By Lori Janeson
Nestled deep in the heart of Lake Winnipeg, Hecla Island has long been known as a tranquil holiday destination for couples and families alike. Peppered with nostalgia in the form of historic villages and almost untouched scenic trails, it’s not hard to while away entire days on Hecla Island.
However, if you really want to make the most of your holiday, you can’t head home without taking a day trip to one of Hecla Island’s neighbouring sightseeing spots.
Gimli is a must see location for all the history fanatics out there. Boasting the second largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland, this lakeside village is still littered with traces of its Nordic heritage. Although there are plenty of sights to see all year round, the community really comes to life every August when it hosts the Icelandic Festival, a tradition in Gimli since 1932. This family orientated affair includes entertainment, food and a large helping of Viking culture.
2. Cement Cemetery
Another fascinating historical sight only hours away from Hecla Island is the Cement Cemetery. While not quite as mysterious as Stonehenge, no one seems entirely certain who constructed this cluster of cement spires. Rumour has it that they were placed in the by a company testing concrete. Locals, however, prefer to speculate that aliens may have placed the towering structures. Whatever their origin, the Cement Cemetery is worth a visit for both its puzzling past and its glorious scenery.
If you’re prepared to travel a little further afield, why not check out the world’s largest marl lake? Due to calcium carbonate deposits in the water, the lake turns a stunning turquoise colour when temperatures are high. However, when the weather drops, these deposits dissolve, returning the water to perfect clear blue.
“Not only is the lake beautiful, but the area also boasts a huge variety of wildlife, including bears, moose and even lynx.” — Lori Janeson
Although the lake lacks a boat ramp, locals and tourists alike also enjoy kayaking and canoeing on the crystalline water.
4. Grassy Narrows Marsh
If you’d like to stay close to your accommodation but want to stretch your legs a little, pack your sunscreen and head out to Grassy Narrows Marsh. The marsh is sandwiched between Hecla Island and the mainland, and is a hub for wildlife, including nesting Canadian geese. Guides recommend visiting the marsh at dusk, as animals are most active then. If you’re a birdwatching enthusiastic, you’ll be pleased to know the marsh has a number of blinds. However, if you’d prefer to completely escape into nature, the marsh also includes tonnes of trails, from short walks to a huge 35km hike through the most untouched sections of Hecla Island.
Whether you chose to spend your holiday hiking, visiting historic landmarks or simply relaxing in your accommodation, the rich history and vibrant backdrops of Hecla Island will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Lori Janeson and her husband David are the owners of the Gull Harbour Marina on Hecla Island