A Gem in Plain Sight: 6 Must-Do Activities for Visitors to Hecla Island

By David Janeson

Hecla Island isn’t Manitoba’s most popular tourist destination. That’s not for lack of merit, though. Were Hecla any less special, we wouldn’t call it home.

Hecla Island is protected by Hecla / Grindstone Provincial Park, one of Manitoba’s largest. Unlike the province’s more remote wilderness parks, which feel largely untouched by human hands, Hecla / Grindstone merges rustic charm with modern comforts.

If you’re new to this neck of the woods, you’ll want to make the most of your first visit. These six family-friendly activities should be high on your list — and well within reach on a long summer weekend.

1. Walk Through Hecla Village

Or drive, if you’re not comfortable taking on the kilometre-long stroll.

Either way, Hecla Village is not to be missed. It’s a well-preserved (reconstituted, in some structures’ cases) Canadian-Icelandic village built back in the early 20th century, but don’t worry: unlike historic attractions closer to Winnipeg, the place rarely fills up. (One incredulous TripAdvisor reviewer asks, “Why is this place not jammed with people?”)

2. Visit Gull Harbour Marina

We’re partial, of course, but we think the new and improved Gull Harbour Marina is a great place to grab a bite by the lake — and rest your head for a night or two, if you’re not already staying elsewhere. If you’re bringing up your boat, check in at the marina for a quick fill-up.

3. Play All 18 Holes at Lakeview Hecla Resort

Not far from Gull Harbour Marina is one of Manitoba’s finest golf courses: the 18-hole spread at Lakeview Hecla Resort. The course’s open fairways and challenging water features seem ripped from a PGA highlight reel, but fellow players are far friendlier and the staff is solicitous as can be. You will want to check ahead for course conditions, particularly during the spring thaw.

4. Spend an Evening at Sunset Beach

There’s no better place to watch the sunset on Hecla Island — and perhaps all of Lake Winnipeg — than Sunset Beach, on the island’s northwestern shore.


“In late spring and early summer, the evening seems to stretch out for eternity, with usable light lingering well past 23:00.” — David Janeson


Reserve a campsite nearby, scrounge up a campfire, and — once the sun finally sets — point out your favorite constellations with the kids. Weather permitting, this is a fine place for a morning dip, too.

5. Paddle Out on the Open Water

Though shallow, Lake Winnipeg’s vast extent qualifies it as one of Canada’s largest lakes by surface area. There’s plenty of shoreline to explore around here, and you won’t come close to scratching the surface on a single afternoon of paddling. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t try. Rent a kayak from a local purveyor, or pile the family into a canoe, and find an inlet to call your own. Don’t forget your fishing pole.

6. Catch a Glimpse of the “Real” Locals

Hecla Island’s furry, feathered denizens far outnumber its human residents. That’s as it should be. The best routes to glimpse signature species are the West Quarry Trail, a 3.5-kilometre loop, and the Grassy Narrows Marsh trails, where geese flock by the hundreds and moose emerge near dawn and dusk.

What’s your favorite thing to do on Hecla Island? What’s the one activity you’d recommend for a first-time visitor?


David Janeson owns Gull Harbour Marina, a seasonal lakeside resort on beautiful Hecla Island, Manitoba

Human Activity Is Affecting Manitoba’s Waterways. Here’s How.

By David Janeson

Manitoba is a beautiful place to call home. If you’ve never been up this way, you’re welcome any time.

For the many thousands of outdoorsy visitors who join us each year, Manitoba’s defining characteristic is its vast reserve of fresh water. We have so many lakes, in fact, that some 90 percent remain nameless.

Alas, not all is well on Manitoba’s (mostly) placid waters. Human activity is affecting the quality and biodiversity of our waters, and likely will for years to come.


“The good news is that we can all do our part to reduce our impact on the environment — but, first, we must understand the threats at hand.” — David Janeson


Agricultural Runoff

To be fair, the agricultural runoff affecting water quality in southern and central Manitoba isn’t all — or even primarily — the local farming community’s fault. Much of the blame lies south of the border, in the fertile canola, beet, and soybean fields of Minnesota and North Dakota. Phosphates, pesticides, and other nutrient-rich pollutants run off poorly maintained fields there into tributaries of the mighty Red River, which then flows north into Lake Winnipeg and beyond.

The resultant algae blooms create locally anoxic conditions that threaten native fish populations, while harmful organic compounds render some waters unsafe for swimming or unfiltered consumption.

Invasive Species

The zebra mussel is here, probably to stay. Ironically, invasive aquatic species like zebra and quagga mussels are fantastic filters, polishing waters they’ve infested to a sky-blue shine. But their success comes at the expense of native species, which tend to be more vulnerable to predation and other environmental controls. Invasive mussels can also damage boat engines, docks, water intake and outtake pipes, and other infrastructure along Manitoba’s lakes.

Climate Change

Climate change is perhaps the single greatest threat to Manitoba’s lakes and rivers. Unfortunately, it’s also the most abstract. Mounting evidence suggests that rising water and air temperatures — most visible in the ever-lengthening ice-free season — disrupt breeding cycles and threaten some of the province’s most charismatic creatures, including moose and beaver.

Litter and Refuse

Remember the old saying: pack in, pack out. Most outdoor visitors respect Manitoba’s campgrounds and waterways, but even the occasional litterbug can have a big impact. Lately, environmental advocates have turned their attention to a new, less visible source of pollution: the plastic “microbeads” found in some popular beauty and personal care products. These tiny particles threaten smaller aquatic species, further straining our lakes and rivers.

Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric generating stations produce much of Manitoba’s electricity. The province has more than a dozen of these low-carbon facilities, most on the Winnipeg River and its tributaries.

That Manitoba can generate so much electricity without meaningfully contributing to climate change is an unmitigated good. But, like all large industrial facilities, hydroelectric power stations exert real influence on surrounding ecosystems.

Dams hamper the free movement of fish and other aquatic species, stressing riverine food chains. They also affect the free flow of water, interrupting seasonal cycles to which shorebirds and beavers have become accustomed. They’re better than the coal-fired generating capacity they replace — but let’s have no illusions that they’re impact-free.

Are you doing your part to reduce your impact on water quality and biodiversity?


David Janeson owns Gull Harbour Marina, a seasonal lakeside resort on beautiful Hecla Island, Manitoba