treasures and pleasures in your own backyard — mine includes some amazing Interlake gems

It was an amazing week for me last week and I am still filled with gratitude. Thanks to all who have been so supportive of my new book and my efforts as a writer.

One of the events I took in was the annual general meeting of the Interlake Tourism Association (ITA)in Chatfield, Manitoba. I am a brand new member of the ITA, and had the pleasure of writing the copy for the association’s new travel guide. It was terrific working with ITA’s manager/coordinator, Gail McDonald (whom I might add is a follower of this blog.) Gail is someone who really works hard and takes pride in everything she does. The end result was an amazing tourism guide that is getting a lot of positive comments from everyone who has seen it.

For those of you who are not from Manitoba, you may be asking … where or what is the Interlake? And where the heck is Chatfield? Chatfield is a tiny community 79 miles northwest of Winnipeg (just past Inwood along Highway 17.) The highlight of the community is the Chatfield Park of Souvenirs Museum run by Al and Gerry Johnson.

This friendly couple actually lives in the museum, surrounded by hundreds of artifacts from the last century, ranging from a room full of quilts, to antique sewing patterns, a collection of butane lighters and smoking paraphernalia and an entire granary filled with more than 3,000 hand-embroidered hankies. You’ve got to see it to believe it! (No website, but you can call (204) 664-2157 if you would like to visit.

That’s an example of just one of the amazing and quirky things you will find in the Interlake, the land of “inland oceans” named so because — for the most part — the Interlake is the region that lies between Manitoba’s two largest lakes: Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. The Interlake runs from St. Andrews along the Red River in the south, north to Matheson Island (north of Hecla Island on Lake Winnipeg.) It is a large area with a myriad of activities and highlights that in some way or other celebrate the nautical dominance of the region.

Pretty much everywhere in the Interlake is within minutes of water. Usually that is a good and positive thing. (I am a water baby and that is why I choose to live here.) But at this time of year, when the ice is melting off the lakes and the water level of the rivers is high and overflowing some banks, there is once again, some fear of overland flooding. Right now, just 10 minutes south of me, properties in Petersfield are flooding. Looking back to some blog posts last spring, we were facing the same situation in parts of the Interlake, and I have at least one friend whose property was devastated from the spring flooding of 2009.

Take a look at this post for my reflections on last year’s flooding:

This year is looking much better, and there is almost no snow left on the ground and very little standing water in my neck of the woods. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that our neighbours in Petersfield are soon standing high and dry.

The rest of the Interlake is doing quite well and gearing up for an early and fun-filled summer. There are so many amazing events I hope to finally take in this year, which include:

I think you can tell. I’m pretty proud of my area — which happens to be the very same area that all four of my grandparents settled on their entry from Ukraine more than 100 years ago. It’s nice to have returned to my roots.

How about you, and the place where you live? Do you have a deep sense of connection to it? Are you immensely proud of something (or the people) of your region? If so, tell us about it/them so we can all make some travel plans to discover new gems and share some special moments.

It’s all about being grateful for who and where you are. Being in the moment and embracing it. That’s my thought for the week. Hope to soon see you in the Interlake or somewhere equally special …

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.

12 Responses

  1. Christine Peets says:

    You are so right Doreen when you say that we all have "treasures and pleasures" in our own areas. Sometimes it takes having out-of-town visitors to go to these places, to "show them off", even though we're not regular visitors ourselves.
    I live in the small town of Napanee, between Belleville and Kingston in southern Ontario. Many folks know Kingston, some might know Belleville, but Napanee, and Lennox and Addington County are less known. Some of the area highlights include Bon Echo Provincial Park with a rock cliff trail that goes as high as the lake is deep–almost 400 feet; the Hell Holes–a series of underground caves; and other treasures too numerous to mention.
    When thinking about holidays, we often look outside of our communities, but the "staycation" can be just as fun, when you have the time to really enjoy your own backyard–and sometimes just [literally] staying in your yard can be fun too. Thanks for the great topic and starting this discussion.

  2. Gail McDonald says:

    Thank you Doreen for those kind words about ITA and myself. We have so many "treasures & pleasures" in the Interlake region that I get to visit and tell people about that my job occasionally feels like a vacation.

    Doreen was wonderful to work with on the copy of our new guide and anyone wishing to receive their own copy can contact to have it sent to you or check out as it will be posted shortly in a downloadable formatt.

    The spring brings new life to all creatures great and small- Red-sided garter snakes, thousands of waterfowl and song birds return to our lakes, woods & marshes, along with wild carpets of Manitoba's flower- the Prairie Crocus.

    Come explore my backyard and have a visit with Doreen at the same time!

  3. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks to Christine & Gail for their comments.

    I'm hoping to highlight more Interlake Gems as we head toward summer.

    Looking forward to hearing from others about their own "piece of paradise."

  4. Historic Traveler says:

    Thank you for highlighting cool spots in your hometown. It must be "Coming Home" week…I wrote about my (adopted) neighborhood this week too! It's Galveston, Texas…and it's not as soggy as it used to be. See the photos here: I just love the idea of something positive coming out of a huge disaster.

  5. Betty Jackson says:

    Greetings from Ponemah Beach Central – Art Center and Dunnottar Station Museum. We will be open every weekend from June 12 with the first Wave weekend until Sept 5,2010. We will be displaying local artist's Paintings, Pottery, and Fabric work.
    We are located at the corner of Railway Street and Central Ave. in the Village of Dunnottar.
    This years fun raiser raffle quilt, "Gazing" is ready and Ponemah Beach Central is also hosting the Artful Hat Challenge. Make up your idea of a head cover and enter it in this summers fun challenge which is a fund raiser for the local N.E. Palliative Care unit. Come out and view the entries and vote by ballot for the Best in Show, Most Outlandish, Most Amusing, etc.
    See our web site at > <

  6. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for the update, Betty. You always have interesting things going on at the Ponemah Art Centre. I recall the "Artful Bras" from last year. Those who weren't privileged to attend, should take a look at the blog for the Matlock Rec Club, where I uploaded a few of your most "artful bras" at:

    Congrats on raising much-needed funds for the community. And thanks, also to Sandy Wieber, the Historic Traveler, who has recently joined the blog from Galveston. Check out her blog at:

  7. Betty says:

    Hi Doreen. Yes the Bras were a lot of fun last summer and are still traveling to Seniors residences in the city. They are lots of fun and the silly comments cause a lot of laughter.
    I'm reading you latest book. Hm-m-m

  8. Hilda says:

    Hi Doreen:
    I remember driving up through the Interlake when we lived in Manitoba.Keep the posts coming.

  9. Tourism Coordinator at WITC says:

    I loved visiting Chatfield and seeing the museum and am excited about going there again soon. Once the snakes wake up I hope to post a few videos on our website. Visit West Interlake Trading Company to take a peek at our grain elevator tour video at

  10. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for joining us, Gail. (Gail Spencer Lamm is the Tourism Coordinator for the West Interlake Trading Company and based out of Warren, MB.) Not to be confused with Gail McDonald, who is the manager of the Interlake Tourism Assn and also based out of Warren, MB!)

    I'm looking forward to seeing those snake videos, Gail. I really do hope to get up to the pits at Narcisse this year. So much great stuff to see here in the Interlake.

  11. MOLLYC says:

    This little museum is right up my husband's alley! We have been to the Jello Museum in upstate New York, the toy train museum in some state I can't recall, and I swear if there were a Duct Tape museum, we would be there!

  12. Diane says:

    Thanks for sharing these Manitoba moments! I grew up in Manitoba so I am a true "stubble jumper" so reading your posts is very nostalgic! I now live overlooking the Atlantic but I always think of the ocean waves as wheat fields undulating in the wind. Might drop by some time…..

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