A version of this post originally appeared on the Manitoba Hot website.
You might not know a lot about Manitoba, but you really should. Not only is it Slurpee Capital of the World (serious) and home to the largest winter festival in Western Canada, but it's also home to vibrant communities, breathtaking scenery, and some of the best wildlife viewing in all of Canada, if not the world. Here are 20 fun facts about Manitoba that might just be quirky enough to inspire your next trip north.
1. Big on belugas
The river estuary of the Churchill, Seal and Nelson Rivers is home to upwards of 57,000 beluga whales from early July to mid-August. In the town of Churchill, travelers can view these majestic white whales from boat, kayak, or paddleboard. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even snorkel alongside them!
2. A place polar bears call home
Wapusk National Park, along Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, is the world’s largest denning site for female polar bears. Churchill is renowned as the ‘Polar Bear Capital of the World’ because it's the top spot every July-November to see the famed bear in the wild.
3. Northern Lights on display
Churchill is one of top three places in the world to observe Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, because of its ideal position directly under the Auroral Oval. Travelers can view them from customized shelters like an Aurora Pod, under a dome at The Churchill Northern Studies Centre or from the observation deck of a Tundra Buggy.
4. Lots of lakes
With over 100,000 lakes and waterways, Manitoba is a hotspot for anglers seeking some of the continent’s largest fish. These fresh-water spots also make for great swimming.
5. Big on folk
The Winnipeg Folk Festival, now over 40 years old, is one of the most respected festivals on the North American folk music circuit.
6. Powerful Pow Wow
7. Icelandic connections
8. Proud Aboriginal roots
The original inhabitants of what is now known as Manitoba were indigenous peoples from three tribes: the Cree, Assiniboine, and the Ojibwa. Winnipeg is the Cree word for Muddy Waters.
9. Artful architecture
Winnipeg’s Exchange District National Historic Site has unrivaled architecture in Canada; it showcases 30 blocks of turn-of the twentieth century architecture.
10. One-of-a-kind fossils
The world’s largest Mosasaur fossil (nicknamed Bruce) is on public display at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden (just under 2-hours from Winnipeg), as part of North American’s largest collection of prehistoric marine fossils.
11. Money makers
The Royal Canadian Mint produces all of Canada’s circulation coins as well as currency for 60 governments around the globe. Visitors to the city can get a tour of this money-making factory.
12. World-record skating
Winnipeg boasts the Guinness World Record-holding longest naturally frozen skating trail. Our frozen highway leads skaters and outdoor enthusiasts down the Red and Assiniboine Rivers over a length of between 4 and 6 miles.
13. Inuit art collections
14. Long-lived ballet
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is Canada’s oldest dance company and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America.
15. Action hero inspiration
According to British novelist Ian Fleming, the inspiration for his suave spy hero James Bond was famous WWII spymaster Sir William Stephenson, who happened to be born and raised in Winnipeg.
The character of Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by a black bear named Winnie living at the London Zoo, who was named after Manitoba’s capital city, Winnipeg.
Want to learn more about Manitoba? Visit the Travel Manitoba website and get inspired.