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Morden and Winkler — treasured and tasty twin cities

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Technically, Morden and Winkler rest 12 kilometres apart on Provincial Highway 3. But as the two communities that make up Manitoba’s Twin Cities grow, that distance shrinks to barely a five-minute drive. And that means visitors get two for the price of one when it comes to family fun, fabulous food and superb shopping in southwestern Manitoba.

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Technically, Morden and Winkler rest 12 kilometres apart on Provincial Highway 3. But as the two communities that make up Manitoba’s Twin Cities grow, that distance shrinks to barely a five-minute drive. And that means visitors get two for the price of one when it comes to family fun, fabulous food and superb shopping in southwestern Manitoba.

Why so close?

It’s definitely a little odd to see two vibrant communities so close together on Manitoba’s vast landscape. But there’s a good reason. Our history lesson begins in Morden, when the Canadian Pacific Railway built a line crossing Dead Horse Creek at a location that was known as Cheval because French fur traders called the waterway Le Cheval Mort. The spot on Alvery Morden’s land became the favoured place to replenish water and have a little rest. It became a municipality in 1882, its name honouring the landowner.

A few years later, lumberman, politician and Morden resident Valentine Winkler convinced the railroad to build a spur to the west to service his Mennonite customers who had settled in the area. Winkler became a village in 1906. And ever since, both communities have continued to thrive.

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Stop by the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden and say hello to Bruce the mosasaur.

Make it Mexican

Because recent immigrants represent 15 per cent of the population of the area, it makes sense that ethnic specialties abound. And with Mexico being the biggest source country, good eats from south of the border are easy to find.

Start with colourful tortilla soup at Flavors of Mexico then move on to a crispy chimichanga packed with refried beans, rice and your choice of filling. (Tip: the restaurant is on the ground level of a high rise on Winkler’s Main Street. Use the main entrance.)

Take home your Mexican favourites with a visit to Sunny Day Products or El Roi Mexican Imports (both in Winkler). The former is famous for its selection of bulk foods and house-made tortillas. The later stocks kitchenwares and cleaning supplies. Both carry canned sauces, sweet soda pop, snacks and spices that may make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Mexican market.

Family Fun

Stop by the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (Morden) and say hello to Bruce. He’s a big deal, literally, as the Guinness world record holder as the largest publicly displayed mosasaur. The space includes Canada’s largest collection of marine reptile fossils—a must for every dinosaur fan. In summer, the centre hosts fossil digs so enthusiasts can unearth a bit of history.

When things warm up, the Splish Splash Waterpark at Colert Beach inside the Lake Minnewasta Recreation Area (Morden) simply says summer. Get launched from a giant pillow, race down a puffy slide or fly high on a trampoline—all over the water on this inflatable playground.

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The Village Toy Shop in Winkler is housed in an adorable building loaded with fun.

Retail Therapy

Pure Anada is a made in Morden success story featuring cosmetics crafted from organic botanicals and mineral pigments. The downtown shop stocks the full line including skincare products, make-up, bath and body and a men’s line. Stock up on the lemongrass and vetiver cocoa body butter and whimsical gift cards by local illustrator Chloe Laurenne.

Make the drive to the rural property that’s home to The Village Toy Shop (Winkler). The adorable freestanding building stocks all those hard-to-find favourites like Spirograph and Kerplunk, plush toys, puzzles, games and metal toys. You can even pick up a pair of glasses with a fake nose and bushy eyebrows!

The aptly named Potato Store in Winkler is the place for bulk spuds at the best prices. But it also stocks a huge selection of made in Manitoba favorites likes honey, spreads, gluten-free products, eggs, candles, pasta, milk and the complete line of Von Slick’s Finishing Butters.

Take your furry friend for a visit to RuffMutts (Morden) where the selection of dog treats will make even the fussiest customers happy. Stock up on grooming supplies or pick out a new leash. And it’s not just about the dogs. Find items for cats, rabbits, reptiles, birds, fish and gerbils too.

Sips and Snacks

Step into historic charm at Rendezvous Brewery & Taproom (Morden), once the town’s newspaper office and now the home of mouth-watering pretzels and Bloody Jack’s Wit, just one of the taps offered here. Gather around the piano for open mic night and take home some sharp-looking merchandise.

Shel Zolkewich / Winnipeg Free Press

The tasty Flavors of Mexico restaurant in Winkler is a local favourite.

shel@shelzolkewich.com

Shel Zolkewich / Winnipeg Free Press

RuffMutts in Morden has a selection of dog treats that will make even the fussiest customer drool for more.

Shel Zolkewich / Winnipeg Free Press

The Potato Store in Winkler is a great stop for bulk spuds and more.

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