Friday, June 28, 2019
Weird Manitoba Vacation: 2019 Edition
Starting your vacation but want to go somewhere different?
How about a Weird Manitoba Vacation?
Photo by Leslie Lewis
On October 14, 1979, 10 people reported seeing a “black, hairy, eight-foot man-beast” near Little Saskatchewan First Nation. Footprints, some two inches deep and 15 inches long, were found in hard, dry clay in a clearing. The stride was thought to be between three and five feet. An hour after this incident, two other men saw the monster in a field beside some bush. One said: “It was black all over except its face, which wasn't covered with hair.” When the creature moved, it “moved like a man,” running away when it was discovered about 25 yards away from the witnesses. Curious incidents earlier in the week were thought to be related; a cow had been found dead outside a fence, but was no evidence that it had been dragged. Full-scale searches were launched for the Sasquatch, both on the ground and in the air. Some residents were frightened to go out alone after the reports became public. These fears prompted some people to obtain a tranquillizer gun to capture the beast, although others suggested they would consider killing it outright. These armed search parties went out in the evening, determined to get a Sasquatch, even without the tranquillizer. “We figure we'll break a leg, or two legs, then haul it to the doctor,” one hunter boasted to reporters. He allowed they had some reservations about killing an animal that resembled a man in so many ways, “but if it attacks, we'll shoot to kill.” Fortunately, no target was seen. The cast of one of the footprints is currently on display in the Sam Waller Museum in The Pas, and is suggested to be that of a Sasquatch. The Sam Waller Museum is known for having an eclectic collection of many other artefacts, including: a Judi-Dart Meteorological/Sounding Rocket used at Fort Churchill in 1969; a Daisy XZ-35 Buck Rogers Rocket Wilma Pistol Ray Gun; a brass sundial owned by explorer Sir John Franklin; a crystal radio set manufactured by the Martian Manufacturing Company of Newark, New Jersey; and a human appendix.
The Haunted Nunnery
A former nun’s residence, L'Auberge Clémence Inn in Elie is said to be haunted. Guests have heard footsteps on the wooden stairs, without anyone being near. Doors have opened and closed by themselves, and glimpses of a figure have been seen moving in several rooms. Recently, some rooms were converted into Escape Rooms that challenge puzzle solvers to beat the clock while being pursued by ghosts.
East of Camperville in the middle of Lake Winnipegosis is an island about two kilometres in length, with a reputation for being haunted. There are stories that people who have dared camp on the island have swam in panic to the mainland in the middle of the night, afraid of eerie lights and sounds that seemed to chase them off the island!
The Falcon Lake UFO
In 1967, Stefan Michalak was prospecting just north of Falcon Lake and encountered a flying saucer that apparently landed in a clearing near him. He walked up to the craft out of curiosity and was burned by a blast of hot gas when it suddenly took off and flew away. The incident was investigated by the RCMP and the Royal Canadian Air Force, both of which labeled the case as “Unexplained.” Today, the site is still accessible near the gravel pits north of town, you can go on a guided “UFO Ride” to the site from Falcon Beach Ranch, and the Laughing Loon store in town sells t-shirts and other items commemorating the 1967 event.
The Haunted Hotel Fort Garry
Much has been written about Winnipeg’s Hotel Fort Garry and its various resident ghosts. One story is that a grief-stricken woman took her own life in Room 202 many years ago. Since then, some staff have said they have seen blood running down the walls of the room, and some guests have said they have seen her ghost at the end of their bed. In 2004, former Ontario Liberal MP Brenda Chamberlain was staying in Room 202 and said that while in bed she felt the mattress depress next to her as if someone was getting in beside her. The same or another ghost is said to have been seen in the hotel’s lounge, and in rooms on other floors.
The Manitoba Legislature Hermetic Code
Although to the untrained eye it is simply a large, ornate government building, the Manitoba Legislature is adorned with sphinxes, doric columns, and even a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. And the statue of the Golden Boy on top of the building? It’s the god Hermes. According to Frank Albo, sometimes called Manitoba’s own Dan Brown, the Legislature is a Masonic edifice designed to guide and help elected officials rule the province. Albo conducts guided tours of the Hermetic significance of the many bizarre feature of the building. (Oh, and the building is haunted, too.)
The Manitoba Desert
It may seem incongruous, but even in a province that is covered in snow for several months of the year, there is a desert. Although quickly being taken over by vegetation such as wild grasses and poison ivy, there are still sand dunes to climb and explore in the Spirit Sands near Carberry. And the Devils Punch Bowl is a bowl-shaped depression 45 metres deep in the sand hills, created by underground streams. And keep a lookout for the Prairie skink, Manitoba’s own lizard!
West Hawk Lake
The meteor crater that is now West Hawk Lake is only about 3.5 kilometres across and about 100 metres deep. About 100 million years ago, a large piece of a comet or a small asteroid slammed into Manitoba, gouging out a huge hole that eventually filled with water left over from retreating glaciers. It created a very deep, very blue, and very cold lake that has some of the finest beaches in Manitoba. And scuba divers train on the bottom of the lake in the crevasses within fractured rock! There’s an info kiosk at the park office, a large descriptive sign showing how the lake was formed, and at the beach a concession stand sells “meteor burgers” and “potato UFOs,” among other tasty treats!
The White Horse Plains
Along the Trans Canada Highway near St. Francois Xavier is a statue of a White Horse. The figure is one of the few monuments in the world depicting a ghost! The story is that hundreds of years ago, a young woman escaped into the night with her lover, astride a beautiful white horse, given as a gift from her betrothed whom she was to marry the next day. They were pursued and killed, but the horse ran off and its spirit has been said to roam the prairie ever since.
Manipogo Beach Provincial Park
Just north of Toutes Aides on Highway 276 is a little-known park that is one of Manitoba’s jewels and best-kept secrets. With pristine beaches, clear water, and beautiful landscape along Lake Manitoba's rocky shore, it’s also the site of numerous sightings of Manipogo, Manitoba’s own Loch Ness Monster. Sightings of the dinosaur-like creature has been reported since the 1960s, and was seen in the lake several times in the 1990s. Maybe you can be the next lucky one to see it!