Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

HEAVENLY HECLA

Allure of island remains its wilderness, cliffs, beaches and trails

  • Print

At Hecla Island, if you walk with your head up, you'll miss the chance to pick up remnants of ancient Manitoba.

Fossil-hunting on the waterfront, where the soaring cliffs of massive limestone calve off the occasional slab that crumbles into stones tumbled by at-times violent waves of Lake Winnipeg. These stones bear the marks of critters buried eons ago in Lake Agassiz, trophies for the rock hunter in every kid.

Once all but a ghost town, Hecla village is coming to life again. The decision to draw people back to the one-time Icelandic settlement, with a lottery that distributed property in the village and in new cottage developments, has produced a growing crop of year-'rounders. That has triggered new investment and development for the marina, campground and lodge.

But the allure of this island remains its wilderness, its cliffs, beaches, undeveloped waterfront and trails through the bush and marsh.

Face it, when you're towing kids, the idea of backcountry camping can be daunting and even for die-hard tenters, civilized amenities take on a new sheen. Hecla has miles of paved trail for cycling, such that leaving the car parked for a weekend is quite doable. A bike trip from the campground to the village is just long enough to earn a youngster a well-deserved afternoon nap. For the older kids, there are lengthier bush trails for hiking or biking that can keep you out for the better part of the day.

Like much of Manitoba's campground planning, the park keeps campers unnecessarily away from waterfront. Some of the sites, however, allow a rough scramble through the bush and down the cliff, to a western beachfront where the fossil hunting is supreme and the sunsets, glorious and private.

The real beauty of Hecla is that, remarkably, it has retained much of its old appearance, even with the new homes popping up in the village. There is still a house here and there, and a number of the community's public buildings -- the hall, a church that operates seasonally, the school, the icehouse that harboured the huge frozen chunks of the lake taken in winter for preserving the summer catch -- to recall for a visitor what life there entailed long ago. Living the history are fishers who still draw their livelihood from the lake, will sell walleye on the side to a visitor. The Lutheran church opens its door at the beginning of the summer season, holds worship every Sunday to September, and has the annual "blessing of the fleet" for the boats that take to the water every year.

Hecla is a tranquil piece of this province's rough and wild edges and evidence that history, even when thoroughly buried by time or shortsighted government policy, is hard to keep down.

catherine.mitchell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2009 E4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Humans of the Holidays (in Winnipeg)

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A red squirrel peaks out of the shade in a tree in East Fort Garry, Sunday, September 9, 2012. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

With the Canadian junior team off to such a great start, will you be watching the World junior hockey championship?

View Results

Ads by Google