There is little denying that Manitoba - our seventh province on the Trans Canada Trail - is a region unlike any other that we have trekked through. It is, as I have said before, a province of extremes. The temperatures have varied between extreme heat to frigid cold, the conditions range from rain and thick mud to drought and dust, and the reception from people has covered the full spectrum from those who were extraordinarily friendly and welcoming to those who were distrustful and wary. Yet amid it all the natural beauty and diversity of the province have stunned us more than we had expected. For these reasons Manitoba is a very difficult region to pin down, describe, and define. Perhaps what we have come to see most is that there is a toughness to the environment in Manitoba that challenges the individual who strives to overcome it but there also exists an almost indefinable wildness and inherent natural beauty that pulls one in. This is above all else a wonderfully beautiful province that Canadians would do well to visit and learn more about.
While we have loved our time in Manitoba over the past two hiking seasons traversing more than 1400 km of trails, pathways, railtrails and concessions the fact is that we have regrets. Chief among those has been in not being able to get to know the people of the province more. Perhaps this is the result of Covid, perhaps it is the result of the fact that much of the pathway here is in rural communities which are not densely populated, or the reality the Trans Canada Trail stays on the endless concessions rather than venturing into the National Parks or larger cities.
While we experienced great kindness in person in Winnipeg, in Emerson, at Wakerobin B&B, in Morden, and in Erickson the fact is that too often many of our “on the trail” encounters involved someone pulling up to demand “where we were from”, racing past us covering us in dust, or dealing with ATVs.
Yet in our treasured interactions with the peoples of Manitoba common sense, and practical wisdom have been shared with us - which in our usual tradition we strive to pass on – to remind all Canadians of the importance of each province, its cultural diversity, unique perspective and value of learning from one another.