Within easy driving distance of Winnipeg, Red River North offers a variety of experiences for all ages and interests. Take a day (or two or three) to discover the many attractions of Red River North! Here are some ideas ….What type of tourist are you?
#1. History Hound
Love local history and want to see our region’s history first hand? Pick up a copy of the Selkirk & Area Heritage Tour at any visitor info centre in the region, or download here.
Hint: Take Highway #9 north of the perimeter and turn right at River Road….Start at #31 and work backwards …)
Spend the morning exploring the legacy of the Hudson’s Bay Company through the treasures of the River Road Heritage Parkway and Lower Fort Garry .
Then travel north to the busy transportation and commercial hub that was Selkirk around the turn of the century, by way of the historic St. Andrews Lock and Dam . The Marine Museum at the entrance to Selkirk Park showcases five lake boats – on the MS Keenora , you’ll get a feeling for the era of steamships and the lifestyle of the crew and passengers on this immense boat that plied the waters of Lake Winnipeg until the sixties.
Cross the Red River to visit St. Peter’s Church and cemetery in the original territory of Chief Peguis and his people, then visit other points of interest in East Selkirk before returning to Winnipeg on Henderson Highway.
Allow six hours to get the most out of this, using the guide.
#2. Scenic Ice Cream Looper
A traditional favorite of Winnipeggers for many years! Head north of Winnipeg on Highway #9 and turn right at River Road to enjoy the fabulous scenery along the River Road Heritage Parkway, studded with wayside stops, historic stone buildings, modern luxury homes and incredible vistas along the Red River.
At Lockport, stretch your legs at the St. Andrews Lock and Dam, or the Lockport Provincial Heritage Park on the other side of the bridge. Treat yourself to snacks at Skinner’s, the Half Moon or Sonia’s stand and head south on Henderson Highway to see the iconic onion-domed churches of the tiny Ukrainian communities that line this winding road that takes you back to the city.
Perfect cycle/motorcycle loop! Good for antique cars, too.
Minimum of three hours including a lunch stop. If you go on Sunday, allow time to visit the Locks Market beside Skinners on River Road!
#3. Fish and Fun Seeker
Pick up a copy of “ Let’s go Fishing” at a visitor info centre, then head to the Lockport Heritage Provincial Park ( east side of the bridge) or Selkirk Park or waterfront to cast your line. The catfish and, in the fall, walleye are waiting for you, whether you are master angler material, or just want a day relaxing in the sun!
While at Selkirk Park, enjoy the picnic tables under their leafy canopy, the beachy swimming pool, the skateboard park and the walking/birdwatching trails – something for everyone! There’s a boat launch there as well.
Lockport, Selkirk and the “miracle mile(s)” between them are great for ice-fishing, too, as is the south basin of Lake Winnipeg near Chalet Beach and Matlock.
Take the family and take a whole day!
#4. Family Finder
The churches and cemeteries of the area provide a marvelous opportunity to research your ancestors! Hudson’s Bay Company employees -mostly Scots- often intermarried with local women to produce stable communities along the Red River – you’ll find their graves at the churches at St. Andrews, Little Britain and St. Clements.
Later settlers – Icelanders, Germans and Ukrainians occupy graveyards tied to the Selkirk /East Selkirk communities. The final resting place of Chief Peguis and many of his people lies beside St. Peter’s Church near the majestic St. Peter’s Dynevor Bridge.
The Robert Jefferson Heritage Collection at the Gaynor Family Library offers a growing body of information on local history and families.
#5. Beach Bum
No cottage? No problem! At either end of Red River North, discover provincial parks with wonderful swimming, hiking and picnicking facilities. Bird’s Hill Park is only fifteen minutes from Winnipeg on Highway 59. If you continue north to Grand Beach, you’ll be rewarded with one of Canada’s finest sand beaches on the edge of an inland ocean, complete with boardwalk, dining, and beach supplies.
Next door is Grand Marais, with groceries, more restaurants and shops, gas, entertainment, and ATM. The visitor info centre features a modern interactive museum which showcases the history of the resort.
Patricia Beach, a less developed provincial park provides a haven for beach-goers who want a quieter and more natural environment. It’s also on Highway 59, just past the South Beach Casino.
Take a picnic and stay ‘til sunset!
#6. Bird Nerd
Red River North lies on a western migration route – as the seasons change, discover different feathered visitors throughout the region. Visit the Lockport/Selkirk area to see the magnificent white pelicans dive near the Locks or drift down the Red River in search of dinner.
West of Lower Fort Garry, you’ll find Oak Hammock Marsh , a Ducks Unlimited nature centre featuring boardwalks and boatrides through the marsh.
The walking trails in the parks at Selkirk, Bird’s Hill and Grand Beach and the Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail allow you to observe birds in a forest environment, while the shore birds will keep you company at the beaches of Lake Winnipeg . Even if you don’t see the timid piping plovers on the shore, you will hear their cries!
#7. Arts and Tarts
Check out the “Markets” section of this website to see when and where you can find a fine assortment of arts, crafts, local vegetables and fresh baking. That conversation with the person who made the item is often worth the trip!
On a summer Sunday, you can visit both the Skinners Locks Market at Lockport, and the Petersfield Market on Highway #9, just 20 minutes north of Selkirk, by the Mallard statue. Stop for a gourmet light lunch or latte in Selkirk at the Ubuntu Café at the Gaynor Family Library and you’ve had the best day ever!
Tuesday- Saturday 11AM – 4PM, check out the Gwen Fox Gallery in Selkirk, to see local artists’ work on the walls and in the gift shop. There’s a new show every month (come back often!), and some of it is for sale. On Wednesdays in August, check out the Dawg Days of Summer market 11:30 – 1:30, at the Selkirk Waterfront, and catch some live music too!
The boutique at Lower Fort Garry has a great selection of Manitoba /Canada souvenirs, as well as books about the region and the fur trade.
The first weekend of June and of September, the WAVE tour of artists’ studios starts in St. Andrews and continues up into the Interlake – allow two days for this if you love connecting with painters, potters, jewellery makers, carvers, photographers, print and paper makers….