Tourism Winnipeg and FortWhyte Alive provided admission so we could experience this amazing place. Opinions are my own.
If you like to give your kids opportunities to get right down and dirty with nature like I do, FortWhyte Alive offers an amazing opportunity for just that. With their hands-on approach to nature exploration, outdoor recreation, adventure, and discovery, visiting FortWhyte Alive was one of our favorite experiences during our visit to Winnipeg.
History of FortWhyte
The Fort That Never Was
FortWhyte Alive takes its name from the surrounding neighborhood, which in turn was named during Winnipeg’s early years. In 1881, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) had a monopoly on rail transport in Western Canada. The man responsible for maintaining this arrangement was William Whyte, Vice President of the CPR.
When the citizens of Manitoba attempted to break the monopoly by building their own railways, Whyte blocked the tracks and sent in armed CPR workers to ensure no work could be completed. New tracks were laid in daylight and torn up at night. The area of the stand-off between the CPR and the Manitobans was dubbed “Fort Whyte” by the press.
Read the rest of the FortWhyte story on their website. It’s quite interesting to read all about the history of what makes this area unique!
Visiting FortWhyte Alive
When researching what to do with kids in Winnipeg, I stumbled upon the FortWhyte site. I knew right away it was something we would have to do because I love getting the kids outside and experiencing nature as much as possible.
What I didn’t know was what to expect. I thought there’d be some nature paths and hiking trails, but I didn’t realize it would be such a hands-on, immersive experience.
We started off our little adventure at FortWhyte with a walk along the nature trails. Before venturing out, though, we were sure to pick up the small scoop nets available for use, an insect guide, and a bucket. We then hit the trails!
As we strolled along the recreational trails we encountered several floating boardwalks. It is here that the fun began. The kids were able to get right down next to the water and scoop up all sorts of little critters that lived in the swampy water. They could examine them and see all the different types of bugs they could find.
My kids really had fun doing this and we spent loads of time checking out all the different boardwalks!
After finishing up our walking tour of the boardwalks and trails, we headed back to the nature shop to pick up some paddles and life-jackets so we could go out on the lake. This was a totally new experience for my kids. Although we go kayaking back home somewhat frequently, they had never been in a row-boat out in open water.
They were a little nervous at first, but after a bit, they really enjoyed being out on the water and checking things out from a new perspective!
Lastly, we took another little walk, this time along the bison trail, to try to see the prairie bison herd.
Along the way, we got to experience a prairie house made out of sod — a very neat thing to see!
The house was very cool in the hot summer heat, and the information placard says that the houses were meant to be temporary until more permanent homes could be built, however, they were very effective at keeping families warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
We eventually made our way over to the bison viewing area.
They were quite a ways off so we didn’t get to see them up close this time, but after finding a little treehouse hidden in the forest, we were able to get a little better view of the herd from up high.
By this time we had been at FortWhyte for about four hours and the kids were getting a little tired — they had been busy! We headed back to our vehicle and made our way back to our hotel for a little nap before hitting the pool. 🙂
If you will be in the Winnipeg area, I highly recommend making FortWhyte Alive one of your destinations to visit.
It was a great experience for the kids as well as for my husband and I and I’d visit again next time!
Here’s a quick list of our fun: