By David Janeson
Lake Winnipeg is an amazing body of water: the world’s 10th largest, by most counts. It should come as no surprise that its seemingly endless shores teem with fun recreational opportunities and cultural experiences for the whole family. Here’s a look at seven enduring favorites.
1. Visit Viking Park in Gimli
Viking Park is a must-see on your way up the shore of Lake Winnipeg. It’s relatively new, as this excellent CBC primer explains, but Viking Park has already earned a deserved reputation as one of Canada’s top Nordic-themed destinations. Don’t leave before snapping a selfie with the iconic Viking statue.
2. Stick Around for the Icelandic Festival
If Viking Park has you hooked, head back up to Gimli in early August for the world-famous Icelandic Festival, Canada’s largest celebration of Icelandic heritage. Tens of thousands of people descend on the lakefront village each year to remember the region’s original European settlers and revel in customs preserved across the generations. The best part is, no Icelandic heritage is required to partake.
3. Take a Dinner Cruise
Can’t decide whether to tuck in for dinner or take one last spin around the harbor? You can do both on a dinner cruise at Gull Harbour Marina. There’s nothing quite like viewing a late summer sunset from the deck on calm evening waters, cold beverage in hand. Later in the year, when night comes earlier, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking astronomical display. Constellations, ahoy!
4. Rent a Boat for a Day (or Two)
Prefer to captain your own vessel? Whether you prefer the reassuring grip of a double paddle or the confident roar of a motorboat engine, you’re covered.
“Hecla Island is a DIY mariner’s playground. And once you’re out on the water, the sky (or bottom) is truly the limit.” — David Janeson
Don’t forget to ask locals to share their favorite fishing spots — if they’ll tell you, that is.
5. Hike Hecla Island
Hecla Island isn’t a world-renowned hiking destination, but don’t let that fool you. Dozens of kilometers of trails crisscross the island, from the leisurely interpretive walk through Hecla Village to the 10-kilometer West Quarry Trail, a great wildlife-viewing opportunity. Don’t forget your hiking boots or snowshoes. (Or both, depending on the season.)
6. Spend an Endless Summer Evening at Sunset Beach
They don’t call it Sunset Beach for nothing. Stretching along the northwestern shore of Hecla Island, on the far side of Gull Harbour, this strip of sand is one of the best places to watch the sun set in the entire province.
In June and July, you can enjoy a leisurely dinner and make it to the beach with plenty of time to spare before the show starts. Once the stars make their appearance, it’s a whole new world. If you can find an open camping site, you’ll surely be tempted to spend the whole night here.
7. Squeeze in a Round of Golf
Few first-time visitors realize that Hecla Island is home to one of Manitoba’s top golf courses: an 18-hole championship course at Lakeview Hecla Resort, not far from Gull Harbour. On long summer days, snagging a prime tee time is rarely a problem. Fore!
What’s your top destination or activity on Lake Winnipeg?
David Janeson owns Gull Harbour Marina, a seasonal lakeside resort on beautiful Hecla Island, Manitoba.