BY SUSIE STRACHAN
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, July / August 2012
The look of wonder on your child's face as a
butterfly gently alights on a flower before their
eyes, flashing its brilliantly coloured wings: this is
one of the moments you'll treasure forever.
But you'd better take that mental
snapshot quickly, because chances
are your child will soon be dashing
off, chasing other butterlfies
as they float above the flowers
and fountains within the Shirley
Richardson Butterfly Garden at
Assiniboine Park Zoo.
When you're a kid, that's what
summer is all about in Winnipeg:
encouraging your inner explorer,
learning about nature and history,
exercising your imagination, all the
while grinning from ear to ear.
Whether it's visting butterflies, playing dress-up or learning how
drive a race car, Winnipeg offers
families a wealth of activities during
the summer months.
The Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden is located next door to Toucan Ridge
inside the Assiniboine Park Zoo. This year, the 2,200 square-foot exhibit will
have an even wider range of butterfly species. While at the Zoo, take in the
Water's Extreme Journey, where young visitors pretend to be a drop of water
and embark on a voyage through rivers, lakes, wetlands, and even their homes,
eventually reaching the healthy ocean. For the lucky little raindrops who get to
the end of the maze, there is an exciting finale as they take a ride on a 24-foot
zipline and drop into the watershed . . . literally.
The Zoo welcomes back the Canadian Raptor Conservancy from Ontario for
another exciting season of thrilling aerial displays and acrobatics, featuring birds
such as the bald eagle, barn owl, peregrine falcon, red-tailed hawks and more.
There's also the new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, where kids
can learn about polar bears and the arctic ecosystem.
Join in the Children's Sunday Nature Adventure Series at the Qualico Family
Centre for workshops for children ages 7 to 11. The Aug. 26 event is I Spy a
Butterfly. Pack a picnic when you go to the new Nature Playground, as your kids
will want to spend the whole day. There's a sand and water play area, slides,
a crow's nest, willow tree tunnels, basket swings, a giant robin's nest, rubber
mountains, net bridges and a Children's Garden inspired by the classic childhood
board game, Snakes and Ladders.
Head for the Lyric Lawn for Movies in the Park, when Assiniboine Park screens
your favourite family blockbusters. Bring your lawn chair and bug spray! Aug. 10
features The Incredibles and Pirates of the Carribbean, the Aug. 17 double bill is
Happy Feet 2 and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Aug. 24 features
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax along with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Dip-netting brings up the oddest
creatures, some of which will make your
kids squeal with excitement. If you've ever
wondered what lurks below the boardwalk,
head to FortWhyte Alive in August on a
trip of discovery. Along with all the things
to do at FortWhyte, like seeing the indoor
aquarium and the prairie dog exhibit,
kids will love the treehouse and watching
the bison herd, and have fun fishing in
the lakes. FortWhyte also has a number
of programs in August, including some
for grandparents and grandchildren, and
others where you can learn traditional
archery and which wild plants are edible,
or become a Voyageur by paddling a
15-person canoe! FortWhyte is also home
to the Winnipeg Sailing Club, which hosts
lessons for children, adults and disabled
people in the summer.
There are 10 outdoor swimming pools
in Winnipeg, with all sorts of fun features
to keep you cool on the hottest of summer
days, including slides, wading pools for
the wee ones, lap swimming for the adults,
and splash pads. Pack up a picnic and stay
cool all day!
Check out the revamped Kildonan Park
Pool which has the fastest two flume slides
in the city, along with a "beach entry" to
the 50-metre pool, making it accessible for
people of all ages and abilities. For those
kids who don't want to get their toes wet,
there's the big play structure to explore!
Where can you find three kids'
waterslides, a splash pad, bumper boats
and special events nearly every day in
August? At Fun Mountain, which also has
seven adult waterslides, hot tubs, heated
pools and lifeguards, along with mini golf.
This month, enjoy magic, pool parties,
clowns, pirate adventures and more.
The nearest beach to Winnipeg is a short
trip up Highway 59, to Birds Hill Provincial
Park. Bring a wagon to haul in your beach
blanket, picnic basket and towels along the
hiking trail to the beaches, where you'll
find plenty of shoreline to stake your claim
in the sand. Remember to bring a bucket
and spades, as your kids will want to build
The Forks National Historic Site presents the 6,000-year history of human presence
and activity at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers through the use of
interpretive exhibits, award-winning sculptures, walking trails, a native prairie garden
and a riverside amphitheatre for performances and events. Take in 6,000 years of
history in 60 minutes during a walking tour hosted by Parks Canada interpreters, or
play Cache Me If You Can when you use a GPS to track down hidden caches.
Nearby, head to the Forks Market proper and let the kids figure out the Oodena
Celebration Circle, run up and down the ramps to the Riverwalk, and climb the
stairs to the observation platform atop the market building itself. Your teens probably
already know the Plaza at The Forks is Canada's best and largest urban skate plaza
and bowl complex. The Skateable Sculpture Plaza is an urban landscape designed
and built for the regular use and enjoyment of skateboarders and BMX cyclists.
Even if you don't have a skipper's license, you can still take the kids out on the
water, when you ride the Splash Dash boats. Scenic and historically informative halfhour
tours of Winnipeg's downtown waterways leave The Forks' harbour every 15
minutes with boat captains providing commentary and historical insights on many
points of interest along the way. If you don't want to devote a lot of time for a tour,
a water taxi runs a regular schedule to eight docks along the Assiniboine and Red
Rivers. Take the river for your trip downtown and delight the kids!
When it's too hot or rainy to take the kids outside, it's nice to know there are kid-friendly
indoor places that allow them to burn off steam.
Curl up with a good book
Imagine a summer of fun and adventure at your local library! Discover thrilling books
and amazing things to do all summer long, when you take part in the Summer Reading
Club. There's also story time for kids aged three to five, programs for school-age kids
and teens, and the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team players dropping by for readings.
Join in Family Literacy Fun Day at your local branch. Families will travel between
multiple stations, taking part in exciting games and creative activities that promote the
playful use of reading, writing, and language skills. Each family will receive a "passport"
that will be stamped after each station is visited and the activity is completed.
McNally Robinson Booksellers' Kim Rannie offers stories, rhymes and fun for kids
ages three to five during Preschool Storytime, held on July 27, Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24 and
31, starting at 10 a.m. in the atrium of the Grant Park bookstore.
Feeling crafty? Take part in the Aug. 2 field trip hosted by the Robert A. Steen
Community Centre to Crock A Doodle, where you can paint a pottery piece, which
will then be glazed and kiln fired. There are 64 community centres, and a number of
schools which run a wide range of free drop-in activities for kids ages six to 18.
Kids can connect with the art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Family Sunday on Aug.
25, during an afternoon of music, storytelling, and art making. Enjoy an interactive
tour of the exhibition, followed by a painting session where kids can create their own
fantastical creature inspired by what they have seen in the show.
Museums in Winnipeg have plenty to fascinate people of all
ages, and it's the hands-on activities that attract kids and keep
their imaginations going.
Manitoba Children's Museum
Younger kids always have hands-on fun at the Children's
Museum, running around the 12 galleries, from the Lasagna
Lookout to the locomotive that forms the spine of the museum.
This summer, hatch one-of-a-kind creatures or mix and match
to make your own Impossible Animal at an interactive travelling
exhibition, on until Sept. 3 at the museum.
Kids adore the Science Centre, located on the lower level of
the Manitoba Museum. Here, they can explore technology at
more than 100 hands-on stations, and have fun playing with the
Matrix room and the Flash room. Kids can build a race car and
put it through its paces on the test track, something that keeps
them engrossed for hours. The nearby Planetarium recreates
the magic of the night sky, or helps you take a journey in your
imagination to far-off planets and stars. The museum itself keeps
kids on the move from gallery to gallery, exploring the Parklands
(the poop drawer is a favourite), trying to spy all the animals in
the Boreal Forest, and pretending to be pirates while on board
the Nonsuch, the replica of a
17th-centuryship that sailed from
England to Hudson's Bay.
The creak of Red River carts, the pounding of metal on
metal and the smell of freshly baked bannock greet everyone at
North America's only restored stone fort from the fur trade era.
Wednesdays in August are Children's Day at Lower Fort Garry,
where the kids can sign on as a worker for the Hudson's Bay
Company and take part in hands-on activities. Watch a puppet
show that brings the past to life, when the main character in the
story gets sent back to 1851.
Where else can you fly a plane, spot a flying saucer, take a
trip to outer space and still be back in time for lunch? Skyways!
The Western Canada Aviation Museum Children's Gallery
features interactive scanners, demonstrations, cockpits, wind
tunnels, instrumentation and more hands-on fun.
This two-week long multicultural festival isn't just for adults.
There are plenty of kids' components at the more than 40
pavilions. For example, the Ireland-Irish pavilion has face
painting, Irish arts and crafts, bodhrán (ancient Irish drum)
decorating and even leprechauns. Or at the Russian pavilion,
you will walk into a Russian fairytale, an enchanted land where
kind animals and warriors roam, friendly creatures dance and
sing, and playful clowns make everybody laugh. The Cuban
pavilion has a children's show with jugglers, magicians and a
clown on Sunday. The Scottish pavilion has a children's corner
featuring dance lessons and a scavenger hunt.
The Children's Museum will host its Festival of the Arts,
featuring workshops, performances and experiences where kids
will be immersed in arts and culture. The festival introduces
visual, dramatic, musical and dance art forms, including print
making, storytelling, African drumming and a dance workshop.
Susie Strachan is a communications advisor with the
Winnipeg Health Region.
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.