celebrating Manitoba Day


This blog often takes us to exotic locales in search of chocolate and other delectables. But in this post, I’d like to salute my own home turf in honour of Manitoba Day. I was born and raised here. It is my home, and I’m proud of its many attributes.

On May 12th each year, we celebrate Manitoba Day in honour of the official founding of the province of Manitoba and the day it was incorporated into Canadian Confederation– on May 12, 1870. And on May 12, 1966, the official flag of Manitoba was dedicated and raised for the very first time, making May 12th a very important date in the history of Manitoba. because of this double significance to the day, the Manitoba government officially designated May 12h as Manitoba Day in 1986.

It is unfortunate that due to COVID times, all the celebrations that had been planned for the special 150th anniversary of the province in 2020 had to be cancelled or postponed, and we are in limited lockdown mode again on May 12, 2021, the 151st anniversary of our province will again be low-key. I’m sure we’ll all look forward to 2022, when hopefully we can celebrate openly, freely, and with all our hearts.

I was born and raised in the capital city of Winnipeg.  We can’t talk about Manitoba without tipping our hats to the province’s capital city. Winnipeg really has come a long way in the past 20 years in adding new top-notch sports and entertainment facilities, a new airport terminal, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the Qaumajug Inuit Art Centre that opened in 2021 adjacent to the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

But since July 1st (Canada Day) of 2007, I’ve resided in Manitoba’s Interlake region  I’ve enjoyed being in a small relaxed community, yet still in the heart of so many exciting festivals and regional events. And only one hour from the city of Winnipeg.

The beautiful beach at Camp Morton looks like it could be in a tropical or truly exotic location.

I took you to Camp Morton in this post. It’s a fairly remote area that offers a ruggedly natural beach on Lake Winnipeg just north of Gimli. This beautiful picture of the beach inspires me on days when my energy level is on the low side.

In this post, I introduced you the lakeside community of Gimli. Pictured below is one of the re-enactors who live like Vikings for the first week of August each year as part of Gimli’s Icelandic Festival depicted in our opening image. Who wouldn’t be smitten by a smile from this face? Right now, the 2021 festival is scheduled for July 30-August 2nd, but it is unknown whether an in-person event will be held due to the current COVID numbers that are prohibiting public events in the province at this point in time. That also applies to the Gimli Film Fest, planned for July 12-25, 2021. Visit their site as we get closer to the date to see what is going on with live in-person activities.

The blacksmith in the Viking Village at the Gimli Icelandic Festival is portrayed by this very convincing re-enactor.

Visiting Hecla Island is a must for anyone spending time in the Gimli area. Hecla is a terrific place to explore nature, and the Lakeview Hecla Resort is a terrific place to stay and enjoy the adjacent golf course. This is a sister resort to the Lakeview Gimli Resort. Both properties are running with limited services during the pandemic. Check the site for current details.

In a previous post, we also visited Chatfield, Manitoba, a rather out-of-the-way community in Manitoba’s Interlake region that features a terrific country memorabilia museum. It’s amazing what a small community the entire province of Manitoba really is. No matter where you visit, you’ll always run into someone who knows someone you know. I guess that’s why they call it “Friendly Manitoba!” We’re all one big happy family.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

43 Responses

  1. This was the 200th anniversary of Independence from the Ottomans in Greece and activities had been planned for a year or so. All cancelled for Covid — such a shame Manitoba also had subdued celebration. Great post and reminder that sometimes the best things are right in our back yard!
    Jackie K Smith recently posted…Greek Easter – A Giddy Sort of WeekMy Profile

    • Thx so much for your comment, Jackie. It’s great to hear that Greece has reopened & that normalcy is returning. I hope we’re not far behind you in Manitoba, Canada.

  2. Looks like a rugged and raw place to visit and when you add all these cool festivals makes for a real sense of place and history to the area.

    • Indeed, Noel. Manitoba is a great destination for nature and culture lovers alike.

    • Bola says:

      Great post about Manitoba, Doreen. I do hope the festivals go ahead in July and August.

      • Thanks, Bola. The way our COVID numbers are right now, I really doubt that will happen. They each had some stuff happening online last summer as they couldn’t have them then, either. But I don’t think anyone ever expected that COVID would hit this hard for so long. Right now, we have the 2nd highest per capita COVID rate in Canada. Not something to be proud of, but we’re in a pretty tight lockdown right now, so hopefully, it will provide the circuit-breaker we need to put COVID back in the lab and out of our homes.

  3. We are looking forward to the day that we put this pandemic behind us and move forward with travel. Canada has enamored us with its beauty and history, and we are left wanting to experience more of it. Perhaps Manitoba will be on our horizon. If so, May 12th would be a perfect time to see it.

    • Hi Jeff and thx so much for your comment. July and August are actually the preferred time to visit Manitoba if you want to take in the full array of incredible outdoor festivals and events. (2021 being a hybrid, though, as we still don’t know if things will go ahead for this summer.) The early fall is nice, too. Spring weather can be very variable. For example, we had overnight freezing temps in early May! Finally this week (mid-May) we’re getting summer-like weather.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…cinco de mayo–a celebration of mexican cultureMy Profile

  4. Betty Jackson says:

    On the western side of Manitoba is a whole other prairie area of farms and service towns. I began life in the Inglis and Russell area. Soooo beautiful with rich farmlands, rivers, hills and lakes. In 1983 a project in Vancouver took us to Lotus Land and when it was over we came right back to Sunny Manitoba.
    We chose to leave the city and spend our senior years near the big Lake. Clean air and a relaxed lifestyle for us now. Go Manitoba…..!

  5. I’ve updated this post in honour of Manitoba Day, May 12, 2021. Unfortunately, standing in the way of the way of our normal celebrations is the interruption of in-person festivities due to COVID-19. So we celebrate virtually, and are grateful for this great Canadian province known as Gateway to the West.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…cinco de mayo–a celebration of mexican cultureMy Profile

  6. Hello,

    Manitoba is one of Canada’s tourism gems — history, culture, beaches, great restaurants and attractions.
    nikita yadav recently posted…NEWS AND EVENTSMy Profile

  7. Hedy says:

    Good day Doreen Pendgracs I loved your informative blog post on celebrating Manitoba Day. Thank you for the write up!
    Hedy recently posted…Cheapest Insurance for Young DriversMy Profile

  8. Rich says:

    Gotta love good ol’ Manitoba!!!!

  9. This was an ambitious and expensive 2.6 billion program that would first divert the flow of the Churchill River into the Nelson River. Planning for Development and a Lack of Concern for Native Peoples Culture.The conception of the Churchill River Diversion project as previously discussed was part and parcel of a post World War II vision of economic prosperity through the exploitation of natural resources in northern Manitoba…In criticizing the decision to proceed with development this was best expressed by Doctor Robert Newbury a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Manitoba ..Nowhere is the cost of the loss of the Churchill River calculated. Even before these studies could be initiated however this confidential report called for alternatives to the project or at the least a project redesign to minimize the effects of impoundment on Southern Indian Lake and the South Indian Lake community.

  10. Laurel says:

    It’s a long time since I left Manitoba but have been thinking a lot about it recently with the devastating flooding. Old friends from the University of Manitoba have been sending me photos. My heart goes out to all affected. My mother kept a folder for a long time with the Free Press cartoons from the 1950 flood. We have not been back since we took Mom’s ashes on a road trip back to her and my roots in 2003 and interred them with my Dad who left us in 1966. I was able to show my 4 kids around the area where I grew up and some of the highlights of Winnipeg and the University. My daughter subsequently made me a collage called “Bloom Where You’re Planted”. That says it for me. Manitoba is a wonderful place with excellent values and Manitobans are the salt of the earth. I moved west following summer jobs in the Rockies and the family that came along has roots elsewhere but they all know from whence we came. Prairie roots endure. Thanks for bringing back the love with your writing Doreen.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, Laurel, and for sharing your Manitoba memories with me.

      I know what you mean about the MB roots being firmly implanted. A very dear friend of mine who left MB (physically) in 1986, still has her heart here, and she returns frequently to see family and friends. She said that making friends in BC just isn’t the same. People are too distracted with making a living and dealing with the stress of $$ west coast living to make the kind of connections that last a lifetime. That’s not to say I don’t long for the day when I’ll never see another day of white winter, but I know that MB is in my blood for good — no matter where I’ll be living.

  11. Hi Bruce: One of our PWAC-MB members (RoseAnna) is an avid paddler, so if you decide to make the trip, let me know and I can hook you up with her.

    Yes, we Manitobans certainly have determination & true grit. Thanks for your kind comments re the flood.

    And Pat … nice to have you back. Hope you had a great holiday. Yes, I’ll definitely take you to Camp Morton the next time you visit us. And Manitoba Day was just put into effect in 1986 — the year you left MB! Which is probably why you’d never heard of it previously.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their Manitoba moments and thoughts. Much appreciated!

  12. Pat Bodman says:

    I went to Camp Morton as a child on a church camping trip. Will have to go and check it out when I come back for a visit – looks great!!!

    Even though I lived in Manitoba for over 30 years I never once celebrated Manitoba Day or even knew there was one!!!! Glad to hear about it and confident that you celebrated on my behalf!!!!

  13. Bruce says:

    My mother was born in Binscarth, Manitoba, and my parents met in Winnipeg, so could say I have Manitoban roots. We often vacationed in Winnipeg when I was young and I’ll always remember those long trips across the prairies from Vancouver to get there. When I hitchhiked across Canada in my younger years, I got a ride just outside Winnipeg from a fellow who had canoed the river routes of the old Voyageurs. I couldn’t imagine a better thing to do, so one of these days, I hope to do some paddling along those rivers myself.

    My heart goes out to all those folks living in the flood zones. It warms my heart to see them all helping each other. Manitobans have true grit.


  14. Perhaps that’s why we (Manitobans) have that something special in our characters as Barb mention, Hilda. I have heard from many people who move away that they never develop the kind of strong bonds with others as they had in MB.

    And LGB, thanks for your comment as well. It sounds like you’ve done a tremendous job in your short time here exploring some of our wonders. I agree that Spruce Woods Provincial Park is a marvellous place. We locals have always called it the Carberry Desert. I didn’t even realize the desert had an official name: Spirit Sands. Definitely a place every Manitoban should visit and enjoy.

  15. I was born and raised in Nova Scotia and moved to Manitoba 4 years ago. The best part of Manitoba is exploring! Most of my exploring has been in southwestern Manitoba. My fav attractions are Spirit Sands Desert near Glenboro (I just recently did a blog on this), hiking the Turtle’s Back near William Lake (definitely worth the hike for the view!), the swinging bridge in Souris, Wasagaming in Riding Mountain National Park (keep your eyes open for moose!), and recently I discovered camping in a yurt on Rossman Lake (just did another blog on this too).

    I’m looking forward to exploring Manitoba even more in the future.

  16. I agree Doreen. There is something about Manitoba that gives strength and substance to life.

  17. I love Manitoba’s lakes, provincial and national parks, and its vast prairies and big skies. I love Winnipeg for its fabulous arts and culture scene. And, I love Manitobans, who are truly some of the most down-to-earth, friendly people in the country. Manitoba is also truly the centre of Canada, and links both east and west. Yay, for the Keystone province!

    • Thanks for your comments, Barb. I know that you are someone who has travelled extensively and lived abroad, so your reflections are especially meaningful to those of us who have never lived anywhere but here.

      Manitoba may not be perfect, but it does have many wonderful attributes that keep us here and make us strong.

  18. Hi Elle. Thanks for joining the conversation. and being a MB enthusiast. Manitoba Day was launched a few years ago. It’s not a holiday, but is a day of tribute and recognition nonetheless. It’s unfortunate that this year it was overshadowed by the horrific flooding thru parts of the province.

    Hope to see you in the Interlake this summer!

  19. Manitoba is one of Canada’s tourism gems — history, culture, beaches, great restaurants and attractions. I’ve visited many times over the years and always find something new to explore and discover. It wasn’t until I visited Gimli that I found out that for a time there was a Republic of Iceland with Canadian government approval — cool. I often write about Winnipeg and other points in Manitoba — but I didn’t know there was a Manitoba Day on May 12. Learned something new again.

  20. Hi,
    I’ve lived in Manitoba since 1970 and travelled over quite a bit of it during that time. Just a sampling: I’ve skiied at Duck Mountain, Turtle Mountain, and Riding Mountain; canoed the Manigatogan and Grass Rivers; sailed on Lake Winnipeg out of Gimli, Silver Harbour and Hecla Island; visited museums at Cook’s Creek, Dauphin, Winnipeg, Gimli, St. Boniface,and Lower Fort Garry.

    • Way to go, Irene. That’s the way to truly enjoy all we have to offer in MB. It’s not all just flat wheat fields as some people like to generalize. I once had an editor from California refuse a story as he had it embedded in his head that there was nothing worth seeing between the Rockies and the larger cities out east. He doesn’t know shat he’s missing and didn’t seem interested in finding out.

  21. Doreen:As you know I lived in Manitoba for 21 years. I remember going to the Icelandic festival in Gimli and camping on Hecla Island. Also ate at the resort. Manitoba is a unique province. I am thinking of all my friends there during the flooding.

    • Thanks for dropping into the blog, Hilda. We miss you here in Manitoba!

      And thanks for your kind thoughts re the flooding situation. We shall see what happens tomorrow morning, when they cut open the dike!

  22. Hilda Young says:

    I enjoyed living in Manitoba for 21 years and celebrating Manitoba day. Also enjoyed visiting Gimli and Hecla island. I do not know the other places you mentioned.

  23. Thanks, Esther and Manny, for your comments.

    Esther as a native Manitoban who now lives in BC and still feels the strong family ties of MB, and Manny as someone who was born elsewhere but now feels a strong bond to Manitoba.

    I’m caught in the middle: born and raised here, but well-travelled and wondering if I’ll ever get away from winter for good. I love the people and the pride we share for MB, but long to live in a climate where I’m not looking at 2 degrees Celsius as a night-time low for May 12-13. What’s up with that???

  24. Manny says:

    I was born in Portugal, but call Manitoba my home. I’ve traveled a bit and never thought of living anywhere elese. I always appreciate it so much more when I come back from a week long trip. Ahhh, Manitoba!

  25. satinka says:

    Born and raised in Gimli, Manitoba…I did not know May 12 was Manitoba Day *blush*… I have fond memories of Grand Beach. The sand is great and the beach goes on forever. At least that’s how I remember it as a teenager. I haven’t been there lately. I remember Chatfield, too. I had an uncle who lived in Inwood. Now he lives in Petersfield. Thanks for this blog…it made me look at the map again! 🙂

  26. Thanks so much, Larry. That means a lot to me, coming from a Manitoba advocate like you. With all the pride you show in/for Manitoba, I never would have known that you were not born here. Thanks for continuing to show such pride in what we have to offer.

  27. Thanks Doreen for sharing our Manitoba. I have lived in 12 cities in 4 provinces and have been lucky to have travelled to many countries around the world. I’m from Toronto but Manitoba is my home in my head and in my heart. I’ve visited dozens of communities in our province and without exception every one of them had something different, unique and memorable about it. I’m consider myself lucky to live in Manitoba and I never want to take what we have for granted. Happy Manitoba Day!

  28. Thanks for joining in, Dorothea.

    Yes, isn’t it amazing how much change you can see in the topography from one place to another? Canada is such a huge and varying country, each place with its own attributes.

    Not many people realize how huge Manitoba is! It takes the same amount of time for us to fly from Wpg to Churchill as it does from Wpg to Toronto! Granted, the smaller planes don’t fly quite as fast, but it’s still quite the amazing journey!

    Hope to see you the next time you’re out this way.

  29. Dorothea Belanger says:

    What a wonderful tribute to Manitoba! What I like about the 2.5 hour drive from Kenora to Winnipeg is the geographical change from the rocky Canadian Shield to the grassy, open prairie. I always feel that the change gives more “bang for my travelling buck”.

  30. Thanks for logging in, Gail.

    I should mention that Gail is the executive director for the Interlake Tourism Assn. They have an amazing website at: http://www.interlaketourism.com.

    Check it out, and come see us in Manitoba’s Interlake.

    I agree with Doreen about the wonderful things to see and do in Manitoba but also at home in the Interlake. With numerous festivals to attend that celebrate our unique culture and heritage, culinary treats to tempt your taste buds, and the vast and ever changing landscape of nature in all its glory.
    With our sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, waving wheat fields and boreal forest there is always something new to discover just down the road.

    Lets hope it dries up this spring and we have some glorious sunny weather soon so we can all go exploring soon.

  32. I’ve travelled a bit through Manitoba, and it is indeed a beautiful province. Thanks for showing us what is special to you.
    I didn’t know May 12 was Manitoba Day–so happy day!

    • Thanks very much, Christine!

      Yes, sometimes I think it’s important to reflect on the beauty and significance of what is right under our own feet. I have a deep desire to see the world and share my stories, but Manitoba is the place my ancestors chose to come. It is the place they toiled and broke the land so that they could farm and raise their families. And it is the place I call home.

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