We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Manitoba’s 150th Anniversary than sharing 150 of the discoveries that await you on your next visit to Southwest Manitoba!
A 2,339-acre park straddles the Canada-U.S. border celebrating the friendship between new nations along the world’s largest unprotected border. The International Peace Garden greeted more than 50,000 visitors for the dedication ceremony that opened the park in 1932 and continues to marvel guests of all ages each year.
Owing to the fine flowering plants produced in their community, Neepawa has laid claim to the title “Lily Capital of the World”. In fact, it may surprise visitors to learn that the town of 4,600 people produces more than 2,000 varieties of lilies each year.
You’ll re-consider what you know about Canadian history when you visit Deloraine where artifacts from the Paleo Indians – a civilization believed to have occupied this land over 10,000 years ago have been discovered.
Emerging from the ice age, the lands now recognized as the Turtle Mountain Provincial Park along the Manitoba-North Dakota border are regarded as the first dry land to emerge as the glaciers and their melt-waters receded 10,000 years ago.
You can still find glacial sediment on the prairies when you visit the Souris Agate Pits. Deposits of sediment, rock and fossils have been a delight for rockhounds and archeaologists to explore for generations and offer a look at a time which contrasts starkly with the present climate.
Birders delight at the chance to catch a rare glimpse of migratory birds and near Melita. In fact, the variety of feathered fowl has earned the community the distinction as the “Grassland Bird Capital of the Prairies”.
Once thought to be extinct, the western plains garter snake can best be found in one of the few known nesting sites near Hamiota.
Manitoba’s only lizard, the skink, makes its home in the Spirit Sands at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. This smooth, shiny olive green lizard with dark stripes is endangered and elusive, so you’ll need a keen eye to spot them.
When people think about Manitoba, they don’t envision a desert, but the anomaly of the Spirit Sands desert near the town of Glenboro has inspired the town’s towering landmark. Sara the Camel stands a tribute to the neighboring Manitoba desert.
The “Oil Capital of Manitoba” is a title claimed by the town of Virden, owing to the vast oilfields discovered locally in 1956. Visit the community and you’ll discover how this identity is woven into the fabric of the community.
No visit to Gladstone is complete without coming face to face with the Happy Rock. The nickname for the town has also inspired the development of a mascot that stands as the town’s iconic and lasting ambassador – ideal for roadside pit stops and photo opportunities.
Canadian novelist Margaret Laurence is one of the major figures in Canadian literature. Many believe that the fictional town of Manawaka features in her stories was based on her hometown of Neepawa. Her original home stands as a Provincial heritage site and visitor attraction in the community.
Best recognized for his role as a panelist on the television show “Dragon’s Den”, Jim Treliving was born in Virden before going on to success in business as a venture capitalist and founder of Boston Pizza International.
Did you know that a Souris farmer may have a claim to a significant piece of aviation history? William Hull is credited with planting the first fruit trees in Manitoba but his unheralded claim to fame is that in 1907 he filed the patent for the first vertically-rising helicopter that included every requisite for successful vertical flight. Unfortunately, death prevented Hull from building the aircraft, but documentation of his achievement is on display at the Hillcrest Museum.
In 1907 the Minnedosa Dam was proposed and approved by the Government of Canada to be built on the Little Saskatchewan River near Minnedosa. The town became the second community in Manitoba to generate its own hydroelectric power.
Sara the Camel has stood at the side of Highway No. 2, near Glenboro, since 1978 in tribute to the nearby Manitoba Desert.
Deloraine is home to Deloraine Nygard Park which features more than 200 flags from around the world.
Carberry and the surrounding Rural Municipality of North Cypress is an area known as “King Spud Country” because of the high-quality potatoes that are grown in the area due to ideal soil conditions.
The Sandhills Golf & Country Club in Carberry is one of the longest nine hole golf courses in Manitoba at a length of 2.95 kilometers (3228 yards).
The Virden Pioneer Home Museum, also known as the “Victorian Home on the Prairies”, contains historic artifacts from the area.
The oldest inhabited area of Manitoba is the Turtle Mountain which also has lakes named Adam, Max, James and Oskar.
Former NHL player, Sheldon Kennedy of Elkhorn was the 2019 winner of the CBC skating competition show “Battle of the Blades”
Due to the ideal flat landscape, the railway segment stretching from Oak Lake to Regina actually held the record for the longest span of tracks in the world to be completed in one season.
Oil was first discovered in the region in 1951. Since 1951 more than 80,000 wells have been drilled in the area.
Isaac Clarkson, a farmer living near Elkhorn restored a 1909 Hupmobile in 1946. His genuine interest in old cars eventually led to what is now known as the Manitoba Antique Automobile Museum when he donated his life’s work to the Village of Elkhorn in 1961. Mr. Clarkson was honored for his contribution be being awarded the prestigious Manitoba Golden Boy award.
The Manitoba Antique Automobile Museum is home to more than 120 Automobiles, telling the step-by-step history of the horseless carriage over a span of a century. You can see everything from steam engines to snowmobiles.
Kendra Kay of Elkhorn was named the 2019 Fan’s Choice and Female Artist of the Year by the Manitoba Country Music Association.
20th Century Fox’s 1989 family feature, The Last Winter, was shot in various locations in the area including Virden and Lenore.
From 1941- 1944 Virden was the location of a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan flying station. Allied air crews completed Elementary Flying Training School.
For the Moment, 1993 war drama about pilots being trained in rural Manitoba, was shot in the area. This film was Russell Crowe’s first North American feature film.
7th Avenue in Virden was transformed into a 1950’s movie set for the filming of, A Dog’s Purpose, released in 2017.
Star of CBC’s Dragons Den and co-founder of Boston Pizza, Jim Treleving was raised in Virden.
Lila Acheson Bell, born in Virden married and American gentleman, Dewitt Wallace. She conceived the idea of publishing a small book every month that would highlight “the cream” from articles on current belief and opinion. Together the Wallaces condensed nearly 30 articles each month and published the “Readers Digest”.
Ernest and David Rockola were brothers and inventors from Virden area. Ernest invented a system for treating grain and David invented the Rockola Juke Box.
Clarence Boon was a retired local farmer turned author. He wrote 19 fiction novels about the trials and tribulations of the pioneering days. He spent his retirement years traveling, lecturing on life in the “dirty thirties”. Cover illustrations for many of Clarences Books were done by renowned local artist Terry McLean.
Terry Mclean is one of Western Canada’s leading landscape and nature artists. His work has been cover art for mail order catalogues, novels, historical non-fiction books and magazines. He has even published a book of his own artwork called “Paintings of the Canadian West”. He has made his living as a full-time artist since 1975 and still resides in the Virden Area.
Travis Sanheim of Elkhorn currently plays for the Philadelphia Flyers on the National Hockey League. He was chosen first round, 17th overall in the 2014 entry draft.
The townsite of Kirkella was marketed to potential settlers as the “First Canadian Garden City” with plans for gardens and a skating rink. 838 lots were surveyed and ready for sale, unfortunately the land boom faded and developers were unable to find sufficient water supply so development plans for Kirkella never materialized.
In 1881 Dennis County was formed. It was a very large area of 676 km by 57.9Kms totaling almost a million acres. It was difficult to administer so in 1884 it was divided into four rural municipalities; Wallace, Pipestone, Sifton and Woodworth.
The R.M of Wallace-Woodworth incorporated January 1, 2015 via the amalgamation of the R.M.’s of Wallace and Woodworth and the Village of Elkhorn.
Virden was originally a farming community called Gopher Creek. It became a railway tent town in 1882.
Although there is some mystery surrounding the name of Virden, It is most likely a mis-spelling of Verden in Germany. Named after the hometown of the wife of the 7th Duke of Manchester.
Some of Virden’s first industries were a brick factory and a flour mill.
Elkhorn was named by railway worker, Thomas Dahl that came across a large set of Elk antlers near the site of the present village. The original antlers were repurposed to make handles for knives and forks.
Kenton was named after the first post master for the village, Mr. A.W. Kent.
A.W. Kent a former Militia captain, opened his home to settlers wishing to train in military drills in order to protect themselves from the threats of the Riel Rebellion.
Kenworth Dam at Kenton is a 600-acre foot reservoir constructed on Bars Creek in 1969. The Dam is a great place for fishing, swimming and camping.
Prior to settlement by the pioneers, the Assiniboine River brought fur-trading to the area. Fort Montagne a la Bosse owned by the Northwest Company operated the fort and trading post from 1790 to 1805. The primary good traded at the Fort was pemmican.
This area was originally home to the Cree and Assiniboine first nations. Members of the Sioux First Nation came to the area after the Indian Uprising in Minnesota in 1862, and still more came to the area escaping Custer’s massacre in 1876.
2020 marks the 32nd year for the Virden Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze. The town comes alive for four fun-filled days of community activities and rodeo action. The rodeo is the 10-time winner of the Manitoba Rodeo Cowboy Association’s “Rodeo of the Year”
The first Harding Fair was held in 1904 and continues relatively unchanged today. The fair is dubbed as an “exquisite showcase of rural Manitoba living” with classes and entries for pony and light horse, heavy horse, miniature horse, cattle and home living.
Founded in 1883, the Elkhorn Fair and Ranch Rodeo is the event of the year in Elkhorn.
Virden’s Wellview Golf Course is the oldest golf course in the province, opening in 1892. A new clubhouse opened to the public in 2019 following a fire in 2017.
In 2017 a new spray park opened in Elkhorn. The park was designed to accommodate all ages, it’s safe, wheel chair accessible and free of charge.
Virden’s Arts Mosaic Gallery in the historic CP Station has been named one of the top 10 art galleries in Manitoba.
The Costume Closet in Virden has been deemed a one-of-a-kind collection- like no other in Canada. The 4000 square foot building houses more than 30,000 items. The items are used to costume the many plays held at the historic Aud Theatre and have been used in several movie productions.
The 500 seat Aud Theatre in Virden is the oldest Opera House in Western Canada. Built in 1911 the Aud is known for its beautiful architecture and outstanding acoustics.
In 2011 a group of local investors purchased the Winnipeg Saints hockey franchise and relocated them to Virden. The Virden Oil Capitals played their inaugural season in 2012 in the newly opened Tundra Oil and Gas place.
The Woodworth Millennium Museum is the former boarding house and home to an early 20th century prominent business man, Leander Lawlor. Tours are by appointment only.
Eternal Springs is a local hidden gem! There you will find trout ponds, hiking trails, bbq pits, and a 66ft swinging bridge.
Eternal springs is host to annual events Manitoba 3-D Archery Championships and the Off the Grid Yoga Festival
Virden’s Pioneer Home Museum depicts the life of an established Victorian family on the Canadian Prairies. Originally built in 1888 the home is now one of rural Manitoba’s most extensive museum collections with over 11000 artifacts.
There is only one place in Manitoba to see a Zebra or a Wallaroo… Westwood Ranch near Kola!
The Virden Empire Advance is celebrating 135 years of serving as the community’s source for news in 2020
Elkhorn has an unsolved murder mystery. In October 1908 a Mr. Mike Seger walked in on a store robbery in progress. He was shot and the robbers fled without the money.
In May of 1938 twenty thousand people gathered near the train tracks in Elkhorn hoping to catch a glimpse of their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The crowd was disappointed when the King appeared for less than 10 minutes.
The community of Lenore got its name from a horse owned by pioneer settler Tom Hodgins. The horse got its name from a character in a love story novel Mr. Hodgins had read the night before the mare’s birth.
For generations Salt Lake near Lenore has been a place to enjoy picnics, swimming, boating and berry picking.
There is debate over the origins of the name Harding. It was either named after the United States President or a prominent Shorthorn Judge. Given the longstanding success of the Harding Fair, it seems appropriate for it to be the later.
1940’s Hollywood Actress, Gwen Crawford was born in Elkhorn.
The first oil well, the “Discovery Well” was drilled by California Standard Oil. This well proved non-commercial and was abandoned, however this initiated the activity that lead to Virden becoming the “Oil Capital of Manitoba”
Insul of the Hargrave area was a close personal friend of both Sir Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. He developed a material that became an essential component of electrical and mechanical devices at the time. His material was given the name “Insulation”.
Wolverine Supplies, one of Canada’s premier fire arms sellers host an Annual Event called Wolverine Days. 1000’s of people get the opportunity to try shooting sports under the supervision of range staff. No firearms license is required to try any gun ranging from handguns to tank mounted artillery.
Jim Murray of Elkhorn played the 1967-68 season with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL
In 2006, Hartney became a movie site for the film “The Lookout”. In the movie, the museum’s building was used as a bank. The safe was robbed by producing a hole in the side of the safe, the hole still remains today and can be viewed in the museum.
Daly House Museum will be hosting a special Manitoba 150th exhibit this summer from July 16 to November 30th entitled Brandon House & The Pre-History of Manitoba.The exhibit focuses on the history of the Hudson Bay fur trading fort Brandon House established in 1793 on the Assiniboine River and its influence on the creation of the Province of Manitoba. The exhibit will feature historic artwork from the early 1800s and archeological artifacts from the Brandon House site courtesy of Manitoba Historic Resources.
Thomas Mayne Daly II was Brandon’s first lawyer and mayor, Manitoba’s first federal cabinet minister and Canada’s first juvenile court judge. He lived in the Daly House from 1882 to 1896, moving to further his career in politics.
A short drive east of Brandon you will find Canada’s largest variety of reptiles under one roof! Westman Reptile Gardens is open year-round and most holidays. During your visit you can view more than 300 reptiles including snakes, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, spiders and much more. While you’re there, make sure to have a look around the gift shop!
Few public galleries like the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Canada can boast a history that dates back to 1907, and fewer still can accredit a community-based enthusiasm for visual arts for their very existence. The AGSM offers contemporary art exhibitions or regional, national and international significance with an emphasis on Manitoba art. Meanwhile, the Gift Shop features works by Manitoban Artisans, including jewellery, ceramics, painting and textiles.
The WMCA is western Manitoba’s premier venue for the performing arts; hosting community productions and professional entertainers. Each year, the WMCA presents professional ballet, symphony orchestra, professional musicians and comedians, community and high school theatre productions, and several cultural festivals.
Brandon is home to some of the best basketball and volleyball played in Canada as the Bobcats compete for national glory with the top teams in U SPORTS from October to March. Beyond the excitement delivered by the all-stars on the court, the Healthy Living Centre (HLC) and game-day staff provide top-notch concessions and amenities as part of a first-class fan experience.
The Brandon Wheat Kings have a long and successful history in our community and are a Brandon icon that is recognizable across Canada. Playing more than 35 homes games in Westoba Place Arena, the Wheat Kings provide a fun, high-energy atmosphere for everyone – from the devout hockey fan to the armchair cheerleader.
The RCA Museum has a unique Remembrance Day artifact. They display a printing plate of the poem In Flanders Fields that matches a hand-written note by John McCrae to Major General Morrison in 1918. Morrison had the plate made to raise money for veterans of WW1.
The Hamiota Red Sox, first became a part of the Manitoba Senior Baseball League when the league first formed in 1961. Over the years, many Hamiota players and teams have gone on to be recognized in the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame and Hamiota is even known to some as “The Baseball Capital of Manitoba”.
Dallas Smith, former NHL Boston Bruins player, was born and raised in Hamiota on a farm southwest of Hamiota.
Lyndon Johnston, born December 4, 1961 in Hamiota, MB, was a part of the Hamiota Figure Skating Club growing up. Lyndon is a Canadian former pair skater; with Cindy Landry, he is the 1989 World Silver Medalist and 1990 Canadian National Champion. Johnston was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1993.
The Hamiota district has been known as a good farming community with excellent land.
Hamiota boasts two beautiful hiking trails that run along the former Canadian Pacific Railway line. The Pitlochery Trail runs East of Hamiota and the Chumah Trail runs West of Hamiota. If you love birds, nature, and wildlife then these trails are for you!
The Old Union Bank in Hamiota was built in 1905 and is now home to the Heritage Arts Centre. This brick building has a beautifully painted mural on the west side.
Hamiota Pioneer Club Museum feature artifacts relating to the settlement and development of the district, including a taxidermy display, the former McConnell railway station and the Oakner Church located in the Hamiota Municipal Park.
Country Crocus Bakeshop in Hamiota was in a contest titled the SWEETEST BAKERY IN CANADA in 2019 winning a subcategory for the Best Doughnuts in Manitoba! People come to Hamiota for this specific reason and are constantly hearing visitors say that they have heard about Hamiota’s bakeshop.
Hamiota is known for quality health care. Hamiota was the home of Dr. John E. Hudson (“Dr. Ed”: 1917–2003), a member of the Order of Canada (2001) and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Anniversary Medal (2003). Dr. Hudson led Hamiota District Health Center to become the model rural health care facility in Manitoba. A memorial statue of Dr. Hudson was erected near the hospital in 2004.
On June 18, 19, & 20th 1991 the Manitoba Society of Seniors (MSOS) 55 Plus Games took place in Hamiota! 1096 competitors and many spectators descended on Hamiota and Miniota. Hamiota had a huge Olympic Flame glowing throughout the games; the same flame that was used at the Calgary Olympics. It burned throughout the games and was a “first” at senior games in Manitoba.
Hamiota residents have a pride of ownership to the extent that they have achieved a “Five Blooms” designation from the National “Communities in Bloom” program.
Hamiota, MB owns Midwest Hi Speed Internet, fibre optics lines, which is the fastest type of internet delivery system. Affordable and ultrafast internet owned by the community of Hamiota.
The M109, self-propelled, 155-mm howitzer was a highly mobile, tracked, armoured weapon with speeds up to 55 km/hr, weighing 27.5 tons. It was in Canadian service for a record 37 years – from 1968 to 2005 and the RCA Museum in Shilo has one that runs!
The updated Silver Bend Trail in Miniota along with the Indigenous Heritage site, Wakpa Tanka share a parking lot and one should be explored with the other for an intimate glimpse back into our history that are one of a kind.
Miniota hosts an annual summer bonspiel called the Shirtsleeve Classic. This includes a 5k color run, museum day, tractor pull, baseball tournament and curling.
The International Peace Garden is the only botanical garden on an international boundary and is a living garden of flowers, shrubs, and trees on the longest unfortified border in the world.
The province of Manitoba donated 1451 acres and North Dakota purchased and donated 888 acres to create the nearly 2400 acres that make up the International Peace Garden along the International boundary line within the Turtle Mountains and Manitoba Forest Reserve.
The Historic Lodge was the first building located at the International Peace Garden and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1937 by American workers in the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lodge consists of spruce from Duck Mountain, MB and granite from ND.
As the Peace Garden grew and gained international recognition, in 1964, Bulova Watch Company donated the famous floral clock which is a duplicate of the Bulova Floral Clock in Berne, Switzerland. The clock is 18ft in diameter and includes more than 2000 annual flowers.
With the Peace Garden stands the iconic Peace Chapel. Built in 1968 is was constructed for the mere price of $120,000 and included the colored window glass that came all the way from France. The chapel is made of Manitoba limestone and inscribed with quotes of peace from international leaders.
The Peace Garden includes 25 acres of formal gardens that include more than 50,000 annuals planted each spring along the central channel in mirrored gardens on both sides of the border including floral flags of Canada and the U.S.
The Peace Garden is home to The Carillion Bells which were donated by the Central United Church of Brandon, MB. The bells sound out the Westminster chimes on the quarter and mark the time of day. They are one of a set and only four sets exist in the world. It includes 14 bells that weigh 20 tons.
The Peace Garden is home to the North American Game Warden Museum that is a joint effort between the U.S. and Canadian wildlife law enforcement and includes history, artifacts, taxidermy mounts and pelts that highlight the work of conservation officers. It also serves as a monument to fallen officers through Canada and the United States.
9/11 marks the most egregious terrorist attack on the United States. In 2010, Rotary International, North American Firefighters Union and Manitoba Infrastructure donated the 9/11 site that includes iron work remnants from the collapsed towers. Today local organizations host 9/11 remembrance events at the site.
The Peace Garden includes a year-round Conservatory that includes a collection of over 5000 unique species of cacti and succulents – one of the most unique species collections in the world.
In 2016, the RM of Yellowhead agreed to partner with two other municipalities, and the local school division to create a fiber optic backbone in the region. This resulted in the municipality having access to incredibly fast (up to 10 gigbit) broadband connectivity. A pilot project was started in Strathclair ( led by a group of local volunteer techs) to demonstrate the feasibility of using this access to broadband to deliver high speed internet to local residents. As a result, it became clear to the council of the day, that not only could we deliver locally based internet, but the service was likely to be far superior to anything available to local ratepayers, both in terms of speed and cost. Armed with this information, council earmarked funding necessary to build the infrastructure and Yellowhead Broadband was born.
Early trading and settlement Trails cross the RM of Yellowhead. Working its way in a general east west direction we have the Carlton or Ellice Trail. The trail crosses near the southern boundary of our municipality where sections of this historic landmark are still visible. This Trail proceeded on to Fort Ellice and ultimately to Fort Edmonton. Another east west Trail crosses through the Centre section of the municipality and veered north along our wet boundary to Fort Pelly. With a general following of the Little Saskatchewan River the Audy or Strathclair/Dauphin Colonization Trail extends south-north to Lake Audy and beyond eventually reaching Dauphin.
The community of Elphinstone, originating as a Hudson Bay Post was so named for Lord Elphinstone of England. Lord Elphinstone was a director of the Canada North-West Land Company a British-Canadian syndicate, incorporated as a British company in 1882 to which the Canadian Pacific Railway sold 2,000,000 hectares of lands. The purpose of the Canada North-West Land was to serve as agents for the buying and selling of that property for farm and town sites.
Nathan Unickow was born in Pavelich Ukraine. Around 1904 he trained as a rabbi at the Hebrew seminary before emigrating to Canada in 1921. He opened and operated a general store in Oakburn from 1926 to 1976. This store was vital to Oakburn’s citizens especially during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. There is a plaque situated in the Lions Park in Oakburn to commemorate Nathan contributions to the community and his store.
Completed in 1947, constructed of fine woods from the Kippen Mill, by entrepreneurs Alex Kippen and Paddy Trim. The Bend Theatre served the viewing public with motion pictures from July 1947 to 1980. Since 1983, the Strathclair Drama Club presents an annual full-length live musical production and the Strathclair Theatre Committee organize a concert season.
The Shoal Lake Creamery of the 1890s was one of the first in the province, and thus it pioneered the development of the dairy industry in Manitoba.
Mr. M.J.S McMurachy of the Green Bluff district found in 1930 two heads of wheat that were totally unaffected by rust in a rust infested field. So, he saved them and yielded 79 kernels, which he stored in an envelope in a trunk. That winter mice ate all but 11 kernels. He planted these and each plant produced 4-7 stalks. He reaped enough seed to fill a small bottle in 1932. That fall, prairie chickens and rabbits devoured about one-third of it however he did manage to save enough to fill a quart sealer. In 1933, 24 pounds were harvested and sown the following spring. This produced about 6 bushels. In 1935, the remaining seed was sown and yielded 200 bushels, weighing 64-66 pounds per bushel. Shortly after this, the Plants Division of the Manitoba Government took over the propagation. In their development of rust resistant “Selkirk” wheat the main genes in what we will refer to as “McMurachy” wheat was used. Through the efforts of a committee and surrounding communities, many interested citizens in Manitoba donated money to build a cairn in Strathclair in 1967, in memory of Mr. McMurachy for his valuable contribution to the farming industry.