From Flintabbaty Flonatin to Gimli's mighty Viking, the Glenboro camel to Morden's monstrous mosasaur, Meghan Kjartanson sets out to follow the stories of Manitoba's statues. Featuring over 60 sites of interest, Kjartanson charts an all-ages adventure tracking prairie giants, roadside attractions, and important landmarks, including fire hydrants and golf balls, sturgeons and sunflowers, and, of course, Manitoba's provincial "bird"--the mosquito. Explore the diverse characters and communities at the centre of Canada with this info-packed guide of hidden gems, fun facts, and larger-than-life legends and get to know Monumental Manitoba.
About the author
Meghan's Kjartanson's passion for rural storytelling started while writing for a rural Manitoba newspaper, where she often discovered untold places rich with history and culture. She turned this passion into Manitoba Landmarks - a podcast aimed at bringing Manitoba's quirky statues and monuments to life. Meghan's debut book, Monumental Manitoba collects these stories and more together with the hope people are encouraged to discover Manitoba in a different, colossal way.Born in Gillam, Manitoba she now lives in Winnipeg.
Excerpt: Monumental Manitoba: Roadside Attractions and More! (by (author) Meghan Kjartanson)
Twisted on top of a stack of granite and limestone boulders are S-s-sam and S-s-sara. The pair of snakes are made of rich green and yellow tiles and were built in 1985. Every spring, Inwood Manitoba comes alive as tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes emerge from their winter hibernation.
There are so many snakes that in some places, it feels like the ground is breathing. Narcisse Snake Dens is an international, natural phenomenon that hosts the world's largest collection of snakes in one location. The park has beautiful packed gravel walking trails that wind through natural prairie and trembling aspens. You can choose how close you want to get to the snakes. So, even the most hesitant of visitors can brave and experience this yearly event.
Look for where limestone pits meet dry prairie and you'll see countless snakes surface and mate, before heading to their summer homes. Make sure you stop and listen as you witness hundreds of snakes moving along the sun-kissed rocks. Professor Bob Mason, from the University of Oregon, has been studying snakes for the past
35-years. His specialty is animal reproduction. Though the garter snakes are small, Mason said this is how larger snakes like anacondas and pythons also mate. Here at Narcisse, there are so many snakes that they form 'mating balls' - large groups of males all fighting for the attention of a single, larger, female. He says they come from around the world to study this spectacle. Along highway #17 there are small green barriers and culverts strung alongside the road. These snake friendly paths were built by the community to direct the animals away from the highway and save almost 20,000 snakes a year. The snake pits are a great way place to have a picnic and kick-off your summer activities.
Tall and proud on the rocky shore of Lake Winnipeg stands the Viking. A tribute to New Iceland and the Icelandic settlers that helped to develop the town of Gimli and the surrounding area, he's an impressive and powerful sight to behold.
The park he calls home is full of trolls, hidden people, and secret messages.
Paving stones wind around him stamped with family names and runic messages that only the most curious, intrepid visitors can solve. Nestled under the great Viking is a small fairy garden full of Manitoba wildflowers, each one carefully chosen and planted in hopes of attracting butterflies-- and fairies. If you look closely you might just see a fairy house or hear the giggling of the mischievous Huldufólk that live in town. The Viking's park is surrounded by giant boulders representing the volcanic environment of Iceland and are meant to be climbed, sat on, and explored. But be careful, as boulders are where trolls live. Make sure you do not wake one of the sleeping giants.
On your way to explore more of Gimli--its historic New Iceland buildings and seaside attractions--take a walk along the small, beaten path that leads you past Betel Personal Care Home to the main beach. This is the breakwater. Constructed in 1957 to prevent shoreline erosion, it protected the settlement from the strong currents of the lake and once marked the edge of town. Since then, Gimli has built up the ground and stretched beyond the breakwater, establishing the large park of the Viking. A special space on the shoreline that has come to represent the town, Viking Park is central to Gimli's Islendigadagurinn, the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, a yearly event celebrating Icelandic culture in Manitoba. In 2017 the festival revamped the park to ensure its draw for future generations.
The Viking is a storyteller.
Spend the afternoon exploring all he has to say and try to find the clues hidden within Viking Park. Gimli is a unique, magical place where everyone can find their inner Viking, eat amazing food, and learn about the impressive Icelandic history in Canada.