Category Archives: Gimli

17 Jul

Bidding Adieu to Gimli

On Wednesday, I was part of a bus tour along with 33 other passengers and passengerettes for what was, in all probability, my last visit to Gimli. Many of you who know me understand the strong emotional tie I have to the little cottage community nestled along the shore of Lake Winnipeg. I was looking forward to going, but I was not looking forward to the return trip.


I arrived early at our pickup point at the Holiday Inn, formerly the Red River Hotel, formerly the Holiday Inn and waited for the bus. While waiting, I was talking with a couple from Mississauga who decided to go on this day trip to Gimli in the midst of their first-ever visit to this part of the world. I was telling them about Gimli and some of the sights they might like to check out and they sounded like lifelong Winnipeggers as they grilled me on how much it cost to get into each of the attractions. I could just hear the flock of birds circling overhead squawking, “cheap, cheap, cheap.”


After the bus came, a couple of health care professionals pulled up nearby.

Following the second pickup, we were on our way north and Al, our driver, took PTH 8 north, the faster of the two major routes. As I learned, Al was short for “All Business.” Most drivers on these trips are very personable and outgoing. Not so with Al. He was, however an outstanding driver. Unlike so many others I’ve had, he kept his eyes on the road and was alert at all times. I would only hope to get him again.


Interlake – Inland Oceans, Infinite Possibilities. This sign appears on all major highways heading into the Interlake region.


The “exits” to Gimli. Seeing this and similar signs elsewhere in the SPRM always make me laugh. I-94 has exits. Pokey two-lane Manitoba highways have turnoffs.


An hour after our departure, we were in Gimli. After a bathroom break at the Lakeview, I set out on my four-hour journey.


Waterfront Center.


A visit to Gimli is not complete without a visit to the Viking Statue, which is due for a refit.


The Icelandic Air Force was patrolling the shoreline.



My first destination was Moonlight Bay, located in South Beach. Given that I was there on a weekday, I had hoped to find it unoccupied, as I often have on past trips, but alas, there was a collection of rowdy teenagers there whooping it up. The fact that dogs are expressly prohibited on the beach didn’t prevent them from bringing theirs. Even though I was far away from Winnipeg, it was yet another reminder that I was still in the SPRM, where the rule of law and common decency are so often flagrantly disregarded.

Moving on, I went west towards PTH 9/Seventh Avenue.


Savage’s Sugar Shack.


South Colonization Road. Not to be confused with North Colonization Road. Or Colonization Road.


The familiar lighthouse near Shelley D’s at the intersection of PTH 9 and South Colonization Road that greets visitors on their way in.


The flags were already up in preparation for the upcoming Islendingadagurinn, the annual Icelandic Festival that I attended last year for the first time.



Welcome to Gimli.


Sounds like a good idea.


Gimli Park Road, which is at the opposite end of town from Gimli Park.



Near the corner of Sixth Avenue and Roddy-S Drive was a Manulife agent offering some terrific rates on a savings account and a GIC. I don’t think any financial institution can beat 245% on a five-year GIC. I’m surprised this agent wasn’t beating off prospective investors with a stick.


“Surley” common sense should include consulting a dictionary.


The old bus stop. The Grey Goose sign is still there, despite the fact that bus service to Gimli has long since been discontinued.


Moving north, I stopped at Gimli High School for a while. As many of you who know me are well aware, this is one of the schools that the late Carli Ward once attended and one of the places she visited during the last months of her life when she was a resident of Grace Hospice.


Before leaving later in the day, I also made sure to go past the office of MLA Peter Bjornson, who was one of Carli’s teachers.


Continuing on, I made my way to Gimli Junction.


I spotted this blue straw in nearby Gimli Park, which is similar to the ones given by P.E.T.R.O.-Canada for their slurpees. Message sent. Message received. You may understand. You may not.



In two weeks time, this tranquil park will become a midway for Islendingadagurinn.



A river of sludge along North Fifth Avenue, not far from the intersection of Fifth Avenue. No, this is not the Love Canal.

Returning south, I decided to take a stroll along the beach. This stroll would prove to be, well, interesting.


For starters, I spotted this guy busily tapping away on his iPad. Why bother coming to the beach if you’re just going to spend the time with your electronic toys?


Care for some “Kool-aide”? How about a “Revele”? Or perhaps some “lemanade”? Top it all off with an ice cream “sandwhich”? Remedial spelling is in order for someone.

As I headed for the boardwalk, I couldn’t help but think of the often grotesque images at as I spotted two examples of beachgoers who should seriously reconsider their decision to put so much of themselves on display.


Cleavage. From the back. Oy.


Is he about to give birth? Twins, maybe?


Mercifully, I made it back to the main dock before taking a tour of the harbor area.


An artistette paints a mural.


Boats in the harbor.


Direct from Artesia.

Since I had a little time to spare, I took a walk down Centre Street for one last time.


Seeds of your future garage sale.


Golko’s Hardware.


Check out these antique “cateloges.”

With my time in Gimli coming to a rapid conclusion, it was time to re-board the bus. The four hours I had spent on the ground seemed like five minutes. Before leaving, our driver asked for a show of hands if anyone wanted to stop and buy some smoked fish. Three of the 34 passengers raised their hands. He then asked how many people wanted to stop at the Half Moon in Lockport for ice cream. Five people raised their hands.

“Majority rules,” he said. Two vocal people then complained, so he gave in to this NDP-style majority and decided that we’re stopping anyways. Fortunately, we escaped a frivolous stop at the fish place because they had no fresh fish left, but he would take us to the Half Moon against the express wishes of the overwhelming majority of the passengers.


Before leaving Gimli, we were treated to a skateboarding display from some teenager on Centre Street. Of all the streets in town to hone his skills on, this is easily the busiest and the one where he is most likely to get hit. Like so many law- and logic-defying joggers in Winnipeg, however, if he was in a less-travelled location, he wouldn’t be noticed. That’s why he’s out there.


At the Half Moon, I disembarked just to use the washroom and take this picture. The day’s adventure came to an end with our return to Winnipeg shortly thereafter. Gimli is a place I will miss, but I have plenty of fond memories from my many visits over the years to fall back on.

04 Aug

My First Islendingadagurinn

On Saturday, I visited Gimli and attended my first Islendingadagurinn, the annual Icelandic Festival of Manitoba.

Though the 60-mile trek would fall within my range on two wheels, instead, I went with, a new business that offers shuttle service to beach destinations throughout the summer.

Bright and early, we boarded the bus at the Government Forks. Just as the pictures suggest, it was indeed a school bus. There was a sticker on the outside by the door from la Division scolaire franco-manitobaine and the kids even had stickers over the seats with their names on them.

There was sufficient leg room for a large cockroach. I am not a large person, but I felt cramped even though I had a two-seat bench to myself.

Arthur and Anna, our facilitators for the day.

Moments before our bus arrived, there was another bus pulling away from Union Station nearby. A mother and her daughter began frantically running after it, thinking that they had missed the Gimli-bound bus until I told them that it was a different bus. The other tour bus was taking some train passengers around Winnipeg.

We took PTH 9 north and came across this group of cyclists.

As a fellow cyclist, I can appreciate that they have the right to be on the road. However, they do not have the right to act like jerks. This behavior falls into the latter category.

This “TheftMate” anti-theft device was prominently displayed above the driver, reminding us that we were indeed in the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba, Crime Capital of the Western World.

Regrettably, they played some loud music in both directions. However, the noise from the souped-up 1917 Model T engine powering the bus did wonders to drown it out.

I was lucky that it had been a while since I had last eaten. My bike has better shocks than this bus did.

Disembarking after our arrival in Gimli.

Before setting off to explore Gimli, I toured some of the displays set up on Center Street and First Avenue.  

I saw nothing there besides the seeds of another garage sale. Or make that a bílskúr sölu. It is, after all, Islendingadagurinn.

Perhaps they only recycle Icelandic oil. Nota olíu.

In my last trip to Gimli, I found this vendor who might be the town’s worst speller. What I wasn’t aware of was that he had the same errors replicated on the signs of each of his bikes.

I did the traditional walk on the pier and toured the harbor area.

Though the attraction is lost on me, many people do drink to excess. Naming your boat after this disgusting habit, however, is a little over the top.

Catch of the day. 

Seagulls galore.

Come back, y’all!

OK, I won’t park there on “Saturaday.”

I stopped and toured the Viking Village, sponsored by Mysterious Telephone System.

These three ambassadors gave us an introduction before allowing us to pass.

The actors playing the roles of Vikings have been living on “Bill’s Hill” for a week. Why is a question that popped into my head, but I didn’t care enough to ask. I might have stayed a little longer were it not for some foul-smelling smoke coming from something that they were burning. Whether it was cooking smoke or Icelandic incense, my sinuses didn’t need it.

I headed south and found the first of many out-of-country plates.

The Nebraskan that I spotted in Loni Beach obviously has poor choice in hockey teams.

In addition to the plates shown above, I also spotted plates from the Farmers’ Republic of Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.

Once I got to Moonlight Bay, I was floored by the sight of an empty beach.

I sat down on a rock and stopped for a lunch break.

Sacrebleu! La Gendarmie Royale du Canada?! What’s this, a visible sign of law enforcement? I had to rub my eyes to make sure that it wasn’t an optical illusion before capturing this picture.

The two of them sped off down the beach towards Willow Island Road, then returned and headed back towards Third Street while I continued eating.

After my break, I walked south along the shore towards Willow Island.

I made it to Willow Island Road, the causeway that connects the mainland to Willow Island, before returning to South Beach.

I saw more birds than people on this stretch of beach.

A happy face left for me.

Back on Center Street, I headed north to continue my journey.

Elvisfest? I wouldn’t attend if they paid me $20.

If they want a dog party, all they have to do is visit Winnipeg, Manitoba’s largest off-leash dog park.

I ended up at Gimli Park, where a collection of rides had attracted children of all ages.

I didn’t have the energy to do any “runing.”

Keys, phones, beepers, shoes “ec tetera.”

My next stop was back at the harbor area, where the popular Islendingadunk was taking place.

Two unlucky participants sat at the end of a greased pole and whacked each other with sacks of water. The more unlucky of the two fell into the diluted waters of the Red River. Fun, indeed.

Crowds had begun to pick up as the afternoon wore on.


Parking spots on local streets became hard to find.

As my father might say, this is someone who got his driver’s license out of a Cracker Jack box.

Three of the plates that I spotted. You may understand. You may not.

The local spider population has been busy.

I made it north to the lighthouse at Pelican Beach.

From behind the lighthouse, you can see the shoreline up towards Camp Morton and Arnes.

After a long day, I waited with the other passengers at our pickup point. One of them didn’t make it back and we left without him. Part of me wished that I had been that forgotten soul. I really didn’t want to leave, but I knew that I had to.

Fortunately, that ancient piece of machinery got us back to Winnipeg, where I caught a Transit bus that took me back home without incident.

As always, I enjoyed my visit to Gimli. The festival itself, however, left me a little underwhelmed. Besides the Viking Village, there seemed to be very little Icelandic about the Icelandic Festival that one would normally not otherwise see in a visit to Gimli. One vendor was even peddling East Indian wares.

I would encourage anyone to visit the area, but it would probably best be done during a weekday in the spring or fall without all the crowds and noise.