UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
UM Today
UM Today
Hello, Summer
Photo collages by Kathryn Carnegie [BFA(Hons)/08] / iStock

Hello, Summer

From paddle boarding with belugas in Churchill to birding on the Fort Garry campus—our list of summertime activities with a UM connection brings your Manitoba staycation to life


Looking for activities and excursions in Manitoba? Weave some UM into your planning with our curated list of things to do this summer (and into fall) on and off campus.

With the sun shining, you might not immediately think sub-Arctic. But a good time to get to know the port town of Churchill on the west shore of Hudson Bay is summer. This according to University of Manitoba alum John Gunter [BComm(Hons)/2001], a staple in the region about 2,000 km north of Winnipeg with his business Frontiers North Adventures.

“As we get into August the nights are a little bit longer so we have the opportunity to see northern lights. In addition to that, you’re going to see beluga whales. And, of course, there’s always a polar bear kicking around during the summer.”

Paddleboarding with the belugas, coastal hiking, kayaking and fat biking are all gaining steam. And visitors are showing an increased eagerness to discuss climate change, says Stephen Petersen, UM adjunct professor in biological sciences, who has been guiding tourists in Churchill for the last decade.

“For some folks this will be the first step in connecting with a fragile and changing ecosystem and learning about the threats faced by polar bears,” says Petersen. “For others, they come with the bigger picture and this is an opportunity to reconnect and be re-energized to make or influence positive change.”

Curious what the difference is between birdwatching and birding? Experience the latter with 90-minute mid-day Birding Walks, offered all summer long from the Fort Garry campus by Justin Rasmussen [BSc(Maj/2006, MSc/2008] and Bailey Hendry [BHEcol/2020], co-founders of the UM Indigenous Birding Club.

Unlike the more passive birdwatching, birding has enthusiasts in active pursuit. The walks start at Migizii Agamik and can lead wherever goldfinches, chickadees and blackbirds—to name only a few—might be found, such as nearby King’s Park or the Southwood Lands.

Participants learn about birds in Indigenous storytelling. “One of our goals is to highlight these teachings and showcase how important birds are to us as people and to our land,” says Hendry.

Another goal? Introducing people to the benefits of birding on mental health. “You can see and feel the stress and anxiety melt away as participants engage all their senses to find birds,” says Rasmussen.

Foodies looking for a pummeling of the senses, should check out Winnipeg’s Bar Accanto in St. Boniface. It’s energetically noisy. The seductive smell of Arctic char wafts through the 10-table dining area. And the textures and flavours of the share-plates are nuanced in a way that triggers spontaneous expressions of joy.

It’s another home-run for Mike Del Buono [BComm(Hons)/2013] and his Burnley Place Hospitality, the team behind several unique and trending restaurants in Winnipeg, including right-next-door Nola.

Del Buono’s vision, shaped by his time at UM’s Asper School of Business, is to cultivate memorable dining experiences that are built on the unrestrained creativity of chefs.

“I’m not a chef, but I understand how kitchens and restaurants operate. The business theory I learned at Asper gives me a background that I don’t think a lot of independent restaurants have,” he told UM Today. “I like to say that I’m here to build the runway so [chefs] can take off.”

Insider tip: Try Bar Accanto’s wonderful beef tartare with its fast food burger vibes and their unique bourbon cocktail, the Paper Plane.

The Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre, a half hour drive south of Winnipeg at UM’s Glenlea Research Station, is a hidden-gem for families wanting to mix a dash of learning and research into their fun.

Using interactive exhibits and hands-on displays—such as the combine cab simulator, the grocery scanner and viewing windows into the hog barn—the Centre brings to life Manitoba’s agricultural scene, illustrating the story of food production from farm to kitchen table. And it highlights ongoing research of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences.

One option for an even richer experience is to book a guided tour. If you do, find out when the pigs are expected to give birth to increase your chances of seeing brand new piglets during your visit.

Discover Winnipeg’s rich human rights history through a self-guided tour developed for the Masters of Human Rights Program in UM’s Faculty of Law. Similar to the guided version created for the program’s students, this self-guided tour, which can be completed in a few hours, leads participants to some of the city’s key landmarks.

Among the 10 stops: Louis Riel’s grave in St. Boniface, the Gandhi statue outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and a residential schools monument at The Forks.

Program director Kjell Andersen says growing interest may lead to opening up the guided version to alumni and the public, possibly as early as this fall.

You might know The Leaf at Assiniboine Park as that large translucent building with the spiralling roof resembling a plant opening itself to the sun. But did you know it’s home to the highest indoor waterfall in Canada, at 20 metres?

Rhonda Halliday [ExtEd/2014], who studied prairie horticulture-greenhouse crop production at UM, is their horticultural supervisor and an excellent source of info on the lush biomes that make up four distinct ecosystems and grow thousands of exotic plants, from bananas and bamboo to the blood-red bottlebrush.

Don’t think of it as just a giant greenhouse, Halliday cautions. “It doesn’t quite do it justice in terms of The Leaf’s stunning architectural features.”

And it’s not only a place to experience the tropical mist, earthy smells and bursts of greenery. “Our focus is on the stories that connect plants to people rather than the plants themselves, and that makes us unique.”

Storytelling signage throughout the biomes point to interesting individuals who immigrated to Winnipeg and their connections to plants native to their home countries. Another way to gain insider knowledge: Members of the horticultural team are available in the biomes weekdays at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and on weekends at 11:30 a.m.

Travelers whose imaginations aren’t bound by gravity can take a celestial journey at UM’s very own planetarium. On the last Wednesday of each month the Lockhart Planetarium in University College hosts free one-hour open houses at 7 p.m., offering guests a guided tour of the stars and constellations visible in the city’s night sky.

With topics varying month to month, you could learn about constellations and mythologies, astronomy news, or research happening in Winnipeg. Seats are limited so reserve your spot.

Considering a road trip through Manitoba’s Interlake? We gathered tips from UM alum Heather Hinam [BSc(Hons)/98, MSc/2001]—a naturalist, educator and interpreter with a deep knowledge of Manitoba’s history and diverse ecosystems. Imagine her riding shotgun with this impromptu self-guided scavenger hunt of her interpretive signage and murals as a unique way to enrich your understanding of the Interlake.

Start in Selkirk, where several of Hinam’s panels can be found, including one exploring flora and fauna in Little Lake Park. Learn about the urban prairie ecosystem outside the Gaynor Family Library and about UM alum Murray Sinclair [LLB/79, LLD/2002], Manitoba’s first Indigenous judge and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at Murray Sinclair Park.

Next, head up Highway 9 to Gimli to explore the Lake Winnipeg watershed and ecosystem through a large mural at the Lake Winnipeg Visitor Centre. From there, travel west on Highway 231 to Fraserwood to learn about the Ukrainian and Polish immigrants who founded the village.

Up the road in Meleb, near the statue of three wild mushrooms, you’ll find interpretive panels detailing the area’s history, informed in large part by a local nonagenarian who happily shared anecdotes about her childhood with Hinam.

“She told me stories about trapping rabbits on her way to school when she was 6 or 7 years old, and how her parents would put hot wheat into her boots to keep her feet warm in the winter.”

Finally, head south to Inwood to discover the natural history of red-sided garter snakes and why this area is such a crucial habitat for them. The coolest part? Between May and September, you can find actual snakes around the large snake statue.

In the lazy days of summer, Winnipeg’s newest concert venue is set to heat up, bringing Manitoba’s performance-loving crowd to the Fort Garry campus. The 409-seat Desautels Concert Hall officially opens its doors Sept. 5 with Juno award-winning artist William Prince [BSc/2018]. The Indigenous singer-songwriter, who’s opened for Willie Nelson and played at the Grand Ole Opry—has propelled himself onto the world stage with his soulful baritone voice, heartfelt lyrics and blend of folk and country.

Also performing at the Grand Opening Concert is Canada’s premier coloratura soprano Tracy Dahl and acclaimed soprano Andriana Chuchman [BMus(Perf)/2004] with collaborative pianist, and associate dean of the Desautels Faculty of Music, Laura Loewen.

The Borealis Piano Trio, three incredible musicians and educators from the Desautels Faculty of Music—violinist Oleg Pokhanovski, cellist Minna Rose Chung and pianist Judy Kehler—will also perform. As will the Desautels Jazz Faculty Sextet, which includes some of Canada’s leading jazz musicians and jazz educators, many of whom are Juno Award winners.

Get your tickets to see Prince and the subsequent Concert Series that continues into fall with a line-up that includes the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra with acclaimed Cree author, playwright and musician Thomson Highway [LLD/2015].

Whether you bleed brown and gold or are just discovering the thrill of university football, attending a UM Bisons game is a summertime must. Alumni can claim up to four free tickets to all home games.

The Bisons are set to kick off their season with a clash against longtime rivals the Saskatchewan Huskies on Aug. 31 at Princess Auto Stadium (formerly IG Field). On Sept. 14, the Bisons take on the Alberta Golden Bears for the highly anticipated Homecoming Game, a spirited annual affair with a family-friendly tailgate party that brings a load of extra buzz to UM’s Homecoming week (Sept. 14-21).

We’re not done yet—here’s something else to look forward to come fall. The latest exhibit by alum artist Dominique Rey [BFA(Hons)/99] opens at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. With video and photography, Motherground peeks into the universal theme of motherhood and its complex emotional layers and cultural constructs.

“It explores how everyday gestures between a mother and child can be radical,” says Rey, a professor in UM’s School of Art. “There’s an immense power to that relationship and to those minor exchanges and moments between a parent and child.”

The pieces are evocative, wrenched from the commonplace of most parent-child photos with intertwined participants wearing costumes against sometimes surreal, dream-like backgrounds.

“It’s mostly based on improvised movements between my children and myself, somewhere between dance, improvisation and absurdity, and it really originates in that language of physical contact between parents and child,” she explains.

Rey predicts parents will instantly recognize the chaotic push-pull nature of the parent-child dynamic and the ongoing quest for equilibrium. “A lot of our movements and gestures seem as though we’re coming together and falling apart at the same time.”

Motherground opens Oct. 12. Until then the WAG summer line-up includes a wide range of events, camps and exhibitions.

This summer show us where you see UM on your staycation! Tag @umanitoba on Instagram

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341