Arborg and District Multicultural Heritage Village
Located just east of Arborg along Highway 68, on a lush green river front lot, the Arborg and District Multicultural Heritage Village sprawls out as if it is truly a little town. The Heritage Village has grown each year since the first building was moved on site. As you take a walk around this gorgeous property you will be either reminded or enlightened by the memories of the past, and the history of rural/ multicultural life before 1930. Using a variety of buildings, photographs, artifacts and more the Heritage Village display the history of cultures, of the people who first began to settle in Arborg and the areas surrounding it. The area's European immigrantion and Indigenous culture are explored in a wonderfully immersive atmosphere. Guided 1.5 – 2 hour tours can be booked, with shorter tours available. The Heritage Museum is open seasonally from June 3, 2020 to September 5, 2020, Monday to Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm.
Breidavik Njya Island Historical Library & Resource Centre
Located in Hnausa, open by appointment only. Contact
Riverton Transportation and Heritage Centre
In the centre of Riverton, accessible by either Main Street or Thorvaldson Street, sits the former Riverton Canadian Pacific Rail Station. The building was first commissioned in 1910 and given new life when opened as a heritage centre in 2000. The Riverton station was the final stop on the line and was a part of the CPR Winnipeg Beach subdivision, which now ends at the Gimli Seagram's Distillery. This site explores the history of Riverton and the surrounding area though displays of artifacts, photos and resident stories. Along the station platform sitting on rail road tracks is a picture perfect restored caboose.The Transportation and Heritage Centre is open seasonally from July 3, 2020 to August 28, 2020, Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm. Choral/band perfomrances and communitiy BBQ's are regularly hosted on the platform and surrounding green space.
Photo Credit: Travel Manitoba
Sandy Bar Beach
Located near Riverton at the end of PR 329 approximately 4 miles east of PTH 8 sits the gorgeous Sandy Bar Beach. This gem of a Lake Winnipeg beach is named after the long sand bar that stretches out through the water in that area. The beach is great for many types of summer activities, from swimming to fishing to bird watching, or even just enjoying a day in the sun. In the winter it is a popular location for snowmobilers, and a robust Ice Fishing Village pops up off the shores each year to chase after the iconic Lake Winnipeg Greenback Walleye. The 2020 addition of a washroom building and a changing room builiding, as well as garbage cans and a vehicle parking area make it ideal for a day out.
The lack of residential development in the surrounding area helps the natural community of wildlife to thrive. The beach is home to many varieties of birds: pelicans, gulls (ring-billed or franklins), common terns, herring gulls, Bonaparte gulls, double crested cormorants, and if you a lucky you may even spot a Piping Plover. Piping Plovers are small, round, grey and white, birds who are both provincially and nationally endangered. The soft sand and little vegetation on the beach of Sandy Bar were perfect nesting conditions for these little fellows.
A significant portion of the Interlake Snow Trackers annual groomed trail system is located within the Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton. A few branches of the trail meet at Riverton, where fuel, food and accommodations are available for snowmobilers. A trail map is can be found on the Snow Trackers website, along with trail conditions. The club works with the Snoman organization, and a Snopass is required to ride on the trails. Each winter they host an annual free ride weekend, check the Snoman website for details.
Lundi the Moose
Built in 2007 the Riverton moose statue stands proud in its prominent location next to the Riverton Transportation and Heritage Museum. Lundi received its name from the Village's original title, which was based on the Icelandic word lundur (meaning copse or grove). Many of the Icelandic settlers survived their first few harsh Canadian winters on the meat of the animal. Large numbers of moose once roamed nearby, enjoying the abundance of conifer trees and aquatic vegetation along the shores Lake Winnipeg. The region to the north of Riverton is now designated a Moose Conservation Closure area by the Province of Manitoba in order to protect the declining population.
Lundi the Moose is included on Travel Manitoba’s “6 giant roadside gems of the Interlake.”
The park is located along Main Street in Riverton on the site of the Möðruvellir homestead. It contains an outdoor stage, picnic shelter, and several monuments honouring the local history. From 1875-1900 approximately 50 families came from Iceland to settle in the Riverton District, along the banks of the Icelandic River. A few years later immigrants from the Ukraine and Poland arrived and further settled the area. This site gives recognition to the role that Riverton played in the publishing of Framfari, the first Icelandic language newspaper printed in North America; Sigtryggur Jónasson; Danish royalty Friðrika Björnsdóttir; and poet Guttormur Jónsson Guttormsson.
The park has recently undergone a multi-year revitalization effort to repair the existing monuments and stage as well as adding a walkway and interpretive signs. We would like to thank the Province of Manitoba, Community Futures East Interlake, Interlake Tourism Association, Noventis Credit Union, Riverton Elks, Westshore Community Foundation, and other private donors for their contribution to the project.
Riverton Walking Bridge
Throughout Riverton’s history, there has always been a pedestrian bridge spanning the width of the Icelandic River to connecting the two halves of one community. Over time five have been built in the same location, and each replacement has been spurred by the destructive forces of Manitoban flood events. The original bridge was built in 1892, followed by rebuilds in 1910, 1932, and 1974.
The current 90 metre long state-of-the-art structure was built in 2012 after ice floes during the 2011 flood knocked out two of four support piers. Stantec engineers and Sperling Industries builders used a single bevelled pier model with a resistance to ice up to one metre thick with four braced anchors driven 21 meters into bedrock for the newest construction. With a balcony viewing area at the very centre and embedded LED lights all along the decking, it’s a striking view as you approach it and as you walk across it during all hours of the day or night.
Included in Travel Manitoba’s "8 super cool bridges you MUST cross in Manitoba."
Jóhann Magnús Bjarnason Monument – Municipal Heritage Site
The Jóhann Magnús Bjarnason Monument is located on the north side of PTH 68 between roads 14E and 15E where the Bjarnason homestead, called Arnheidarstadir (Eagle Heath Stead in English) was. The triangular limestone cairn and grassy creek-side park was commissioned by the Icelandic National League and designed by local Nelson Gerrard in 1989. Johann Magnus Bjarnason (1866-1945) was an Icelandic-Canadian author, poet and teacher who settled in the area. Bjarnason's writing and publishing efforts had a substantial impact on Icelandic culture in Canada, providing inspiration and comfort to settlers as they struggled to establish themselves in their new country. For this contribution Bjarnason was awarded the Government of Iceland’s Order of the Falcon on his 70th birthday, the highest honour that the Icelandic state can bestow. The monument also honours the other hardy pioneers who settled the Geysir District in the mid-1880s.
Ledwyn Pioneer Monument – Municipal Heritage Site
The Ledwyn Pioneer Monument is located on the north east corner of PR 329 and Road 14E. Dedicated in 2004, the two granite blocks commemorate the early immigrants from Ukraine, Poland, Iceland, Germany and Britian who settled the area beginning in 1907. The names of first settlers are carved into the front of the monument, and a plaque is displayed on the back with engraved sketches of the buildings that formed the hub of community life in Ledwyn: the Ukrainian National Home Community Hall, Ledwyn Post Office, Tarno School No. 1741, St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Betsey Ramsay’s Grave – Municipal Heritage Site
Betsey Ramsay’s Grave is located in a farmer’s field at SE 11-23-4E. John Ramsay was a prominent member of a Saulteaux Aboriginal band in the Lake Winnipeg region. He and his family taught vital winter survival tips and hunting/fishing techniques to the first Icelandic immigrants. In 1876 a smallpox epidemic that struck the pioneer settlement also decimated the Indigenous community. John tragically lost his wife Betsey and four of their five children to the disease. In 1880 he walked over 200 kilometers to Lower Fort Garry where he traded furs to purchase a grave marker for Betsey. He hauled the stone back to the site and built a fence around it.
In 1908, Icelandic settler and skilled carpenter Trausti Vigfússon experienced a vivid dream in which a tall stranger identifying himself as John Ramsay emerged from the bush and asked him to repair the fence around Betsey’s grave, which had deteriorated over time. The power of dreams played a strong role in Icelandic culture, and Trausti felt compelled to erect a white picket fence around the gravesite. Locals have continued to maintain the gravesite and a commemorative plaque is now displayed.
Trausi Vigfússon’s home is prominently displayed at the Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village. An exhibit telling the tragic story of John Ramsay opened at the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli in 2017. Part of that exhibit is a poignant short film, A Song for John Ramsay, produced by Manitoba filmmakers using music from Juno award winning William Prince of Peguis First Nation.
Sigtryggur Jónasson Monument
The Sigtryggur Jónasson Monument is located in the heart of Riverton in a small park by the west end of the walking bridge, erected in 2012 to recognizes the 'Father of New Iceland' as an important local and national historic figure. The life sized bronze figure of Sigtryggur as a youth looks out at the Icelandic River towards the land he settled on, holding a telescope and a compass. Born in Baki, Iceland in 1852 Sigtryggur Jónasson couldn't have expected the future impact he would have on not only on the Interlake but Manitoba as well. He was schooled at home and flourished with exposure to literature, politics, and the natural world. This foundation would lead him towards the adventure of immigrating to Canada in 1872 and making his mark on the nation. Here he became known as a publisher, an entrepreneur, and eventually his most illustrious title 'the Father of New Iceland.'
Soon after his arrival Sigtryggur became am immigration agent, he brought over 1,000 people from Iceland and led them to settle in the Interlake, after an unsuccessful settlement in Kinmount, ON. Sigtryggur played a huge role in establishing laws and constitution of the republic of New Iceland. He founded two Icelandic language newspapers, the Framfari (rural areas) and Logberg (Winnipeg). These papers contributed to the successful survival of the Icelandic language here in North America. In 1896 Sigtryggur became the MLA for the St. Andrews, MB and was elected again in 1907 representing the Gimli constituency, making him the first Icelandic-Canadian legislator. In 1930 he was chosen to represent Canada at the celebrations of the millennium of Iceland’s parliament.
Located at the north end of Queen St. in Riverton is a remarkable example of the frame structures that were built by those with the means to do so in New Iceland at the beginning of the 1900’s. The Engimýri homestead was settled by Tómas Ágúst Jónasson and Guðrún Egidía Jóahnnesdóttir in 1877, and the frame house was built around 1900-1901. It is one of the oldest dwellings in the area known as New Iceland, and its use as a meeting place and a guest house made it a vital part of the community. It housed those travelling and working on the freighters travelling down Lake Winnipeg, mail carriers, officials, and even the ‘Father of New Iceland” Sigtryggur Jónasson.
The site is managed today by the Icelandic River Heritage Sites.