January 2019

Holiday Gift Ideas for 2015

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A8 T H U R S DAY, JA N UA RY 2 4 , 2 019 SNOWTRAX - A SUPPLEMENT TO THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Fishing season doesn't end when summer does. In fact, Manitoba's world-class ice fisheries attract thousands of avid ice anglers each winter, drawn by unreal opportunities to catch yellow perch, northern pike, lake trout, greenback walleye and rainbow trout. Learn more at www. Best of all, there are hundreds of world-class lakes and rivers across the province to choose from, including many that are just a short drive from Winnipeg including Lockport and the spillway north of Portage la Prairie. You don't have to travel all the way to Churchill to spend some time with the town's most famous inhabitants. The award-winning Journey to Churchill exhibit is open year-round at Assiniboine Park ( It's home to polar bears, muskoxen, wolves and other northern species and is the most comprehensive exhibit of its kind in the world. Interested in scaling new heights in 2019? If so, you may want to try your hand at ice climbing. Club d'escalade de Saint-Boniface (, or CESB, offers the city's only permanent, three- sided ice climbing tower. It's located at 141 Messager St. near Tache Avenue in St. Boniface. The tower is open to both CESB members and non members There's more to winter than a comfy spot on the couch and Netflix. If you want to get moving check out one of the top-notch cross-country skiing areas the province has to offer (www. The wooded areas in Pinawa or Sandilands Provincial Park offer first- rate trails while the Windsor Park Nordic Centre in Winnipeg has trails that are groomed daily and has lighting for long evening runs. FortWhyte Alive (www.fortwhyte. org) is one of Winnipeg's premier playgrounds, winter or summer. Try snowshoeing with a volunteer interpreter or an ice fishing course for beginners sponsored by Urban Angling Partnership and the Manitoba Wildlife Federation. You can even try your hand at classic woodcraft as part of a wood carving workshop. What would winter in Winnipeg be without tobogganing? Pretty boring, that's what. All you need is a cheap sled or crazy carpet and you're ready to go. Westview Park, better known as Garbage Hill, Harbourview Recreation Complex, Kildonan Park and Whittier Park rank as some of the city's top sliding venues. Check out for a more complete list. OK, we've all heard the jokes about the flatlands of Manitoba, but did you know there are plenty of top-notch spots where you can go to enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding? Asessippi Ski Area ( boasts 25 runs, some as long as 700 metres, two terrain parks and a lively winter village. Stony Mountain Ski Area ( is snowboarder central and prides itself on being the first to open and last to close. Springhill Winter Sports Park (www. is located just outside of Winnipeg and offers 10 runs for skiers and boarders. Winter at The Forks has far more to offer than just outdoor skating. The popular Winnipeg destination has been offering the Warming Huts art and architecture competition since 2009 ( The competition attracts entries from across the world and plenty of curious onlookers beginning in late January. Admission is free of charge. Looking for something a little corny? Check out the A Maze in Corn Amusement Farm in the community of St. Adolphe ( The family-owned operation recently added a 4,200-foot snow maze that it hopes shatters a Guinness World Record and is already drawing hundreds of curious onlookers to the farm, located about 10 minutes south of the Perimeter Highway on St. Mary's Road. Want to spend some quality outdoor time with your furry friend? Then why not pay a visit to Maple Grove Dog Park ( in south Winnipeg. It features fields, forest and riverside areas with a number of trails for you and your canine companion. There's also a fenced area for puppies and smaller dogs. provided by your exclusive underwritten by HAPPY TRAILS NEW ONLINE MAP MAKES NAVIGATING PROVINCE'S SNOWMOBILE TRAILS FAR EASIER BY JIM TIMLICK A young fishing enthusiast learns to ice fish for the first time at FortWhyte Alive. There are dozens of prime ice fishing spots to choose from in and around Winnipeg. RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Plenty of families will be flocking to the Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this winter. The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Annick Dionne-Floc'h climbs the Club d'escalade de Saint-Boniface Ice Climbing Wall. It's the city's only permanent ice climbing structure. TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Visitors to The Forks will want to check out the Warming Hut exhibit on the Red and Assiniboine rivers. It attracts entries from across the world. JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS There's still plenty of time left this winter to get out and enjoy one of province's many downhill skiing and snowboarding facilities including Stony Mountain Ski Area. DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The owners of A Maze in Corn near St. Adolphe have constructed a snow maze they hope will break a world record. MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS I f you want proof of Manitobans' passion for snowmobiling then consider the fact that the province's 12,000 kilometres of groomed trails rank it third in the country behind only Quebec and Ontario in that category. Navigating those trails has become a whole lot easier this winter thanks to the Snowmobilers of Manitoba or Snoman, the non-profit organization that develops and maintains the majority of those pathways. Earlier this season Snoman introduced a new interactive online provincial trail map on its website ( The system allows riders to instantly view the status of all trails on a single map. It also lets them determine the distance between points, what services are available in a community such as gas or lodgings and learn more about each of the province's 52 individual snowmobiling clubs. Snoman president Alan Butler says the map system was developed in response to rider demand. "It was largely demand from the user groups wanting more up-to-date information and more information – period," he says. "When we started looking into it we saw that it was kind of a trend that a lot of provinces had started introducing this type of mapping." Snoman did provide trail information on its website previously but the map was not interactive and didn't provide much in the way of which trails were open or help with planning a trip. The new map is colour coded to alert riders about the current status of individual trails: green means a trail is open and has been groomed within the past five days; yellow means a trail is open but it's been more than five days since it was last groomed; and red means a trail is closed. The beauty of the new system, Butler says, is that it is updated every time a trail is groomed courtesy of a GPS system installed in each grooming machine that sends out a signal to an online database. That means that if a groomer works on a trail Thursday evening the online map will reflect that fact by 3 a.m. the following morning and its status will remain green for five days. The other major benefit of the new system, Butler says, is the fact that it makes it much easier for riders to plan trips. For example, it can provide the exact distance of a trip between Portage la Prairie and Gladstone. Riders can also click on a community and determine exactly what kind of services are available to them such as accommodations, food or fuel. "That type of information wasn't available to riders before," he says. The map system Snoman is now using was created by Mapgears, a Quebec-based company that specializes in online mapping. The system was already being used in other provinces so it was just a simple matter of transferring Snoman's GPS data into the system. Although there were some initial glitches with the system, such as loading it on some devices, they were quickly resolved. Butler says part of the appeal of the Mapgears system was the fact it was already being used by snowmobiling groups in Saskatchewan and Ontario. "Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan now all have the same system. We thought that was important because it would give us some consistency, especially with our neighbours," he adds. Early feedback on the map system has been largely positive, although Butler acknowledges that it's taking some members time to get used to it. Snoman is working with Mapgears to address those concerns as well as finetune the system to add additional functionality such as a weather feature that will allow riders to determine the amount of snowfall in a specific area. An app version of the system is expected to be available for all Apple and Android mobile phones by the end of January. It was tested earlier in the month by several Snoman members across the province. In addition to providing all the same features as the online map, the app will also allow riders to track their location so they will know where they are on a trail and how close they are to their destination. Butler says he hopes the new map system will encourage even more people to hop on a snow machine and check out Manitoba's system of trails, which are maintained largely by volunteers and paid for by fees paid through Snopass program. "We take pride in our trails, that's for sure." ❚

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