FortWhyte Alive – The Fort That Never Was

Winnipeg, Manitoba.

So, I borrowed their “Fort That Never Was” reference from the website of this nature preserve. FortWhyte is a neighborhood that was the center of a dispute on railway construction. The confrontation somehow led the area to the name “FortWhyte” after the head of the Canadian Pacific Railway, William Whyte. I’ll let you, dear reader, explore the park’s website here if you want to learn a little more of that early history.

In the mid-20th century, the Wildlife Foundation of Manitoba began converting the site to a wildlife habitat but by the 1980’s, their focus shifted toward environmental education. The trails and Interpretive Centre opened in 1983. If you are really interested in the history of the place, on their website, you’ll find a seven volume blog featuring the park’s first fifty years here.The park features year round activities. You can rent everything from canoes to Family Adventure Packs. Some of the “rentals” are even free for people who join the park’s membership roles. During our visit, there were plenty of people taking advantage of the park and making ready their rental gear.

There are several trails that meander through the park and, as shown above, there are floating boardwalks that allow visitors to traverse the marshes. There are five sheltered lakes where fishing is allowed, as long as you release what you catch back into the water.

On our journey through the park, we saw many ducks, but this day, other wildlife was in short supply. No matter, the park’s trails and lake views provided an enjoyable past time on a beautiful summer’s day. If you happen to be in Winnipeg in the winter, they have winter outdoor gear available for visiting the park in a completely different environment. For example, as this is being written in early January, they have scheduled a Backwoods Full Moon Snowshoe Hike.

The park brochures list five trails for hiking, the shortest trail being about half a mile (0.8 km). The longest trail is the Green Corridor Trail that is part of the Trans Canada Trail where it passes through the park. That trail is 2.9 miles (4.6 km) in the park. On our visit, we walked a trail that wound around Muir Lake and terminated at the park’s border on McGillvray Blvd. This trail allowed closeup views of four of the five lakes and access to several of the marshland boardwalks.

We started our visit at the Alloway Reception Centre and soon found our way out the door and into the southern part of the park. The Interpretive Center features kid friendly exhibits and includes the largest freshwater aquarium in Manitoba.

For this day’s trip, we didn’t take the time to travel toward the north or western ends of the park. It’s there you will find the farmstead, Bison Prairie where you can view the live bison herd, the forested Reflection Area, and several other features that we will have visit another time. As this is being written, their admission for adults is $10 CDN with discounts for seniors, students, and children. I submit for your review a gallery of images captured during our visit to the park. As usual, with most browsers, you can click on an image in the gallery to enlarge it and to scroll through.

John Steiner

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