Nature of Winnipeg: Assiniboine Park

Assiniboine Park sculpture garden

Click the image to view a gallery.

In October I promised to post more pictures from my visit to Winnipeg for Canadian Thanksgiving. Well, better late than never! Here is a gallery of images from Winnipeg’s big city park, Assiniboine Park.

My partner Danny and I squeezed in a visit to this park before our flight back to Ontario on Monday morning. Now in the midst of this polar vortex it is hard to believe the memory of what lovely, mild weather we had that day.

I was thoroughly impressed with Assiniboine Park. It spans 450 ha (1,100 acres) – by comparison Toronto’s High Park is only 161 ha (400 acres) – but we only managed to explore a small corner of it, and none of the zoo, which occupies about one-fifth of the area. Nor did we visit the elaborate (and noisy on a holiday Monday) children’s playground.

The park is named for the Assiniboine River. A long footbridge provides a spectacular view of the wide watercourse on its way to join the Red River in downtown Winnipeg.

The large conservatory reminded me of Toronto’s Allan Gardens, with a steamy tropical room and flowering plants around a goldfish pond. A glass case contains a collection of carnivorous plants (rather than orchids); note the pitcher plants in the photo gallery.

The huge English garden must be glorious in summer; in October it presented a splendid study of wabi-sabi. Faded chrysanthemums dripped from their stems, a few colourful exotics continued blooming extravagantly, and lavish foliage evoked the tired but happy feeling that follows a long, memorable day. I’m sure it was meant to be seen just as it was in the rarefied warmth and light of autumn.

The extensive sculpture garden was fascinating. It pays tribute to the Canadian Prairies’ Ukrainian Catholic heritage. Numerous statues of popes and saints (Moses looking like a demented Gandalf) keep company alongside natural and secular images. A collection of bears romps through the woods. Besides the bronze pieces outside, a pavilion houses a large collection of smaller, more delicate statuary. I can’t remember the precise history attached to the marble Arms of Canada shown in my gallery, but it was previously attached to a notable bank or post office.

The main park pavilion, which doubles as a museum and gallery, tyranizes the park landscape. It is a Tudor manor on steroids. Is that a clock tower? No: an enormous erection. Many city parks possess elements of ill-conceived grandeur. It can’t be helped. No doubt many Winnipegers regard the pavilion with affection.

The park also contains a large reflecting pond, extensive naturalized areas and various other features we didn’t have time to visit. View the photo gallery for a glimpse of this excellent city park.


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