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Stay home this year

Manitoba is filled with destinations for everyone

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Some years after I left the area I grew up in around Angusville in western Manitoba, a friend told me some of the best walleye fishing in the province could be found in Lake of the Prairies.

When I inquired where it was, he told me it was close to Angusville, just a few kilometres from nearby Russell. I insisted there was no such lake there, so he must be mistaken.

In a way, we were both right.

Lake of the Prairies was established a few years after I moved out of the area, as a man-made reservoir with the building of the Shellmouth Dam on the Assiniboine River.

Not only did it become one of the best fishing areas in the southern part of Manitoba, it has become a prime tourist destination in the province as well.

Still not as well-known as it should be, it is one of Manitoba's precious gems, worth visiting over the summer.

Manitobans will often spend thousands to go on faraway trips, where one of the side excursions is whale watching.

You can capture even greater thrills with a much less intensive investment by travelling to the northern part of our own province. In Churchill, you can paddle side by side with dozens of belugas, who are fascinated by your presence and always ready to entertain.

On the same trip, you can capture a sense of provincial history by learning about the Inuit culture and by visiting the Fort Prince of Wales trading post, which helped drive our early economic growth.

Want more culture? Fun is singing and dancing out to you throughout the province in our many festivals that celebrate the backgrounds of our people.

The Dauphin Ukrainian Festival from August 1-3 has become renowned, with motor-coach visitors from throughout North America making it a prime stop.

For Winnipeggers, the drive to Gimli on the same weekend will place you in the centre of a community where you will find dozens of last names ending in 'son'. This is the home of the Icelandic festival that attracts approximately 50,000 people every year to share their Viking heritage, whose offspring have become an important fabric of this province.

As though there was not already enough to do over the same August long weekend, travel to Steinbach to experience the hands-on history of the early Russian Mennonites, who began to populate the region in the 19th century.

Pioneer Days will give you a taste of the foods, a history preserved at the Mennonite Heritage Village, and a chance to test your own skills at some of the tasks that were necessary during those early days.

For a different form of entertainment on that same August long weekend, you can go Rockin' in the Fields, at the Minnedosa event that has grown by leaps and bounds from its early start.

A couple of our exceptional music events are just behind us, but plenty more lie ahead.

Next weekend, thousands will gather at Birds Hill Park for the annual folk festival. This event hardly needs extra publicity, but if you have never attended, make it a point to spend at least a day there this year.

This is the home of world-class entertainment for music lovers of all ages.

Aboriginal Music Week takes place in Winnipeg from Aug. 20-23, while Brandon's 30th Music and Art Festival goes from July 25-27.

This year, not far from my Angusville birthplace, the community of Rossburn launches its inaugural DUKEFest from Aug. 15-16.

What's a DUKEFest? Apparently a 362-kilogram-plus black bear, given the nickname of Duke, cast its huge shadow across the entire area in the years between 1978 and 1992.

You will be able to view the life-size bronze statue that was commissioned in his honour as you make your way to the festival grounds.

Want to dig up some real history?

Visit the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden to see the largest Mosasaur ever found in Canada. And get your hands dirty, as a paleontologist on the Fossil Dig Adventure Tour.

Make a vacation of it by timing your visit around the Morden Corn and Apple Festival from Aug. 22-25 and adding an extra day for golf on the Minnewasta golf track, one of the finest in the province.

If golf is your passion, make this course the beginning of a golf tour that can take you in a circle around much of the province, travelling through many of our own scenic wonders, with as many games as you like to break up the journey.

Gilbert Planes, Clear Lake, Neepawa, Granite Hills, Falcon Lake and Quarry Oaks, all excellent golf tracks; Each one of these can be combined with a festival or event of some kind.

Manitoba is not recognized enough for its range of quality tourist product. We have exceptional summers and spending time in the province with the family, discovering our history and culture while experiencing our various festivals, will create positive memories for all.

In this column, I could barely touch on the many options you have ahead of you over the next couple of months.

Visit Travel Manitoba online and download their 2014 Vacation guide at http://www.travelmanitoba.com.

 

Forward your travel questions to askjourneys@journeystravel.com. Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found at www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 4, 2014 E2

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