Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Arctic Glacier Winter Park Programming

Many believe that not much happens around here in the winter months. What kind of events and activities could you possibly do in the winter time?

Image by Travel Manitoba
Well the answer to that is lots! June used to be our busiest event month of the year, and now February rivals that on weekends with multiple third party winter events taking place along with a full seven weeks of regular programming that The Forks hosts. Here’s a little taste of what we do…..

It takes many hands to build it, some sponsorship dollars to support it and a pot full of talented people to help put the programming, crafts, stories, and fun together.

Scotiabank Stage, most commonly known for our Canada Day celebrations, becomes an Olympic-sized skating rink, the perfect location for a pick up game of hockey.

Festival Park, the big field in front of the stage,  becomes host to the only urban snowboard hill in the city with great trick rails thanks to help from Two Zero Four.  The other berm is our toboggan hill which is a great place for the little ones to climb up and slide down, over and over again.

Image by Carla Dyck
The big white tent or what we refer to as The Canopy, the host to many events over the summer months, is typically the first location to get flooded and converted into a skate surface for the winter. This is also the location for a DJ dance party for four weeks throughout January where you can come down, skate and request your favourite dance music on Sunday afternoons.

Connecting all of these great places together is 1.2km of skate trails, right on The Forks site. There are some interesting spots along the trail including Snowman Lane over the historical rail bridge. These trails can take you to many of the activities and features on the site without ever leaving the ice!

Just down from the Canopy and overlooking the River Trail in Buskers Lookout are two authentic teepees. The teepees host programming on Sunday afternoons which include traditional storytelling from two of Winnipeg’s respected elders. A warm fire, bannock sampling and historical stories of The Forks site are what you’ll get to enjoy if you stick your head into say hi. The other teepee allows young and old the opportunity to create a “to-scale” teepee just like the ones on the site under the direction of ‘outside the lines’ art.

Once you've made your rounds to all of these activities you can top off your day with a horse drawn wagon ride around The Forks and take in the view from the comfort of a hay bale and hot chocolate in hand in the back of the wagon.

Put on your snow pants, bundle up the kids and come down to The Forks and recognize there is as much to do here in the winter as there is on any beautiful summer day! 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Teekca's Aboriginal Boutique

Like many Forks Market tenants, Marilyn Tanner – Spence didn’t initially plan on owning her own business.  Prior to taking the huge step of opening her own boutique, Marilyn was involved in everything from nursing to being a stay-at-home Mom.

Marilyn’s passion for crafts inspired her to start her own boutique, Teekca’s Aboriginal Boutique.  The idea resulted in the opening of multiple stores across Manitoba.  Teekca’s Aboriginal Boutique can now be found in Norway House, Thompson, The Pas and The Forks, with each location providing unique items relevant to their location. 

Marilyn was born in Rossburn, Manitoba but recognized The Forks, Winnipeg as a unique tourist destination and an ideal location for her business. While the first few years of shop ownership proved to be a challenge, it wasn’t long until Teekca’s Aboriginal Boutique had established a strong clientèle which allowed the business to thrive.

Located on the second floor of The Fork’s Market, Teekca’s Aboriginal Boutique supplies customers with a solid collection of different segments that comprise an authentic Aboriginal store. The store is filled with stunning, cultural items that are handcrafted by First Nations people. The boutique specializes in dream catchers and moccasins that are driven by customer requests. A variety of handmade artwork is carried such as paintings, prints, cards, southwest jewelry, turquoise pieces and beadwork. To help Winnipeggers survive the winter months, Teekca’s Aboriginal Boutique provides Aboriginal clothing staples, such as mukluks, moccasins and mitts. A unique section of their boutique also sells herbal medications.

Throughout her seven years as a tenant of The Forks, Marilyn has grown to love the locality, community, and opportunity to meet visitors from all over the world. Teekca's Aboriginal Boutique has been visited by more movie stars than Marilyn can count. Tourists continue to flock to the boutique to acquire authentic Canadian keepsakes.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Making of the Red River Mutual Trail

A step-by-step guide to winter fun

The Red River Mutual Trail is a skating and multi-use path along portions of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. Some years, The Red River Mutual Trail has made the Guinness Book Of World Records as the longest natural ice skating trail in the world (8.5 km) and other times it has been as short as 3km. The only certainty is that the trail will be different every year as determined by Mother Nature.  Here’s how we do it.

Step 1
Clear snow off the ice

To ensure safety, the City of Winnipeg’s River Patrol unit will not permit any equipment on the ice (this includes snowblowers) we must remove the snow by hand shovel

Step 2
Grow Ice
Snow in an excellent insulator, so by clearing the ice of snow-cover, those cold prairie temperatures will  make the ice thicker. We need to grow the ice to a level that will support our Zamboni and tractor, about 12-14”.
To lay a solid foundation, we auger holes every 30 ft  pump river water along the length of the trail.

Step 3
Make Ice Skatable
Once our foundation freezes we can concentrate on making the ice surface skatable. Using a combination of our flood wagon and Zamboni, we make several passes until we have a smooth skating surface. Our Zamboni is not your typical Zamboni, it has been converted to run off of waste vegetable oil from The Forks Restaurants

The Red River Mutual Trail Crew
None of this would be possible without a dedicated crew. Who are these masochistic ice-aged beasts-of-burden? It’s actually a pretty fun job. It’s hard physical work in cold temperatures, but the work is rewarding .

The Night Shift
One of the more interesting work shifts for the Red River Mutual  Trail crew is the Night Shift. As the RRMT is too busy during the day on weekends to perform any maintenance on the ice, maintenance is done over night. Down on the trail, the rush of the city is all but replaced by a calm winter night.  

The Red River Mutual Trail links neighbourhoods and communities together that are normally separated by the River or busy streets. Come see the city from a totally different perspective, come experience the winter at The Forks!