six reasons to visit Gimli

I’ve been going to Gimli, Manitoba ever since I was a small child, as my father’s only sister lived there with her family. Until I was an adult, this small lakeside community of nearly 6,000 people simply represented a place where I had family, and where we spent many summer days walking the pier or trying to swim in the cool waters of Lake Winnipeg after tiptoeing over the stones of the pebbled beach that lines the shore.

murals-on-gimli-pier

a muralist touches up her masterpiece on the Gimli pier

As a travel and lifestyle writer, I began to look at Gimli through a different lens. It is a proud community with a strong heritage and a vibrant arts community. As the sixth-largest freshwater lake in Canada, it is the immenseness of Lake Winnipeg as an inland ocean that draws a great number of creative individuals to the Interlake region, with Gimli as the hub. Writers, artists, musicians, performers, and photographers come to the Gimli area to congregate, live in harmony, be inspired, and enjoy the affordable standard of living. My husband and I now live just 20 minutes from Gimli and for the past six years, have called the Interlake home.

There are many reasons you may choose to put Gimli on your horizon, whether as a visitor, or as a possible future resident. I’ve listed a few, with hope we might  see you there this year.

6 reasons to visit Gimli

1. Gimli has the largest number of residents of Icelandic heritage in any community outside of Iceland. The New Iceland Heritage Museum is an excellent facility that celebrates the town’s Icelandic and Ukrainian settlers whose hard work and joint efforts helped make a good life for farming and fishing families. Tergesen’s General Store has an excellent book shop that offers many books about Iceland and Manitoba and predominantly features books authored by local writers. Tergesen’s is a big supporter of local culture and regularly  holds book launches and events to spotlight local authors at the historic A-Spire Theatre.

2. Gimli’s strong interest in film and culture makes it a perfect place for a film festival. The Gimli Film Festival runs from July 22-26 in 2015 and will showcase more than 130 feature films, documentaries, and shorts from around the world. Where else can you sit on the beach and watch a film under the moonlight on a 35×10 -foot movie screen suspended over the water?

viking-statue

Gimli’s mascot is the massive Viking statue

3. The Gimli Icelandic Festival formally known as “Islendingadagurinn” has been held in Gimli since 1932 and continues to reinvent itself. We really enjoy the Viking Re-enactment Village that draws re-enactors from around the world to setup a Viking village on the shores of Lake Winnipeg in Gimli and live like the Vikings did 1,000 years ago. The Gimli Icelandic Festival always runs on the August longweekend and is scheduled for July 31- August 3, 2015.

4. Gimli has a thriving artistic community. The A-Spire Players provide live theatre performances at the A-Spire Theatre every week through the summer, and on occasion, the rest of the year. There are also many book launches and literary events held at the historic theatre (which was once a church.) As well, Gimli and area is home to many painters and artisans who participate in the semi-annual WAVE Interlake Artists Studio Tour held each June and September. Gimli is even home to the Toastmasters in the Arts club, a Toastmasters club devoted to people in the arts.

5. Gimli is a beautiful sailing community and has a scenic harbour where you can dock your boat, or stroll along the pier and look at the art and the boats  harboured there. You’ll even find people fishing off the pier, and be sure to give yourself time to enjoy the beautiful murals (pictured above), that you’ll see lining the concrete windbreak built to prevent the waves from washing over the pier.

gimli-harbour

Gimli harbour is lovely and peaceful

6. Gimli is a fair trade community. Gimli is the 1st in Manitoba and 6th community in Canada to become a certified fair trade community. To qualify, local leaders must pass resolutions to support fair trade initiatives, local retailers must offer a wide range of fair trade products, and the community must host events that promote the fair trade movement. Drop into the Fresh Carrot while you’re in town for a good selection of Fair Trade goods, including some great Camino Chocolate.

Have you been to Gimli? What strikes you as being special, unique, or quirky about the place?

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

37 Responses

  1. Great post! I love Gimli too…it’s the absolute best place to get Fish and Chips!
    Michele Peterson recently posted…Breathe easy in a Nuu-Muu exercise dress + win one tooMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Michele and thanks for your comment. Yes, Gimli is definitely known for its fabulously fresh pickerel. Maybe I should have made it 6 reasons to visit Gimli! We buy our fish fresh from a nearby commercial fisherman. He catches it in the morning, cleans it in the aft, and by evening, it’s in my frying pan for supper!

  2. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    Now I know a bit more about where you live. It sounds really wonderful. I do love a lively arts community. From what you’ve said that exists there. Now I have another location to place on a ever growing list of places to visit.
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Marinated Mushrooms: RecipeMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Right on, Susan. Gimli is indeed a hub for artistic activity, which is why I’ve started a Toastmasters club exclusively for members of the local arts community. Looking forward to visiting you in your neck of the woods this year, and hopefully will see you up this way sometime soon!

  3. Geek Girl says:

    I have not been there, but it sounds wonderful. 🙂
    Geek Girl recently posted…Blog Tour: Letters From GrandmaMy Profile

  4. satinka
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love Gimli, too. I was born and raised around there and went to highschool there. Nice to hear they are a “certified fair trade community” now — something unheard of when I was growing up.

    But then, LOTS has changed since then!
    satinka recently posted…Love of NatureMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Indeed, Esther. Much has changed in the Gimli area since we grew up. It is no longer a rural community with a strictly rural outlook. It is now quite cosmopolitan, with great shops, lots of recreational activities, a strong cultural component, and more of a global outlook on issues due to the influx of new residents who have chosen to move or retire here. I hope you will visit again soon. 🙂

  5. Salika Jay says:

    You seem to have fond memories there. Watching movies under moonlight on the beach sounds very interesting, and while enjoying some fish & chips too 🙂
    Salika Jay recently posted…Giveaway: TV and Movie Location Tour TicketsMy Profile

  6. Jeri
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    says:

    Islendingadagurinn definitely strikes me as something I would have a lot of fun experiencing. This more “local” post is a great way to give readers a glimpse at a place you know so well.
    Jeri recently posted…On My Mind: Yellowstone National Park and a Wedding AnniversaryMy Profile

  7. Wow it sounds amazing and beautiful. I love the statue of the Viking. I would love to see one of the re-enactments.
    Elizabeth Scott recently posted…What is Triberr?My Profile

  8. I’ve only ever been to Winnipeg, though I have heard about Gimili, no one has ever described it in any detail to me until now. It sounds like an amazing Canadian treasure. The harbour looks absolutely spectacular.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…You Online, The Forever FootprintMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for your comment, Debra. I didn’t realize you are Canadian!

      Yes, the next time you visit Winnipeg, plan to spend some time getting out to the surrounding communities. Gimli is only 1 hour north of Wpg but well worth the trip. Particularly during the summer months. 🙂
      Doreen recently posted…five reasons to visit GimliMy Profile

  9. Jon Jefferson says:

    As close as I live to Canada, you would be surprised that I have never been to any part. With my Norwegian ancestry I would love any festival that employs Viking reenactment.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Jon: I am often surprised at how many Americans don’t seem to have an interest to visit Canada! Even in border towns and cities, I have found that many Americans I have spoken to have not ventured across the border. Try it! You may just find that Canada has much to offer than you may think.
      Doreen recently posted…five reasons to visit GimliMy Profile

  10. Mark Brody says:

    I have only been to Toronto in Canada many years ago. Your community sounds like a peaceful, happy community. I hope future travels will allow the opportunity to see the community.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for your comment, Mark. Yes, Toronto is a great city. Lots to see and do! But it’s like mentioning New York and Cape Cod in the same breath. Gimli is small and out of the way, but it’s definitely worth a visit for anyone wanting to reconnect with nature and experience some local culture. Cheers!

  11. Catarina says:

    Must admit I have never heard of Gimli. Sounds like an interesting place. Being a Viking I have to be in favour of a community that celebrates its Viking heritage:-)
    Catarina recently posted…Do you find time for strategic thinking?My Profile

  12. Agness
    Twitter:
    says:

    Nope, I’ve never been to Gimli, but it’s on my list. I’ve already heard some great opinions on the the Gimli Icelandic Festival (”Islendingadagurinn”), so I hope to make it there very soon :).
    Agness recently posted…Travellers vs. Non-Travellers – Will We Ever Understand Each Other?My Profile

  13. Laura says:

    I will be visiting Winnipeg this summer and I hope to visit Gimli too.

  14. Kelly says:

    Will definitely visit Gimli on my next vaction! Thank you for opening the world to this wonderful place! Very beautiful and a hidden paradise.

  15. Sam Diaz says:

    I’ve never heard of Gimli before this post but it sounds quite awesome. This place seems awesome, and since I’ve been thinking about travelling after school, this could be a location to add to the list! I love the fact that you note that it tailors to creative types, I hope that rings true!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks for your comments, Sam and Kelly.

      Yes, Gimli is small, so you likely haven’t heard of it. But it hosted the sailing events for the 1999 Pan American Games and does indeed have a highly concentrated community in the area. Best times to visit are July and August. Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted…five reasons to visit GimliMy Profile

  16. Veronica says:

    Oh, I am so looking forward to visiting Gimli! So awesome! Thanks for sharing this with us! :))

  17. Anushha says:

    I never even heard of this place and thus never had been there. But reading this post, I feel the urge of visiting this lovely place at least once in lifetime. Thanks for acquainting me with a worthy place.

  18. marytlou says:

    Thanks Doreen for sharing the travel update. It is always good to read about places worth visiting and keeping them on your list for next vacation.

  19. I haven’t been to Gimli. But you gave enough reasons for me to visit the place.
    Shaun Hoobler recently posted…app dev empire for the androidMy Profile

  20. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    Gimli is a nice town. I like the water, the mural on the pier and the artist community. I didn’t realize Gimli was a certified fair trade community. Cool! I’ve attended the WAVE tour a few times, but the last time was several years ago. It’s time to go again, although I can’t make it this weekend. Maybe in fall.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Winnipeg Fun FactsMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thx for your comment, Donna. Yes, Gimli certainly has a lot to offer those who aren’t in a hurry. It’s a pretty laid back place. And there certainly is great pizza at Brennivin’s. I didn’t mention them in the post as they don’t open until 4 pm, and many visitors are already thinking of heading out of town by then. But it truly is some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted…growing the Chocolatour brandMy Profile

  21. Gimli has historical Icelandic roots that are blended with a mosaic of people from around the globe. The sunsets, festivals and unique beachside resort town are inviting to all visitors. Welcome to Gimli.

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