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Tuxedo’s magical, mystical Assiniboine Forest

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We Tuxedans are spoiled enough, really, given the charms of Assiniboine Park being so readily accessible. On top of that, we’ve also got our own magic forest.

Assiniboine Forest isn’t actually all ours, of course — and the alluded-to magic is mostly a writer’s exaltation. Nonetheless, it can still feel like it’s ours, as its wealth of trails and woody peace are more or less a just few strides from our stoops.

Spread across 280 hectares between Shaftesbury Boulevard and Chalfont Avenue to the east and west and Robin Boulevard and Wilkes Avenue to the north and south, respectively, one of the country’s largest urban nature parks makes for a fine backyard for Winnipeg sou’westers to crash through. And, in an atypical example where our city is concerned, city planners recognized it as a splendid idea sooner rather than later.

If only the confounded Depression hadn’t interfered: in 1920 the area known today as Assiniboine Forest, then in the Town of Tuxedo, was up for development when the 1929 economic crash brought things to an ignominious halt. Almost 50 years later, in 1973, the forest was preserved thanks to the efforts of citizen groups such as the Assiniboine Park Centennial Committee.

Thanks be to them indeed, for the blessed forest is seemingly so far removed from even the sometimes-minor clamour of the park.

The Forest’s nature paths are not merely inviting: they’re compelling. They genuinely beckon and tug, with the return trip from the wooded depths always seemingly longer than the initial trek.

It can all elicit near-jealousy, in fact, when one encounters another soul; it’s acceptable to want the place all to oneself. And with the sheer, startlingly wide diversity of plant life — listed at the City of Winnipeg’s website under public works — the place makes for the perfect field location to apply scientific findings that tell us exercising in nature provides psychological blessings as well.

Indeed, the feeling of earthen ground underfoot, the rhythm of striding (or even clumsily hopping) over deadfall, even the seemingly distinct feel of the air in one’s throat confirm that this is the preferable route to make use of one’s bipedal gifts.

And who knows: you might also see some adorable hoofed quadrupeds.

Kenton Smith is a community correspondent for Tuxedo.

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