Category Archives: Hanna Travels

2014 Jun 30 – Day 11 – Kenora, ON to Thunder Bay, ON

We left Kenora  a little before 10 am in the wind and rain.  So much for yesterday’s hope of a sunny day today.

Today was strictly a Destination Day.  We had to travel 481 km from Kenora to Thunder Bay.  There are only two towns of any size in between; Dryden and Ignace.  This long, long stretch of road is bordered by huge lichen covered rocks, scrawny trees, lots of streams and ponds, and many, many wildflowers.

IMG_1922 IMG_1925IMG_1926 IMG_1930 IMG_1931 IMG_1933 IMG_1937 Entering Dryden

IMG_1953 Lichen on the rocksIMG_1961                             Do you get the picture of our day?.

However, about 50 km west of Thunder Bay the sun began to shine.  Yea!  And then there was Kakabeka Falls.  This water fall caused no end of trouble for the fur traders and explorers back in the day and resulted in an arduous portage to get to Fort William at the mouth of the river (we plan to see the fort tomorrow).

IMG_1967 IMG_1991 IMG_1993We crossed into the Eastern Time zone just past Ignace and now are three hours ahead of home, making our arrival time into Thunder Bay 6 pm.  A long, somewhat monotonous driving day capped off with a wonderful waterfall.   A good ending, me thinks.

2014 Jun 29 – Day 10 – Selkirk, MB to Kenora, ON

We  did another day today similar to yesterday.  Driving from Selkirk to Kenora takes about 2 3/4 hours.  We took five – after we did some sightseeing around Selkirk.

I wanted to see Lower Fort Garry which is a National Historic Site located just south of Selkirk.  Fort Garry was THE trading center and boat building center for access to the West.  Unfortunately it was Sunday and the park isn’t open on weekends until July 1.  Fortunately the actual compound is open all the time so we could still wander around.  The interpretive center and all the buildings were locked but we were able to look in some windows and had a good walk around the grounds.IMG_1863 IMG_1854 IMG_1866 IMG_1857 IMG_1864 IMG_1861 IMG_1867We stopped briefly at the Manitoba Maritime Museum in Selkirk on our way north out of town but didn’t tour any of the boats.

IMG_1875 IMG_1876Our northward destination today was Grand Beach, located on the opposite side of the end of Lake Winnipeg from yesterday’s drive.  Grand Beach is considered one of the best beaches in North America.  It has 12 miles of beautiful fine white sand and is a very popular weekend and summer spot for people escaping Winnipeg – an hour’s drive south.

Today’s weather was similar to yesterday’s with forbidding dark clouds covering the sky.  Over night the wind had blown quite fiercely and it was still blowing hard.  We drove to the main parking lot for beach access but the sand was blowing around so much John was afraid for Poppy’s paint and we went back to another place along the road where we could climb up a brush-covered dune to the beach.



Beach on the other side . IMG_1891





Very windy.




It is pretty impressive to clamber 50 feet up and across the top of a sand dune and find 12 miles of gorgeous sandy beach spreading out to the left and right.  Not exactly a beach-type day, but there were people not only on the beach but in the water. Br-r-r-r.IMG_1884 IMG_1887 IMG_1890Standing in Lake Winnipeg                  Back down the dune to the truck

After we left Grand Beach we turned southward again and drove a winding road through forests (and intervals of heavy rain) to connect with the Trans-Canada Highway just before the Manitoba/Ontario border.   We arrived at Kenora at 10 minutes after 4 pm.IMG_1916                  The view from our hotel room

Kenora is on the north shore of  Lake of the Woods, an area of 12,500 islands and LOTS of avid fishermen and boaters.  So many people live on the nearby islands that the Safeway store is built out over the water and has boat docking facilities beside the parking lot! IMG_1917Sunsets are supposed to be gorgeous here but all we saw tonight are grey clouds and rain drops.  Maybe tomorrow the sun will shine….

2014 Jun 28 – Day 9 – Winnipeg, MB to Hecla Island, MB to Selkirk, MB

We are in Selkirk, Manitoba this evening; about 30 minutes drive north of Winnipeg.  We left Winnipeg a little after 10 am this morning and arrived in Selkirk at 5 pm this evening.  How is that possible you ask?

Well….let me tell you how to do it.  You leave Winnipeg via highway 7 and stop for an hour or so at the 36 square kilometer Oak Hammock Marsh which is a major migratory and nesting area for 200 bird species.  (The coolest thing at Oak Hammock, besides the endless view of marsh land and the sounds of chirpping birds, was the visitors center which was built of light colored stone, surrounded by grass-covered berms and sporting a prairie grass roof that birds actually nest in.)

IMG_1749 IMG_1752 IMG_1754After you leave the marsh drive due west to the town of Stonewall where the citizens have turned an old rock quarry into a lovely park with paths, picnic areas, a pond and a really nice community center.

IMG_1775 IMG_1771IMG_1774                                      Old kilns in the quarry.

After lunch at the top of Hwy 7 in Arborg,  drive over to Hwy 8 and go north until you cross the causeway to Hecla Island.IMG_1799 In 1875 Iceland’s largest volcano erupted violently driving many people from their homes. The Canadian government offered the Icelanders land on Hecla Island – called New Iceland at the time.  The village still has some of the original buildings. IMG_1815Hecla Island is the largest island in Lake Winnipeg and fishing was a major part of the Icelanders life there.The one road of Hecla Village runs along the shore of Lake Winnipeg.  On the other side of the road are regularly spaced small homes on approximately 1 acre lots.  Every one of those lots was covered with neatly mowed grass.  We saw about 5 guys out mowing their monster lawns with everything from regular size ride-ons to tractor pulled commercial-size mowers.  It must be a continuous job!  It does look nice though but all that space around each building made the small house look even smaller.

After you tour the village from end to end turn around and head south again on Hwy 8.  Drive past the turn off you had taken going north and keep on Hwy 8 to Gimli, another Icelandic village (we were looking for the giant Viking but couldn’t find him), then continue on to Winnipeg Beach where you will  follow Hwy 9 into Selkirk.

We had driven from Arborg to Hecla Island with the roof down on Poppy and had a whole flock of Canada Geese fly directly overhead as we neared Hecla Village – thank goodness none of them dropped any ‘souvenirs’ on the way by.  I just pointed the camera straight up to get this shot.There had been very dark grey clouds off to the west for most of our drive from Hecla Island to Selkirk and 30 minutes out of town the sky opened.  And I mean opened.  Is there such a thing as a rain-out?  We could barely see the road and the almost-running-board high water on the streets in Selkirk were flooding Poppy’s undercarriage.  She got a power wash for sure today.  Thank goodness it stopped before we had to get the luggage out of the truck.And that, my friends, is how you drive all day and end up 36 miles from where you started.

2014 Jun 27 – Day 8 – Winnipeg, MB

Today was a quieter day; mainly due to another of our planned tourist attractions being closed.  Hence the early posting of my blog today.

After breakfast we drove out to the Canadian Mint.  Quite a few people were milling around outside the doors and as we approached we heard a staff person apologizing again for the delay, but that the fire alarms were still ringing and even though the fire trucks had left, the Chief had not yet given the all clear to re-enter the building. Now that was familiar talk with John’s 40 years in the volunteer fire department back home!

Some people chose to leave and come back later or another day. Tours are held every 1/2 hour in the summer so no real risk of not getting in later.  We decided to just wait.  We knew the odds were pretty good that we would be allowed in soon, which proved to be the case.

Our tour guide was a chipper young lady named Michelle.  We have two mints in Canada, one in Winnipeg and one in Ottawa.  All paper money is made by the Bank of Canada.  The Ottawa mint makes all the specialty coins and medals – like the 2010 Olympic medals on display in the gift shop.The Winnipeg mint makes our circulation coins.  And this is the interesting part – we also mint coins for over 70 other countries! This is because Canada is the world leader in technology for minting coins.  Particularly an electromagnetic plating process that makes the coins identifiable. The driveway into the Mint is lined with the flags of all the nations we have made coins for in the past or are currently making coins for today.  Michelle told us that yesterday they were minting United Arab Emirates coins which was pretty cool since our son and his wife lived there for six years.At the back of the gift shop stands a security guard in front of a 23 lb solid gold bar.  It is worth about half a million dollars!  You can pick it up but it doesn’t go too far as it is attached by a chain at the bottom.  Trust me on this – when you see robbers tossing gold bars and lots of coins into their backpacks to carry away in movies don’t believe it. You couldn’t possibly pack more than two of those things very far.We were having a bite to eat out of the back of the truck in the parking lot and a very distinguished-looking Indian fellow and his sari-clad wife came over.  “How old is your vehicle?” he asked, waving a gold-ring bedecked hand towards Poppy.  “She is a 2006,” we told him.  “Is it for sale?” he shot back right away.  We told him no and he remained talking to us for quite awhile, comparing places around the world we each had been.   The whole time his wife never said a word.  I suspect that, even though he spoke excellent English, she did not.We had on our list of Winnipeg things-to-do the Dalnavert House and Museum.  this Victorian-era house belonged to Hugh MacDonald, the only son of our first prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald.  It was the first house in Western Canada to have electric lights and running water.  But… was closed for ‘restructuring’ – whatever that means.We wandered along the downtown streets and took a look inside The Fort Garry, a hotel built by the CPR in the chateau-style used at the Hotel Frontenac in Montreal, the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, the Banff Springs Hotel, and Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta – plus a few others.  Gorgeous interior.  We didn’t ask the nightly room rate.Feeling lazy and a bit tired after all the walking yesterday we decided to go back to our room and take it easy for a bit.  This we do well wherever we are.  Tomorrow we leave Winnipeg and drive north to Hecla Island, a former part of Iceland.

2014 Jun 26 – Day 7 – Winnipeg, MB

Today was a great day!  I had spent some time this winter sorting family archives into a chronological order for posterity.  Among the papers I had brought from my dad’s house was a note with the Section/Lot/Grave numbers of my maternal grandparents.  William and Catherine Young had emigrated from Scotland in 1930 when my mother was 8 1/2 months old.  Nov 20, 1935 Catherine died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix and seven months later on June 18, 1936 William died of TB contracted from being gassed during WWI.  Knowing we were driving across Canada this summer I did some web digging and located the cemetery in which they were buried here in Winnipeg.

This morning our first objective was to locate the graves of my maternal grandparents. GPS led us right to Brookside Cemetery.  John located my grandfather’s grave which we knew was in a military section, but we looked at every grave in Section 54 and could not find a marker for Catherine.  We went to the admin office and a lady showed us where it was on a chart.  We had both suspected that there may not have been a marker since they were recent immigrants and probably had little in the way of money at the time.  This proved to be correct.  We did locate the cemetery plot number almost buried in the grass so I know now where both of my mother’s parents are buried.

IMG_1631 IMG_1637I determined right then that my grandmother should have a marker and there was a memorial business across the street.  We stopped in there and ordered a marker for Catherine’s grave. Family is important and should be recognized.  It is very sad that she hasn’t had a “known” place for 79 years.  They will email me a photo when it is installed. I also made an application to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to get my grandfather’s date of birth added to his stone.

Next I wanted to see if the house my mother lived in when she was fostered with Alvin and Nelly Isaac (whom I knew as Grandpa and Grandma) was still standing.  The little house at 272 Martin Street was still going strong.  I have photos of my mother as a girl standing in the alley between her house and the neighbour’s.  The owner of 272 Martin was a very nice young lady who had no objection to my standing on her front porch to have my photo taken at my mother’s childhood home.IMG_1641Objective number three was Lord Selkirk School.  I wanted to give the school my mother’s 1942-43, 44-45, and 45-46 year books for their archives.  The school she attended is gone, but there is a newer school with the same name on the same spot and the archivist in the office was thrilled to get my mother’s books for her records.

We had also wanted to visit the Firefighters Museum which was not far from my mom’s neighbourhood.  Unfortunately it  was closed without any explanation as to why.

Instead we went back to the hotel, parked the truck and  walked to the Manitoba Legislative Building.  Out back there is a lovely fountain and steps leading to an uninterrupted pedestrian walkway to The Fork, the local name for the meeting of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers.  However,  it is late spring and the rivers are high so the River Walk is under several feet of water!  We made the trek to The Fork along city streets instead.IMG_1659 IMG_1661 IMG_1663 IMG_1691 IMG_1693IMG_1707A couple of blocks from The Fork is Union Station where John clearly remembers stopping in 1968 on his way to his father’s wedding in Ottawa.IMG_1717Today was a wonderful day of remembrance and recognition.

2014 Jun 25 – Day 6 – Yorkton, SK to Winnipeg, MB

Unlike yesterday’s journey day, today was a destination day. We left Yorkton at 10 am for the 7 hour drive to Winnipeg.  We crossed the Saskatchewan – Manitoba border at noon and arrived in Winnipeg at 6:30 local time; which is an hour ahead of SK.

IMG_1598 IMG_1607Today was a long drive through flat fields interspersed with trees and small communities.  We made a few stops along the way to check out things we saw on the tourist information bill boards.  I took a photograph of many of the “Welcome to…” signs we passed.  It may have been a good cross-Canada assignment to give myself before we left, but I didn’t think of it.  It was fun to try capture them as we drove.  The big bull was outside Russell.IMG_1611

IMG_1601 IMG_1613 IMG_1619 IMG_1625One of our first stops was in Churchbridge.  A local artist, Rita Swanson had won the Canadian Mint contest to design a $1 coin for Canada’s 125th anniversary.  There was a large representation of her design and a commemorative plaque beside the tourist booth.IMG_1604We stopped at a lovely little park, North Shore Park, at Shoal Lake for a peanut butter on a bun lunch and then motored our way along to Winnipeg.  Our hotel is right down town and we are staying for three days.  There are quite a few things I want to see here, foremost being the graves of my maternal grandparents who had both died within  six years after immigrating from Scotland in 1930.IMG_1618

2014 Jun 24 – Day 5 – Regina. SK to Yorkton, SK

Today was a journey day.  We have along on this trip two of my father’s  books.  One is “Backroads and Getaway Places of Canada” and the other is “Handpicked Tours of North America.”  In the Handpicked Tours book there is a drive from Regina to Yorkton that takes you north to Fort Qu’Apelle and Echo Lake, east through Lebret and then south down to Indian Head.  Then you follow the TCH eastward again until Grenfell before turning north on Hwy 247.  We took a little jog east to Esterhazy to get some information about the huge potash mines there then turned around and followed Hwy 9 west and north to Yorkton.  If you don’t dilly dally around and zig zag all over you can drive from Regina to Yorkton in about  three hours.  We took seven; but that is what we like to do; see the little places and out-of-the-way things.  To me big cities are pretty much all the same.

There was a lovely church in Lebret: Sacred Heart Catholic Church and right behind it was The Fishing Lake.  There was a very small town dominated by the large church and a 1/4 mile long cemetery dating from 1895.

We ended up accidentally on a gravel stretch of road for about 20 km.  This was not popular with John as he takes very good care of my Poppy truck and he does not like driving her on gravel.  Needless to say that 20 km took awhile to traverse.I liked the old grain elevator at Indian Head.  They also have their museum in an old fire hall but it is only open in July and August.  We had a nice chat with a fellow in Wolseley where they have a swing bridge to access one side of town with the other.  Wolseley bills itself as “The Town Around A Lake.”

I am very surprised by the amount of water we see; rivers, lakes and ponds are everywhere.  Of course they have had lots of rain in SK lately so where water can be water certainly is, but still there are numerous ponds with bull rushes encircling them in every field.  We see lots of water fowl swimming with their ducklings, goslings and other kinds of ‘lings.’I have learned that there are 100,000 lakes in SK and even though we have the image of miles and miles of flat prairie fields (and that is certainly what we are seeing), over half of SK is pine forest.  Just go north and that is all there is to see.

We strolled through the museum in Esterhazy before going to the Potash Information Center.  I know I am getting old, but it was still a bit of a surprise to see a meat grinder like the one I use at home (even if it was my mother’s meat grinder) in the museum.  The biggest surprise though was to find my doll house!  The very same furniture, the very same rooms!  I wanted to take it home, but they wouldn’t let me.  Talk about a wake-up call to the passing of time to see one of your childhood toys in a museum.The Potash Information Center was not large but it was very interesting.  Saskatchewan supplies 1/3 of the world’s pot ash.  They have deposits that will conservatively last 500 years.  Yes that is right 500 years!  The mines are 3140′ underground and are mini-cities where they drive a fleet of trucks and have borers that use laser beams to follow the potash vein.  Really cool stuff.  So glad we drove the extra few kilometers to go.


2014 Jun 23 – Day 4 – Regina, SK

After breakfast we drove to the RCMP Heritage Center and Depot and toured the galleries, watched a series of interesting videos on the RCMP training regime, and took part of a walking tour around the Depot.  We were supposed to see the Seargent-Major Parade but it was raining – A LOT – so they moved it into the Drill Hall instead of holding it on the Parade Grounds as normal.  It was also a Graduation Day for Troop 21 and since there were three school groups with us on the walk-around there was not enough room for all of us and the family and friends of the cadets so we were unable to go in.  We did see them march into the Drill Hall so that was cool.

IMG_1420IMG_1430  IMG_1433We left the RCMP Center and drove down the street to Government House which was the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories from 1891-1905 and of Saskatchewan from 1905-1945.  It has been beautifully restored and turned into a museum of the period.  It was a real treat to wander through.  We had planned to tour the extensive gardens, but the torrential rainfall began again while we were inside and was only slowing down as we left.IMG_1451 IMG_1453 IMG_1456We next went to the SK Legislative Building, built between 1909-1910 and faced with white stone; it has marble from Ireland, Vermont, Cyprus, Italy, Quebec, and I think Sweden in the floors, pillars, and columns.  Beautiful, beautiful, building.  Our guide was a young fellow from Quebec so we got some tips from him on how to get around in Quebec City when we get there.IMG_1465 IMG_1469 IMG_1481The rain had started again while we were inside – we had good timing on that all day – and stopped again as we came out so we were able to visit the nearby War Memorial.IMG_1494All in all it was a good, albeit wet day in Regina today.

2014 Jun 22 – Day 3 – Swift Current, SK to Regina SK

Today was a short day.  We actually slept in which is very unusual for me and didn’t get on the road until almost 11.  But since this trip is all about the journey; who cares.Again the weather was sun and cloudy.  The only rain was a torrential 5 minutes as we were unloading the truck to check into our hotel in Regina.  Fortunately the entrance was under a portico.

The drive to Regina takes about 3 1/2 hours and we only made three stops.  The first was to take a photo of the salt works at Chaplin. Chaplin Lake is a saline lake and there is quite an extensive operation to extract the salt.  We thought at first that the huge piles of white stuff was snow – unlikely as that would be.Our second stop was a little tour around a small town called Mortlach.   There was no real town to speak of; a cafe, a library, a post office, and an antique store.  We didn’t see a gas station nor a grocery store.  But what they did have was a neat old fire station that was the town museum. They hold a Saskatoonberry Festival every year, but not until later in the summer.The third and last stop was in Moose Jaw.  John’s niece and her husband met when going to Briercrest Bible College in Moose Jaw and they also lived and worked there after they married.  We had to get a photo of  Mac the giant moose to send home to Salmon Arm to remind them of bygone days. After that it was a short drive to Regina.  We checked in to our hotel at 2:30 and spent the rest of the day writing blogs, uploading photos and relaxing.  Tomorrow we plan to tour the RCMP Depot Heritage Center and Museum and go to Government House.  Hopefully the weather will continue to co-operate.



2014 Jun 21 – Day 2 – Calgary, AB to Swift Current, SK

We left Calgary at noon on Friday.  We had a bit of shopping to do before we headed out of town.  Specifically the purchase of the laptop I am using to write this blog.

Once again we were on familiar roads.  We had been thinking of going north from Calgary to Saskatoon since neither of us had been there before, but there is a large Jazz Festival and something else as well going on and not a hotel room to be had.  We decided to stick to the Trans-Canada for another day.

The weather was fine again.  No rain, just clouds and sunshine.  It was very nice to see the fields looking green with new spring growth.  Our other trips along this stretch of road were in later summer so everything was much taller and a much dustier green.  There has been quite a bit of rain in the area of late so all the crops were coming up and looking new and fresh. I love the wide open cloudy skies.John’s sister and her family lived in Medicine Hat for quite a few years and it was always a great visual image to see the gigantic        tee pee on the hillside as you drove into town. We crossed the Alberta/Saskatchewan border and made our way to Swift Current for the night.There is a very little traffic on these wide open prairie roads.  John is thrilled that my SSR is making about 30 miles to the gallon on fuel consumption.  That’s what happens when there are no hills.