Winter continues to linger and since the white stuff won’t go away quickly, here’s a last look at a spot that is fast becoming a St. Boniface winter favourite — the River Trail.
The Trail is closed, but it generally extends from The Forks along the Red River to the south and along the Assiniboine River to the west.
We all know the Forks is a hub of winter activity. On any given day in the winter, you can curl, skate, play hockey, toboggan, snowboard, ride your bike, stroll and shop.
This past winter, the River Trail itself is became a go-to winter hotspot for Winnipeggers.
Since we became The Guinness Book of Records’ Longest River Trail at 8.5 kilometres in 2008 (lits ength varies from year to year), we’ve continued to broaden the trail’s scope and activities. Now that we’re not so obsessed about whether our River Trail or Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway is the longest in the world (we are, we are!), we have concentrated on making our Trail the best in the world.
And it’s happening.
The winter huts dotted along the trail were all winners of the Warming Huts Architecture Competition on Ice, endorsed by the Manitoba Association of Architects. In the past two years, the world-class designs have come from such diverse places as Quebec, Massachusetts, the Czech Republic, Norway and New York. A local high school even designed one.
Who didn’t gawk at one of those shelters along the trail? Remember that yellow wood-framed cottage? How about the Smokehouse (with those young adults I happened upon having a "smoke")?
The Sonus Loci columnar wind chines, and the Big City unfinished playhouse got people wondering what the artists were up to — great talk-abouts for any walk. Schools should have been bringing their students to check out these pieces.
An evening river walk on the Norwood/Riverview River Trail was awe-inspiring, almost numinous, with crunching footsteps juxtaposed against a starry sky and tangled, tree-lined banks.
One of the most amazing events on the River Trail was the first ever Norwood-Riverview River Party on Feb. 3.
People from the Beechwood-Norwood Dock and the Churchill-Riverview Dock climbed down their respective banks and hung out at an open-air party at the southern end of the River Trail.
The event was officially opened with six musket shots from St. Boniface’s La Compagnie de La Vérendrye. Some traditionally attired Voyageurs cooked bannock and organized Voyageur games. Riverview MLA Jamie Allum showed up.
The main organizers, Deenie Lefko-Halas and Lynda Geary, tried to create a family atmosphere. There were lots of little ones in strollers and on sleds, folks enjoying hot chocolate on lawn chairs, a local Knitting Club weaving around a roaring fire, snow-painting, and even kite-flying.
Yes, people were flying kites on the river in the dead of winter.
Lynda thought the River Trail venue was a natural:
"Rivers historically brought people together," she said. "What better way to meet our neighbours from across the river."
The enterprising planners intend to run the event again and get the word out earlier so that even more people attend.
Adriano Magnifico is a community correspondent for St. Boniface. You can contact him at email@example.com.