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.
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.”
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.
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