'Blazing Star' liatris, a prairie flower that grows wild in the Parkland of Manitoba.

Long, hot days and cool nights help the cannas to grow tall and lush on our legisla- tive grounds.

Birtle on the way north to see spectacular gardens beside streets lined with feathery tamarack giants. Part of the glacier’s legacy is Riding Mountain National

Park. Once the home of Grey Owl, it rises 756 metres (2,480 feet) above sea level, towering over the farms and villages below. Te town of Wasagaming on the edge of the park has a wonderful garden at its visitor’s centre, and there are other gardens along the beaches of Clear Lake, a crystal clear body of water surrounded by cottages. Lake Dauphin, a few miles north of the park, is edged

on the south by white, sandy Rainbow beach. Shaded by aspen, birch and spruce, the land is stony, but that didn’t deter the Irish and French, and later the Ukrainians from building their futures here with “the Mountain” as a lovely backdrop to their activities. Tere are only two major roads that lead north. Highway

10 follows the gravelly esker ridge skirting Duck Moun- tain Provincial Park, site of Mount Baldy, the highest point in Manitoba at 832 metres (2,730 feet). Ten the highway leads north to Swan River, Te Pas and finally fabled Flin Flon, the birthplace of hockey heroes and masses of un- told riches beneath its streets. Under the ground is a hon- eycomb of abandoned mines, once searched for gold and then for richer veins of other minerals. Highway 6 rises out of Winnipeg like a broken arrow on the way to Tompson. Ten it splits off to an all-weather road that meanders through the muskeg to Lynn Lake, once the home of syndicated cartoonist Lynn Johnson, creator of For Better or For Worse. In the north, between the sparse towns, endless hidden

lakes nestle among the glacial rock that time left behind, silent and secret, waiting for discovery by intrepid canoe- ists. Miles and miles of virgin white and black spruce for- ests, some slipping into the discontinuous muskeg, guard treasures of gold and nickel, lead, zinc, silver and, it is rumoured, unfound diamonds. Tere is gold, too, in the vast resource of water “mined” by Manitoba Hydro to send power south to Winnipeg and beyond. Te midnight train from Tompson winds its way north,

swaying through the eerie land to the Port of Churchill, lazing in the shelter of Hudson’s Bay. Near the town,

28 • Spring 2017

Milkweed still grows wild to entice monarch butterflies to Manitoba.

dwarf spruce trees peter out, their branches pointing ever- lastingly south, thanks to the prevailing winds. A mile or two further north on the beach of the bay, in and around the town, polar bears stray, scrounging food from human garbage and sending thrills of fear and wonder through the hearts of curious world travellers. In spring the tundra landscape, though treeless, awakens with a flush of daz- zling colour from the endless vistas of tiny flowers, small shrubs and lichens that feed on the rock and the detritus of their ancestors. South again, Lake Manitoba narrows where it meets

Lake Winnipegosis and is spanned by a bridge that lifts the driver into a place where the sky and water seem to meld, and all that holds you to the earth are the tires on the pavement beneath your car. Tis is the Interlake dis- trict. Down between the lakes, the character of the farms and

villages becomes coastal, with fishing villages next to farm communities. Matheson Island, accessible by ferry, is a step back in time to when fishing for the delicate flesh of pickerel was everything. And further south still, Gimli is the centre of the district once declared the Republic of New Iceland. Te Viking spirit is celebrated in festivals and monuments. And still, we haven’t gone to Portage la Prairie, to

Neepawa or Minnedosa, all wonderful garden towns, each lovely and full of fascinating stops such as the lily fields of Neepawa or Island Park Arboretum in Portage. Tere’s been no time to travel to the bedroom community of Stonewall, site of an abandoned quarry. Just north of Winnipeg, the beaches of Lake Winnipeg

attract thousands of weekenders to their shining white sands that also host some surprisingly lovely gardens. In Selkirk, visit the garden-like setting of Lower Fort Garry. Near Lockport, St. Andrews on Te Red is the oldest stone church in Western Canada. On the eastern side of the lakes, where cottagers from

Winnipeg flee in abandon toward their destinations each summer weekend, the rocky edge of the Canadian Shield produces some stunning gardens. Even though the soil is thin, westerly winds off the lakes mitigate the weather,

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