I had traveled to Winnipeg in February, 2006 and photographed the interior of the Manitoba Legislative Building from a number of different angles. This time around I was looking for something a bit different and ended up in the library with its ornate moldings and ancient elevator and then headed into the basement to photograph the famous men’s washroom.
Access to the upper level of the library is by a tightly winding circular staircase.
Having thoroughly checked out the library, it was time to head back downstairs in the direction of the mens’ washroom.
The Fort Whyte Center on the outskirts of Winnipeg is an interesting place to visit. One of the attractions is a small Black-Tailed Prairie Dog colony. In the wild the Black-tailed Prairie Dog can be a bit tough to photograph as they are quick to return to their subterranean burrow complex at any sign of danger. To them, a guy my size carrying a big camera with a big lens is a definite sign of danger :-). However, at the Fort Whyte Center where they are used to humans they can be more cooperative and sometimes even pose for the camera. They didn’t pose for me, unfortunately, but I have seen some pretty nice shots taken by my photographer friends when they have been visiting the Fort Whyte Center.
The Black-tailed Prairie Dog system of burrows can stretch great distances and the underground “prairie dog towns” can house thousands and thousands of these rodents.
As I was wandering around the site, I noticed this nice big cocklebur just waiting to latch onto someone’s clothing. I took its photo and left it for the next person.
Located just north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Stony Mountain Penitentiary is one of Canada’s medium security prisons/institutions. When I was much younger, the limestone outcrops to the east of the Penitentiary grounds were an excellent location for finding fossils from prehistoric times. (location)
In many areas of the country the prisons and penitentiaries, such as this one, are located a bit away from the major urban centers whereas in some parts of the country such as Kingston, Ontario the gaols are part of the character of the urban surroundings.
When I was younger, Manitoba’s snake dens were much less publicized than they are today. There was a small parking lot, no washrooms and no interpretive signs. But there were red-sided garter snakes, tens of thousands of them and there still are. A definite “must see” especially in the first week or two of May each year when the snakes are leaving their underground limestone caves where they have spent the winter. For more info visit the Gov’t of Manitoba site:
Trails are now well marked with interpretive signs along the way.
Just a small sample of the number of snakes that emerge each Spring from the underground snake pits and caves in the Narcisse, Manitoba area.
The Western Red-Sided Garter Snake eats just about anything meaty from slugs to rodents and small birds and the open grassland nature of Manitoba’s Interlake Region seems to suit them just fine. The limestone structure of this region provides ample locations to hide and breed during the summer months and provides the myriad of underground cave structures where the snakes can spend the colder months in a semi-dormant hibernation state.
Stopped by this Ducks Unlimited project on my way home from Narcisse Snake Pits. Light was fading fast as I upped the ISO to try and photograph the birds that were flying past. Not too successful with the fly-by shots
Click on the above image to see my Flickr posting of this image along with photo notes identifying various landmarks.
On previous occasions, when I have traveled to Winnipeg to visit my parents, the flight path has been further east or else I have been on the other side of the plane but, this time around, I was on the right side of the plane on the right day and was able to capture a few shots of the highway infrastructure and of my home neighborhood of Fort Garry as we passed overhead.
Polo Park and Football stadium
During this visit, the Red River was still at flood stage but was being easily managed by use of the control structure in St. Norbert, Manitoba.
The City of Winnipeg was at the mercy of the Red River on occasion especially when Spring melt waters in the south bumped into still frozen reaches of the river as it flowed into Lake Winnipeg north of the city. The Red River is one of only a few major rivers in the Northern Hemisphere that flows north through a populated area. This direction of flow contributes to the flooding risk since the headwaters begin to thaw and increase in volume while the northern sections of the river are still frozen. Partly in response to concerns that a flood of the magnitude of the 1950 flood might reoccur and cause grievous financial damage to the now more expanded city, the government of the day, under Premier Duff Roblin, began a plan to excavate huge quantities of earth to provide a drainage ditch to divert a portion of the flood waters of the Red River into the ditch and around the city. The digging started in 1962 and was completed in 1968 and has come into play a number of time since its completion to prevent millions of dollars of damage to the City of Winnipeg. Opponents of the project dubbed the diversion “Duff’s Ditch” (rather derogatory at the time). I will admit that a the time I was a bit skeptical and shared everyone’s concern about the costs and taxes, etc. but the “ditch” (officially “the Floodway”) has likely paid for itself many times over since its completion. Of course, students, such as I was at the time, won’t get to have the fun of filling sand bags into the wee hours of the morning as a diversion away from studying for Spring exams but that is hard to put a $ on.
The control structure is located in St. Norbert, Manitoba and operates by hydraulically raising a concrete barrier from a structure in the floor of the river. This has the effect of artificially reducing/controlling the volume of water flowing through the structure and downstream toward Winnipeg. This has, unfortunately, the effect of backing up water to a higher flood level for those who are upstream of the floodgates and this effect led to many protests and much litigation at the time that the Floodway was proposed, being constructed and when eventually called into operation to protect Winnipeg from downstream flooding. The Floodway is designed as a ‘dry’ ditch so the waters of the Red River must be above a certain level before the barrier is raised. This is a timing issue since the engineers don’t want to raise it too soon or else they will be accused of unnecessarily causing grief to upstream property owners.
An artificial waterway during flood times, the Floodway reverts to a dry grass covered ditch during the summer months.
Previously know as Fort Whyte Centre and Fort Whyte Interpretive Center, this nature appreciation center is located on the south west edge of Winnipeg, Manitoba. I used to visit the site in the days when the area was much less developed and still un-reclaimed open pits/quarries so whenever I am in Winnipeg and have the time available I like to go back to the area to see all of the changes that have taken place over the years. On this occasion, it gave me somewhere to take my mother and father for a short outing.
The Manitoba Legislative Building, by Western Canadian timelines, would be considered one of the older buildings on the Canadian Prairies. Designed by architect Frank Worthington Simon, the building is constructed of Tyndall Stone, a dolomitic limestone quarried at nearby Garson, Manitoba. Construction was begun in 1913 but not finished until 1920 due to WWI induced shortages of parts, labour and materials.
When visitors are walking the halls of the Manitoba Legislative Building and say “See that old fossil!”, they may not be referring to one of the politicians. More likely than not, they will be referring to one of the many fossils embedded in the Tyndall Stone that is the primary construction material and by its nature contains fossils.
The Manitoba Tourism office is located on the main floor of the Manitoba Legislative Building.