Lower Fort Gary National Historic Site
The oldest intact stone fur-trading post in North America is Lower Fort Garry (tel. 888/773-8888 or 204/785-6050; www.pc.gc.ca), in St. Andrews, 32km (20 miles) north of Winnipeg on Highway 9. Built in the 1830s, Lower Fort Garry was an important Hudson's Bay Company trans-shipment and provisioning post. Within the walls of the compound are the governor's residence; several warehouses, including the fur loft; and the Men's House, where male employees lived. Outside the compound are company buildings -- a blacksmith's shop, the farm manager's home, and so on. The fort is staffed by costumed volunteers who make candles and soap; forge horseshoes, locks, and bolts; and generally demonstrate the ways of life of the 1850s. In a lean-to beside the fur-loft building stands an original York boat; hundreds of these once traveled the waterways from Hudson Bay to the Rockies and from the Red River to the Arctic carrying furs and trading goods. Mid-May to September, the site is open daily from 9am to 5pm, although there are no interpreters after Labour Day. Admission is C$7.80 adults, C$6.55 seniors, C$3.90 children 6 to 16, free for children 5 & under, and C$20 families.
Steinbach Mennonite Heritage Village
About 48km (30 miles) southeast of Winnipeg is the Mennonite Heritage Village (tel. 204/326-9661; www.mennoniteheritagevillage.com), 2.5km (1 1/2 miles) north of Steinbach on Highway 12, south of the Trans-Canada Highway, east from town. This 16-hectare (40-acre) museum complex is worth a detour. Between 1874 and 1880, about 7,000 Mennonites migrated here from the Ukraine, establishing settlements such as Kleefeld, Steinbach, Blumenort, and others. Between 1922 and 1926, many moved to Mexico and Uruguay when Manitoba closed all unregistered schools, but they were replaced by another surge of emigrants fleeing the Russian Revolution. Their community life is portrayed here in a complex of about 20 buildings. In the museum, dioramas display daily life and community artifacts, such as woodworking and sewing tools, sausage makers, clothes, medicines, and furnishings. Elsewhere in the complex, you can view a windmill grinding grain, ride in an ox-drawn wagon, watch a blacksmith at work, or view any number of homes, agricultural machines, and more. In summer, a restaurant serves Mennonite food at reasonable prices -- a full meal of borscht, thick-sliced homemade brown bread, coleslaw, vereniki (pierogies), and foarma worscht (pork sausage), plus rhubarb crumble is just C$12.
The village is open May and September 10am to 5pm; hours during June, July, and August are 10am to 6pm. On Sunday, the gates don't open until noon. October to April, the museum is open Monday through Friday 10am to 4pm. Admission is C$10 adults, C$7 seniors and students, C$2 children 6 to 12, and C$20 for families.