GFM Network News

The grotto at St. Alphonse.

Take a country drive to explore some historic Manitoba churches

See some historic buildings of faith while staying home this summer

At times like this, when some some tourist attractions are closed, or we are uncertain about crowds, a country drive can be a pleasant diversion for those who are feeling house-bound. There are many spots we can drive past and/or stop for a brief visit, even if we cannot physically go inside buildings. Old churches

The Badger Creek Museum site at Cartwright.

Provincial sesquicentennial, staycations make historic sites of interest

Explore some of Manitoba’s rich and abundant history this summer

With COVID making the ‘staycation’ fashionable and Manitoba celebrating its 150th anniversary this summer, this is a good time to make plans to search out some of our historical sites. During this uncertain time of social distancing and self-isolation, planning future outings is an activity which can involve the whole family. A great many towns and villages have museums

A great horned owl.

Nocturnal Owl Survey celebrates 30 years of counting owls

The survey began in 1991 and is now part of a nationwide owl-counting effort

This spring, the annual Manitoba Nocturnal Owl Survey will celebrate 30 years of counting owls — a remarkable achievement for an operation carried out mostly by volunteers. The Nocturnal Owl Survey began in Manitoba in 1991. It’s now part of a nationwide survey, although other provinces do not always follow the exact same format as

An “irruption” of snowy owls has brought many of the birds to southern Manitoba.

An invasion of owls

Why the snowy birds have descended from the Arctic to southern Manitoba isn’t thoroughly understood

Southern Manitoba has been invaded by snowy owls travelling far from their breeding ground north of the Arctic Circle. The owls began arriving as early as October. This phenomenon, called an “irruption,” happens at irregular intervals, usually every four or five years. Occasionally they happen two years in a row. Occasionally a “mega-irruption” may occur,

Blue jays are especially fond of peanuts in the shell.

Feed your feathered friends this winter

Put out a bird feeding station this winter to attract those hardy enough to weather our winters

Cold weather has arrived, and most of our birds have migrated south, but the hardy ones are still around. A dozen or so species remain, and a feeding station kept regularly supplied will attract them to your backyard or deck for your viewing enjoyment, if you place the feeders where you can watch them easily.

This steep cliff face near Cartwright allowed human hunters on foot to harvest the massive bison herds of the central plains.

Visit Manitoba’s buffalo jumps

Other sights on the western Prairies are more famous, but don’t miss this slice of Indigenous history closer to home

Perhaps you have heard about the famous attraction in southwestern Alberta called Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump — but were you aware that Manitoba has similar sites? In the southern part of our province, just north of the village of Cartwright, is the Clay Banks Buffalo Jump. Many years ago, when bison still roamed these vast stretches

Historic east gate entrance.

Plan a visit to the east side of Riding Mountain National Park

Here you’ll find hiking and biking trails, great scenery, wildlife and the historic gate

Visitors to Riding Mountain National Park often spend most of their time in the Wasagaming/Clear Lake area, with perhaps part of a day at Lake Audy to see the bison. But Highway No. 19 on the east side of the park can be rewarding in several ways — stretching your muscles on the hiking and

Brad Mummery (l to r), Athia Rose, Trent Tomoniko, Jonah Rose and Herb Golden (in back) at  the Friends of the Bluebirds meeting in April.

New groups take up birdhouse project

A 4-H group and a training centre are building to aid Friends of the Bluebirds

Two new groups are helping to improve the survival rate of bluebirds and swallows in Manitoba. They are doing so by providing nest boxes through the Brandon-based organization, Friends of the Bluebirds. One group, the Belles, Beaux & Builders 4-H Club from Neepawa, made a presentation at the Brandon Discovery Centre at the April meeting

Riverbank Discovery Centre in Brandon.

Brandon’s Riverbank Discovery Centre redevelopment continues

Work to repair flood damage of 2011 and 2014 is long term but well underway

Brandon’s Riverbank Development Inc. is continuing its recovery efforts following the devastating floods of 2011 and 2014. The redevelopment is long term but is well underway, in conjunction with the Assiniboine River Corridor Master Plan. There are numerous recovery undertakings, with the Riverbank Discovery Centre as the “North Hub” of the plan. The Corridor Master

View from Fort Ellice site.

Visit the site of old Fort Ellice

A good destination for birdwatchers and those interested in history

For history buffs and keen birders, an interesting spot to visit is the site of old Fort Ellice, southwest of St. Lazare, Manitoba. This area is also part of the Ellice-Archie and Spy Hill Community Pasture, formerly PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration), that straddles the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. It was recently included as part of Manitoba’s