.)

It was a fascinating afternoon and I learned so much about birch syrup. Thank you, Glenda for a wonderful experience and sharing how it all happens!

Gardening Tips and Tricks

Gardening Tips and Tricks article by Heather Bailey

Mick Manfield, a certified square foot gardener and a previous garden exhibitor in the Garden and Art tour had this advice for the beginning gardeners:

The easiest way for a non- gardener to start out is to buy a pre-filled container already planted, some may contain cucumbers and peppers, and others lettuce and herbs or you can just buy a container with tomatoes, at a local Garden Centre.  Pick a container that suits your need and then water and fertilize throughout the season and you will get produce from that container.  Many of the containers will already contain fertilizer and they should come with instructions to follow.   If they contain fertilizer, that fertilizer will dissipate and you will have to re-fertilize later in the season.

If you want to become more experienced with gardening then join a gardening club.  Not all clubs are created equal so you will have to look around and find one that suits your needs.   Gardening clubs have knowledgeable members and good programming but different programming that is specific to each club, so go by the programming not by the location.

The best advice is to start small don’t till a huge garden and set yourself up for failure. One four foot square box to begin with or just till a couple of rows and see what you can grow then each year expand; get more containers, or boxes or a bigger row garden with more rows.

The easiest plants to start from seeds are the cucumber type plants such as squash zucchini, melons, pumpkins or any from that family of seeds that have the larger seeds.  These types of seeds are used in school programs and the germination rate is really good.  Lettuce is a grass so it is also easy to grow.

Tomatoes and peppers need to be started early in the year; peppers in February and tomatoes around the end of March, so growing from seed this year is out of the question, you would have to buy them as transplants if you wanted fruit and vegetables of that type for this season.

The approximate growing season in Manitoba is 120 days so if a plant needs 140 days to mature the plant will have to be started early indoors and transplanted outdoors so you can get the vegetable or fruit off of it.

Even if you wait to plant, there are often nights that are cold and have a frost warning (sometimes still in June).  The rule of thumb is to cover plants if it goes below 10 degrees centigrade. Tender plants like tomatoes, cucumbers squash and peppers won’t withstand those lower temperatures.  Use a garden cloche from the dollar store, make sure the cloche is   covered at the bottom with dirt and closed tightly at the top.  Alternatively, take a tomato cage, turn it upside down and cover it with a cloth.  Plants should not touch the plastic or cloth but should be covered completely.  Once plants are climatized, then they won’t need to be covered at night and can weather a little cold.  There are snap frosts in Manitoba, so if you plant too early then plants will die.  You should not plant until the first of June.  If you buy plants that have never seen the outdoors you will need to harden your plants, that means that they need to get acclimatized to the outside temperature.  If a plant is used to being inside at 18 degrees and is then planted outdoors where it is 6 degrees it will get transplant shock and die.  So before planting in the ground, people need to harden their plants up.  There are plenty of plant sales at the end of May and you should ask if the plant has been hardened up and if it hasn’t yet then just harden it up to the outside before planting it in the ground   Take the plant outdoors for just three or four hours per day on your deck, porch or under a tree then bring it back in to the garage or somewhere warmer and increase this each day by one or two hours for about a week or a little less, you have then hardened your plant to the outside temperatures. This will make the difference in your plant surviving the first few weeks.

Another thing to know before you plant is that some plants do not like being close to one another and there are other plants that like to be close to each other.  Carrots and parsnips for example if planted close to one another will not grow to their full potential.  Here is an example of a companion planting chart:

Companion Planting Chart for Vegetables

The growing season in this region is very hot and with constant watering you will have washed away the nutrients out of the container and will need to replace the nutrients with a soluble fertilizer.  The best soluble fertilizer, made in Manitoba is called Dirt n Grow or Evolve and comes from Stonewall, Manitoba.  They make fertilizers that you mix with water and fertilizers that are plant specific i.e. tomato fertilizer or basket fertilizer, you would apply every two weeks whether you have a container or a row garden.  For a row garden you can use Evolve general purpose fertilizer as well as a product called Sea Magic which both have different nutrients, start fertilizing half way through the growing season.

Mulching – put a layer or wood chips, newspapers or straw or grass clippings in the bottom of your container or in the row garden and the mulch will conserve the moisture as well as even it outs and stops the weeds coming through; weeds will compete for the nutrients of the plant.  There is a product called straw mulch and it is available at most garden centres and is produced in Manitoba, if you use a mulch of any kind it will help with the amount you have to water by keeping in the moisture in the container.

Watering – When it is full sun and hot and you water the plant gets very stressed.  Best time to water is first thing in the morning, where the plant can uptake the water and nutrients easily.   In full sun, the nutrients and water evaporate quite quickly and if it is very hot then it can become quite humid around the plant and this sets up conditions for fungal growth.

Container plants should be watered deeply – make sure the water comes out the bottom, that way there is no doubt the roots are getting water.  It is way better for the plant to be watered deeply every couple of days rather than a shallow watering every day.

Water early in the morning, water deeply and water regularly.  Water consistently especially tomatoes.  If you don’t water consistently you end up with a condition known as blossom end rot.  End will turn brown.  Magnesium has not reached the end of the plant and the tip of the plant won’t grow.  Easy way to get magnesium to the tip of the plant is to water consistently and regularly.  Tip – hold the tip of the hose nozzle and count to 5 and know that the plant has 5 seconds of water and do that every time you water so you know that the plant gets the same amount of water every time.  Not watering consistently stresses out the plant and nutrients won’t be delivered to the ends of the plant.

Deer and rabbits fencing garden is the best deterrent.  There is a product called plant skyd.  Spray around edge of garden but needs to be reapplied after it rains.

If it is a non- beneficial insect like a cut worm, get rid of it.  Place bamboo skewers down through the soil on either side of the plant along the stem, the cut worm won’t be able to wrap around the stem and cut it.  Very simple trick to stop them from cutting the plant.

If the bugs aren’t damaging the plant then leave them, they may be predator bugs taking care of a problem you didn’t know you had.

Mick is a certified square foot garden instructor and recommends that the square foot garden can be 6 inches deep unless you are planting things like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, or anything with a deep root system, then the bed needs to be 12 inches deep for it to grow to its full potential.

Soil mixture is also a consideration in a square foot or container garden enough nutrients with lots of compost in it with no weeds.

Beds can be raised up to 30 inches tall by putting legs on the beds the bed itself will still be 6 or 12 inches deep but people can have access to a higher bed for different accessibility reasons.   You can buy these pre-made at T&T or Lee Valley, you can also make them yourself or there are lots of people making them and selling them right now.  This encourages everyone to garden and just because you may not be able to bend over to garden you still have a way to enjoy the healthy happy feelings that gardening inspires.

If you do not put your garden on legs but have a really deep garden container fill the bottom with leaves or grass clippings that will compost down and put the soil on top otherwise you are going to spend an awful lot on soil. Fill the bottom half with packed down water down leaves.

What is the soil that you fill your garden with?  In square foot gardening you make your own soil.  By volume peat moss, coarse vermiculate and mixed compost with manure.    Don’t want weeds so if you use just top soil you will get weeds. Use 4 or 5 different compost Sea soil from safe garden herbs, mushroom compost, and cow manure and bag of coarse vermiculite and peat moss and this will go in the bed.  Vermiculate will hold water, peat moss adds structure to the soil and the manure is food for the plants, this mixture will hold water, very pliable with great nutrition, works well for most plants.  You can buy 4 way mix if you are not into making your own soil.  Some garden cetnres will carry bulk mushroom compost (Good turf on Main Street.  Just add the compost to the soil in the back of your truck and will be mixed by time you get home.  You need compost in your soil.  It is called living soil approach.  The compost in the soil will eventually break down and nutrients will be up taken by the plants and will run out of food.  Adding compost every year will add more nutrition to the soil.  It is necessary to add compost to the soil you can’t have a healthy garden without compost.

Railway ties or woods that have preservatives (arsenic or copper sulfate) eventually will leach into the soil so if you are growing vegetables they should not be used but if you are growing flowers then no problem.    The best thing to make raised beds from is cedar, cedar has a natural oil that resists decay.  There is a product by BC Forestry Industry called Eco Wood Treatment and is a powder you mix with water and is a food safe preservative.  So, if you were to build beds from Spruce (more economical) and then use the Eco Wood Treatment which lasts 7-10 years and then then once you put the soil into the bed it will protect the inside of the container.  It is the inside of the container that is the concern outside can be painted or whatever but the inside touched by the soil should be careful.

In the current climate, many people are starting gardens who have never gardened before and using a galvanized trough is a great solution.  There are available at T&T seeds.

Shop at Garden Centres such as T&T seeds, Safe Garden Herbs, Jensen’s or Shops of St. Andrews those are Manitoba Grown Companies run by people who are knowledgeable about what to grow here they want their products to work well for you.  Big box stores may not have the same knowledge and it is not a guarantee that these plants are grown here and if the plants are from BC are not used to our conditions.  Local people know what grows here, what works and what you should do.  Buy reputable and buy local.

In another month we can go and visit Mick’s gardens, either virtually or perhaps in person.


Mural, Mural, On the Wall

Now that the “lockdown” has come to an end, or at least we are being afforded a few more freedoms in our everyday living, I thought I should get busy writing about all the tourist attractions we have here in Red River North.

So, do I invite everybody to this summer’s rodeo? Nope, it’s cancelled for this year. How about the Art and Garden Show? Nope, same story! Same story for most festivals and summer festivities that we look forward to.


I can invite you to take in the many outstanding features of Red River North that are accessible, easy to take in without encountering huge crowds, and perhaps best of all, very affordable.

How about enjoying the unique display of artistic ability presented in the Selkirk Mural & Public Art Project? I’m referring to the numerous murals painted on the walls of businesses, public buildings, and a number of institutions throughout Selkirk.

The stated purpose of this project is “to support and strengthen our communities through art”, and the success of the project to date is outstanding. Whether you live right in Selkirk, or anywhere in reasonable driving distance, the murals are easily accessible, and cost absolutely nothing to enjoy.

There are over a dozen such murals around the city, but I will highlight five to give you a taste of the project.

The first one appeals to the “junk collector” side of me. It’s a mural on the side of The House of Economy on Manitoba Avenue, that showcases several things from our past that are collectable and reusable: a tricycle, a Victrola gramophone complete with horn, old bowls and blankets or towels, and much more. Look closely and you will see that the artists have been sneaky. There are a number of metaphors in the mural, ranging from the traditional garden gnome, but with a “chip on his shoulder”, a “glass half full”, and “an elephant in the room”, as well as clouds with “a silver lining”.

Let your imagination roam, and you can find your own meanings and messages in the mural.

Don’t Judge Me…is another Manitoba offering, featuring a series of walking feet, expressing the concept of “walking together’, and “all walks of life”, and a crack on the road, symbolizing the fact that even those who may fall through the cracks may grow and shine as well as the idea of seeds sewn in the cracks.

Further east on Manitoba Avenue, you will encounter a beadwork path bringing people together towards healing, in the form of the Metis Infinity Sign. This mural features the four medicines – cedar, tobacco, sweet grass, and sage – radiating from the center of the infinity sign, while two beadwork flower gardens fill the inside of each of the loops. On the left is traditional Metis beadwork, while the right is Ojibway/Aboriginal. The animals of the Seven Sacred Teachings – bison, wolf, beaver, sa’be, eagle, bear, and turtle – are walking along the path.

At the east end of Manitoba Avenue, at the corner of Eveline and Superior, is The Gordon Howard Center. The mural on this building illustrates the variety of activities available for seniors at the center.

Turn right on Eveline and head toward  Clandeboye Avenue. On the west side of the street is a mural entitled “Rewiring Nous”, in which the child’s game of Cat’s Cradle becomes “a cosmic session of electrochemical psychotherapy”. A new mode of thought for a new generation.

Turn right on Clandeboye, and left onto Main Street, and you will see Three 6 Tea on the west side at the corner of Main and McLean Avenue. On the north side of the building is the mural Tea Time, which reminds you that despite the obstacles Life places in front of you, tea time will always set you right. Alice in Wonderland, and the White Rabbit will even join you. A person can’t help but be impressed with the 3-D quality of the umbrella in the mural!

These are just five of more than a dozen murals adorning building throughout Selkirk, and more are in the planning stage for later this year.

A scene from World War II on the Selkirk Legion, a lifelike portrait of Senator Murray Sinclair on Lord Selkirk Secondary School, a tribute to the Humboldt hockey team tragedy on the Selkirk Arena, a pictorial history of all the newspapers that have been printed in Selkirk, also featuring the first Indigenous steamboat captain are some of the others.

These murals are a testament to the talented artists who inhabit the area, while providing anyone taking time to view them with insights into the rich history of the of the area, the cultural diversity of the people who live here, while offering opportunities for creative thinking and self-examination to anyone who studies them for a few minutes.

Pamphlets are available at various locations, showing the locations of the murals, and describing a bit about the artists who created them, and the message conveyed by each. They are also available here on the RRN web site.

MURALS, MURALS, ON THE WALL, come to Selkirk, see them all.

Proof that whatever the season, there will always be a reason…

 To spend time in Red River North.

Next blog post below:

Women and Fishing – Courtlyn Suszko

Women and Fishing – Courtlyn Suszko article by Heather Bailey

Courtlyn Suszko is a local resident, born and raised in the Red River North area, so it is no surprise that her passion is for the outdoors.  It happens to be our good fortune that she chooses to share it with us.

In 2017, Courtlyn started Hooked on Fishing, Hooked on Ice Fishing and Hooked on Cat Fishing.  She originally delivered these programs in Winnipeg through the Cabela’s store.

Seminars at Cabela’s were popular – women were coming by bus and others drove for several hours just to attend.  What made these seminars different? They were taught by another woman – no stress, no judgement, just community and fun.  With the confidence and the knowledge that this was in fact something that women wanted to learn and participate in with hands on involvement, Courtlyn brought Hooked on Fishing home to the Red River North Area.  The first sessions offered were for young girls ages five through ten.  The session was Hooked on Fishing offered once a week for eight to ten weeks in length. The program focused on the basics of fishing; emphasize on safe fish handling and what fish to release and how to release them.   A lot of girls have never held a fish before and the accomplishment of holding and baiting their own hooks helped them thrive and gain confidence.

The idea for the program was not just to teach about fishing though this certainly was the fun part of the program but it was about promoting community and having women feel comfortable and be comfortable about entering a fishing store to buy their own equipment, use their own equipment and be successful at it.

In 2018, many of these same young girls attended the Hooked on Ice Fishing on the Red River.  Unfortunately, due to the conditions and how the river froze a repeat of the Hooked on Ice Fishing was not a viable option for the young girls in 2019/20.

In 2019, there was a Catfishing seminar day – 25 catfishing rods for 25 girls and volunteers to man 15 boats.  Catfish are large fish and many of these girls were catching 34-inch catfish.  Because these girls had already participated in Hooked on Fishing they were ready to handle these big fish plus the volunteers were advanced in catfishing. catching fish this size is a skill.  At the end of every workshop there is a fishing derby, many of these girls caught master angler catfish.


The goal is to make these workshops fun and affordable for everyone so that each girl is eventually able and capable to head out fishing on their own and enjoy the sport for many years to come. Many of these girls would not have an opportunity to get into fishing otherwise.

Fishing helps with mental health and confidence and the empowerment that each of these girls came away from these workshops with is priceless.  Lots of hard work but the sense of accomplishment that is felt at the end is well worth it.

The summer of 2019 was the first workshop where Courtlyn partnered with Harvester Outdoors, you can find Harvester Outdoors on Mercy Street in Selkirk.  The basis for this workshop was to teach women how to filet their own fish, cook their own fish, back up trailers with and without a boat.  Courtlyn enlisted the help of two of her friends and those women delivered Boat Motor 101, anything and everything you wanted to know about your boat motor, what to look for, how to maintain a motor, and an overview of all the components of a boat motor.  Fileting was practiced on whole Wall-eye that had been acquired by Harvester so each woman had a chance to practice fileting her own fish.  The participants had such a great time and learned so much that they were ready to tackle cold weather fishing.  Roll forward to January of 2020 and Courtlyn offered her Hooked on Ice Fishing for Women.

Women of all ages and levels attended; ages ranging from early 20’s to 60 years of and skill levels from beginner to advanced, lots of first-timers.  They tried all different types of augers, different fishing gear, different electronics, different ice shacks – no question was taboo, nothing off limits, great sharing and great communication. These are opportunities to have conversations of all kinds, make connections and friendships, a sharing and a positive individual experience for those attending.

Courtlyn is a contributor for Hunt Fish Manitoba and writes articles focusing on how females can get into these outdoor hobbies such as water fowl hunting and the newest article is fishing in Lake Winnipeg.  Go to Hunt Fish Manitoba and read her articles.

Support from the community helps make these programs work.  These workshops require a lot of pre-planning to get 25 people out on a boat fishing with all the gear, so the fact that Courtlyn has the support of Harvester and the community means that these programs continue to be successful.

Keep an eye out for what Courtlyn has coming up next!

The moral of the story is that anyone can start a program and more people are needed to do programs like this in our community.  Share your passion, take kids out fishing if you have the means and the abilities.  We have world class channel cat fish and world class wall-eye all in our backyard as well as other species in this area such as perch, pike and more.  Get out and enjoy the outdoors and share your passion

Duncan McRae

Duncan McRae article by Heather Bailey

Some 170,000 Scots crossed the Atlantic between 1815 and 1870, roughly 14 per cent of the total British migration of this period. Included in that number were the Highlanders brought to the Red River Colony by the Earl of Selkirk.  In 1811, Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk, entered into the Selkirk Concession, whereby he was granted a very large section of land that he planned to populate with impoverished people from Scotland (a much lengthier story to be told at a later time) in return for providing the Hudson’s Bay company with 200 employees per year.

One can only surmise that Duncan McRae was one of those Scots recruited through the Earl of Selkirk’s program.  He was born in 1813, in Stornoway, an important port in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, the Highlands, and was signed to a contract to work with the Hudson Bay Company in 1837 for £28 per year, which would be the equivalent of $4,360.77 CDN today, for a period of 5 years.  Once the 5 years had expired he was free to take on whatever work he wanted.

Duncan McRae was a stonemason by trade and stone structures had not been the norm in the Selkirk settlement but with wood structures not surviving the harsh environment and with plenty of limestone available it can be understood why stone became popular in the 1830’s.  While employed by the Hudson Bay Company (HBC), Duncan McRae worked on what later became known at “Lower Fort Garry” and built the walls surrounding the fort as well as working on the “Upper Fort” in what is now downtown Winnipeg.  Even after his contract expired he continued to do work for the HBC and his handiwork can be seen in other areas of the “Lower Fort”.

Duncan McRae continued to live and work in the Red River Settlement. In 1842 he purchased acreage from the HBC just north of Lockport after marrying Charlotte Smith, with whom he would have twelve children.

After having left the employ of HBC, Duncan McRae was hired by Reverend William Cockran to construct the St. Andrews Church (1845-1849) and later the Rectory (1851-1854).  It was during the construction of the church that Duncan McRae fell from the scaffolding and suffered severe injury.  This was not the end, though he may have had to give up the heavy construction part of his livelihood. We know that he continued to build many other stone structures around the area, giving us insight into his perseverance and work ethic.

Kildonan Presbyterian Church – 1852-1854

St. Peter Dynevor Anglican Church – 1853

Miss Davis School/Twin Oaks – 1858

St. Peter’s Dynevor Rectory  – 1862-1865

St. John’s Anglican Cathedral  – 1862

Home of Captain William Kennedy (Arctic Explorer)- 1866

Donald Murry House in West Kildonan later to become the Manitoba College, the predecessor of University of Winnipeg – 1871

After a long and prosperous life, he spent the last several years of his life as an invalid.  He died in 1898, at the age of 85, and is buried in the family plot at Little Britain Church.

There can be no dispute, Duncan McRae’s constructions stand out as uniquely his and they continue to stand the test of time.  It is fitting that he is buried near one of his buildings – in use and standing strong today.

You can take a driving tour and visit some of Duncan McRae’s buildings.  It’s all right here!  Grab your copy of the Red River North Heritage Tour.

Red River North Tourism is an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization that develops, promotes, and coordinates activities to maximize regional tourism on behalf of the Municipalities of Selkirk, St Andrews, and St Clements. 


Twenty Reasons in 2020

I have said so many times that there are countless reasons to spend time in Red River North. For my first offering of the new year, I thought it fitting to give 20 of the main reasons that I have said this. A good friend, (who is more energetic than I), suggested that I give 150 to match the 150th anniversary of Manitoba. I have no doubt there are that many, I just may have to work harder than planned. Thanks, friend!

At any rate, here are twenty good reasons to spend time in Red River North in 2020 (not necessarily in order of importance):

Reason 1: Accessibility
Rick Mercer summed it up when he said, “If you can’t make the big trips, make the small trips, in your own back yard. I guarantee you it’s awesome.” In real estate and business, a prime factor is location, location, location. Red River North is in the heart of the province, in the heart of Canada. And if you live in Selkirk or Steinbach, Winnipeg or Winnipeg Beach, it’s in your back yard!

Reason 2: Affordability
Beat the ever-increasing airline costs, and those dastardly exchange rates. There’s a lot to see and do, with very little cost to you!

Reason 3: Four Season Features
Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall, there’s lots to see and do. “No matter the season, there’s always a reason” to spend time in Red River North.

Reason 4: Unique Experiences
You can cross “a bridge to nowhere”, watch “The Lockport Air Force” (pelicans), or enjoy the second-best drinking water in western Canada in Selkirk; spend time at Manitoba’s largest outdoor pool and splash pad, watch boats go through the locks at Lockport, (the only lock on the Canadian Prairies), or visit the grave of the man who scored the first regular season of the Winnipeg Jets of the WHA in 1972, Ab McDonald.

Reason 5: The Region is Rich in History
In this, the 150th anniversary of The Province of Manitoba, you can relive part of our rich and colorful past. Whether it’s visiting the oldest stone church in Western Canada, touring Lower Fort Garry, or visiting the grave of legendary Chief Peguis, “it’s all right here”!

Reason 6: Something for All Ages
Selkirk is an age-friendly city but has as many seniors’ as youth-oriented activities. Throughout the area there are beaches, campgrounds, sports grounds and arenas, and many other features that appeal to residents and visitors, from toddlers to seniors, and those in between.

Reason 7: Nature at its Finest
Nature is on display throughout the region: Brokenhead Wetland, Oak Hammock Marsh, The Red River, Netley Marsh, Lake Winnipeg, and many other spots provide countless opportunities to connect with nature.

Reason 8: Special Events
There is a wide range of well-attended annual events in Red River North: fairs and rodeos, curling bonspiels and golf tournaments, the biggest vintage auto rally in Manitoba, farmers markets and craft shows, fish derbies, Holiday Alley, are just a few of these feature events.

Reason 9: Friendly People
I said it in previous blogs, and it’s worth repeating: We have never lived in a community where we were made to feel as welcome and part of the community as we have here. Our input and contributions are welcomed, rather than treated with suspicion or ignored. We have now lived here three years, and we definitely feel at home. I have observed that visitors to the area are treated just as well.

Reason 10: Retail Tourism
If shopping is an important part of your holidaying, look no further than Packers Ladies Wear in Selkirk, Lakehouse Treasures Vintage Store at Travers Bay Corner on Highway #59, Gypsy Trader in Selkirk, Whytewold Emporium at Matlock, Madison Lane Boutiques of Lockport, and Dylans at Grand Beach are some of the businesses that attract people from near and far.

Reason 11: Pick a Winner
Who needs Vegas? South Beach Casino & Resort on Highway 59 is the perfect location for a getaway. They provide affordable luxury in their 95-room art-deco hotel. Enjoy the tropical style pool, Mango’s Kitchen and Grill, Blue Dolphin Lounge and gaming excitement at the casino, featuring 600 slot machines, table games and roulette tables

Reason 12: You Can Pace Yourself
Because so many of the features of Red River North are easily accessible and close to one another, visitors can move as fast or as slow as they wish. Many highlights of the region can be touched on in a matter of a few hours, or a person can spend a week in one location. It’s your choice.

Reason 13: Bibliotourism
There are several reasons why public libraries have become a great place for tourists to visit. These range from libraries being a source of information about a region and its other attractions, to the availability of free wi-fi at most libraries, to a social spot to read, relax, visit, and in many, have a coffee or snack.

The Gaynor Family Regional Library offers up “every trick in the book”. It’s not only a library that meets the needs of people today, but it is poised to meet future needs too. Whether it’s traditional books, e-books, meeting space for community groups, or a place for socializing over a coffee, Gaynor has it all. And the facility is built to award-winning environmental standards.

Reason 14: Accommodations
Selkirk Inn, and Canalta Hotel in Selkirk, South Beach Resort at Scanterbury, Sandbar Motor Inn and Spirit Rock Inn of Grand Marais, and Birchwood Motor Inn, Traverse Bay can meet hotel/motel needs of visitors year-round. If Bed and Breakfast is your preference, you have some superb choices available throughout the region. You are sure to find something to satisfy your taste.

Reason 15: First Class Forward-Looking Facilities
The Selkirk Rec Complex is the largest solar-powered building in Manitoba and features geo-thermal heating. The Gaynor Family Regional Library is 38.7% more efficient than the national energy code requirements. The Selkirk Regional Health Centre is 33% more efficient than national energy code minimum standards and is designed with future needs in mind.

Reason 16: Art and Artists
Some of the most renowned former and current artists of Manitoba are from our region, from ceramics and glass, to bronze and metalwork, painting and sketching, pottery and carving. You name it, “it’s all right here”. Check out Gwen Fox Gallery, take in the annual Garden and Art Tour, or just drive around and enjoy the many murals, statues, and other creative presentations in the community.

Reason 17: Fun for Foodies
Throughout the region, there are eating spots to appeal to all tastes and occasions. Whether it’s a steak at Larters of St. Andrews, South Beach, Gaffers at Lockport,  or Selkirk Golf Club, breakfast at Petersfield Motor Hotel Restaurant or Roxi’s on The Red, or a hot dog at Skinner’s or The Half Moon Drive Inn of Lockport, we’ve got something to appease every craving.

Reason 18: Views, Views, Views
Enjoy the sun rising over the Red River in Selkirk, or watch it set on Lake Winnipeg from Victoria Beach. Watch thousands of Canada geese winging over Oak Hammock Marsh, or gaze upon fields of golden canola in the fall. Appreciate the beauty of the many award-winning yards and gardens or investigate the largest Camere-style dam ever built (and the only one in the world still in existence).

Reason 19: Wedding Bells
I’m not knocking destination weddings, but why not make one of these first-class facilities your destination if a wedding is part of your holiday plans? Lower Fort Garry on Highway #9, Kinlock Grove in Matlock, Gaffers of Lockport, Larters at St. Andrews, and Hawthorn Estates in East Selkirk, are top-notch wedding and photo venues.

Reason 20: Avoid Annoyances
Like parking meters, traffic jams, and the noise of car horns and sirens; come to where the loudest noise most mornings is the chirping of birds, and the sound that usually greets you in the busier spots is a friendly “hello”.

My challenge to you is to check out these 20 reasons.

Next time, I will ask you how many you experienced.

In 2020, there are reasons a-plenty

To spend time In Red River North.

Two Hours of Reasons

By: Bob Turner

Got a couple of hours to spare to get an overview of the history of Selkirk, St. Andrews and St. Clements? Well, why not take the Selkirk & Area Heritage Tour. This driving tour offers you a view of over 30 historically significant features of Red River North. Although that may sound like a formidable number, it is really not such a daunting task, and yes, you can get a good insight into what makes this region one of the most historically significant in our province, and indeed, in all of Canada,

I invite you to pick up the 35-page booklet pictured here, and I will try to give you a brief taste of  the highlights of the Tour.

This booklet is available at the Gaynor Family Regional  Library on Manitoba Avenue in Selkirk and is usually found in the many information brochure racks throughout the Red River North region – although they seem to get snapped up rather quickly!

The Tour Begins at  Lower Fort Garry, a National Historic Site, located south of Selkirk on    Highway 9, is operated by Parks Canada; it was an important link in the fur trade network, and was where Treaty Number One was signed in 1871. The buildings and interpretive centre are open from mid-May to Labour Day in September, the grounds are open year round, and it is a fascinating visit at any time.

Leaving the fort, turn north on Highway 9, then right at River Road (less than 2 km.). This takes you along the west bank of the Red River, on  River Road North, where you will come upon  St. Clements Anglican Church (which I discussed in a previous blog).

West of here, on Main Street, you can’t miss Gerdau Ameristeel, formerly Manitoba Rolling Mills, the reason Selkirk has been referred to as “Steeltown” over the years, and has an MJHL team called The Steelers. Established in 1918, the rolling mills are a major employer in the city.

After passing the rolling mills, turn right to Eveline Street, and at Edston Place is the perennial garden and memorial plaque commemorating the site of a former chicken farm,  Red Feather Farm,  used as a barracks for the 108th Battalion during WWI (1914-1918).

North of here on Eveline, are four heritage buildings,  three houses that were built for early prominent citizens of Selkirk, and Knox Presbyterian Church. Built in 1904 in Gothic Revival Style, this is church is one of Selkirk’s finest architectural landmarks; among its many features, are three stained glass windows by famed Manitoba artist and sculptor, Leo Mol.

The McLean Avenue Ferry. Until the Selkirk Bridge was built in 1937, ferries were used to transport residentsbetween Selkirk and East Selkirk. One of the four crossing points was near what is now the corner of McLean Avenue and Eveline Street, with the others at Little Britain, St. Clements, and St. Peter (Dynevor) churches.

Heading north one block on Eveline, you arrive at the Selkirk Lift Bridge; and further down Eveline on the right is the Selkirk Waterfront, an area that is a public gathering place, setting for festivals and concerts, and popular fishing spot. On one side of the amphitheater is a sculpture by Peter Sawatzky, sponsored by Gerdeau Armisteel. This impressive creation captures the spirit of the traders and settlers of the early 1800’s featuring a 22 foot bronze York boat with seven crewmen..

Until the late 1960’s, Booth Fisheries operated a fish processing plant just north of this area.

Half a kilometre further north on Eveline, you will see The Marine Museum of Manitoba, which I covered in a previous blog.

Next we come to Stuart House, an impressive brick-faced house built in 1904 for James Stuart, the first manager of Selkirk Electric Light Company, and now designated as a municipal heritage building.

Just north of the Stuart House is Selkirk Slough, one of two sloughs that once served as safe winter storage for large ships to avoid damage from the spring breakup of ice on the Red River.

Eveline Street becomes Taylor Avenue, which returns you to Main Street, which in turn becomes Breezy Point Road. The Dynevor Indian Hospital, originally a stone house on the left side of the road, was built between 1862-65. In 1896 it was converted into a hospital for Aboriginal health care, tuberculosis treatment, and nurse training.Today the house belongs to the Behavior Health Foundation, and is designated as a Provincial Heritage site.

One km. north of the hospital, turn left onto Highway 4 and cross the bridge over the Red River, to PTH 508 (St. Peters Road) on the right. Following  it brings you to Stone Church Road, where you will see St. Peter, Dynevor Anglican Church, one of the oldest stone churches in western Canada. Chieg Peguis is buried in the churchyard here.

Returning to St. Peters Rd and heading south and west to Ferry Rd, you arrive at the former sight of Colville Landing,  which from around 1880 to the late 1890’s was the site of an HBC shipping wharf and warehouse.

Continuing down Ferry Rd to Henderson Highway North, you will pass the former site of The Manitoba Hydro Generating Station.  Turning south, the highway takes you to Bunns Rd, at the end of which is  Bunn House, the 150 yr. old home of prominrnt Metis lawyer and politician, Thomas Bunn. Today, this Provincial Heritage Site is Fidler House Bed and Breakfast, owned and operated by Bev and Fraser Stewart.

Back on Henderson North, you reach the site of the CIL Dynamite Plant (closed in 1970). From here, turn north onto Old Henderson Highway, arriving at Searle Greenhouses, on part of what was Van Horne Farm, established by William Van Horne, CPR President who oversaw the construction of a railway across Canada.

Continuing north to Colville Rd again, and then east, is the site of the old East Selkirk Roundhouse. Further east on Colville, is Happy Thought School, originally built in 1916-17, then replaced by the present building in 1967. 

Returning to Colville Road and turning right on Highway 59, you come to The Only 90 degree Turn in the CPR, a classic example of how politics changed the fortunes of a region.

South on 59, then right on PTH 509 brings you to Henderson Highway North again. South just under 5 km is the site of  MacKenzie Presbyterian Church. Unfortunately, the building was vandalized around the turn of this century, and removed in 2012. However, its existence was a noteworthy part of the area’s heritage.

Further south on Henderson Highway is the Red River Floodway Outlet.

Taking the exit onto Highway 44, you cross the floodway bridge to Lockport, where a left turn puts you on Henderson Highway South. One km south, on the right is The Half Moon Drive In and a marker dedicated to Gunn’s Mill. . The mill was operational from the 1850’s to 1870’s, while the drive-in has been an area attraction since 1938.

Returning to Highway 44 and taking a left, you cross the bridge over The St. Andrews Lock and Dam,  the subject of my very first blog of this series. Just south of the Locks on River Road, and visible from the bridge as you cross, is Skinner’s, the oldest hot dog outlet in continuous operation in Canada, which just celebrated its 90th year.

Further south on River Road is Captain Kennedy House, an impressive stone structure which was a huge attraction for the area, and once operated as a teahouse. Closed because of structural probems, a group of area citizens is lobbying to have it repaired and re-opened, but to date, the Manitoba Government, which purchased it in 1980, has ignored the requests. Not only a building of historic proportions, Captain Kennedy House  has huge potential for the tourism industry in Red River North.

Continuing south, you come to St. Andrews Church and Rectory, the oldest stone church in regular use in Western Canada , and a very popular tourist attraction.

West of here, you reach Highway 9, and a right turn brings you to Little Britain United Church the oldest United Church in Manitoba, and a  little over one kilometre north is Lower Fort Garry. You have come full circle, and in two hours, (more if you stopped to explore a bit), you have covered a couple of hundred years of history, and have seen why we say that:

Whatever the season,

There’s always a reason,

To spend time in Red River North.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Looking to get away from it all, and spend a couple of hours close to nature, in a unique setting, enjoying the sounds and sights of a wild, untouched part of Manitoba? Then take a walk on The Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail.

The boardwalk winds through the trees

This self-guided nature trail features 1.5 km. of cedar boardwalk that winds through a balsam fir forest, a white cedar bog, and a rare type of peatland known as a calcareous fen. The trail is located roughly 45 km north of Selkirk (an hour’s drive north of Winnipeg), on Highway 59. More specifically, the trail is just north of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation near Scanterbury. It is on the west side of Highway 59, adjacent to the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve. This is a culturally significant part of the Lake Winnipeg watershed, and is home to 28 of Manitoba’s 37 native orchid species, 8 species of carnivorous plants, and many other rare plants.

The Interpretive Trail is the centerpiece of the ecological reserve, which is a protected area of rare beauty being preserved through cooperation between First Nations, local advocates, and government, and operated by Debwendon Inc.

Visitors are asked to show respect

Debwendon Inc. is a non-profit Manitoba corporation, formed in 2007 with the following as its objectives:

  • to promote and preserve the Brokenhead Wetland Ecological Reserve
  • raise public awareness of the historic cultural connection between the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and the Brokenhead Wetland
  • construct and maintain over the long term an interpretive trail adjacent to the Wetland and,
  • raise funds toward these ends

One of the informative signs along the route

There are rest stops along the way

The word “debwendon” means “trust” in Ojibway.

While a boardwalk in a sensitive ecological reserve may seem somewhat out of place and contradictory with its goals, its purpose was to ensure long-term protection and viability of the wetland. The controlled public access, combined with an abundance of interpretive signage, is designed to help build public understanding and appreciation for the uniqueness of the wetland.

The early bird… My wife and I had read about the Brokenhead Trail prior to moving to Red River North, so we were quite excited to attend Discovery Day, the third annual open house and fundraiser held by Debwendon in June of this year to kick off the season’s activities. In fact, we were so excited that we showed up a week early. (Note to self: check dates!)

No matter, we had a beautiful sunny day to walk the boardwalk and talk to a number of knowledgeable people about the wetlands, including Carl Smith.

Smith is the chair of Debwendon Inc. and remembers walking through the wetlands as a child, with his parents and grandparents.

Carl has a very deep, personal attraction to the area. The late Lawrence Smith, Carl’s father, chose the name Debwendon, in recognition of the trust between the various partners in the project. The whole concept of debwendon has as its goal, the preservation of the wetlands for future generations. Carl says they have a commitment to pass on the knowledge they have of the wetlands to the general public and the next generation. The cultural connection between the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and the wetland is a deep one, with the wetland having been a sacred area used by the local Ojibway for over 300 years to sustain them and for sacred ceremonies.

In order to fully appreciate how special this development is, we must look back to the days before the late 1990’s when the development of parks and recreational areas in Canada, including here in Manitoba, was carried on without consultation with First Nations, or consideration for the cultural and historical significance of land areas to them. The result was  negative consequences for the health of ecosystems and traditional practices.

The boardwalk route was well planned

Fortunately, around the turn of the century, the establishment of government’s legal obligation and duty to consult with First Nations began to be reflected in the whole approach to park areas, and the Province began to work with them co-operatively in the planning, development, and management of parks and protected areas.

The Brokenhead Wetland was declared an ecological reserve in 2005. Soon afterwards, members of Brokenhead began an effort to build a trail through the site that would maintain and increase access for people in the community and allow elders to pass on their traditional knowledge of the wetlands to the next generation.

Nature’s untouched, rugged beauty

With support from the Province, a working group was formed, comprised of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, NOCI (Native Orchid Conservation Inc), and an agency known as Manitoba Model Forest. Debwendon came about as a result.

These wetlands are home to 28 native Manitoba orchids (including Lady’s Slippers, Dragon’s Mouth, and Adder’s Mouth), 8 carnivorous plants, and 23 other rare species. This is mainly as a result of the water in the wetlands having a slightly higher PH content, which means it’s richer in mineral content, which allows for a wide diversity of plants not found elsewhere in the province. The Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail allows Manitobans an excellent opportunity to enjoy this diversity.

A Yellow Lady’s Slipper

Lady’s Slipper signage

One of nature’s tricks

Labrador Tea

Guided tours of the trail are available Wednesday through Saturday until the end of August. Or you can take the self-guided tour from 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week. Visit for further information on another Red River Reason.

The trail’s end

A New Library…A New Vision

CHAPTER 7 A New Library… A New Vision, By: Bob Turner

Jim and Betty Anne Gaynor donated $ 1.5 million to the construction of a new library on condition that funding from the City of Selkirk, the Rural Municipalities of St. Clements and St. Andrews, and the Province of Manitoba was in place, and that the new library would be built on time, and within budget.

On January 10, 2014, the Gaynor Family Library opened its doors to the public, having been completed on time and under budget.

Photo: The heart of the library with a fireplace

Meeting these targets had been achieved through a unique concept: a thirteen member citizen-run building committee, comprised of a professional engineer, a professional accountant, a professional property manager, a representative from each of the three municipal councils, board chairs of the planning board and library, and library staff members.

And the library itself is unique in a number of ways: Funding, Atmosphere, Environmental Impact (with inclusion of outdoor space), and Services Offered.


As indicated in the history part of this story, the concept of municipal collaboration was new, and effective in involving citizens of the three municipalities by providing a sense of ownership. Support from people like the Gaynors, people like Robert Jefferson, for whom the Heritage Room is named, and the large number of businesses and individuals who donated money made the new library possible. The donor board in the entry/cafeteria/tutoring/socializing area of the library pays tribute to the major donors.

Photo: There are plenty of meeting and reading rooms

A $5.6 million facility in a community of our size does not pop up every day in every community. It is a source of pride for the community and the people who helped to make it happen.

The ATMOSPHERE of our library is unlike any library you have previously visited. To quote Director of Library Services, Ken Kuryliw, “It’s not a shushing library”.

While there are dedicated “quiet” zones, such as the Robert Jefferson Heritage Room, the building is a multi-purpose center for the entire community, housing not just the library, but the Red River Planning District offices, meeting spaces for community groups, and a local independent café.

There is a teen area, a colourful and appealing children’s area, and an electric fireplace with a beautiful Tyndall stone hearth, where you will usually find people gathered to read the newspaper, or visit over a coffee on a cool day.


Any environmentally-conscious person will be impressed with the extent to which the library is a model of the Three R’s in its construction and operation.

Reduced site waste was achieved through using an existing paved lane from a failed development, thus saving the environment and reducing the cost of replacing it.

Reduced construction costs came about through the reuse of library shelves – some repurposed from the old Main Street library, some Provincial surplus metal shelves, and some from a bankruptcy sale.

Recycled materials were used to an impressive extent: reclaimed woods throughout for the facility and furniture; recycled steel from the local Gerdau Steel mill; composite counters from recycled glass; carpets made from 100% recycled fibres; flooring and ceiling tiles from reclaimed materials.

Reduced environmental impact resulted from local sourcing of raw construction materials from a 100 km radius of the site where possible, (Manitoba Tyndall stone from nearby Gillis Quarries and local reclaimed wood for example). Also, contractors, subcontractors, and professionals were all from within 50 km, reducing the environmental impact of commuting.

The Library is designed and constructed to meet the requirements of Manitoba’s Green Building Policy. Much of the facility is illuminated by natural light coming in through large expanses of south-facing windows, plus more windows on the ceiling. The building and process has been independently verified and recognized as Power Smart and designated with a three Green Globe rating for its numerous green technologies, including a complete geothermal heating and cooling system. All bathroom fixtures are low water use and powered by solar cells to turn on water and flush. Lighting in some areas of the facility is triggered by use, saving energy when the area is unoccupied.

Only green eco certified products are used to clean the facility, no fossil fuels are burned in the building, and low VOC/emitting paints, sealants, and finishes are used.

The library encourages minimizing personal vehicles with a pick-up and drop-off location, pedestrian-only walkways, connected to a bus stop, and bike racks to welcome cyclers. The high efficiency parking lot lighting is controlled by a system which only calls for lighting when required, and it avoids creating a heat island by way of considerable green space.

Photo: There’s plenty of space to eat, meet, read, or relax, inside or outside (if the weather permits)

The facility is 38.7% more efficient than the Model National Energy Code for Buildings.

As Ken Kuryliw ponts out, it is an environmentally-responsible building, constructed within the proposed budget, proving that green buildings, can be budget friendly.

The outdoors also a key part of its design, thanks to a partnership with Eastern Interlake Conservation District whose involvement ultimately led to three of the total five acres dedicated to an urban prairie reserve adjacent to the building. An interpretive trail winds through the site which features more than 50 different local and natural grasses and flowers, showcasing a rare piece of native prairie ecosystem.

Photo: Welcome to the Urban Prairie

Local farmers helped provide the composted biomass for the soil used in this urban prairie, another example of reusing and cooperative community spirit. And this April, we saw this cooperative spirit at work again, as volunteers with Prairie Habitats Inc.,  (with members of the Selkirk Fire Department on hand), hosted a controlled burn of the area, recreating the ecosystem that would have been present hundreds of years ago, helping to rejuvenate the growth of the now urban prairie.

Landscaping, with what’s called a sedge meadow bioswale or gently sloped shallow drainage course, collects run-off from the surrounding area, parking lot, and building’s roof and is also a teaching tool about water conservation. The drainage course holds run-off in it for as long as possible to remove silt and pollution from surface run-off water.

The library was given special recognition in 2015 by the Manitoba Conservation District Association.


“We’ve definitely set a new standard for libraries in Manitoba,” he said.

The Gaynor Family Library is the third busiest in the province, averaging 500 patrons per day using the facilities.

Photo: In addition to food for the mind, there’s plenty of food and beverages at Whimsy B Cafe

The 18,000 square foot facility has 60,000 books, 20,000 e-books and 4,000 DVDs. In addition, it boasts more than 140 magazine subscriptions, French, Ukrainian, and Indigenous collections, audio books on cd, young adults and children’s sections, more than 4,000 picture books, a large print collection, and some braille content.

Photo: Some of the 60,000 books

Services include free access to the Internet, e-mail, research, or word processing. Special child computers feature an imaginative interface for ages 2-8, with programs that are certified for educational and developmental content.

Photo: The well-stocked children’s section

Those wishing to conduct research may do so by way of Ebscohost, which is an online research database which can access millions of articles In addition, a large number of databases, ranging from NASA to National Geographic are available for users.

Its operating budget is about $750,000, with $155,000 paid by Selkirk, $105,000 by each of the two RMs, while the province chips in about $290,000.

It has redefined what a library can be, and is, as one of its brochures proudly states…

a destination like no other. Space to relax and read, enjoy a conversation

or take in a class, all the while knowing that every effort has been made to

reduce the building’s impact on your environment”.

Photo: The helpful and friendly staff keep things running smoothly

 So why not become a bibliotourist, by visiting one of the most attractive places in Red River North – The Gaynor Family Library – one more Red River Reason.

Reading Between the Lines

By Bob Turner


This time around, my reason for you to visit Red River North may have some of you puzzled, because it’s likely not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of tourism, or visiting a  city or area of our province. The attraction I am referring to? The Gaynor Family Regional Library in Selkirk. That’s right – a library!!

Bibliotourism is a term used to describe one of the latest trends in tourism around the world. Some examples? The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is that area’s most visited attraction; the main library in Oakland is that city’s second most visited destination; here in Canada, Calgary promotes its library system as a visitor attraction; in Winnipeg, in spite of the fuss about security and back-pack searches at the main library, the system of libraries is part of the reason the city is often referred to as “the cultural cradle of Canada”.

There are a number of reasons why public libraries are a great place for tourist to visit. These range from libraries being a source of information about a region and its other attractions, to the availability of free wi-fi at most libraries, to a social spot to read, relax, visit, and in many, have a coffee or snack.

When it comes to bibliotourism, The Gaynor Family Regional Library offers up “every trick in the book”. This is not only a library that meets the needs of people today, but is poised to meet future needs too. Whether it’s traditional books, e-books, meeting space for community groups, or a place for socializing over a coffee, Gaynor has it all. And the facility is built to the highest environmental standards one could ask for.

But the road to get to this point has been a long, and sometimes rough one…

CHAPTER ONE The Donald Gunn House Era

Long before there was a Red River North, a Selkirk, or for that matter, a province called Manitoba, this part of the country had several libraries, thanks to the fur trading posts and settlements in the region. In addition to providing a source of recreation for the early inhabitants, these libraries improved the level of literacy in Red River, and provided a source of information for our ancestors and future generations.

The Hudson’s Bay Company had established a library in York Factory, which was the oldest permanent settlement in what would later become Manitoba. In the early 1800’s, what is often referred to as “The Red River Library” was created from books sent to the settlement by Lord Selkirk. Half these books were made available in Donald Gunn’s House in what would later become Lockport.

This collection grew over the years from various contributions: in 1822 HBC surveyor Peter Fidler bequeathed his 500-book collection, and large numbers of books were donated by British military officers, (sent to the area to protect Fort Garry in case of a possible British-U.S. war), who had been sent these books by relatives back in Britain.

CHAPTER TWO The Selkirk Town Hall

The early citizens of Selkirk appear to have been as culturally forward-thinking as their fur-trader ancestors. A group called The Selkirk Literacy Association opened a reading room in the Selkirk Town Hall in 1901. This facility was open to the general public, and was supported by tax dollars.

By all accounts, the library was a success. It provided a place to gather to read and play games such as chess and checkers. Although there were only a few chairs and tables, there was a long reading desk where people stood to read. Selkirk’s first public librarian was Florence McDonald.

CHAPTER THREE The Carnegie Library

In 1908, Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie agreed to contribute $10, 000 – half the cost – to build The Carnegie Library on Eaton Avenue near Eveline St, if the town of Selkirk contributed $1,000 annually to its upkeep. When it opened the next year, it was only the second public library built in Manitoba at this time, and featured two reading rooms (one male and one female), a board room, and a library room.

Sadly, this was the high point of our story for the next half century. By the 1950’s the library space had been taken over by everything from Boy Scouts to a kindergarten. By 1959, the building was declared structurally unsound and torn down.

CHAPTER FOUR And Then There Was None.

For the next 20 years or so, Selkirk, which had been home to Manitoba’s second public library, had none, despite the efforts of citizens in the area to create one.

Following the demolition of The Carnegie Library, the Town of Selkirk made space available for library services in the new civic centre, which was built in the exact same spot where the Carnegie Library had been.

And then, in 1973, in a giant step backwards, Selkirk Town Council eliminated library services altogether to make space in the civic centre for other municipal offices.

From 1974 to 1982, Selkirk’s public library collection could be found in two schools – Robert Smith School and Lord Selkirk Regional High School, with the Selkirk school board providing most of the funding of the library services. To say that public library access was inconvenient would be an understatement: for example, adult fiction was in one school, non-fiction in another.

In 1979 Selkirk Town Council rejected a proposal submitted by its own appointed committee to build a new library to commemorate Selkirk’s Centennial, citing concern about costs of upkeep and servicing such a facility.

Selkirk’s public library system remained in the two schools and large numbers of books sat deteriorating in boxes because they had no home.

CHAPTER FIVE Selkirk Community Library 

In 1981, a steering committee was formed to plan a new library, and town Council increased library funding and donated land for a building.

In 1982, The Selkirk Community Library opened at 373 Main Street. It was successful from the get-go, with circulation approaching 2,000 books within the first month. The library staff attracted more people by offering new services and programs.  The library was here to stay.

The Municipalities of St. Clements and St. Andrews still hesitated to join, fearing the cost would outweigh the benefits.

In late 1987, the Selkirk Community Library opened its own building at 303 Main Street, . Within a year, nearly 50% of Selkirk’s population had a library membership.

CHAPTER SIX A Regional Library at Last! And a New Page is Turned!

On January 1, 1998, the library became The Selkirk and St. Andrews Regional Library, as The Rural Municipality of St. Andrews began to contribute funds to the library, and joined the library board.

And by 2000, the library had outgrown its building, and Public Library Services recommended a new facility be built, conducting a survey in 2003 that confirmed the fact that public support for a new library was overwhelming.

A library foundation was created to raise funds for a new building.

In 2005 Ken Kuryliw was hired from public library services, as library director, providing a whole new perspective of leadership and direction for the proposed facility.

That same year the Province of Manitoba granted land to the Selkirk Library Foundation to be used for the construction of a library.

The dream of a regional library had come true, and membership and circulation figures exploded.

And then after a petition was circulated that collected 1300 signatures, the RM of St. Clements joined.

The stage was set for a unique library supported through tri-partite funding: a multi-municipal facility located in one of the municipalities. Many people in the foundation, such as St. Andrews Reeve Don Forfar, worked tirelessly to bring about this level of cooperation by the three bodies. The RMs of St. Andrews and St. Clements, along with the City of Selkirk, each contributed $350,000, and the city of Selkirk also contributed the proceeds of the sale of the old library building (some $600,000), bringing the total funds to around $1.7 million raised through the three bodies working toward a common goal.

At this point, The Province of Manitoba agreed to contribute $1.6 million.

And there was more to come…

The library board had also been fund-raising, and together with The Selkirk Rotary Club, brought local philanthropists Jim and Betty Anne Gaynor on board. The Gaynors, former owners of Gaynor’s Foods in Selkirk agreed to donate $1.5 million, provided the funding was in place by 2012 and the building be completed by the end of 2013.

The Gaynor Family Regional Library was about to become a reality.

A closer look at a whole new kind of library, that was the product of these efforts, is next.


Reasons to Remember

By: Bob Turner

April 9th is an important date in Canadian history, and in the history of Red River North. Why? It is the 102nd anniversary of The Battle of Vimy Ridge, a turning point in World War I, and the event that is often referred to as the time when Canada “came of age”. The Battle of Vimy Ridge, was fought between 9 and 12 April 1917 as part of the Battle of Arras in northern France, is widely regarded as a defining moment for Canada. Essentially, the entire Canadian Army that was on the Western Front at that time all went into action together

A news story in February brought the battle close to home for people in the Selkirk area. The owner of a Steinbach antique shop purchased some old papers in which there was a letter sent from a soldier in a military hospital – Earl Sorel – to a Miss P. Rochford in Selkirk whose brother – Gordon Rochford – had apparently saved his life at Vimy Ridge. The two men, who grew up in Selkirk, had been friends for a long time.

This story brought to life, and to the local area, an event that unfortunately has becomes less significant to most of us as years passed. However, the importance of the sacrifices made by ordinary men and women across Canada should never be overlooked or forgotten. And if we are looking for reasons to visit various parts of Red River North, we need look no further than some of the war memorials and cemeteries in the region.

We only need to visit to the Selkirk War Memorial Park on Eveline Street to find records of the human sacrifices made so that we might be tourists in a free country. The names of 156 residents of the area who made “the supreme sacrifice” in WW I are engraved on the plaque, along with those who died in WW II and the Korean conflict.

This is not the only place where we find tribute paid to Canadian military history. The graves of residents of the area who served in the forces are plentiful in cemeteries at St. Clements, St. Andrews, Little Britain, and St. Peter Dynevor.

There is a perennial garden and a memorial plaque at Edstan Place just east of Eveline Street to commemorate the site of a former chicken farm, Red Feather Farm, which was used as a marshalling barracks for the 108th Battalion during the First World War to provide replacements for various units overseas.

Our military history is also filled with the proud accomplishments of Indigenous people, and World War I statistics show that about one third of First Nations people in Canada age 18 to 45 enlisted during the war.  Métis and Inuit soldiers also enlisted; however, only “status Indians” were officially recorded by the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). Aboriginal soldiers served in units with other Canadians throughout the CEF. They served in every major theatre of the war and participated in all of the major battles in which Canadian troops fought. Hundreds were wounded or lost their lives on foreign battlefields. Many Aboriginal people distinguished themselves as talented and capable soldiers and at least 50 were awarded medals for bravery and heroism.

Government records show at least 4,000 Indigenous people served in the First World War. About 12,000 served in all major Canadian military efforts in the 20th century.

Aboriginal soldiers held a variety of roles, including snipers and scouts, but also served as “code talkers,” translating sensitive radio messages into Aboriginal languages so they couldn’t be understood if intercepted by the enemy.

Vimy Ridge is important for many reasons. It was the first time that Canadians fought as a distinct national army, with all four divisions of the Canadian Corps entering the battle together. Their determined walk across no man’s land, behind a creeping artillery barrage — the largest in history up to that point — called for almost unimaginable courage. The risk of death was extreme, and the losses were horrendous: more than 10,000 casualties, including 3,598 killed. Yet it ended in a historic victory.

Canadian soldiers captured a strategic high ground, a fortified German position that French and British troops had repeatedly attacked over two years but failed to win. Not only did the victory at Vimy Ridge, along with other great Canadian sacrifices at the Somme and Passchendaele, help to turn the tide against Germany in the First World War, but also laid the groundwork for Canadian independence, resulting in Canada becoming a separate signatory to the Treaty of Versailles.

Back to Private Earl Sorel and Sergeant Gordon Rochford:

Apparently, Earl and his widowed mother lived on Eaton Ave. Earl was just 19, when he enlisted with the Winnipeg Grenadiers on August 2, 1915. His occupation was listed as “teamster”. He was shipped to England with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) May 20, 1916 and became part of the 78th Battalion as a Private.

Earl was admitted to hospital twice – once, in 1917 on the second day of the attack on Vimy Ridge, with gunshot wounds in the back and arm, and once in 1918 after being gassed and shelled. Both times, he rejoined his unit afterwards. He was demobilized in June of 1919, returning to his mother’s home, which was now in Winnipeg. He was 22.

Gordon Rochford, the subject of the letters referred to at the beginning of this piece, was the son of Isabella and Clarence Rochford who lived on Manitoba Avenue in Selkirk.

He was 20 when he enlisted with the Winnipeg Grenadiers on August 2, 1915. He shipped to England on the same voyage as Earl. He was promoted to Corporal on March 3, 1917 and then to his highest rank achieved, that of Lance Sergeant, on March 31, 1917. 

Rochford was killed in action on April 9th, 1917, the first day of the battle, and was awarded a medal for bravery in the field posthumously (likely for the acts that Earl mentioned in his letter).  

Gordon was buried, as were most of the 3600 dead, in the cemeteries at Vimy. Many of the 7000 others wounded at Vimy returned to action and were killed on other battlefields, some never recovered and were sent home as amputees, maimed or as nervous wrecks, (perhaps suffering from shell shock), and were eventually buried in cemeteries across Canada.

In spite of its military and historic importance to Canada, Vimy Ridge, and for that matter, Canada’s involvement in World War 1, are not well known by the average Canadian. In recent years, efforts have been made to recognize this historic event by making students more aware of the battle. In 2017, students from across the country made up nearly half of the Canadians joining Prime Minister Trudeau and other dignitaries in France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the event.

Personally, I need look no further than my family history/photo album to be reminded of Vimy Ridge. I have a picture of my dad and some of his unit, posing at the impressive Vimy Monument after liberating France during the Second World War.

I said in an earlier blog that I was very interested in history, and that was one of the many reasons I found Red River North an appealing place to visit and live.

Although there is still snow on the ground, I invite you to visit the Selkirk War Memorial Park on Eveline Street on or before April 9th. The sacrifices made by people like Gordon Rochford and Earl Sorel are reasons to remember.

Fishing in St. Clements

It’s been a long, cold few months, but in true Manitoba fashion this hasn’t stopped anglers from hitting the ice while battling the frigid temperatures.

The final month of the season is upon us and it’s always an exciting time. Anglers from near and far will be eager to experience Lake Winnipeg’s “March Madness” with the chance of catching a legendary monster “greenback” walleye.

With recent snow, access to Lake Winnipeg has been difficult with only track vehicles and snowmobiles recommended at times. Conditions change almost daily so if you’re trying to access by truck, be sure you are prepared and have safety equipment packed in case you get stuck. This would include recovery straps and shovels. Driving in pairs or convoys is advised.

Ice cutting has already commenced on the Red River and crews will be making their way south towards Selkirk. Notices have already been placed on shacks in the immediate affected areas. All other shacks on the river must be removed by March 10th with the remainder of the south division by March 31st which includes Lake Winnipeg.

The ice fishing season closes on April 1 in the south division and re-opens May 11. If you wish to contact David, he can be reached by email at

By: David Obirek

Moving Reasons #2

My last blog introduced the factors that motivated my wife Cynthia and I to move to the Red River North.

I’m finally getting around to the second reason the region appealed to us: the abundance of historical attractions.

River Road Heritage Parkway is a scenic drive through the making of Manitoba. Some of the most significant historic built structures in all of Western Canada are here, and the majority are pre-Confederation. Historic sites like Lower Fort Garry, St. Andrews Church and Rectory, Captain Kennedy House, St Peter Dynevor Old Stone Church, and Thomas Bunn House are priceless treasures.

The Captain Kennedy House and Tea Room once drew 3500 people a month to enjoy its lovely riverside gardens and tour the area. If the Manitoba Government would see fit to repair it, this would once again be a major draw to the region. (Are you listening, Premier Pallister?) Other historic and architectural gems are Little Britain United Church, the Camere dam and  lock at Lockport, the Manitoba Marine Museum, Knox Church, Twin Oaks, Gunn’s Mill Site, Selkirk Lift Bridge, Stuart House, and St. Clements Church. The cemeteries associated with the area’s old churches offer a visible narration of more than two centuries of local life.

Did I say I was getting around to the second reason? Oops; here are a couple more.

What has impressed us the most is the people. This is a friendly, accepting area, and new ideas are encouraged and welcomed. We had previously lived in a region which preferred the status quo, did not care to try new things, and did not welcome new ideas. We were reminded often that we  were not “from” the region, because we had only lived there for 25 or 30 years. By contrast, we were here a mere 10 months and we were already invited to join community activities – one of those being the Red River North Tourism Association.

Forward-thinking, “can-do” attitude is why we have solar panels installed at the Rec Complex, and once activated the building will be one of the largest solar-powered in Manitoba. Geothermal heating was installed when the Rec Complex was built, and the solar panels will help take us even further off the grid. And thanks to that can-do attitude, we have an affordable city-wide bus service; something rare in a small city.

How about unique annual events? This positive, friendly, welcoming attitude and abundance of forward-looking people is part of the reason that the region has such a thriving tourism industry, a burgeoning film industry, and is home to so many unique annual events like: a vintage car rally that attracts 600 or more vintage autos; and the Kids Fish Ice Derby – a huge fundraiser for Children’s Hospital and Cancer Care – this year attracting over 700 youngsters and 1200 parents.

Summer is filled with varied and dynamic events and activities: markets and concert series at the Selkirk waterfront, The Triple S Fair and Rodeo, Skinner’s Locks Market, Rockin’ on the Red, the Garden and Art Tour, Canada Day celebrations and more. Winter brings Homes for the Holidays and Holiday Alley along with curling leagues, all levels of hockey and ringette, plus Selkirk Steelers hockey, snowmobiling and ice fishing. A local fireworks company adds pyrotechnic excitement to many of these community concerts and events.

Manitoba was the only Canadian destination to make Lonely Planet’s prestigious list of top travel spots. The Red River North region is one of the reasons for this.

Manitobans and visitors to the province don’t have to travel all the way to Churchill to get a taste of what makes Manitoba awesome…come here – there’s so much to see and do.

This is a unique place to live. In our two years here, we still haven’t seen or experienced half of it.

I originally said that we moved here for two reasons – proximity to family, and historical attractions.

We plan to spend our remaining years here for a number of other reasons that I have tried to cover.

So now, when someone asks Cynthia and I why we decided to move here, we just smile and reply: “How much time do you have?”










Moving Reasons

By Bob Turner

My first offering for 2019 is not a moving story, but it is a piece about moving.

Why Selkirk?  Two years ago this month, my wife Cynthia and I moved to our home in St. Andrews, just on the fringe of Selkirk. Time and again, we have been asked why we chose to come here. Each time we explain, it seems our list of positive reasons grows. Most of them are reasons that make Red River North a good place to visit. So it occurs to me they are Red River Reasons.

The first reason for our move was personal: paramount was proximity to our daughter in Lockport and a son in north-east Winnipeg. Being close to Winnipeg without having to dodge a lot of traffic was a definite plus. But we quickly realized that there were many other factors that made Red River North appealing.

An abundance of shopping opportunities is important, whatever your age. Selkirk and the surrounding area has a full complement of retail establishments, from automobiles to art, fast food to furniture, banks to building supplies, credit unions to clothing, bakeries to butcher shops, as well as office supplies, pet stores, craft and paint stores, and much more. There are very few goods or services you have to go outside of the region to access.

The number of unique businesses in the area is a real attraction. We were already acquainted with some that have been here for years and even decades: Skinner’s, Packers Fashion, The Half Moon Drive In, Keystone Source for Sports, Steeltown Ford, Home Hardware, and Selkirk Tire were all familiar to us. What blew us away was the number of exciting new ventures that greeted us: Three 6 Tea, The Mighty Kiwi, and Ubuntu Café and Bakery (to name just a few), and several more have appeared since we moved here.

AND no parking meters! WooHoo!

It is not only convenient – and pleasant – to have so many local retail establishments to chose from, more importantly, there’s no shortage of healthcare, wellness, and professional services available: from the elegant new hospital, to optical and dental clinics, veterinarians and plenty of other services catering specifically to the needs of families and seniors. The range of health and lifestyle services includes clinics, doctors, dentists, orthodontists, physiotherapists, opticians, chiropractors, naturopaths, lawyers, accountants, hairstylists, and aestheticians.

The various amenities and recreation facilities, so easily taken for granted, are outstanding schools, parks, pools, curling and skating rinks, tennis courts, bowling, judo, yoga, walking and cycling paths and trails, fitness facilities and classes, dance studios, and a golf course.

This area truly has it all!

Did you know that the drinking water here was recently rated as the second best in western Canada?

Opportunities for self- enlightenment and pursuing artistic endeavours abound. We have a beautiful new state-of-the-art library with its Urban Prairie, an active community arts center, The Gwen Fox Gallery, several community choral groups, and many other opportunities to pursue musical interests.   A wide variety of denominations of churches provide ample opportunity for spiritual fulfillment too.

Fish stories…We had never realized the significance of the “Chuck the Channel Cat” statue on Main Street, until we moved here. Not only does it have a moving history behind it, but it is a reminder of just how big sport fishing is in the area. All summer long, the Red River is teeming with boats and the shores are dotted with fishers. Come winter, the river becomes a village of ice fishing shacks. This truly is The Catfish Capital of North America.

In addition to fishing, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts have a field day with the hundreds of pelicans along the Red River (The Lockport Air Force) and the geese and other waterfowl commuting from the river to nearby Oak Hammock Marsh. Riparian forest shelters a plethora of songbirds and raptors. Eagles and woodpeckers are sighted year-round. Deer, fox, hares and rabbits are frequent visitors.

For the sports enthusiast: groomed trails beckon those who love cross-country skiing; hiking and biking trails abound for those who are so inclined; and there are dedicated trails for snowmobiling. The Selkirk Golf Club is just one of many in the area; Grand Beach and the East Beaches are renowned, and for those who want to enjoy the water without driving up to the lake, there is Selkirk Park, featuring Manitoba’s largest outdoor pool and splash pad.

And for those who like a different kind of “game” there is the South Beach Casino.

In the past number of years, dozens of movies have been filmed in this area. The successful CBC series “Burden of Truth”, was produced here last winter, and has raised the public profile of the region, Another movie shoot is just wrapping up now and more are scheduled in the future. Who knows what may come next?

My next instalment will offer our second reason for choosing Red River North – I look forward to sharing it with you and hope you drop back here soon to Red River Reasons.

Tea with the Captain is Long Overdue

By Bob Turner

Three years ago, our daughter suggested she would like to take her grandmother to the tea room at Captain Kennedy House,  south of Lockport on River Road. Sadly, the tea room closed that April (2015) before she was able to.

The reason for the closure? The province closed it because engineers found that the 150 year-old historic building had “structural problems”. They estimated the repair bill to be up to $1 million, and said it could take 2-1/2 years.  Well, here it is, over three years later, and the building remains closed. The tea room, (opened by church volunteers 1970, and then operated privately from 2003 onward), and the adjoining museum,  and ornamental garden were popular tourist attractions in the area.

To date, the promises on the sign in front of Kennedy House ring hollow

This summer, Red River North Tourism started a petition to present to the Manitoba Government, asking it to make the necessary repairs so that this important historic structure can be re-opened, and continue to provide a very important tourist attraction for the region.

Why is Kennedy House historically significant?

In 1985, the Minister of Culture, Heritage and Recreation designated the residence as a provincial historic site, in recognition of its importance in the history of our province.

The house was built in 1866, four years before Manitoba entered Confederation, for Captain William Kennedy, who was an explorer, missionary, HBC employee, a founding member of The Manitoba Historical Society, and one of the founders of the Winnipeg Board of Trade in 1873.

A brief biography of Captain Kennedy on the grounds.

Kennedy was a Metis, born at Cumberland House, on the Saskatchewan River, in 1814, the son of Alexander Kennedy, a Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor, and his indigenous wife, Mary Bear, who brought nine children into the world.

Following schooling in Scotland, he worked for the HBC from age 22 until 1848, when he went to Canada West, as it was then called, where he ran his own business fur trading , and lobbied for the expansion of Canada into the north-west.

He had originally wanted to return to England to become a surgeon like his older brothers, but he could not get the sponsorship, so he was destined to be a Canadian.

As a lad, Kennedy had met Sir John Franklin, and in 1850, offered his services to Franklin’s wife to help search for the Franklin expedition, leading two of the searches for Franklin and his men. He is credited with being the first to use dogs and sleds from an exploring ship.

In 1859, he married Eleanor Cripps, a kinswoman of Lady Franklin, and they had two children. Eleanor was a talented musician and singer, and an accomplished painter. A book of her original paintings is on display in the library of the Museum of Man and Nature in Winnipeg

In 1860, Kennedy settled at Fairford, on Lake Manitoba, as an Anglican missionary and teacher to the indigenous people of the area. A year later, he moved to St. Andrews on the Red, where he returned to the employ of HBC as storekeeper at Lower Fort Garry, although his relationship with the company soured.

Kennedy became a director of the North-West Transportation, Navigation and Railway Company. He made a journey from Toronto to the Red River Settlement in February 1857 to prove the possibilities of the route, even in the worst weather. The following year, Kennedy carried the first mail from Toronto to Red River for the company, which held the contract with the Canadian government.

Kennedy worked tirelessly to bring the northwest into Confederation, and circulated a petition in the Red River Settlement, requesting union with Canada which 575 settlers signed. He is also credited with working to keep tensions in the area minimized during the Riel Rebellion, although he took no active part. During the rebellion, bed ridden and crippled with arthritis, he volunteered to act as negotiator meeting privately with Riel.

His efforts did not go unnoticed. In 1879, that he was made a Magistrate of Manitoba, in recognition of his services to help bring about the expansion of Canada into the west.

Kennedy was crippled by rheumatism for the remaining years of his life, living a retired life at St. Andrew’s, still a visible personality in Red River society, passing away in 1890.

There was an economic depression from 1882 to 1885 in the U.S. and much of Europe. The fledgling Manitoba economy did not escape it, and Kennedy suffered a severe business setback, forcing his wife to support the family through dressmaking and millinery endeavors. Unfortunately, in 1892, two years after Kennedy’s death, Eleanor was forced to sell the St. Andrews house, and property, (known at the time as Maple Grove, the name given to the tea room).

Both William and Eleanor are buried in the churchyard at St. Andrew’s on the Red.

In addition to attracting visitors to the tea room, Kennedy House was an opportunity to view one of only seven historical houses left standing along River Road, and one of only three in good condition. The house was constructed using stones quarried from the Red River banks at nearby St. Andrews Rapids. The Gothic Revival style of the Kennedy House is architecturally distinctive, compared to the other old stone houses built in the Red River Settlement, which reflect Georgian influences. By Eastern Canadian and British standards of the time, Kennedy House was simple and unadorned, but by Red River Settlement standards, it was very fashionable.

So why does Kennedy House remain closed?

In 2015, engineers estimated the repair bill to be up to $1 million, and said it could take 2-1/2 years to perform the repairs. Here it is 2018, and there has been no action taken.

The large sign in front is a sad reminder of what once was.

What’s another million or two?

So why isn’t the province doing something about it? Sure, the $1 million price tag might be $2 million by now, but it’s not going to get any smaller if the building is left empty to suffer erosion, mould, and possible vermin infestation.

Yes, the government has committed to getting its financial house in order by holding the line on many new expenditures. But surely if our government can write off $200 million owed in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium fiasco, it can find another million or two to help restore a significant piece of Manitoba’s past, and a critically important tourist attraction for our area.

The building is in remarkable condition, considering its age, but will not stay that way unless the government acts soon.

To date, the petition started by Red River North Tourism has gathered close to 3,000 signatures, and if enough people sign, it may help to bring about government action.

I hope that all who read this will agree with me that there are plenty of “Red River Reasons” to restore this valuable part of Manitoba’s history.

Please sign the petition.

Hopefully my daughter will be able to take her 90 year-old Grandma for tea at Captain Kennedy House in the not-too-distant future.

The building is a unique example of The Gothic Revival architectual style.



Get Me to the Church on Time

By Bob Turner

If you are  interested in seeing interesting old buildings, the many historic churches in Red River North should be on your bucket list.

This past summer, I decided to check out a few, and  was amazed at the number of well-built, well-preserved structures there are. They include the oldest and second oldest stone churches in Western Canada,and  the oldest United Church in Manitoba and Western Canada. Several are designated heritage buildings. I have chosen five to talk about here, all constructed prior to 1900.

The first church built in the area was a log structure, built by Anglican missionary, John West, whose  job was to establish the Anglican Church in the colony and minister to the needs of the

population.  Beginning in 1822, and over the next two decades, a number of Anglican churches were constructed in and around Red River, including a new stone church in 183l.  None of these earliest churches survive.

St. Andrews, the oldest stone church in Western Canada

In 1844 work began on a new church, dedicated to the St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, It has been famous ever since, not just because of the beauty of its site, but also because of its stone and especially its fine bell tower. Today, St. Andrews on the Red remains the oldest stone church in Western Canada, a National Heritage Site. It is still used for weekly public worship.

The kneeling pads in the church are covered in buffalo hide, and many of the other original fixtures remain. St. Andrew’s played a key role in influencing communities that lived and worked along the Red River.

Built to house the Reverend William Cockran, rector of the church, the two story rectory was erected in 1854, it contained 8-9 rooms from which the rector could administer to his parishioners and provide education and religious guidance.

Originally constructed from locally quarried limestone cut from the Red River banks, St. Andrew’s Rectory was authentically reconstructed in the 1980s.

The church and rectory are located south of Lockport on River Road.

The Church of Little Britain

Little Britain United Church began in the 1820’s, as a Presbyterian church when six former Hudson’s Bay Company servants and their families, mostly English and Scottish and all related by blood or marriage, settled in the area between Lower Fort Garry and Lockport.

The area became known as “Little Britain” and became part of the newly-established Parish of St. Andrews in the mid-1840’s

In 1863, the congregation was granted a piece of land by the Hudson’s Bay Company, about 3/4 mile south of the main gate of Lower Fort Garry.

The church was built facing the Red River, which was still the major means of transportation via boats and ferries. There was also a well-used Red River Cart trail running south from Lower Fort Garry along the river bank. In 1874, the church was completed and named the Presbyterian Church of Little Britain. The original pews, pulpit, and other furnishings are still in use today.

It became Little Britain United Church in 1925, and in 1989, was declared a Provincial Historic Site and a major restoration was undertaken

Little Britain is the oldest United Church of Canada building in Manitoba

“The Old Stone Church”, St. Peter Dynevor

St. Peter Dynevor, on the east side of the Red River north of East Selkirk, was the only First Nations Anglican parish in the Red River settlement; it is the most significant site that remains from the Aboriginal agricultural community at St. Peter’s and was the first Anglican mission of its type in Western Canada.

This church was designed and built in Gothic Revival style between 1852 and 1854 by stonemason Duncan McRae under the personal direction of Archdeacon William Cockran. The foundation stone was laid on 23 May 1853 by Bishop David Anderson, who gave the church its name. It replaced an earlier one built in 1836 a little to the south of the new site. Stone was quarried from the bank of the Red River for the foundation and walls.

The church served the Aboriginal settlement of the same name established here in 1834, the first attempt at an Indigenous agricultural community in Western Canada. It was the home church for Chief Peguis, friend and benefactor to the Selkirk Settlers.

. In 1963, “The Old Stone Church” was designated a Provincial Historic Site.

The largely intact church, (still used on a seasonal basis), and surrounding cemetery containing more than 3,000 gravesites including that of Chief Peguis, are now rare links to the only First Nations parish in the Red River Settlement.

Knox Presbyterian Church

(341 Eveline Street, Selkirk)

In 1876, Presbyterians at Selkirk built a small log church on this site and a manse was erected on the west side of the property in 1896. In 1904, a new church building in the Gothic Revival style was built which incorporated the old one. Older parts of the building rest on the original field stone foundation while the newer portions are supported by concrete. One of Selkirk’s finest architectural landmarks, the interior retains the original woodwork and has three stained glass windows by noted Manitoba artist and sculptor Leo Mol

St. Clements Anglican Church

This served as the garrison church for troops stationed at Lower Fort Garry, and was the official chapel of employees of the HBC.

The Parish of St. Clements was established in 1857.

Samuel Taylor, a stonemason who had worked on Lower Fort Garry began construction of the church. It too is built in the English Gothic style, and features stained glass windows designed by Leo Mol. The bell tower was added in 1928.

St. Clements is located on River Road, just past the south city limits of Selkirk, surrounded by a large cemetery, containing the graves of many of the founding families of Selkirk.

These churches are:

Just five more reasons
Whatever the season,
To spend time in Red River North.

Bob Turner, a new resident of Red River North, shares his adventures exploring the area with family and friends

Fishing Blogs

Red River North is one of the most popular spots in the world to catch master catfish and greenback walleye (or pickerel, as we call them in Canada). Learn tips and tricks from local fishing enthusiast, tournament angler and member of the Central Walleye Trail (CWT) David Obirek and from local angler and yarn-spinner Arnie Weidl.

  • Fishing In Red River North

    • Fishing in St. Clements

      Fishing in St. Clements

      It’s been a long, cold few months, but in true Manitoba fashion this hasn’t stopped anglers from hitting the ice while battling the frigid temperatures. The final month of the season is upon us and it’s always an exciting time. Anglers from near and far will be eager to experience …
    • Tournament Time

      Tournament Time

      The leaves are changing colour, the days are becoming cooler and the kids are heading back to school. This is a sure sign that fall is here. What this also means is that the best wall-eye fishing on the Red River is quickly approaching.
    • Fishing fun

      Fishing fun

      There’s a narrow outlet called Drunken Creek by Silver Harbor on the southwest side of Lake Winnipeg.  Oh, the new home owners in the area would probably want the creeks’ name changed to something nicer but the families who settled the place scoff at the idea. Well, that’s where I …
    • When a fish comes, you jump on it!

      When a fish comes, you jump on it!

      Welcome folks. The clear, sun filled sky seemed in tune with the great feeling I had last Wednesday as I walked onto the bridge over the Brokenhead River to once again meet with my Ojibway friends for their summer fishing derby.  I noticed long time councilor Winston Desjarlais was working …
    • Never believe the practical joker when it comes to fishing!

      Never believe the practical joker when it comes to fishing!

      Welcome my friends. The heat of late summers’ unrelenting sun and dry wind lately has driven the fish to deeper, colder waters which meant our anglers, regardless of the fishing spot, generally have been going home empty handed.  That was unacceptable to Art Reimer of Winnipeg who I met fishing …
    • Who owns that fish?

      Who owns that fish?

      Hi guys and gals. There was no reason to think our camper-angler friends at Norris Lake wouldn’t give us an entertaining fishing story when I was there last weekend until I got side tracked by a lovable loon. I idled slowly through the dusty gravel lanes stopping occasionally to talk …
    • Give up my turkey bait!

      Give up my turkey bait!

      Hi fishers, our friends have given us some really great angling stories this past week, enjoy! The sand on Gimli’s Willow Island beach was cool on Sandy’s bare feet in the still early evening. A slight lady, her short brown hair fell on either side of her delicate face. Her …
    • In search of new fishing spots

      In search of new fishing spots

      Hi, thanks for dropping by. With the coming of summer, the urge to travel far and wide in search of new fishing waters captures our imagination. It was no surprise that when I visited with folks around Lake Winnipeg’s south basin last week their unusual stories took us to unfamiliar …
    • “Here, I’ll show you how to cast!”

      “Here, I’ll show you how to cast!”

      Hi guys and gals. I wanted to find us some different fishing stories somewhere along the Winnipeg River last Thursday and thought the pier in Lac du Bonnet might be a pretty good bet.  The warm, sunny fresh morning was beginning to bring the sun bathers out to the sandy …
    • A Fisherman’s Luck

      A Fisherman’s Luck

      Photo: Local commercial fishermen Reney Thomes and Carmen of Belair lift their nets while dealing with a developing crack in the ice of Lake Winnipeg. Welcome friends. I’m always impressed with folks when faced with challenges, stay calm taking things as they come and end up in pretty good shape. …
    • Who says you have to be quiet when fishing?

      Who says you have to be quiet when fishing?

      Photo: Jakob Kuzniak of Selkirk with his catch from the Red River. Hi fellow fishers. In a haze of floating snow urged about by a cool breeze last Saturday I rolled over the flat ice pack on Lake Winnipeg’s south basin. Houses and trees on the Matlock shore shrank to …
    • Fishing with family and friends

      Fishing with family and friends

      Photo: A large group of family and friends from Stonewall with some of their catch on Shoal Lake. From left to right, back  row, Matt Chamaillard, Shaunne Precourt, Paul Breland, Marc Chamaillard, Phil Soroka and Joe St. Laurent;  front row, Nickolas Soroka, Jocelyn Chamaillard, Emily Chamaillard and Amanda Chamaillard.   …
    • Fishermen’s luck earns him supper

      Fishermen’s luck earns him supper

      Photo: Cameron Bernier with a pickerel he caught while fishing with his father on the Red River by Breezy Point Hi outdoor buddies. Late last week found me sitting and swapping fishing stories with Phillip Perkins of Transcona in Shawn MacDuffs’ ice shack not far from the end of Gimlis’ …
    • Another tale about the fish that got away

      Another tale about the fish that got away

      Photo: Dennis Barchuk of Belair with a nice eating pickerel just caught. Hello again fishing buddies. It’s hard not to make some reference to the movie The Wizard of Oz when I share a story given to us from the folks at Belair. Belair is on the east side of Lake …
    • Fishing shirtless in the tropics of Lake Winnipeg

      Fishing shirtless in the tropics of Lake Winnipeg

      Our shirtless guys on the Red River where Tyler landed the fish with a flik of his foot, left to right, Travis Noble, Jack Campbell, Tyler Dusanek and Drew Richards all of Winnipeg. What a great bunch of fun loving guys. Welcome fellow outdoors enthusiasts. I guess it was last …
    • Baiting fish with jellybeans

      Baiting fish with jellybeans

      Photo: Stephanie, Guy Darrens’ wife, with a pickerel she caught on Dauphin Lake. Hi folks. Last week my instincts told me it was time to visit anglers on Gull Lake and Shoal Lake, which are known for great perch fishing. The grey, cool, breezy day seemed to have little affect …
    • Four-legged thieves have to eat

      Four-legged thieves have to eat

      Photo: Chris Passalis of Winnipeg with some of his pickerel catch caught on the Red River by the Selkirk Park. Hi outdoor buddies. I hope you survived the Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities. Happily, the good times continue with humorous fishing stories our fellow anglers have offered for our …
    • Winter fun and ice fishing have begun

      Winter fun and ice fishing have begun

      Photo: Curt Bayak with a pickerel he caught standing on front of his and Terry Roth’s rental shacks. Hi gang. On New Year’s Eve, we celebrate the hope for better things to come. In our world of winter outdoor sport, two young guys at Sunset Beach bay just south of …
    • A Bombardier to the rescue

      A Bombardier to the rescue

      Photo: John Klassen, left, and son Kyle Klassen with some of their pickerel catch by Sugar Island on the Red. Seasons greetings, everyone! This is our time of year when we share love in all its ways as well as helping others in need. It reveals the best in us. …
    • Sharing the Catch of the Day

      Sharing the Catch of the Day

      Photo: Ron Iverson, left, Wes Hurd, middle, and Dale Iverson with some of Dale’s catch on the Red River. Hi guys and gals. Man, talk about mowing the lawn one week and cranking up your snowmobile in a ice storm not long after. On the bright side, maybe we’ll be …
    • Some people just have all the luck

      Some people just have all the luck

      Photo: Emily Birley with a monster walleye she caught on the Red at the waterfront pier at Selkirk. Welcome, fishing pals. In the last little while, some fishing stories have come to us bearing a humorous similarity about anglers fishing beside each other yet realizing vastly different luck. It was …
    • Fishing in the ponds proves to be rewarding

      Fishing in the ponds proves to be rewarding

      Photo: Dan Dooly, left, and Tyler Booner with two Tiger Trout caught at the ponds north of Lac du Bonnet. Express photo submitted. Hi. Thanks for stopping for a moment to enjoy a few fishing stories our buddies have been kind enough to share. Time and again lately, I have stopped …
    • Local angler shows pity on fisherman friend

      Local angler shows pity on fisherman friend

      Welcome to my fishing pals. It seems our first cool snap and snow has spurred many of us on to getting our winter fishing gear ready. It’s only human nature to be apprehensive about the coming winter so let me and a new young fishing friend of ours, Dallas Morrisseau …

Red River Reasons

Follow the adventures of new area resident Bob Turner as he explores Red River North with family and friends.

  • Red River Reasons

    • Row, Row, Row Your Boats…

      Row, Row, Row Your Boats…

      Red River North Tourism was pleased to be a premiere sponsor of the Red River Paddle Challenge on Saturday, September 26th. Sixty-two participants paddled the 45km (28mi) course. The race had a staggered start, with the entrants leaving St. Vital Park beginning at 9:36am and paddling to The Half Moon …
    • Mural, Mural, On the Wall

      Mural, Mural, On the Wall

      Now that the “lockdown” has come to an end, or at least we are being afforded a few more freedoms in our everyday living, I thought I should get busy writing about all the tourist attractions we have here in Red River North. So, do I invite everybody to this …
    • Twenty Reasons in 2020

      Twenty Reasons in 2020

      I have said so many times that there are countless reasons to spend time in Red River North. For my first offering of the new year, I thought it fitting to give 20 of the main reasons that I have said this. A good friend, (who is more energetic than …
    • Two Hours of Reasons

      Two Hours of Reasons

      By: Bob Turner Got a couple of hours to spare to get an overview of the history of Selkirk, St. Andrews and St. Clements? Well, why not take the Selkirk & Area Heritage Tour. This driving tour offers you a view of over 30 historically significant features of Red River …
    • Take a Walk on the Wild Side

      Take a Walk on the Wild Side

      Looking to get away from it all, and spend a couple of hours close to nature, in a unique setting, enjoying the sounds and sights of a wild, untouched part of Manitoba? Then take a walk on The Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail. The boardwalk winds through the trees This self-guided …
    • A New Library…A New Vision

      A New Library…A New Vision

      CHAPTER 7 A New Library… A New Vision, By: Bob Turner Jim and Betty Anne Gaynor donated $ 1.5 million to the construction of a new library on condition that funding from the City of Selkirk, the Rural Municipalities of St. Clements and St. Andrews, and the Province of Manitoba …
    • Reading Between the Lines

      Reading Between the Lines

      By Bob Turner INTRODUCTION This time around, my reason for you to visit Red River North may have some of you puzzled, because it’s likely not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of tourism, or visiting a  city or area of our province. The attraction I …
    • Reasons to Remember

      Reasons to Remember

      By: Bob Turner April 9th is an important date in Canadian history, and in the history of Red River North. Why? It is the 102nd anniversary of The Battle of Vimy Ridge, a turning point in World War I, and the event that is often referred to as the time …
    • Moving Reasons #2

      Moving Reasons #2

      My last blog introduced the factors that motivated my wife Cynthia and I to move to the Red River North. I’m finally getting around to the second reason the region appealed to us: the abundance of historical attractions. River Road Heritage Parkway is a scenic drive through the making of …
    • Moving Reasons

      Moving Reasons

      By Bob Turner My first offering for 2019 is not a moving story, but it is a piece about moving. Why Selkirk?  Two years ago this month, my wife Cynthia and I moved to our home in St. Andrews, just on the fringe of Selkirk. Time and again, we have …
    • Tea with the Captain is Long Overdue

      Tea with the Captain is Long Overdue

      Three years ago, our daughter suggested she would like to take her grandmother to the tea room at Captain Kennedy House, south of Lockport on River Road. Sadly, the tea room closed that April (2015) before she was able to.
    • Get Me to the Church on Time

      Get Me to the Church on Time

      If you are interested in seeing interesting old buildings, the many historic churches in Red River North should be on your bucket list. This past summer, I decided to check out a few, and was amazed at the number of well-built, well-preserved structures there are.
    • A Grand Community

      A Grand Community

      In August, I decided to explore the northern-most part of Red River North. So with my wife and mother-in-law in tow, I headed up Highway 59 to Grand Marais, which is just 45 km north of Selkirk on Lake Winnipeg.
    • I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

      I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

      I must admit that although I was looking forward to the July 22, 2018 Garden and Art Tour, I was a bit skeptical of the potential success of such an event.
    • Ships Ahoy!

      Ships Ahoy!

      To say that our two oldest grandsons are interesting young fellows is an understatement. Elliot and Luke are an unusual mixture: both are into science and technology, and both love history (and not just the war part, although that is a large part of it).
    • Feeding Time

      Feeding Time

      Since moving to the Selkirk area, I have been astounded by the number of pelicans here. From our sunroom window, we have an excellent view of the Red River, and I have watched with fascination as flocks of these birds scout for fish in the river below.
    • Red River Reasons

      Red River Reasons

      RED RIVER REASONS By Bob Turner I am a relative newcomer to Red River North, having moved to the Selkirk area a year ago.There were a number of reasons why my wife and I decided to retire here: First and foremost was the fact we have family living near Lockport …

A Grand Community

Grand Marais Manitoba map
Grand Marais Manitoba map

By Bob Turner

In August, I decided to explore the northern-most  part of Red River North. So with my wife and mother-in-law in tow, I headed up Highway 59 to Grand Marais, which is just 45 km north of Selkirk on Lake Winnipeg.

I had heard of East Beaches Heritage Wing, and knew Grand Marais had a storied past, but had never been there to investigate. The three of us spent a couple of very enjoyable hours there. Now I know it’s late to be encouraging you to visit this year, so if you can’t, it’s a  “must see” destination to add to your list for next summer.

It took a couple of drives past the complex before I realized that Grand Marais Community Central and RV Park was indeed the home of East Beaches Heritage Wing, but once I got that sorted out, we were off and running.

Opened in July of 2015, the Heritage Wing has already had thousands of visitors who have gained a better understanding and appreciation of the East Beaches area’s natural beauty and diverse cultural history.

Grand Marais Community Central building
Grand Marais Community Central building

The Grand Marais Community Central building is constructed so that it resembles a train station of bygone years, and contains a travel Manitoba outlet, an RV Park registration office, meeting rooms, public washrooms, a large central hallway, where a crafters market had been held the day we arrived, and of course, its main feature:

The East Beaches Heritage Wing

Entrance to East Beaches Heritage Wing
Entrance to East Beaches Heritage Wing

There are a number of reasons why this won the Association of Manitoba Museums Award of Excellence for 2016. It is small, but mighty, filled with interactive displays that feature the history of the East Beaches area and Lake Winnipeg. There is no cost to view the exhibits, only a friendly request to help the operation with a donation.

Among the displays is an aquarium containing native turtles and fish; it is a self-sustaining microsystem of the Lake Winnipeg and Grand Marais Lagoon area. Visitors can learn of the origin, ecology and health of our majestic lake, the world’s tenth largest.

Part of "Our Roots" exhibit
Part of “Our Roots” exhibit

The display entitled Our Roots (1700s to mid-1900s) features stories from community elders about  how they lived in the remote and rugged area of the time.

Visit the Glory Days (1916 to 1960s), when the newly-built railroad and a beach resort like none other in Manitoba beside one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, changed the face of the area forever.

Did you know that The Dance Pavillion back in 1917 was the largest dance hall in the Commonwealth? Sadly, it was destroyed by fire in the 1950’s.

In addition, there was a large carousel and boardwalk.. This is all depicted in a diorama which includes a model train that you can run, making it an enjoyable experience for young and old.You can also see a show about the old movies that were once featured in Harry’s Hideout.

Village and railroad diorama
Village and railroad diorama
Train poster 1931
Train poster 1931

Today and into the Future gives visitors a glimpse of what is next for the East Beaches area, such as plans for a primary healthcare clinic called “The Living 360 Centre”.

The exhibits are open all week from May to September long weekend.

Other features of Grand Marais/East Beaches

The RV Park, which opened in 2012, has 44 sites.

There are walking paths, picnic benches and plans for a memorial park.

There are a number of unique, historic buildings in the community of Grand Marais. The summer-time community of was established in 1914, and St. Jude’s Anglican Church is the oldest remaining building in the village, and also the strongest connection to the original Métis community that settled here. The church is of log construction, in the renowned Gothic Revival form, with a crenellated tower that rises from the front porch. The church is surrounded by a cemetery that contains the gravesites of many of Grand Marais’ earliest inhabitants.

Grand Beach Dance Hall
Grand Beach Dance Hall

You can’t miss the gaudily-painted Lanky’s Hot Dog Stand, the last remaining site along Grand Beach Road that recalls the line of commercial establishments that once dominated this strip – serving fast foods and entertainments, but also groceries and other necessities.

And if you are into winter activities, this an excellent place to enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and more!

All in all, it is a GRAND place to visit, and just one more reason…



Whatever the season
There’s always a reason
To spend time in Red River North

Tournament Time

By David Obirek

Read more by columnist and tournament angler David Obirek in The Fishing Journal the first Thursday of the month.


The leaves are changing colour, the days are becoming cooler and the kids are heading back to school. This is a sure sign that fall is here. What this also means is that the best wall-eye fishing on the Red River is quickly approaching. If you’re like me, the fall is the most exciting fishing time of the year and I enjoy nothing more than reeling in big “greenback” walleye. But walleye won’t be the only fish taking the stage in September.

Tip of the Month

The fall can bring higher volumes of traffic to boat launches. Be courteous and patient while fol-lowing these simple rules. Don’t use the launch ramp lanes to prep and load your boat. Staging areas are available at most launches. Don’t tie up at the launching dock any longer than necessary. Use mooring docks if available. Be considerate of other boaters.

Girl and Fish - Sept 6 2018
Girl and fish

The Canalta Catfish Masters Cup is set for September 8th with the rules meeting Sept. 9 at the AG Barn in Selkirk Park. This tournament recently changed organizers and is now run locally. The goal is to take this event to great heights and to attract anglers from near and far.
As you will note the new title sponsor is Canalta Hotels. the idea is to gain local support and traction to make this the cat-fish celebration the community is long overdue for. Contact the tournament Director for entry details at wjruta@gmail. com or visit Facebook at @Catfishmasterscup. For many who have fished the stretch of river between Lockport and Selkirk over the years will know firsthand the incredible channel catfishing the Red River has to offer.

Unless you grew up in Selkirk though, you may not realize how this incredible fishery became a world known trophy destination which is often referred to as the Channel Catfish Capital of the World. As you drive through the City of Selkirk the beloved statue of “Chuck the Channel Cat” adorns Main Street in front of Smitty’s Family Restaurant smiling at every passing vehicle and pedestrian. This Selkirk and Manitoba icon was erected in May 1986 as a way to help stamp the community’s existence on the angling map.

The 25 foot high fiberglass statue was named after William Charles “Chuck” Lawrence Norquay, a local angler who played a significant role in promoting catfishing on the river. It was Chuck himself who single handily lured legendary angler and TV host Babe Winkelman from Minnesota to Selkirk in order to showcase what Chuck firmly believed to be a one of a kind fishery.

At the young age of 37, Chuck lost his life in a tragic boating accident while fishing on the Red River at Lockport in 1993 while doing what he loved best, fishing.

August 18 marked the 25th Anniversary of his passing. Chuck’s love of fishing has left a lasting impact on the community he loved and called home. The fishery continues to thrive and plays host to anglers from around the globe who want a chance to catch a monster channel cat that only this northern portion of the historic Red River can produce.

Tourism and the economy has greatly benefited by this one man’s passion and for this we will always be grateful and remember Chuck as his legacy lives on in the hearts of many.

The Catfish Masters Cup with the blessing of Chuck’s family will be dedicating the Big Fish Award each year in his memory.
The award will be proudly called “The Chuck Norquay” Big Fish Award and is sponsored by The Fishing Journal. This award will be given to the team that measures the largest Channel Catfish during the Canalta Cat-fish Masters Cup. Individual plaques will be presented to each of the two team members and a large plaque will be on display in Selkirk.

Other events coming up in September is The Walleye Masters Cup in Selkirk on Sept. 29. For information contact or on Facebook @thewalleyemasterscup.

The Filipino Anglers Association of Manitoba will be hosting a shore fishing derby at Sel-kirk Park on Sept. 15 with registration at 7 a.m. Derby starts at 9:00am. All are welcome and tickets are available in Selkirk at Smoke N Fish. The 20th Annual Walleye Classic is being held at the Lake Manitoba Narrows on September 22nd. Registration opens at 7:00am. For more information email revy@lmngf. ca

Thanks for reading and remember, KEEP FISHING!

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

By Bob Turner

I must admit that although I was looking forward to the  July 22, 2018 Garden and Art Tour, I was a bit skeptical of the potential success of such an event. I am happy to report that I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!

Pottery by John Valentine
Pottery by John Valentine

To say the first annual Red River North Tourism Garden and Art Tour was a success would be an understatement. Does it have a promising future? YOU BET!!

A couple of hundred visitors enjoyed a self-guided tour of seven properties and a market garden, as well as a chainsaw sculpture demonstration at the waterfront. As a newer resident of the area, I was provided an opportunity to see some beautifully-kept yards and gardens, as well as being offered a glimpse of some of the amazing artistic talent in the area.

Jewellery and Paintings at Gaynor Family Library
Jewellery and Paintings at Gaynor Family Library

It is impossible to describe in words, the many beautiful yards that are the results of hours of hard work and careful attention. These properties are truly something to behold.

The artists involved in the event displayed a wide range of talents: photography, painting – oil, watercolour, and acrylic, jewellery-making, glasswork, pottery, woodworking, barn quilting, rug hooking, quilting, metal sculpture, and chainsaw sculpture.

The yard at Cocleugh House
The yard at Cocleugh House

We visited with Christine Wasnie, painter and author, and Johanna Vrienten, an accomplished oil painter, and talked with Gail Penner, while admiring her jewellery and photography. We were wowed by the beautiful gardens and yard at Colcleugh House.

We were entertained by 15 year-old flutist, Sophie, with beautiful renditions of Abba’s “I Have  A Dream”, and “S.O.S.”. We watched Mary Thomas demonstrate rug-hooking, an art that she will be demonstrating this November at Holiday Alley. Which presents me with a perfect opportunity to remind everyone to mark November 30thand December 1st  on your calendars. That’s when this year’s Holiday Alley will be held. After last year’s success, I need say no more at this time, and I am certain many will be recording the date.

Have you heard of barn quilting?

Wooden horses at Yurkiw's
Wooden horses at Yurkiw’s

A barn quilt is a large piece of wood painted to look like a block or square in a quilt. Originating in the U.S. the craft has spread to Canada, and visitors to the yard of Maurice Yurkiw were treated to a display by Donna Kerns and Bonnie Dykes, whoare members of theInterlake Barn Quilt Trail.

What is a quilt trail, you ask? It is an accumulation of many barn quilts that are mapped together and visited. Those following along the trail receive a map with all of the locations marked, and viewers drive through the countryside to see all of the blocks.

In theage is just a number” department:

A few of the displays at Evergreen Gates
A few of the displays at Evergreen Gates

At Evergreen Gate I talked with Janet Cruse, a lady who proudly informed me that as of last year, she designs her hand-made jewellery on a three-dimensional computer program. “Why should age be a barrier?” she asked. Why, indeed! I found her self-confidence and adventurous spirit a real inspiration! And, as the old saying goes:  “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”; her jewellery was dazzling and creative, to say the least.

I took a turn, along with two other fellows, accompanying Russ Kubara at the Selkirk Waterfront. Russ is an artist who sculpures wood with chainsaws, performing the fine finishing with smaller wood-smoothing devices suited to the task.

Chainsaw Mastery
Chainsaw mastery

An artist with a chainsaw?

Yes, indeed!! Over a span of six hours, with dozens of “time-outs” to answer questions from the many visitors, Russ turned an ordinary piece of log into a pelican standing on a base. To say that he is amazing is an understatement. Although he modestly told me anyone could learn to do it, only a highly creative individual could look at a chunk of log, and know where to start lopping off  pieces with a chainsaw.

He uses several chainsaws, varying in size and shape, each ideal for a certain task. And little by little, the woodchips dropped off, the sawdust flew, and a work of art appeared. This was a true “Selkirk Chainsaw Masterpiece”.

I have attempted to touch on some of the highlights of my abbreviated version of the tour. Apologies to the many talented artists I have not mentioned, and also to the yards and gardens I was unable to get to because of time constraints. Oh well, next year! And I know THERE WILL BE A NEXT YEAR!!

The 2018 Garden and Art Tour, an event that proves:

Whatever the season,
There’s always a reason,
To spend time in Red River North.

Ships Ahoy!

By Bob Turner

To say that our two oldest grandsons are interesting young fellows is an understatement. Elliot and Luke are an unusual mixture: both are into science and technology, and both love history (and not just the war part, although that is a large part of it). So it shouldn’t have surprised us when we asked them if they would like to go to The Marine Museum of Manitoba last summer on one of their visits here to Selkirk, they were eager to do so.

Marine Museum of Manitoba

So with their then four year-old sister in tow, Grandma, Grandpa, an eleven year-old and an eight year-old began the tour, on one of the hottest days of last summer.

A marine museum on the prairies is a unique concept. It consists of six ships, with connecting walkways that depict the colourful past of Manitoba’s waterways, when the only way to transport freight and large numbers of passengers from the south of the province to Lake Winnipeg and beyond was by boat.

Established in 1972 The Marine Museum of Manitoba provides visitors with a hands-on heritage experience and tells the story of the development and the operation of marine life on Lake Winnipeg and the Red River circa 1850 to present day. Visitors get to board the very ships that navigated the waters and learn how the Port of Selkirk played a vital role in the development of Manitoba.Many of us don’t realize that Lake Winnipeg is Canada’s sixth largest freshwater lake (exceeding even Lake Ontario), and the world’s tenth largest.

The museum’s oldest ship is the S. S. Keenora, built in 1897, was a passenger and freight steamship on Lake of the Woods, the Red River and Lake Winnipeg.The Keenora accommodated 65 passenger cabins in her 48 meters length and travelled up to 15 knots, or nearly 28 kmh. After coming to Winnipeg in 1917, a syndicate of Winnipeg lawyers used her for a season as a floating dance hall!

Marine Museum of Manitoba

The next oldest ship is the C. G. S. Bradbury. Prefabricated in Sorel, Quebec, it was assembled on the bank of the Selkirk slough in 1915. During her career she served the Federal Government as fishing patrol vessel, a lighthouse tender and an icebreaker until she was forced to retire in 1973. Among the Bradbury’s exploits was the 1917 journey through half a foot of ice, taking doctors and medicine to a northern settlement struck by the flu epidemic.

TheChickama II was built in 1942 by the Purvis Company of Selkirk, and operated as a passenger and freight vessel on Play Green Lake. Every spring she travelled north to Warren’s Landing to make regular trips through the shallow rocky waters to Norway House. She took the cargo from the S.S. Keenora, who was unable to navigate the waters of the smaller lake.
The LadyCanadian was a fish freighter built in 1944, also by the Purvis Company and was later rebuilt by Riverton Boat works in 1963. Originally, she was owned by Canadian Fish Products and was also used by Manitoba Hydro as a survey ship.

Peguis II was a Government tug built for Public Works in 1955. It operated on Lake Winnipeg from 1955 to 1974 as a dredge tender. It assisted in the movement of barges loaded with sand, silt and mud from the dredging of harbours and channels.
The Joe Simpson is the most recent addition to the museum, donated in 1994.

In a city with a long history of outstanding hockey teams, it should come as no surprise that one of the ships would bear the name of a hockey player. Outstanding teams include The Selkirk Fishermen Junior B franchise, which was founded in 1917, and is the longest running junior hockey team in Canada, and the Selkirk Steelers, who won the 1974 Centennial Cup, becoming Canadian Junior A hockey champs.
The Joe Simpson wasnamed after the famous hockey player, “Bullet Joe” Simpson, who was originally from Selkirk. In addition to playing with the Selkirk Fishermen junior hockey club, he served in the Canadian Army during World War I, and captained the Winnipeg 61stBattalion team, the 1916 Allan Cup Champions. He also played and coached in the NHL.

Built in 1963, the Joe Simpson was installed with the original diesel engines from the S.S. Keenora. As the Joe Simpson was a flat bottomed vessel and could navigate shallow waters, it took over the duties of the Chickama II as a freighter travelling from Warren’s Landing to Norway House.

Various smaller boats and ship parts are displayed around the grounds, as well as an 1898 lighthouse relocated from Black Bear Island, a hundred miles from Selkirk.

The Marine Museum of Manitoba is open from May long-weekend to September long-weekend each year, seven days a week,
There are many interesting marine-related items displayed throughout, including pictures, newspaper articles, an old riverboat rudder, original life preservers on each ship, and a diver behind glass wearing century-old equipment.

My grandkids tried their hand at the wheel of several ships, and enjoyed playing with the buttons on an old radar unit among other things. Mostly, they just seemed tickled to be on genuine old ships – not replicas – that had sailed the waters of their province.
If you are brave and adventurous, check out the “very scary” Halloween tour, which is a favourite with many each October.
Proof for us that the museum was a hit with the grandkids was the fact that they have reminded us over the winter that it will be one of the highlights of their stay-overs this summer!

The Marine Museum of Manitoba in Selkirk – Another Red River North Reason!

2018 Garden and Art Tour Artist Bios

Meet the talented local artists who will be featured on the

Garden Art Tour


They Came in waves painting


Gayle Halliwell  Following successful career in educational leadership, Gayle traded her pen for paintbrush in 2008 to begin colouring her world as a professional artist. Early days were a palette filled by workshops and study with recognized artists. Studio 410, an arts-dedicated space, allows Gayle to swim in pigment every day of the year. A graduate of the AMYC Master Class and the Interlake Artists’ Mentorship have
enhanced her extensive self-guided study. A decade into this adventure, Gayle is a recognized visual artist and a valued leader in local arts organizations and initiatives.

Award-winning lake, sky, and landscapes attest to Gayle’s love affair with Lake Winnipeg. She draws on decades as a summertime live-aboard boater and a lifetime of playing on shore. Acrylic, watercolour, and clay vie for Gayle’s attention as she splashes and squishes her way through the day.



Leslie Turnbull


Leslie Turnbull makes her home in Gimli and Winnipeg Manitoba.  She has been using water colour to paint landscapes for several years.  Leslie is inspired in her painting by the many places she has lived in Canada, from coast to coast, and is especially awed by the beauty of Manitoba’s Interlake region.  She is a member of the Gimli Art Club and exhibits in the club’s gallery in Gimli. Together, Leslie and her husband Rob Hilliard have six children.





Velocity Jewlery


Krista Reid with countless designs in sterling silver include rings, pendants, pins, earrings, bracelets and more! Many theme designs such as: sports, wildlife, nature, horses, northern and Canadiana, Celtic and various symbolic themes. Custom designs are available for production pieces or for individuals including sterling silver, karat gold and gemstones. Celebrating over 30 years of jewelry making in Winnipeg! 



Charley Waters and John Valentine


Feeding Time

By Bob Turner

Since moving to the Selkirk area, I have been astounded by the number of pelicans here. From our sunroom window, we have an excellent view of the Red River, and I have watched with fascination as flocks of these birds scout for fish in the river below. And it is rare to drive or walk anywhere along the river, without seeing large numbers of them gathered along the shore, busily “fishing”.

Anytime I see the birds, I recall the old limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt:

pelicans by the locks
Pelicans by the locks in Lockport, Manitoba

“A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I’ll be darned if I know how the h___ican?”

I had never encountered pelicans anywhere I lived previously, and can’t help but marvel at how such an awkward-looking bird can be so graceful in flight. Judging by the number of people, young and old, that I see watching them anytime I pass the parks at Lockport, I am not alone. My fascination with pelicans led to a bit of research on them, and I discovered that they are an attraction in the Red River North area. They are fondly referred to here as the Lockport Air Force, or Lockport Squadron.

It is estimated that half of the Canadian population of American White Pelicans breeds in Manitoba. That number represents about one-third of the entire world population of the birds.Pelicans are commonly seen downstream from hydro-electric dams, waterfalls, and rapids as well as shallow bays and river mouths, which explains why Lockport is visited by hundreds of pelicans in the summer

The American White Pelican is a protected species in Manitoba. It is one of the world’s largest birds: it has an overall length of 130-180 cm, (50-70 in.) with the beak alone between 25 and 38 mm, and its weight averages between 5 and 9 kg. Apart from the difference in size, males and females look alike. Their wingspan is second in North America only to the California condor, at 240-300 cm, which partly explains their gracefulness in flight, as they glide effortlessly high above us or mere inches above the water surface.

While some pelicans have lived up to 26 years, most do not live beyond 10 to 15.

Adults start nesting when about three years old.. The birds arrive on the breeding grounds in March or April; nesting starts between early April and early June

The nest is a shallow depression scraped in the ground, and after about one week of courtship and nest-building, the female lays 2 or 3 eggs, with usually only one young per nest surviving.

Both parents incubate for about a month; they may commute 100 km or more between nesting site and feeding grounds, often resulting in overnight feeding. The young (who are born naked), leave the nest 3–4 weeks after hatching, and then spend the following month in a pod, developing mature plumage and eventually learning to fly. The parents care for their offspring some three more weeks, until late summer or early fall, when the birds gather in larger groups in preparation for migration. Usually, most are gone by the end of September.

Unlike its southern brown cousin, the American White Pelican does not dive for its food. Instead it catches its prey while swimming. Groups of 30 or more swim in a co-ordinated fashion to corral fish, then dipping their bills into the water they scoop them up, When this is not easily possible – for example in deep water, where fish can escape by swimming down out of reach – they prefer to forage alone.

Each bird eats more than 2 kg of food a day, mostly fish of low human economic value, as well as crayfish, salamanders and other aquatic animals. Occasionally, they steal food from other birds, including other pelicans, gulls and cormorants.

Dangers to pelicans include the red fox, coyotes, and human activity. Several gulls as well as the common raven have been known to steal pelican eggs and nestlings. Young pelicans may be hunted by great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, and golden eagles.

While there was a decline in their numbers in the mid-20thcentury as a result of chemical spraying, and draining and pollution of wetlands, they have recovered nicely thanks to environmental protection laws introduced in 1963, and by the beginning of this century, their numbers were well over 100, 000 adults, with over 30,000 nests in 50 different colonies in Canada alone.

And here in Red River North, we are fortunate to have an abundance of them.

So next time you are anywhere along the Red River from Lockport north, stop and spend a few minutes watching pelicans in flight or on the water. I believe you will come away with a new appreciation of these prehistoric-looking birds.

The American White Pelican – another Red River North Reason!

Red River Reasons


By Bob Turner

I am a relative newcomer to Red River North, having moved to the Selkirk area a year ago.There were a number of reasons why my wife and I decided to retire here: First and foremost was the fact we have family living near Lockport and in north-east Winnipeg. But the second, and almost as important reason was the fact that there is lots to see and do in the region.

We love historic attractions and Red River North has more than its fair share. This became evident when our good friend Gord visited from Calgary last summer. Here is a man who has been all over North America, Australia, and Britain, so he is not easily impressed, but always game to investigate something new. We stopped for a milkshake at Skinners, and he suggested we cross River Road to look at the commemorative monument near the St. Andrews Locks and Dam. Well, the walk led to an hour or so of entertainment and an eye-opening experience for his hosts.

I was aware that the dam is used to regulate water level on the Red River, although I wasn’t aware that it’s the largest dam of this type (Camere style) ever built, and the only one still in existence in the world. Cool, I thought. But friend Gord wasn’t done there. “Ooo Ooo”, he exclaimed. “We can go and watch boats come through the locks!”

“Oh great”, I thought. “At least it’s more exciting than watching automobiles rust.”

Now I have been accused of having the attention span of a two year-old, but I have to admit, I spent the next hour or so watching several family pleasure-crafts come through the locks as per schedule, some heading north and some heading south.

The whole structure – the dam, the locks, and the bridge over them – were completed back in 1910 to allow freighter ships to travel between Winnipeg and areas north. The elevation drop of the Red River, about 13 feet between Middlechurch and Lister Rapids, made it impossible prior to this. In later years, competition from railway and road decreased its importance, but at the time of its construction, the Lockport installation made economic development possible to the north.

The total cost of construction was $3.5 million, paid by the Canadian government. (This, I believe, is about the same amount it costs to build one kilometre of twinned highway today.)  The fact that the whole installation is still functioning today is a testament to the quality of construction and the reason it was designated as a Canadian Civil Engineering Historic Site in 1990, in addition to its designation as a National Historic Site.

This is a perfect place for anyone looking to spend a few minutes or a few hours, without spending more than a few dollars (gas unless you cycle, and possibly snacks). There’s something for young and old: while there we saw families watching the flocks of pelicans that gather there to scoop up fish from the river; there are benches to relax on and lots of picnic spots in the two parks  next to the dam (provincial on the east side, federal on the west) ;and like us with our friend Gord, there’s watching boats coming through the locks. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fishing. This, after all is catfish country! And pickerel/walleye country!  And sauger, yellow perch, and freshwater drum country!

It’s only a 20-minute drive from the Perimeter Highway, and easy to find, so why not check it out? The Dam, Locks, and Bridge, at Lockport. Just one of many reasons to explore Red River North.

In his final report, on April 10thof this year, Rick Mercer summed it up when he said, “If you can’t make the big trips, make the small trips, in your own back yard. I guarantee you it’s awesome.”

In coming months I will explore many more reasons to travel here in your own back yard – Red River Reasons – here in Red River North.

Processed with MOLDIV

Fishing fun

There’s a narrow outlet called Drunken Creek by Silver Harbor on the southwest side of Lake Winnipeg.  Oh, the new home owners in the area would probably want the creeks’ name changed to something nicer but the families who settled the place scoff at the idea.

Well, that’s where I wound up early last week and saw a chap tailgate fishing off the bank with two boys. I pulled into the grass beside them and asked how the fishing was. The father, Ravi Gupta, a quick witted fellow, shook his head saying they were still fishless after a day’s angling. “But tell him about last summer here when we caught all those perch dad,” Ravis’ eldest son Jayden, a likable, excited string bean of a kid put in.  “Yes,” Ravi took up the story, “A school of perch swam into our fishing area and as fast as I could bait the boys pickerel rigs and get them back in the water, two more would strike!” “We caught and released a whole bunch but kept some for lunch,” Little Lennox, Ravis’ thin brown haired youngest added.  As I left them Ravi pulled up a catfish.  I laughed as he spread his arms to the sky with mocked displeasure on his face.

A few days later I was in Selkirk and met David Gilbart. Now here is a guy who has been a committed angler all his life.  We happen to be looking out over the banks of the Red River as we spoke and I could see the fondness in his eyes for the river.  “When we were kids, my friends and I spent every moment we could around those banks, fishing if we felt like it or just horsing around.  More than once we came home wet having fallen into the water but we always seemed to explain our way out of it to our parents.”  His love for fishing in different places has expanded now.  Not long ago he was fishing with his father Wes on the Winnipeg River.  It was hot with the blinding sun reflecting off the water.   Around noon the men began to think the fish had gone to the colder, bottom waters when David felt his line was snagged.  He tightened his drag and hauled in some line.  It wasn’t snagged.  Father and son looked at each other questioningly as David continued hauling and reeling in.  Then it broke surface, a long, gigantic walleye!  It came close to the boat rolling lazily on its’ side, then erupted, thrashing, sending sprays of water into the air.  Tail high it dove for the deep, David’s line screaming off the reel. He loosened his drag a bit, letting the fish run.  With not much line left on the reel, thankfully the fish stopped.  Experienced angler that David was, he started again slowly purposely hauling and reeling in. This time when the fish rose by the boat they could tell it was tired.  Dad netted the pickerel into the boat for a picture then released it, making sure it could swim.

A week or two ago I drove east of Seven Sisters Falls on the 307 until I reached a favorite little spot of mine by Caribou Creek.  There’s a small dock and parking lot there and when I pulled in I saw a guy with his family fishing off the dock.  I got out of my car and asked this fellow who looked like no stranger to the outdoors with his graying handlebar mustache, rugged features and powerful stance if he had a fishing story for us.  It turned out, he, Arnie Brown, was from Rankin Inlet and remembered a close call when he and a friend had been out fly fishing.  With bare rock bottoms, the waterways in Rankin Inlet are very clear.  They were bringing the float plane into dock after fishing and Arnie standing on the planes’ float, rope in hand, jumped for the dock missing it by “that much!”  In seconds, he found himself up to his neck in ice cold water.  Right beside his head was the dock and on the other side, the planes’ float was coming to meet his face.  Instinctively he dove under the freezing water and looking up he could see the underbelly of the plane.  He swam under it to the dock, crawled up and shivering, tied the plane off.  The things that happen to people when they’re just trying to have a little fun fishing!    We’ll see you by the water –till next week-stay cool.

When a fish comes, you jump on it!

Welcome folks.

The clear, sun filled sky seemed in tune with the great feeling I had last Wednesday as I walked onto the bridge over the Brokenhead River to once again meet with my Ojibway friends for their summer fishing derby.  I noticed long time councilor Winston Desjarlais was working his rod and as I approached him he shook my hand saying,” Hi Arnie, how’s it going.”  We hadn’t seen each other for a while but after catching up, Winston gave us a humorous if not biting story from his youth.  Years ago when he was about 8, his favorite uncle took him to get some crayfish at the Red Lodge rapids and when uncle poured the “little lobsters” as Winston used to call them into a pail, one fell inside ”Wins’” rubber boot.  Well, it reacted predictably and began biting which caused him to hop around wildly.  Uncle took charge of the situation and grabbed Winston, held him down and pulled his boot off.  Free of the terrifying crayfish Win settled down as his uncle gave him a comforting smile, ruffling his hair, saying, “Boy, you’ll be ok.”

Before I left that afternoon, Meech Hocaluk with his secret bag of fishing tricks got 1st prize for the biggest walleye.  The next day I went visiting our angling friends on the Selkirk pier and met Doug Smart, a Winnipegger, who originated from Scotland.  He was a thin fellow with grey hair, fine facial features and a ready open smile.  His story takes us to that wonderful Scottish highland town, Tomnavoulin at a time just after the war.  His family was having relatives come for a visit from Aberdeen and mother was in a “tizzy” because at that time getting any kind of meat for meals was impossible.  Doug’s Grandfather Sandy Irvine heard of the crisis and showed up bidding Doug come with him.  There were many spring fed creeks in the area filled with trout but they were all on crown land and taking them was poaching.  Intrepid Scotsman Sandy, vowed there would be fish before their company on the suppe r table so he, with little Doug, shuffled along back roads to a fine crystal clear cold creek full of trout. There, big Sandy, barefoot with pants rolled up, waded into the icy water and spreading his legs wide said to the boy on the bank, “When a fish comes, you jump on it!”  Then with lightening speed Sandy scooped and threw fish to Doug.  When they had enough they strung them on a willow branch and tripped through lanes and fields home under the cover of night.  When the relatives arrived the whole family had their fill of a fine meal.

Toward the weekend I was at a party for Robert Kristjanson at the commercial fishers’ landing at the Gimli Marina Complex.  Rob was a leader in the development of how commercial fishing works in the country and still fishes in his eighties. I sat listening to Rob reminding us how the huge marina came from nothing to a place for all kinds of fishing and boating.  Sitting beside me was a young guy talking about lifting nets.  It turned out he was a rooky commercial fisher who without family connections or experience decided this is what he wanted to do.  Justin Cerbeandt, a huge unassuming lad with short sun-bleached hair, laughed as he recalled going out on his first open water net setting trip.  The waves were 8’ high slamming the skiff about wildly.  He told his partner Mike Lenton, “I don’t care if I’m going to be called a sissy, but we’re going back to harbor!”  When they got there all the other fishers had stayed in and one old-timer looking at them shook his head saying, “You don’t go out in this!” I sat there listening to Rob talking about his half century of fishing and to Justin who was just starting and I was filled with pride knowing our fishing culture and industry is alive and well in these men.

I’ve wanted to show you the picture of Jason Zhang with his catch at Hecla for some time. He struck me as such an interesting chap because he will only fish Hecla and he’s one of those guys who when nobody’s catching anything; he will.

See you next week, happy fishing!

Never believe the practical joker when it comes to fishing!

Welcome my friends.

The heat of late summers’ unrelenting sun and dry wind lately has driven the fish to deeper, colder waters which meant our anglers, regardless of the fishing spot, generally have been going home empty handed.  That was unacceptable to Art Reimer of Winnipeg who I met fishing with his friend “Mike” off the Hnausa pier a couple of weeks ago.  (Arts’ friends didn’t want their names used so let’s call them Mike and Peter.)  Art was a stocky, muscular guy with thick straight graying hair, a quiet mischievous air about him while Mike loved to talk.  Apparently Art lived to play practical jokes on anyone he could so, there he was sitting at the piers’ edge endlessly casting and reeling in when he saw a commercial fisher coming off the lake into the harbor with boxes full of pickerel.

That did it; he reeled in, got up striding over to the fisher and bought some pickerel.  Dropping back into his fishing chair, an opportunity for a practical joke came to him.  He called his buddy, “Peter”, in Winnipeg and told him to get out to the pier right away because the pickerel were really biting.  An hour and a half later Peter was sitting beside Art eagerly waiting for his first bite while he admired Arts’ “catch”.  Art played along as the day wore to an end casually talking fishing as his pal began wondering why Art was the only one on the pier with fish!  As he packed up his gear for the ride home Peter asked Art, “How about giving me a fish so I won’t look so bad in front of my wife.” “Sure, that’ll be seven bucks,” Art came back.  “You would charge me for a fish,” his buddy asked?  “Well, that’s what that commercial guy over there charged me,” Art explained in mock innocence.  Peter stood shocked looking at Art realizing he had been had.  “Oh Art,” his pal exclaimed, “You either help me here or I’ll never believe you again!”  Art, laughing, totally pleased with himself made good saying, “Take all the fish home and tell your wife it was the best day of fishing you ever had!”

Downstream of Selkirk on the Red I met some folks fishing last week.  Again, no one was catching any fish except Andrea Pshyk and her friend Phil.  I tried to see what they were doing differently and all I could see was they had found a curved spot in the riverbank where the water was slightly “whirl pooling” about twenty feet out and that’s where they were dropping their lines.  Not far from Andrea and Phil I stopped to visit with Jaden a young, thin teen that had an unusual experience when he was fishing with a buddy on Tulabi Lake in Nopiming Park. He was cautiously stepping out on some slimy shore rocks to cast when his feet took for the sky and his back became acquainted with the slippery rocks in a very painful fashion.  At that same instant Jaden’s baited hook falling into the water, got a strike.  Flat on his back getting covered in brown smelly “goo”, he reeled his line as best he could.  At water level it looked like he had a big green-brown small mouth bass.  Soon that wiggling object was only a few feet away as he struggled to stand up.  It was only then he realized he had a bass covered in a trail of weeds.  When he cleared the weeds away he became the proud owner of a nice little six inch bass!

Close by Jaden was Bob Robichaud, a big guy with a shaven head and great sense of humor with a story that can only be described as “wow”.  Apparently he was fishing with friends some years ago a proper distance from the old fish ladder by the Lockport locks and along came a guy who started trying to pail fish from the ladder.  Onlookers’ couldn’t believe their eyes!  Then seemingly from nowhere an RCMP officer came casually walking up to the “pailer” and asked, “can I give you a hand?” “Mr. Pailer” turned and realizing who was before him dropped his pail and jaw at the same time as Bob and the other anglers tried to stifle fits of laughter.  It went without saying; the remainder of the “pailers” day was not the best of his life!

See you around the water.

Who owns that fish?

Hi guys and gals.

There was no reason to think our camper-angler friends at Norris Lake wouldn’t give us an entertaining fishing story when I was there last weekend until I got side tracked by a lovable loon. I idled slowly through the dusty gravel lanes stopping occasionally to talk fishing with folks and almost missed something special. At the end of the pier I noticed two young guys fishing with a pal who happened to be a loon squatting between them. This goose necked, rapier beaked, swept back winged creature in a dark brown, black coat of feathers was acting almost human! It quickly became evident that “Herbert”, we’ll call him, liked people. Herbert clearly seemed to have no patience for Alex and Tyler Robinsons’ ability to catch fish. I watched as he looked up sideways at Alex then Tyler then seemingly in exasperation jumped off the pier and disappeared under the water coming up with a small fish. He wiggled his head squawking as if to say, “see, this is how you do it!” It soon became apparent he considered campers his buddies and the Norris campground his summer home. Campers told me he would waddle or fly from one camp lot to the other picking up morsels of food, checking out the campers and sometimes just sitting beside them for company. At night he would honor some boat owner by perching on his boat for the night. Persnickety, smart Herbert, the Norris Lake mascot, if you come to camp here he’ll probably come say hi!

I mentioned last week anglers who fish in still waters seem to be luckier than others lately. Fish hiding in still waters happened again last Thursday with folks on the Winnipeg River by the Powerview Dam. On the south side there is a large fairly flat rock outcrop harboring a little bay. There I met Bernard Mendoza from Steinbach who was catching one fish after another while everyone else along the bank weren’t getting a bite. Not long ago I met a very interesting chap by the name of Shayn Peitash of Beausejour with a fishing story of theft-as far as he’s concerned! Shayn was a tall well built guy with short brown hair, a strong jaw and tight lips set as he cleared his throat before each sentence. He was riverbank fishing with dad on the Red years ago when nature called. He asked pop to watch his line while he had a quick talk with a willow bush. Coming back, he saw dad reeling in his line with a master pickerel on the hook. Shayn felt it should be his fish but dad insisted he would keep it to have it mounted. Shayn didn’t want to cause trouble so the fish wound up on “dads’” wall. Days later Shayn went to Sunday school and when the teacher asked if anyone had a summer story, Shayn jumped up and told how dad stole his giant fish. The teacher was convinced Shayn was lying about the size of the fish and that father had taken it but Shayn stood his ground and kept on insisting his story was true. Finally the teacher got mad and threw Shayn out of Sunday school. Father and son still argue over who owns that fish!

A few days ago I met a very unusual character. He was tall, portly and one of the nicest guys I have ever come across. He put you in mind of a very cool Santa Clause with his snow white beard and hair, spectacles half off his nose and a talent for telling one story after another in a hearty bellowing voice. He’s Larry Gillings from Monominto (I bet you can’t find where that is) and he told of a time fishing on the Red upstream of Selkirk when he saw a bunch of small frogs by the waters’ edge. He caught a couple and set them on his double hook pickerel rig, cast out and immediately got a strike of two jackfish. Larry sat in his chair astonished at the frenzy before him. The jacks mindlessly attacked the frogs pushing each other away by reflex. The water became frothing foam. Larry being a joker by his own admission yelled at the jacks, “To heck with you guys, you figure it out!” Well, they did, they took the frogs, slipped the hooks and left!

See you next week.

Give up my turkey bait!

Hi fishers, our friends have given us some really great angling stories this past week, enjoy!

The sand on Gimli’s Willow Island beach was cool on Sandy’s bare feet in the still early evening. A slight lady, her short brown hair fell on either side of her delicate face. Her gaze cast east across the glass-like water that reflected the weakening sun at her back.  Beside her, her son, David Sykes, a thin yet soon to be a full grown man whipped a fishing line out in hopes of catching tomorrows’ lunch.  He sat back in his folding chair beside his mother taking in the sight of pelicans splashing into the water not far out.  Lazy tiny lapping waves fell on the shore. Seagulls called to each other as they flew overhead. David touched his line, “feeling” for a fish nibbling just as his grandfather, David in Lac du Bonnet, had taught him.  He tensed as he felt a tugging tremble then a tearing away of his line. He tightened his reel tension to match whatever had taken his baited hook.  Without a word Sandy rose making space for David to play his fish.  All the hints and tips his grandfather had given him over the years came racing forward in his mind.  When the fish was still he slowly walked backward away from shore drawing the fish closer to the beach.  When it fought he would walk forward reeling in.  So it went time after time until a nice sized jackfish broke water right up at shoreline.  He waded into the water claiming his prize then mother and son collected their belongings and walked up to their house in the cooling evening air.  Thanks for the story Sandy and David.

The Lockport pier happened to be open last Wednesday which is where I had the good fortune to meet Lori Gesell and Kyle Plyschke of Winnipeg.  Lori was one of those exceptional gals who when you’re with her the world gets just a little bit brighter and happier.  Her tied back blond hair complemented her appealing face.  She was in constant motion.  Bursting with enthusiasm Lori gave one of her favorite stories about her son, Jessie, fishing when he was eight years old.  The family had a boat house on the shore of Lee River east of Lac du Bonnet which also served as a cottage.  Once, on a sunny Thanksgiving afternoon, willowy, blond Jessie got the bright idea of going fishing and since he had been enjoying pieces of turkey all day he didn’t see any reason why a fish wouldn’t like it too.  He hated to part with some of his meat but the need to try to catch a fish was greater so he baited his hook with some and down to their small wood pier he went tossing his line in.  Lori was busy in the house doing dishes when suddenly she heard angry shouts from Jessie crying, “give it up, give it up, you give it up!” She rushed out onto the dock to see her son kneeling, straddled over a sixteen inch pickerel grasping it by the head and with gritted teeth was yelling at it.  Perplexed, Lori ran forward lifting her son off the fish telling him one should not abuse fish.  Jessie still upset excitedly complained, “I want my turkey meat mom and he won’t give it back!”  Lori sat down on the little pier cross-legged gathering her son to her and began laughing so hard she was shaking!

There was a stiff north wind coming off the lake at the south beach of Grand Marais last weekend.  I was sitting in my car looking at the three foot high waves pounding the shore when I saw a truck pulling up behind me.  I got out and introduced myself to a very muscular looking fellow, Jeff Armitt, who began taking fishing gear out of the box of his truck.  He talked to me as he worked recalling catching a huge jackfish off the pier at Kenora.  The humorous part was no sooner had he released the one shown here, he caught an even bigger jack.  It was so big a fishing shop owner he knew had to come down to the pier and help him land it.  He took pictures then released the big guy but was surprised to see another angler had taken his “magic” spot when his back was turned!

See you next week, so long for now.

In search of new fishing spots

Hi, thanks for dropping by.

With the coming of summer, the urge to travel far and wide in search of new fishing waters captures our imagination. It was no surprise that when I visited with folks around Lake Winnipeg’s south basin last week their unusual stories took us to unfamiliar places.

On a perfect sunny Tuesday morning on the Selkirk pier I met Dan Carlson from Winnipeg. He seemed a man totally comfortable with his time and place in life.  Relaxing in his fishing chair, cap over graying hair, a short mustache and goatee, his soft featured face showed enjoyment as he told a heartwarming story of his brother-in-law, John, who caught just one fish, a master, in his whole life.  It happened that Dan and John were boat fishing on Granite Lake, Ontario and John who had never fished before was having no luck.  When it was time to go back to camp Dan told him to leave his line in the water to troll and maybe he’d get a bite.  Minutes later Johns’ rod bent over hard.  Dan stopped the boat watching Johns’ rod snapping, quivering and darting from side to side.  The line “twanged” in strained tension as a monster jackfish ripped from the water sending a spray high in the air.  John being a man of average size and not familiar with this kind of furious action asked Dan to take over “Come on Johnnie, you can do it, hang in there,” his brother-in law urged.

Determined, Johns’ hands clamped on his rod, his shoulders stiffened, he braced his feet against the side of the boat hauling and reeling in.  The jack set a pattern, being still then tearing away.  Water skiers and boaters stopped to witness the hour long battle.  In time though, the man conquered the fish and John brought the four foot long beast to the boat.  The fight, however, had ended the pike.  Later that night when they were in camp, Dan couldn’t help having a little fun at Johns’ expense.  John had left the jackfish outside on the deck planning to get it stuffed and mounted.  Dan and the men in camp kidded him saying the bears would get it so he dragged it in and placed his treasure in the freezer.  John never fished again, but for years every once in a while he could be seen sitting in his living room, a satisfied smile on his face, raising his coffee cup to his fish on the wall.

Not long ago I met dad, John Trueman and son James of Winnipeg.  Both were slim, grey haired men with matter-of-fact natures who liked to observe people and things around them.  They also liked to fish in Wallace Lake east of Bissett which is known for its gigantic jackfish and from time to time would witness a spectacle that they had seen there before.  They would watch as a mother duck would swim across the lake followed by its’ ducklings.  All of a sudden the huge teeth ladened jaw of a jack would appear under the duck then both would disappear in a split second.  Not long after smaller jack fish would emerge and the ducklings would disappear.  Such is the harsh reality of life in the wilds.

I was on my way over to Gimli last weekend and decided to make a quick stop at the Winnipeg Beach Marina Complex.  On the north beach I met Nelson Ferreira from Sandy Hook.  He had caught a pickerel shore fishing there which was kind of unusual because that beach is known mostly for bass fishing.  Later in Gimli I met local, Randy Dann, a tall, well built chap with short light hair who spoke with warm intelligence as he gave us a story.  He had spent a fair amount of time working and angling in northern Manitoba and as we know you get “spoiled” with the unbelievable fishing up there.  It seems he was working with a pilot and chopper years ago and they set down on a flat rock face with foot deep spring water trickling over it by Island Lake near Waasagomach.  Countless pickerel, he said, were swimming between their legs so instead of catching their  “supper fish” with rod and reel, they literally slapped their legs together stunning them then tossed a few onto the floor of the chopper!

Till next week, so-long my friends.

“Here, I’ll show you how to cast!”

Hi guys and gals.

I wanted to find us some different fishing stories somewhere along the Winnipeg River last Thursday and thought the pier in Lac du Bonnet might be a pretty good bet.  The warm, sunny fresh morning was beginning to bring the sun bathers out to the sandy beach that lay before the long dock.  I strolled to its’ end where two old-timers, their fishing rods stuck in the handlebars of their scooters, swapped stories. Beside them a tall grey haired chap who would only give his name as “Bob” had the stance and presence of a vital energetic man.  Soon we fell to talking of local fishing when Bob mentioned that in addition to the unique “tiger trout” in The Ponds  north of town, they had just seeded two hundred fingerling “albino trout” (which are actually gold to white colored rainbow trout).

I wanted to visit with anglers at McArthur Falls that morning as well, so I shook hands with the guys and not much later was scaling a huge rock outcropping beside the Winnipeg River near the hydro dam.  Presently, I saw a lone angler clad only in shorts sitting on a flat rock shelf basking in the sun.  As I came up to him I inquired “Did you catch anything yet?”  His solitary peace broken, a thin vigorous fellow sprang up with a large smile, “only a small one; I threw it back,” he responded. He said his name was Lynn Reykdal as we shook hands.  We chatted about the fish, water and weather until a funny little story popped into his mind.

Not long ago, he related, he was fishing with his four year old grandson, Scott, on the Red riverbank.  With their lines in the water, Lynn was looking around enjoying his surroundings when he was snapped back to reality as he saw their dead bait minnows floating past him.  Shocked, he looked down at Scott to see the little tyke tossing them into the drink saying, “We let them go papa?”  Lynn didn’t know quite what to say!

There’s another great fishing story involving a little guy that came our way a few weeks ago. Interlakers’ Beckie Breidinger and her hubby took their son Lukas to fish at Chalet Beach.  He’s a two and a half year old with a full, strong body, happy eyes, a perpetual wide smile and short brown hair. On the beach our junior angler became fidgety because he wasn’t getting any action on his Spiderman rod.

Suddenly the rod tore from his hand.  A giant carp surfaced, with Lukas’s baited hook in its mouth.  Mom reacted immediately wading into the water grabbing the rod.  She trudged back to shore and offered Lukas his rod so he might bring the giant in but he just shook his arms in rejection and scampered for higher ground.  Mom and Dad landed it and as they measured, took pictures and released it, they couldn’t help smiling as Lukas knelt in the sand by the fish patting it saying, “Bye-bye, you go in the water.”

I was driving over the blue Selkirk Bridge last Wednesday when I saw two gals riverbank fishing upstream.  Turning onto the wooded area between the road and the river I wobbled and bounced my way over the ruts to see if they had caught anything.  I had no sooner met sisters Corrine and Jennifer Lamarre from Winnipeg than Corrine’s’ rod bend hard over as a master sized carp (yep, another carp) appeared on the water rolling, showing its belly.  I stood back as they worked together, one reeling in, and the other with a huge net.  They knew what they were doing and with deft precision landed, measured and released the beast.

After things settled down Corrine recalled yesterday when they were fishing off the Selkirk pier some guy came along and without being asked grabbed Jennifer’s’ rod saying, “Here I’ll show you how to cast!”  He swung the rod out with great force but lost his grip and stood there embarrassed as it flew out of his hand shooting like a rocket out into the water. Corrine pushed him aside and cast out with stunning accuracy snagging Jennifer’s rig!  The pushy guy turned head down and left.

See you next week.

A Fisherman’s Luck

Photo: Local commercial fishermen Reney Thomes and Carmen of Belair lift their nets while dealing with a developing crack in the ice of Lake Winnipeg.

Welcome friends.

I’m always impressed with folks when faced with challenges, stay calm taking things as they come and end up in pretty good shape. Such a man is Bill Dakota of Petersfield.

I met him some time ago in his ice shack off White Tail Trail when I was visiting anglers there. He was playing cards with a buddy on a small homemade wooden table in one end of his shack. A pleasant aroma and warmth came from a small wood stove on the other side. Music from a radio filled the air and the walls were covered with years of accumulated fishing novelties and pictures.

Bill’s optimistic ready smile complemented his tousled snow white hair and round goatee as he laid down his cards to talk to me. Sturdy glasses covered his kind eyes. Then in an upbeat manner he shared a fishing experience beginning with, “I once caught a nice fish but had to go to the store twice to land it.”

He explained he was fishing off a friend’s houseboat on Asessippi Lake south of Duck Mountain and caught a pickerel. As he tried to bring it over the guardrail it slipped the hook. He realized that if he caught another one he would need a net to get it over the rail so he dropped his rod on the deck not realizing the lure had fallen into the water and went for a walk to a nearby store to get one. Returning to the boat, he was astonished to see his rod gone.

Bill, without getting upset, simply turned around and retraced his steps to the store for a new rod. Later, back on the boat, on the first cast with his new rod, he snagged his original gear and on the hook this time was another pickerel. Using his new net, this time, he got it over the rail and finally settled back for some fishing.

Unflappable persistence will make you a winner every time.

The spring cracks and ice piles on our lakes are starting to show up just off the shorelines. This was very evident to commercial fishers Reney Thomes and Carmen Clatt from Belair. I met them lifting their nets as they straddled a crack a few days ago. When I asked them if they had an unusual story for us (as if working across a crack wasn’t enough) they started laughing.

Carmen said, “Yea, when we fish by Hillside in late May we have a hard time handling the big carp that get in the nets. They’re as big as babies and just as tiring,” she joked.

Last week on the Red downstream of Selkirk I ran into David Prasol of Winnipeg nursing an ice hole and he had a fishing story about he and his wife Lorna coincidentally also out of Duck Mountain on Two Mile Lake.

They were angling off a pier some summers ago and Dave caught a rainbow trout. Only then did he realize they had forgotten a stringer so he took one of his shoelaces and tied the fish to the pier.

With lines back in the water time wore on until they decided to call it a day. Dave knelt down to retrieve his only catch and saw that the shoelace had come loose and the fish was just laying below the waters’ surface seemingly in no particular hurry to go anywhere. Slowly he lay down on his belly and extending his arm as best he could, gingerly grabbing the fish. The slippery fellow just squirted forward out of his hand and stopped, just laying there. Dave not about to give up his quest edged himself further out from the dock. His back began to feel the strain of his extended body but yet again he closed his hand over the fish. Squirt. The slimy little guy slipped forward.

One more time, Dave thought. He wiggled outward just a bit more and with labored breath grasped the fish as the cool waters of beautiful Two Mile Lake welcomed him in for an unwanted bath. Surfacing, Dave slowly turned and hoisted himself onto the dock. He looked up at Lorna who with an exasperated expression uttered, “How is it that you always seem to wind up in these predicaments.”

Well, the spring fishing closure of April and part of May is looming ahead so get out there and get your fill of angling!

Bye for now.

Who says you have to be quiet when fishing?

Photo: Jakob Kuzniak of Selkirk with his catch from the Red River.

Hi fellow fishers.

In a haze of floating snow urged about by a cool breeze last Saturday I rolled over the flat ice pack on Lake Winnipeg’s south basin. Houses and trees on the Matlock shore shrank to dark lines in my rear view mirror. It felt good out there as I passed through village after village of ice shacks.

In tme, two large white trucks beside some portable shacks caught my attention. Pulling up to them and leaving my truck I heard good-humoured shouting between the tents. The zipper door of the closest one opened and the face of a young, lean, brown haired chap became visible saying, “Hi, I’m Doug Frost.”

Doug was direct and easy to talk to. He told me the “Frosts” of Ontario and of Manitoba were having a weekend get together enjoying ice fishing. As we got to know each other a fishing experience that happened years ago on Crystal Lake popped into his mind.

It seems he was boat fishing and during a lull in action he decided to dress one of the fish he had caught. With the fish on a board on his lap and his knife poised, the fish jackknifed into the air in an arc that was going to put him back in the water. By accident the fish’s tail struck knife blade clipping off apiece as it disappeared overboard into the drink. Three days later in the same place at almost the same time, Doug enjoying another day of fishing, caught that same fish. This time it didn’t get away.

A while back I met Jakob Kuzniak and his wife Lindsay from Selkirk coming off the Red River. While they didn’t have a story for us, he was nice enough to show his catch. Thanks guys.

In the middle of last week not far from where I met Jakob and Lindsay, I ran into a couple of real characters Brian Pederson and Jeff Skelton. Between fits of laughter they told of their friend, Al who was a slim, quiet, careful, dark haired guy with a kind face who wasn’t too sure about fishing but wanted to try. The boys used to like summer fishing in a small pothole lake south of Thompson and decided to take him along.

It was a hot sunny day and after walking through the bush pestered by black flies they got onto the water in an aluminum boat they had left there. I don’t have to tell you the fishing is good up north so you won’t be surprised when no sooner had Brian and Jeff threw out their lines while asking Al to toss out the 20 pound anchor, they both caught jack fish. Al heaved the anchor overboard on the same side as the guys were reeling in their catch and everything went nuts. Lines were crossed and Al not realizing the anchor rope was wrapped around his ankle followed it over the gun whale. Up to his waist in water with angry jack fish wrapped around him, he looked up pleading at Brian and Jeff for help.

It took a while and they did haul Al back into the boat but only because they could see their jack fish would follow since the lines they were hooked onto were wrapped around his legs.

The next winter the boys were going ice fishing not far from Thompson and they let Al come along. It wasn’t until they were pounding over scrubland, swamp and pockets of flat ice pack in their 4×4 that Al said he was afraid to go on the ice. The boys smirking, kept looking straight ahead trying not to laugh saying, “Al, we’ve been on one lake ice pack after another for an hour.”

It wasn’t until Al caught his first fish that afternoon that he quit shaking.

When visiting anglers on the south east side of Lake Winnipeg I cannot get past the South Beach Casino. The food is so great and invariably I meet folks with wonderful fishing stories. One such couple last Friday was Tim and Angeline McIntyre of Lac du Bonnet. Both had the look of weathered outdoor strength about them so I asked if they had a story for us. Angeline was quick to tell when they were fishing at Point du Bois a few years ago in a calm late fall afternoon she caught a giant jack. She got so excited she started screaming and cursing. Neighboring boats with friends and family became so embarrassed they left.  Well, you have a fun week fishing, bye now.



Fishing with family and friends

Photo: A large group of family and friends from Stonewall with some of their catch on Shoal Lake. From left to right, back  row, Matt Chamaillard, Shaunne Precourt, Paul Breland, Marc Chamaillard, Phil Soroka and Joe St. Laurent;  front row, Nickolas Soroka, Jocelyn Chamaillard, Emily Chamaillard and Amanda Chamaillard.


To everyone who loves fishing stories as I do, welcome.

I’ve mentioned lately the ice on Lake Winnipeg’s south basin has become completely dotted with ice fishing shacks of all descriptions. Somewhere in that maze last Wednesday between Beaconia and Balsam Bay about a mile off shore I saw a large blue portable shack with a chap stepping out to toss what looked like a jackfish onto the snow.


My truck careened violently over the crusty snow as I pulled abreast of his camp. I slipped out of “old red” to a warm, hazy afternoon calling out to the now closed tent, “Hello, is anybody home?”


“Yea, sure,” came back a response in a heavy European accent. Two men in well used snowmobile suits immerged from the shelter. I offered them my card and began passing the time of day with a tall, bespectacled, chiseled featured man who had a full grey mustache and short grey hair under a hunting cap.


Bogdan Mutic from Beausjour was his name, he said, as he pointed to his shorter quiet friend by the name of Dino Stojanovic from Winnipeg. Dino’s eyebrows, cheeks and nose were full and round yet like his life-long friend, though senior, stood straight and had powerful hands. Bogdan proudly revealed he also had a cattle dugout on his property, which they seeded each spring with 6” rainbow trout from the Garson hatchery and harvested them in the fall. Sport and farm fishing, well, you know what you like boys.


On Friday, last, I toured up and down the Red hanging out with anglers until I came across a very narrow weathered plywood ice shack. A thin, brown haired fellow stood up from a stool as I approached sprinting to a rod whose end was wildly vibrating. The rod went still as I got out of my truck and we introduced ourselves.


Daryl Ellis of Winnipeg was a kindly sort with an unassuming caring nature. He was a thin man with a somewhat gaunt face and graying mustache. A gold tooth peeked above his lower lip, which his tongue played with as he talked. Daryl kept one eye on his rod as we spoke and sure enough it snapped down again. As he pulled up his second fish of the day, he shot a smiling glance my way murmuring, “You’re a lucky guy to have around Arnie!.”


He saw me looking inquiringly at his very narrow shack so with a knowing grin he explained how a number of times the wind had caught his shack and sent it skidding across the ice. It was small, light and old to begin with and each time the wind took it for a ride some of the more rotten parts fell off which he had to pick up. Since Daryl didn’t want to put new material into an old shack, each fix required it getting smaller and narrower. Now, one could barely squeeze into it.


Saturday afternoon on beautiful Shoal Lake north of Stonewall turned out to be a heartwarming experience.

The blazing sun was out in all its’ glory and the wind was soft and pleasant. Out in the middle of the flat, glaringly white ice pack I saw a large group bustling about their tent camp. It was an easy run up to them and jumping out of the truck the air was filled with kids yelling and chasing each other around in the snow (as well as eating some off their mitts). These friendly folks welcomed me, saying who they were and showed the few fish they had caught.


An outgoing gal by the name of Shaunne Precourt from Stonewall introduced me to her group and in no time all of us were having a fine old time joking and swapping fish stories as one of the kids, young Nickolas Soroka got a bit on his line. He dashed over to it grabbing it up as the end of the rod met the water. He was in command though and reeled up with authority. With the help of one of the men, Paul Breland, Nick brought a very respectable sized jack out of the ice hole. The men laughed remembering two years ago when Nick caught a jack and got so upset he almost didn’t land it because as it broke water he cried out, “it’s looking right at me.”

Till next time, bye for now.

Fishermen’s luck earns him supper

Photo: Cameron Bernier with a pickerel he caught while fishing with his father on the Red River by Breezy Point
Hi outdoor buddies.
Late last week found me sitting and swapping fishing stories with Phillip Perkins of Transcona in Shawn MacDuffs’ ice shack not far from the end of Gimlis’ harbour. The air of brightness in this shacks’ high walls, grand ceiling fan and huge windows seemed to complement Phil’s story of his happy childhood fishing contests in Pinawa years ago. Phil was a jolly, energetic, full faced guy with short brown hair who punctuated every sentence with a short hurried laugh. He loved telling a story where he, his sister and dad would go boat fishing in the weed banks of the Winnipeg River by Pinawa and whichever kid caught the biggest jackfish dad would take them to a sporting goods store and buy them anything they wanted.

On one such occasion his sister caught a humungous jack which netted her a fine fishing rod prize and bragging rights because come the next spring when they were spring cleaning the boat, she found and kept a half inch tooth from that jack stuck in the floor carpet.

A few days before meeting Phil, I went visiting anglers on the Red River off Breezy Point. Going from one portable shack to another I met two young chaps, Drew Wallace, who was thin with a dark pointed beard and his pal William Henry, a very fit guy who had a warm subdued constant smile. We talked of fishing experiences while standing on the ice in a brisk cool wind. Drew’s favorite story was when he was checking the water depth off an interior rock face by Nanaimo, B.C., with a line and weight. As he was winding it up, at the 25’ level he felt a tug and when he brought it all the way up to his amazement a jack had swallowed the weight.

I left Drew and William after a bit and carefully walked along over the truck trails of half ice, half hard snow to another tent-shack where I struck up a conversation with Cameron Bernier and his dad Perry also from Transcona. They had caught a few fish and Cameron held one up for me to show you. Cameron and Perry spoke with fondness of the fact that they have been fishing together forever. Cameron remembered once when he was very small and they were fishing off the slippery rocks at Seven Sisters when he spied a turtle swimming furiously between the rocks in the rushing river current. Oblivious to the danger he went after it and sure enough fell into the icy turbulent water.
He was in luck though because a passing stranger saw him trying to grab onto the slimy rocks as his legs flailed about. With one grand move he bent over and plucked Cam out of the water with one hand. To this day in his mind Cameron can still see himself in that cold water amongst those slippery rocks.

One beautiful, warm, cloudy Saturday I was far out on the ice at Balsam Bay. I was bouncing along between what seemed like streets of shacks when I heard someone shout, ”hey Arnie, how are you doing?”
Off to my left, a shorter fellow heavily dressed and with a scarf that almost completely covered his face waved me to come over. Obligingly I pulled up and met Paul Joyal and his son-in-law Lawrence Bryant from Winnipeg.

Paul’s upbeat, fun loving personality was overwhelming. Holding up a pickerel, he took great joy in telling me that he had been coming out here all winter long and hadn’t caught a thing. He told his wife before leaving home today that if he didn’t catch anything he was going to quit fishing for good. Well, that must have changed his luck because he was three pickerel to the good. Apparently he had just called his wife and told her, “Tonight we’re having fish for supper.”
Later, when I was pulling off the ice onto the road, I met a young couple out for a walk pulling a sleigh carrying their child. I remember stopping, rolling down my window and jokingly asking, “how do you guys like the “fishing city” that’s been appearing here on the ice every weekend?” They just laughed and shook their heads in wonder at the spectacle.

See you next week gang, bye.

Another tale about the fish that got away

Photo: Dennis Barchuk of Belair with a nice eating pickerel just caught.

Hello again fishing buddies.

It’s hard not to make some reference to the movie The Wizard of Oz when I share a story given to us from the folks at Belair. Belair is on the east side of Lake Winnipeg where the road onto the lake is named the “Yellow Brick Road.”

I’ve joked about this road before but last week it took on an added flavor when I met two fun loving ice fishing couples here. I could see them not far out as I came off Yellow Brick onto the ice. Jostling towards them “old red” threw cascades of water away from the front wheels I as sliced through the mushy melting snow. I pulled up beside our new fishing compatriots including Dennis Barchuk who you see holding up a pickerel he had just caught, Brian Kwitecki a tall, gangly, chap with long grey curly hair and piercing yet kind eyes and the “two Dorothys.”

The “Dorothys’”didn’t want their names mentioned but let me tell you they were true outdoors gals dressed in old winter wear, snacking and drinking coffee from thermal cups as they slogged around in the slush joking around with me and the boys. Then Dennis remembered a funny fishing interlude that happened many years ago with an old girlfriend.

They were fishing out of a canoe on Lee River when Dennis caught a fair sized jack. He told his girl, Sain (I know, I’ve never heard that name before either) to net the thing. Sain grabbed the net but when she leaned over the canoe’s side and saw the jacks’ menacing head she dropped the net and cried, “I’m not touching that thing.”

Poor Dennis had to grapple the fish by the gill and paddle to shore at the same time.

A day later I found myself pulling up to a very large ice shack on Netley Creek across from Chesleys’ campgrounds. Getting out of the truck to a warm grey misty day much like yesterday, I hailed the folks inside and was greeted with a “come on in” by a woman’s voice. Entering, I took in the features of a sturdy shack. Anglers sat on either side of common ice holes along the floors’ center. The mellow voice of local gal Bev Rozmus who invited me in was that of a fine-featured lady with dark short hair.

We began getting acquainted as she told how she and her friend Kim Hansen, with friends, had built this shack. At the far end of the shack sat a petit, charming, pixy faced lady with an enormous smile and short bobbed dark brown hair.

“I lost my first ever fish today,” new friend, Kathie Cuddleford proclaimed. She continued as I turned my recorder on. A jack had struck her baited hook and as she excitedly began reeling in her prize it slipped off the hook half way up the hole. Kathies’ joyous expression changed to a determined frown. She tossed aside her rod and dropping on all fours she plunged her arm down into the cold water of the ice hole catching the jack by the gill.

“That’s my first fish and it’s not getting away,” she growled. The fish thrashed about slamming into the sides of the ice hole and out of Kathies’ grasp. Quickly she lay face down on the floor and drove her freezing arm into the depths after the fish but sadly it found freedom beyond her reach and disappeared. Slowly Kathie regained her seat changing back to the sweet unassuming lady her friends knew and loved.

Last weekend I finally made it down on the ice at Lockport, which looks like craters on the moon from the locks to the spillway. A few adventurous souls had managed to get their shacks on the ice one of whom was Mike Templeton of Winnipeg. He gave us the story where not long ago he was fishing beside his shack while his son was inside doing the same. A fish took Mikes’ baited hook, then for good measure also took his rod down the hole. A few hours later his son got a bite and pulled up a sauger as well as his dads’ rig, which had another sauger on its’ hook.

See you on the ice my friends, bye now.


Fishing shirtless in the tropics of Lake Winnipeg

Our shirtless guys on the Red River where Tyler landed the fish with a flik of his foot, left to right, Travis Noble, Jack Campbell, Tyler Dusanek and Drew Richards all of Winnipeg. What a great bunch of fun loving guys.

Welcome fellow outdoors enthusiasts.

I guess it was last Tuesday when I urged “old red” down the steep access lane to Lake Winnipeg’s ice at the east end of Sandy Hooks’ #519. About a quarter of a mile out, I noticed a large grey shack with a truck by the door so I followed the snow tracks to them and hailed the anglers inside.

The door popped open and a guy of average height, rugged strong physic, dark brown hair and a deep base voice invited me in. As I stood by the door he plopped down on a bench at one end of the shack taking up his rod while opposite him was a shorter, muscular, round faced, always smiling chap who raised a hand in welcome.

The deep voiced fellow, Shawn Cummings from Lac du Bonnet said he and his buddy, Jeff Watson of Winnipeg had permission from locals Rick and Nick Turkewich to use their shack. As we struck up a conversation I couldn’t help but admire the gigantic pike mounted on the wall of this well-appointed shack.

With the smell and warmth of a wood fire crackling in the small stove Shawn gave us a story.

Last summer he and his girlfriend, Shannon Mulvanuy, were boat fishing on a hot sunny day at Pointe du Bois. Shannon was lying in the bow of the boat rod in hand while Shawn slumbered in the back. Suddenly she sat up sharply as her rod end plunged into the water. Shawn half asleep, grasped the situation with mild interest. Shannon rose to her feet hauling up hard then lowering her rod to reel in the lines’ slack. Soon the head of a 2’ pickerel broke the surface, its’ thrashing tail sending sprays of water into the air. Shawn leaning over the side of the boat took on the air of a dispassionate observer. He admired Shannon’s rod play for a good 10 minutes as she at last brought the huge fish to the side of the boat. It was only then when his gaze met her glare that he realized he should be helping.

“What are you waiting for Shawn, get the net,” she cried. Stumbling on tackle boxes, food coolers and his lady’s’ feet he got their net and landed her prize. Tired, Shannon lay down in the boat to catch her breath murmuring, “thanks for getting the net this time honey.”

She was referring to a few weeks earlier when trying to land a 3’ jack “slow with the net Shawn” had caused her to lose it.

Downstream of Netley Creek on the Red River all manner of tents and shacks were spread out for miles on the ice last Saturday and I was in a predicament. I needed a small fishing story to finish this weeks’ column.

All afternoon I visited folks from shack to shack asking but to no avail. Finally, when talking to chap from Steinbach who was fishing out in the open, we saw a guy coming out of a big metal shack with his shirt off. We looked at each other laughing and he said, “looks like a story there.”

I jumped into “old red” and threaded between shacks until I was alongside the monster. Just then the shirtless guy came out again.

“Hi,” I called as I stopped the truck and walked toward him.

“Hi, come on in” he returned. Inside sat three other guys, also shirtless. All of them seeing my hesitant expression began chuckling. The first guy I met, Travis Noble introduced me around to Jack Campbell, Tyler Dusanek and Drew Richards, all of Winnipeg and explained they worked in a factory that was very hot and were so used to it they liked to keep their shack hot too.

Travis had a little story saying earlier they had told Tyler he had a bite on his line as he was on his way to the stew pot on the heaters’ stove. Tyler flicked his line up with his foot and the fish you see in this weeks’ picture popped out onto the floor of the shack.

By the way for of our Canadian and U.S. anglers, most jump off spots onto the ice of Lake Winnipeg’s south basin, east Lake Manitoba and Shoal Lake (north of Stonewall) are ok but Warner Road at Matlock is blocked so try Ralph Ave.

Well, we’ve got some great weather friends so “get fishing” and enjoy! Bye for now.

Baiting fish with jellybeans

Photo: Stephanie, Guy Darrens’ wife, with a pickerel she caught on Dauphin Lake.

Hi folks.

Last week my instincts told me it was time to visit anglers on Gull Lake and Shoal Lake, which are known for great perch fishing. The grey, cool, breezy day seemed to have little affect on some folks at Gull Lake last Tuesday as they sat on overturned pails nursing baited lines in ice holes. Children played tag in the snow as I moved from one ice shack to another getting to know folks and in time met Alexander Embrechd with his son Robin from Steinbach.

Young Robin looked much like his father who was of average height, thin, strong in movement and expression with short brown hair, beard and mustache. They like everyone else on this amazing lake took great pleasure in showing me how many fine eating perch they had caught that morning. In the middle of last week I got onto the Red River ice off the “CIL” road by Selkirk.

Some ice anglers who love for this pastime, have brought their hard wall shacks to this river bend for decades. I watched old friends greet each other with friendly waves while setting up as I urged “old red” toward to a fairly new shack.

A young athletic looking chap emerged from his hut as I got out of my truck. He had just got there so while his shack was heating up our new fishing friend, Dacota Mayer from Winnipeg said, “let’s jump into my truck, I’ve got a story.”

He began, telling how he was summer boat fishing with a buddy on Macara Lake who had caught a huge jackfish. Bending over the side of the boat, he called to Dacota to come help with “them”. The “them” didn’t register with Dacota until he came alongside his buddy ready to tease him for not being able to handle and 3’ jack by himself. He was stunned to see the gaping mouth of an even bigger musky tearing into the jack.

They tried to grab the musky, why, they’re still not sure and once or twice they came close by grasping its’ slippery tail. Eventually their hands weakened as they fumbled over each other and the monster, freed, disappeared beneath the dark water.

We sat laughing over the story noticing the window in his shack had become clear which meant the shack was warm so he went in to fish and I went for lunch.

On the weekend I was close to that other terrific perch fishing spot, Shoal Lake north of Stonewall but never made it. I met a truck obviously returning from the 93N church jump-off spot and waved it down. There wasn’t another soul around so we stopped in the middle of the road to talk. I introduced myself to Darren Guy and Kerry Yanke of Poplar Point who revealed the only way to get onto Shoal here was with sleds. I judged Darren and Kerry to be in their 30s, both had brown hair under toques. Darren was heavier muscled while Kerry was thinner in body and face. Both had funny stories.

First, Darren got a kick out of telling me how when they first started fishing together, his wife Stephanie, would walk beside their truck as he drove out onto ice for fear of being caught in the truck if it broke through. That was until she started catching fish. The next time out she was behind the wheel first telling Darren to get a move on. Then it was Kerry’s turn.

His mood became soft as he told how a few years ago the two families including his very young daughter, Taylor, were ice fishing here and he noticed she was losing interest. He got an idea. He had Darren distract her then pulled up her line, put a jelly bean on the hook, dropped it in the water then shouted, “Taylor, I think you have a fish.”

She rushed to her line pulling it up squealing in wide-eyed joy, “daddy I caught a jelly bean!”

“Yes honey you can catch jelly beans as well as fish,” he lied with an innocent stare.

Back went her line into the water as fast as she could get it there. Holding her rod, she did a little dance in excited expectation but guilty dad couldn’t bear his deception and came clean offering her the whole bag of candy. Loving Taylor forgave him. Bye for now.


Four-legged thieves have to eat

Photo: Chris Passalis of Winnipeg with some of his pickerel catch caught on the Red River by the Selkirk Park.

Hi outdoor buddies.

I hope you survived the Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities. Happily, the good times continue with humorous fishing stories our fellow anglers have offered for our pleasure.

A light breeze sent snow dust skipping around me on a bright afternoon just after Christmas as I made my way on the snow-ice pack out to the portable shacks off the north shore of the Winnipeg Beach harbor. I called out to the folks inside a large blue tent asking how the fishing was. A mature gentle voice called back, “Yes, we’ve had success.”

As I approached a thin fellow with defined features and slightly graying closely trimmed hair peered through the door. Soon, inside, he introduced himself as Jim Bennet and his grandson Tommy Bennet. As we casually talked of this and that he remembered a time winters ago when his son lost his truck keys down their ice hole when fishing on the Gimli south bay. He became frantic realizing his spare keys were at home in Winnipeg.

Luckily anglers in a tent beside them caught wind of his predicament and shouted out saying they had a camera fish finder and were bringing it over. They placed it beside the hole and dropped the fish shaped camera to the lakes’ mud bottom. There not more than two feet from the camera lay the keys in full view. A little snagging action with a weighted jig and the keys were rescued.

Isn’t it great how anglers help each other?

Four or five days ago the snow and ice were no problem as I urged “old red” past Balsam Bays’ harbor. Again, the sun was brilliant on a warm afternoon as I lumbered along passing dozens of ice shacks. To the north about a mile out I saw a bunch of shacks and pointed the old girl toward them.

I pulled up beside a group of guys, stopped and with my door open sat looking at a smiling, tall, heavily built, robust, grey haired fellow. We looked at each other for a moment then he burst out eyes to the clear sky, declaring, “Isn’t it great to be out here on a day like this?” I just smiled back and silently nodded.

Our tall angler, Paul Nellis of Winnipeg, out with his sons Hayden, Chad and James had all caught their limit of nice eating sized pickerel. Standing on the sun drenched ice pack we marveled at the endless sea of portable and hard wall ice shacks stretching out to the northeast as far as the eye could see. I remarked to Paul that in my many years of being with angler’s summer and winter, I had become convinced that way more anglers fished Manitoba’s waterways in the short winter season than during spring, summer and fall.

“Sure,” he said, “we throw stuff in the truck and we’re on the ice fishing in no time.”

Things were hopping on the ice along the Red by Selkirk’s park last week too. I was on the ice walking amongst the shacks passing the time with folks until I came by a guy Chris Passalis of Winnipeg who recalled last winter how he had gotten the better of a thieving dog.

He was fishing with friends here in a tent and as they caught fish they would toss them outside to freeze. Lines with baited hooks were in the water, the smell of coffee and hot cabbage rolls filled the tents’ air, he remembered, when a shuffling sound outside was heard. Chris unzipped the door and peering out was surprised to see a scruffy little black dog trotting off with one of their fish.

“Well,” Chris mused, “he’s got to eat too.”

He rejoined his friends only to hear some time later, his four-legged pest was back. Chris threw open the door seeing the dastardly dog making off with their last fish while at the same time his rod snapped down. He grabbed it and reeled in a big pickerel. Holding it by the gill he opened the tents’ door, this time to put it in the truck. There standing right in front of him with an innocent expectant look stood the thief. Chris stomped over to his truck, opened the door and put his fish on the floor.

“Now try and get that one,” he said as he slammed the door shut.

Till next week, bye now.

Winter fun and ice fishing have begun

Photo: Curt Bayak with a pickerel he caught standing on front of his and Terry Roth’s rental shacks.

Hi gang. On New Year’s Eve, we celebrate the hope for better things to come. In our world of winter outdoor sport, two young guys at Sunset Beach bay just south of Grand Marais are making things better.

The winter ice fishing culture in Manitoba is evolving at a mind spinning rate. On the thick ice pack of our waterways, traditional small hard wall shacks now sit side by side with portable soft wall shacks, house-sized custom trailers, bombardiers, snowbears, sleds, ATVs and now rental shacks, thanks to Curt Beyak and Terry Roth. They built a bunch of ice shacks, towed them onto their bay and are renting them out. Good for you, guys.

During one of our conversations, Curt told me once the shacks were out, his grandfather came and they “baptized” one of them catching their limit in an hour. His granddad, always gracious, having caught the most fish, explained his luck by offering that the fishing is always good on “first ice.” When I asked Curt if he had ever had an unusual fishing experience, he thought for a minute. Then he smiled sheepishly, saying, “Yes, last spring I went onto Jessica Lake southeast of Pinawa for some fishing and almost lost my lunch.”

He went on, describing how he was clipping along over smooth ice on his sled enjoying a beautiful early spring warm sunny day when he felt the back end of his sled drop. Then he heard the motor go under heavy load. He tensed, his senses alert. Almost instantly, he saw his skis break through the ice and water began splashing over them. Instinctively, he sat back on his seat and clamped the throttle tight, forcing the machine to rear up and shoot forward, planing over patches of water pockets.

He tore along, being sprayed with icy water every time he hit a patch of water trapped between the lower thick ice and a top thin layer. Close to the south shore, he hit true solid ice and stopped letting the sled idle. Water steamed off the motor. He stood looking back at his trail of ice and water, and to his surprise, his baloney sandwiches, hot coffee canister and fishing gear were strewn everywhere. They had flown off the back of the bucking sled in his rush for shore. He had no choice. Leaving the sled running, he gingerly walked back and collected all his belongings. Carrying his much-loved baloney sandwiches and dragging his other gear, he got to shore and made camp at dusk.

Before the snowstorm two weeks ago, I was at Breezy Point. It was cold but you could still see grass between snow patches. I got talking to three young chaps from Selkirk, BrettonFewchuk, Jesse Waterman and Brandon Sutherland, who had just loaded their boat after a day of fishing. While we were joking around, as they showed me their catch, I couldn’t help noticing some trampled snow in their boat. I asked themwhy they hadn’t tossed the snow out before launching.

“We didn’t want to wait,” Jesse quipped, “ but the snow on the aluminum boat bottom made it super slippery and we did wind up on our butts more than once.”

After we stopped laughing about that, I think it was Brandon who said he remembered when they were fishing here last winter and his dad decided to pull their shack to a different spot with Brandon in it. As they were bouncing along, the door flew open and Brandon’s best rod holder fell out. He was determined to get it back so he put his sled helmet on (he wasn’t sure why) and jumped out of the moving shack, tumbling onto the ice. He rescued his holder as a cousin came along on his sled. Brandon jumped on the back and headed to dad, who had stopped with their shack. As Brandon approached, the shocked expression on Pop’s face was something not easily forgotten. By the way, the shoreline ice on Lake Winnipeg’s south basin is fairly flat from Riverton to Winnipeg Beach but kind of rough from Matlock/Libau north to Victoria Beach.

Have fun New Year’s Eve. See ya.


A Bombardier to the rescue

Photo: John Klassen, left, and son Kyle Klassen with some of their pickerel catch by Sugar Island on the Red.

Seasons greetings, everyone! This is our time of year when we share love in all its ways as well as helping others in need. It reveals the best in us. The stories that have been given to us this week are fine examples of that.

Jim Zagozewski told me of an experience he had about this time years ago when he and friends were ice fishing off Sandy Bar by Riverton. Five guys on three sleds came by their ice shack lost, asking for directions to make landfall because it was starting to blow.

Jim showed them what direction to go using his GPS. The group climbed back on their sleds and disappeared into the growing storm. Looking out the window once back in his shack, Jim soon realized they were in a white-out situation. He couldn’t see 10 feet away. His gang loaded their gear into their bombardier and were about to head for shore and home when out of the vial of blinding snow, the men on the sleds reappeared.

They had become totally lost and had gone around in a gigantic circle. Worse, some of them were not dressed for a storm on the ice of Lake Winnipeg. One was wearing running shoes.

Jim’s bombardier was packed to the roof, but they made room for the chap in running shoes whose feet were badly frozen. Then away they went in a convoy, Jim in his bombardier leading using his GPS with the sledders following. The bombardier bounced viciously over ice crack pileups that couldn’t be seen in the storm.

Soon the early darkness of the winter night covered them. The small lights of the bombardier seemed frail against the wind-driven blizzard, but Jim faithfully drove according to his GPS. Then abruptly through the swirling maze, the shore popped up right in front of them. Tensions eased as everyone busied themselves loading the sleds onto trailers.

Lastly the chap with the frozen feet had to be carried to his friend’s truck for a trip to the hospital. Jim, you and your friends did just fine. We’re proud of you!

A few days ago, I was on the ice of the Red River, which is about a foot thick now, by Sugar Island downstream of Selkirk. I walked from one portable ice shack to the next, passing the time with our fellow anglers. It seemed everyone couldn’t get over how many pickerel they were catching!

Later, out on the flat snow pack, I saw two men putting their gear into a toboggan, obviously quitting for the day, so I trudged over to them and asked how they had made out.

These very pleasant fellows, John Klassen and his son Kyle from Oak Bluff, quickly held up some of their catch, which I took a picture of.  I then asked if they had a fishing story for us. After thinking for a moment, they remembered an unusual happening.

Last summer, they were boat fishing on the Winnipeg River. There was another boat maybe a half-dozen boat lengths away from them.Apparently those anglers had enough fishing and started pulling in their lines. The driver started the motor and gunned it. What he hadn’t remembered was that the anchor was still out.

The boat shot forward but the anchor stayed right where it was! As the rope tightened like a thick rubber band, the anchor decided to come free — like a torpedo! It tore from the water with “whosh,” slamming into the side of the boat at the water line, sounding like a thunder clap.

John and Kyle sat in their boat, eyes and mouths wide open in shock, staring at a situation that could have had a lot worse ending. They took a minute to regain their composure and then idled over to see what they could do to help.

We continued talking, and John and Kyle mentioned that they belonged to an organization called the  Manitoba Pioneer Camp at Shoal Lake where they take disadvantaged kids for some fishing every so often. Jim, John and Kyle, these are their stories and I think it shows they have the spirit of helping others all year round.

So, to all of you, my fine fishing friends, best wishes and bye for now.

Sharing the Catch of the Day

Photo: Ron Iverson, left, Wes Hurd, middle, and Dale Iverson with some of Dale’s catch on the Red River.

Hi guys and gals.

Man, talk about mowing the lawn one week and cranking up your snowmobile in a ice storm not long after. On the bright side, maybe we’ll be able to go from open water fishing to ice fishing in a really short time.

Ron Iverson of Balmoral, his brother Dale Iverson of Stonewall and his buddy Wes Hurd of Gunton, whom I met on the Red riverbank upstream of Selkirk a few weeks ago, shared this sentiment. They were joking and teasing each other when I walked up to them, and it never stopped until I was out of earshot later back in Old Red. I asked Ron if he had caught anything.

“Not a darn thing,” he responded. “My brother keeps on catching. I’m just here to look good.”

Wes, chimed in, “Yeah, we pushed our way close to Dale, making him move further downstream, thinking we might get lucky too. That didn’t work.”

As Wes and I shot the breeze for a bit, we couldn’t see Dale for the underbrush but we could hear him periodically breaking out in a happy growl over the sound of water splashing, which meant he had landed another fish.

“It’s easy to get ticked off with Dale,” Ron remarked. “He’s always lucky and he’s always a little smug about it.”

Later, when I was about to leave our new friends, I asked the guys to hold up some fish so I could take a picture of them. Dale, with a slight smirk offered, “Sure, I guess we can use some of my fish.”

Unfortunately, there are times when I have to make a choice about which stories I will write, which also means it gets very interesting when I meet someone who has offered a story but couldn’t find it in our papers or on the Internet. So it happened that I found myself some three weeks ago standing in front of two guys, Stefan Stevens and his son Warren from Stonewall, on the Hnausa pier, who, with accusing looks pointed out, “We checked the Selkirk Record and the Stonewall Teulon Tribune and couldn’t find our story.”

I searched my mind, trying to remember where I had met these fellows. Then it hit me. Two tall guys with half-length beards and trappers caps on the ice last winter off Chalet Beach. They had been so gracious taking the time to talk to me even though they had been fishing on the ice all day and wanted to be on their way home.

Here on the Hnausa pier, I apologized for having to make a choice between Stefan’s story and others. Gentleman that he was, he offered another story about not long ago when he was boat fishing on the Red and caught a huge sturgeon.

It literally dragged him and the boat upstream right up to the Lockport locks where he had to cut his line for fear of hitting the concrete lock divider.

Being an open water angler at Balsam Bay is not that easy anymore but that doesn’t stop our anglers. Last year, one could fish over the metal water barrier, but now a newly placed rock water break is the only place to cast from, and you better be part mountain goat. King Cob of Winnipeg, a round-faced chap with long brown hair, thought he was one two weeks ago.

I stopped there to see who was catching what. When I met King, he couldn’t wait to tell me how he ventured out onto the rock barrier and got soaking wet. He had caught an eating-sized pickerel and balancing on the rocks strung it and continued fishing. A few minutes later, he noticed his caught fish slip the string but become corralled in a hollow of rocks with shallow water.

King sprang to action, sprinting from one rock to another down to the water’s edge to reclaim his fish. He should have remembered that wet rocks are slippery. Up went his feet and down King splashed into the water right up to his waist. To his credit, he didn’t lose sight of his objective, rolling to one side, he reached over and grasped his fish holding it high as others on the rocks cheered his victory.

Well, with this cold, our waterways are making two or three centimetres of ice cover a day — terrific.

See you next week, friends.


Some people just have all the luck

Photo: Emily Birley with a monster walleye she caught on the Red at the waterfront pier at Selkirk.

Welcome, fishing pals.

In the last little while, some fishing stories have come to us bearing a humorous similarity about anglers fishing beside each other yet realizing vastly different luck.

It was still, sunny and warm on the Selkirk waterfront pier not long ago when I saw two young gals getting into a little red car, obviously leaving after a morning of fishing. As I passed the time with anglers close by, the girls got out of the car, having heard me asking for stories and one said she had caught a master walleye right here yesterday.

Standing before me, these two petite ladies, Emily Birley and Joelle Alexander, both nurses from Winnipeg, could have been twins. Emily said when she was here the day before, everybody up and down the pier wasn’t catching a darn thing — except for herself, that is. Everybody was using ordinary minnows for bait, but for some unknown reason, the pickerel seemed to prefer Emily’s.

The morning wore on and suddenly, again, her rod whipped toward the water with a whistling sound, but this time, her line began screaming as it spun off her reel. She tightened her drag, slowing the line payout and then methodically began hauling up on her rod, followed by reeling in as she lowered it.

Emily manouevred herself and the incoming fish to a spot in the pier where she could land the fish on a metal incline. Though heavy on her line, the huge pickerel, which everyone on the pier could see now, didn’t really fight much until it was time to net it and then it thrashed about in one last attempt at freedom. With help, she landed the walleye that was almost as big as she was. They took pictures and then quickly returned it to its watery home.

When things settled down, Emily re-baited her hooks, cast out and, sure enough, got another bit. That did it for the guys sitting on either side of her. They hadn’t caught anything all morning and were not going to be a party to this lopsided luck any longer. They packed up their stuff, got in their vehicles and headed for home.

Now Joelle, Emily’s buddy, has the sweetest young daughter, Adrianna, who wanted to fish for the first time a few days later. She’s at that age where she’s thin as a rail, all arms and legs with the biggest charming smile you ever saw. On first cast, Adrianna got a catfish. Keith, her dad, was there when she landed the fish, so he got down on one knee and began unhooking the fish to toss it back in the water. Kindly Adrianna, holding her rod tenderly, bent forward and said to the fish, “Hi. Hope you’re OK!” Nice kid and lucky too.

It was blustery a couple of weeks ago when I was on the Hnausa pier and came across brothers Dennis and Lawrence Kirlicki of Winnipeg. These men looked very much alike with roundish faces, intense eyes and dark moustaches and beards laced with grey. They had been out since daybreak and Dennis was doing just fine having caught two pickerel at a time, twice. Lawrence, on the other hand, had only caught a small perch. Like the guys around Joelle and Emily, he wanted to go home.

I drove over to Victoria Beach not long ago for one last visit before freeze-up. The place was quiet. Snow patches lay at the feet of the winter-darkened pines and spruces. Tire trails showed the way to the pier where a few anglers, heavily clothed, sat hunched over in folding chairs at the far end.

I walked out to them, my boots crunching on small drifts of snow. One fellow, though, seemed more active than the others. He stood as I approached and, with a big smile, said he was Rick Sapecz from Narol. I asked him how the fishing was going and, with a proud smile, he pulled a beautiful mess of pickerel up out of the water. That’s when the guys around him began grumbling. Everybody, including Rick, was using pickerel rigs and minnows, yet he was the only one catching.

Some folks are plain lucky, I guess! Well, so long. Have a good week and we’ll see you soon.


Fishing in the ponds proves to be rewarding

Photo: Dan Dooly, left, and Tyler Booner with two Tiger Trout caught at the ponds north of Lac du Bonnet. Express photo submitted.

Hi. Thanks for stopping for a moment to enjoy a few fishing stories our buddies have been kind enough to share.

Time and again lately, I have stopped by the Ponds north of Lac du Bonnet hoping to meet some anglers. Finally, last week I found two chaps there, local boy Dan Dooly and Tyler Booner of Birds Hill, who had caught a couple of Tiger Trout. I probably should have talked about the “Tigers” before because they are so unique to the Ponds and a few other places; however, let me make amends now.

Tiger Trout are a spectacular fish with their yellow sides overlaid by brown worm-like patterns. These ferocious eaters are created in hatcheries by crossing brown trout eggs with brook trout milt, which results in the breed being sterile — but, boy, can they ever give a fight when hooked! If you get a chance, go over to the Ponds and try for them sometime.

I was visiting folks at the Betel retirement home a couple of weeks ago and met a gal by the name of Jennifer Sweetland from Fraserwood who fondly recalled a childhood fishing experience when her grandmother took her riverbank fishing on Lee River north of Pinawa. They were setting when up grandma pulled out a jar of Noxzema and insisted that Jennifer put some on her Red Devil lure. Jennifer was a little hesitant but did what grandma asked and then cast out her line. In minutes, jackfish were taking her lure time after time. “

It’s worked for me for years,” grandma uttered through her teeth as she reeled in another one.

I guess we can add this unusual bait story to the others, including wieners and kubasa!

Last Saturday, in the cloudy, calm cool afternoon, I roamed up and down the Red riverbank listening to the stories of so many interesting anglers. I ran into one chap, Frank Guzzi, who stood out because he had a clear idea of how he should live his life. He declared that he was a man who took care of his job and family but other than that he was gone fishing. We’ve all heard the jokes about golfers who live on the golf course and horribly neglect their wives. Frank freely admitted that when it comes to fishing, he’s just as guilty.

He was sitting in his favourite folding chair as we talked. According to him, he, the chair and his favourite rod had been to just about every lake and river in Manitoba. As he went on about his love of fishing and being alone in the outdoors, I that he was a commanding figure. His personality, however, was the exact opposite. He was a light-hearted joker.

”I’ve been married to three women and lost them all to fishing,” he quipped as he scratched his beard reflecting, “The last one hit me so hard as she left, she knocked me tooth out!”

“See,” he cried as he pulled back his top lip to expose a dark gap where a tooth should be!

I just stood there not knowing what, if anything, to say as he told this tragic yet humorous tale. What else could I do?

Later, a little further upstream, I saw a gal in the process of landing a nice pickerel. Tall and thin, Carol Jackson of Winnipeg had a rugged outdoor attractiveness about her with her long light red hair and throaty mellow voice. We talked quietly in the misty afternoon as she gave an odd story. A month ago while fishing, her dog splashed into the water, grabbing one of the fish on her string and dragged the whole catch onto dry land. The dog was very proud of herself! In the following month, the dog came to believe that was her job and now Carol can’t break her of the habit!

Well, it’s starting to get cold now, I mean, I saw anglers boat fishing on the Winnipeg River in their snowmobile suits, so bundle up!

Till next week. Bye for now.

Local angler shows pity on fisherman friend

Welcome to my fishing pals.

It seems our first cool snap and snow has spurred many of us on to getting our winter fishing gear ready. It’s only human nature to be apprehensive about the coming winter so let me and a new young fishing friend of ours, Dallas Morrisseau of Lac du Bonnet get you into that wonderful cozy mood of ice shack angling.

Here’s what happened to him in his shack last winter. With bright sunlight streaming through the windows of his wooden shack, there was the comforting smell and warmth from wood crackling in its’ small stove. Subdued music from the radio filled the shack. Dallas, a soft faced youth with long brown hair that fell over his forehead sat on a bench on one end of the hut holding a short rod whose line disappeared into the water of his ice hole. On a similar wall bench across from him sat his buddy, Jaden Maki, also fishing. Their heavy snowmobile boots clunked on the wood floor as they shifted about. Setting his rod on the floor, Dallas stood up and went to the window looking out across the sun bathed flat ice pack that reached out to the distant dark shoreline. Other shacks dotted the icescape. Pickup trucks lazily bounced from one place to the other . Then he heard a slight scraping sound. He turned and looking down saw his rod slowly migrating across the floor toward the ice hole. Dallas sprang forward grabbing his rod instantly sensing there was a small fish on his hook. He reeled in and sure enough a little pickerel popped free of the water.

Jaden teased Dallas about his inability to catch a “real” fish.

That stopped sharply as a loud splashing pierced the shack and a huge thrashing jackfish flew up half out of the ice hole water completely swallowing the tiny pickerel. Dallas reacted with lightening reaction grasping his line and dragging the jack up onto the shack floor. After he caught his breath he turned to Jaden and simply smiled sarcastically while pointing to his prize saying, “come on, try and beat that.”
See, winter’s great.

Now, let’s get back to open water fishing. Down along the Red riverbank last week I met Shawna Osueke and her fiancé, Steve Froese from Altona. They were sitting in lawn chairs all bundled up casting questioned glances at the ends of their rods which had not given a signal all day that the fish here were hungry.
Incidentally Steve is no relation to the Froeses’ who gave us the story a month ago about having his or her rod stolen. Anyway, Steve had a story for us that went like this.

He was boat fishing on the Red by Sugar Island and like this afternoon, wasn’t catching a darn thing. What hurt more was he could see the guys around him catching all kinds of fish. Finally a neighboring angler took pity on him and trolled over to him telling him to try putting the tail part of a white rubber twister onto a bright jig for bait. He did and in no time caught the beautiful 34” walleye you see in our picture for the week.
Our next story isn’t really a fishing story but it’s funny.

I was slowly idling around the Winnipeg Beach harbor complex in “old red” last Friday. In the still overcast morning, coming up to a park area, I noticed a pickup truck with one of those Northwest Territories white license plates in the shape of a bear on the front bumper. Rolling past I saw a tall fellow walking his big old yellow lab beside the water. I drove over and introduced myself asking if the truck with the NWT plate was his. “Yea”, a soft-spoken chap with a warm smile who said he was Ernie Brown from nearby Sandy Hook, remarked.

“You’re not going to try to steal it are you,” he joked.

“No, but it’s unusual,” I said.

“For sure,” Ernie laughed, “it’s an inside joke up north that if you have a plate like that you have to go to a guy who knows how to weld up a steel frame and bolt it to your bumper or the minute you get down south to Alberta or B.C., someone will try to tear it off your vehicle for a souvenir.”
Wow. Bye for now.