So I was supposed to post a third segment about my cheese experience a few weeks ago, but I decided that we could use a break from cheese talk this week. Instead, I shall give you a review on Hecla Island, a provincial park and historical island in Manitoba.
First of all, why was I there?
We got a journalism/advertising assignment where we picked small towns to visit and not only find a story, but also create a travel ad for the town. My group picked Hecla. Why? I have no idea, it was different I guess?
I’ve been to Hecla many times over the past few years. It’s a place that my parents would take my sisters and I for a week every year as family get-away. I love it. Everyone there has this genuine love for the outdoors and nature the Island has to offer. Everyone, animals, humans, whatever, they cherish the island and they share it because it really is Manitoba’s hidden gem. I’m also Icelandic and the island is full of Icelandic history that’s pretty important to me and my family.
Anyways, I failed to mention that my family had only ever been to Hecla Island in the summer, never the winter. Boy was I in for a shock when I drove through Hecla Village. First of all, it was storming like crazy and they had quite a bit of snow left. The rest of Manitoba is in the middle of an early spring melt, so needless to say, I was surprised at the blizzard-like conditions we encountered. All we could see was a bare, winter wasteland. Second of all, there was no one there. Honestly, no one. From Riverton to Hecla Village (about a 30 minute drive) we saw one vehicle. And it was the park ranger. Panic was setting in and I was pretty close to calling my instructor in tears, asking for a new town.
Taken from giphy.com
Let’s just thank the sweet Lord that I didn’t.
We drove to the resort. The island actually has a lot of team building conferences and business meetings so they have a five-star resort complete with a spa, restaurant/lounge, golf course and some winter activities. We hoped that we could talk to some people at the resort as a last resort. (Ha ha, I’m punny. Not.) Anyways, we went to the resort and found a few people willing to talk to us. They had interesting stories and we started to feel a little better about choosing Hecla for our town.
Once we talked to a couple people and booked some pedicures with the spa ladies, purely in the name of journalism of course, we decided to head back to the village to take some pictures for our ads.
We got back into the car and noticed that the blizzard had cleared up and the sun was coming out. It was absolutely beautiful on the island and suddenly our assignment didn’t seem so daunting. We drove to the village and saw that people were starting to come out of their homes. The frozen lake with scattered, abandoned ice fishing shacks were now accompanied by dedicated men and women. We parked on the side of the road and decided to walk/ski out to the closest group of fishermen. These men didn’t have an ice shack, but they did have an hand-made ice auger and a couple snow mobiles attached to small sleighs.
When we finally reached them, they greeted us politely and continued drilling through the ice. We took some pictures and talked to the men. We found out that this was their full-time job, they sometimes caught 100 pounds of fish, sometimes they caught 1000, it just depended on the day and their motivation.
Taken from giphy.com
We learned tons of history about the island, the first settlers from Iceland, the government controversy of the introduction of the provincial park and how the closing of the resort affected them. They offered us a ride in a bombardier, an old fashioned ice fishing vehicle, and they even offered us fish, although they didn’t have any at the time. We spent a long time out there, learning how to ice fish the ‘commercial way’ and understanding someone else’s way of life.
We left the men with a different perspective of the island and our assignment. We headed back to the resort and learned about the haunted spa and employee housing arrangements. We were actually fortunate enough to have some activity happen while we were there. On top of that, we learned about the historical culture and reasons for the haunting.
Taken from giphy.com
We left Hecla Island with a new perspective, freshly painted toes and full and happy hearts because of our day. I think the travel assignment taught me that sometimes journalism is fun and it’s important to always have an open mind, even if at first it seems like you’re heading into a blizzard.
For more information about Hecla Island, here are some links and photos to learn more.
The Marina at Gull Harbour