CHASING HISTORY (Chapter 8 of 10)

MANITOBA UNPLUGGED

Introduction to the Hanson Lake Road

Sunday morning, July 10th, Prince Albert. 

Visitor information centre closed.  John and I spent the better part of an hour trying to find the museum.  We found one sign, but it gave no directions.  We asked at a couple of places and got misdirected.  We gave up.

We were heading for Flin Flon.  That meant we traversed a wild part of Northern Saskatchewan on a highway called the Hanson Lake Road.  The Welcome Visitors sign had bullet holes in it.  I have written up this experience, and am submitting it for publication.  Will share it with you later.

Flintabattey Flonatin

Flin Flon, just I inside the Manitoba boundary, looked like a 1930s mining camp, with a few concessions to the 21st century.  I am looking for a publisher for that story.

On Monday our rambles included the community museum – lots of mining memorabilia.  The visitor centre had a huge statue of Flintabattey Flonatin, after whom the town in named.  Who was he?  A character in a science fiction novel.  I am not kidding.

Driving south, we stopped at the sleepy village of Cranberry Portage.   Checked out the marker for the historic portage.  Browsed a sculptures gallery and chatted with the owner, Irwin Head, a nationally recognized artist.

 

The Pas museum

In The Pas, we visited the Sam Waller museum – a great place in a heritage building!  Southward we sped, through forest and wetlands, until we encountered the farming country around Swan River.  Finally we reached Roblin, our destination.  (I remembered the place vaguely from another trip.)  No restaurants open – got Subway sandwiches.

Next morning, Tuesday, we sped eastward.  I had to show John the Grandview museum, which I discovered last summer.  Another house of treasures!  Heritage buildings.  Antique farm machinery.  Classic automobiles.  We didn’t see it all – you can never see everything in a community museum.  You have to keep going back.  John was really interested in an ancient steam hauler, a machine for pulling logging sleighs.  A member of the museum board was hanging around; he escorted me to the foundations of the first lumber mill in the district.  No signs to it – you had to be there at the right moment when a knowledgeable volunteer dropped in.  The summer student in the main building had never mentioned it.

A pioneer home in Grandview

In Dauphin we found our way (after asking a local – usual dearth of signage) to the railway museum.  The curator, a permanent employee, gave us the tour.  Those tireless railway builders, Mackenzie and Mann, got their start here.  Soon there were Canadian Northern railways everywhere.  One ran between Thunder Bay and Sudbury, passing through Longlac.  It was called the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway; Canadian National Railways acquired it later.

By 7:30 p.m. we were ensconced in our hotel in downtown Winnipeg. 

On Wednesday we raided book museums, i.e., bookstores with tons of out-of-print books.  On Thursday John visited the Manitoba Museum, and I visited the Assiniboine Park museum, better known as the Zoo.  Lots of living artifacts.  Only repeated visits will do these places justice.

On the way to Sandilands, we checked out St. Anne again – museum locked up tight, no sign it had ever been open this summer.

I am skipping all the other little adventures we experienced, which brings me to . . .

One more adventure . . .

Post-trip.

Lunch time in Winnipeg

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About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website www.WhiskyJackPublishing.ca
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