Daily Archives: February 7, 2011

Today is Yurt Day

           You may remember from my year-end review that I stayed in a yurt for the first time last fall at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Though rainy and cool, it was a fine experience giving me the idea for this summer’s yurting.

             Kiche Manitou Campground, where the yurts are located, is near the Spirit Sands. Back in the 1990s, I used to hike the Sands at night during the full moon, spending the whole night atop the dunes, dancing naked and free then hiking back at dawn. No flashlight necessary. Fireflies flashed everywhere, the silver wolf willow glowed in the moonlight and a beautiful moon rose so close you could reach out and touch it. I was always exhausted by morning and wanted to rest but had the 2-hour drive home ahead. My yurt plan solves that dilemma.

Yurt #4 round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel.

             I wanted to book a yurt for the full moons in May, June, July and August then I could crash there after the all-nighters on the dunes. This morning at 7:30, Manitoba Provincial Parks opened up their reservation system to book yurts for the season. They have a call centre and an online booking system. I had my username and password all ready, opened the system and five minutes later I had booked all eight nights exactly as I wanted online! Paid with MasterCard and had my reservation confirmations by email five minutes later. It worked like a charm!

             Last year I stayed in Yurt #4, which had several features. It was above the Assiniboine River so you can see the river below. Plus it has a broad view of the night sky from the deck, great for star gazing. I got #4 for every one of my nights. You have to book two nights in a row with yurts but it’s a bargain at $54 a night, all in. The parks reservation system is easy to navigate. The yurts are very roomy so I will bring a friend this year.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Parks, Sacred Places, spirit sands

The Babushka Trail



 A day trip, so far untaken

            Ever gone seeking the perfect perogie? How about exquisite Ukrainian folk art and crafts? Now, thanks to the Babushka Trail, your search just got easier.

            Ukrainians began arriving in Manitoba in 1892, many settling around Rossburn, Sandy Lake and Dauphin. Building on that history by researching and combining the ethnic and heritage resources available, Parkland Tourism has developed The Babushka Trail, a driving tour that focuses intensely on Ukrainian culture.

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, Rackham area, one of the stops on the Babushka Trail


       Stops on the tour include Ukrainian museums, churches, cemeteries, cairns, shrines, plaques, buddas, all mapped and described, restaurants serving Ukrainian food, gift shops featuring Ukrainian items and anything related to Ukrainian culture and heritage. 

            Spanning Rossburn to Sandy Lake along Highway #45, the trail turns north through Riding Mountain National Park into Dauphin and area.  Some of the most spectacular Catholic churches in Manitoba are included on the Babushka Trail.

            “Rossburn, Sandy Lake and Dauphin tourism representatives are enthusiastic,” says Kathy Swann, executive director of Parkland Tourism. “The Babushka Trail will be featured in the Parkland Tourism Guide and on our website.”

On the Babushka Trail there are dozens of incredible buildings like Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church near Ohla.


        To satisfy a growing craving for authentic heritage experiences, innovative tourism promoters like Swann are developing town walking tours, self-guided driving tours and heritage packages on a variety of themes. Manitoba’s rich diversity presents opportunities for ethnic, religious, architectural, agricultural and nature tourism development. Add in people interested in family roots, cemeteries, railways, museums, hiking, geocachers and the Internet and the potential is vast.

            “Shrinking populations and external changes are forcing people to work together. Towns need to realize that they shouldn’t be competing with each other, but rather working together in clusters or regions,” says Swann.

            Using the Babushka Trail as an example, Swann says it is now necessary to form regional heritage partnerships to compete with other provincial and national places, and the entire world due to the Internet. “The percentage of travelers using the Internet to plan their vacations is very high,” she says. “Tourists are looking for varied, authentic heritage experiences with some kind of packaging or theme.” Researchers have found that heritage tourists tend to be more affluent, educated, family-oriented and stay longer than other travelers.

This Byzantine marvel, built in 1937, is a stand-out on the Babushka Trail. Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church is in Sandy Lake, MB. You cant miss it!

            Swann says Parkland Tourism is marketing the Babushka Trail using old and new tools. “Probably a brochure but definitely on websites.  Signage, both directional and interpretive will be addressed, as will markers with GPS coordinates.”

            With Manitoba’s vast ethnic diversity and patterns of settlement, almost every area could develop a similar tour. Discover what’s in your own backyard then focus on your predominant heritage resources.

            For details about the Babushka Trail and all tourist activities in the Parkland, visit http://www.parklandtourism

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Filed under Day Tripping

Mom’s Grade 11 Exams from 1930

Eighty-one years ago, when my Mom was taking Grade 11 at Strathclair Collegiate in the little village of Strathclair, MB she wrote these three final exams: Literature, History and Physics. They are dated and timed and every Grade 11 student in the province would have written the exam at the same hour. Not only is the depth and detail of knowledge expected from the students very much from another time, but the paradigm shift of what’s relevant to each generation is clear. Plus the limits of our understanding about physics at the time are very evident. (FYI: Ebullition means boiling. I had to look it up) Here’s the challenge then for all us Grade 11 graduates, take your finals now, sweaty palms and all.




How’d you do?

For more of her 1930 exams click here.

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Filed under Family