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?”