Whiteshell Provincial Park

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Whiteshell river within the park

Whiteshell Provincial Park is a 2,729 km2 park centrally located in Canada in the province of Manitoba. It can be found in the southeast of the province along the Manitoba-Ontario boundary, approximately 130 km east of Winnipeg. The park is located in the Canadian Shield region and has many rivers, remote lakes, boreal forest and bare granite ridges. It provides a variety of recreational opportunities as well as cottaging, camping and boating. The park has rare and interesting archeological sites of petroforms on flat granite ridges.


The Bannock Point petroform site

The Ojibway people and various other groups before them initially populated the area. The Ojibway, or Anishinaabe, first mapped some of the area on birch bark. The name of the park is derived from the cowrie shells that were used in ceremonies by the Anishinaabe, including the Ojibway, and among them the Midewiwin practicioners. The historic Winnipeg River and the Whiteshell River are the main rivers that run through this remote park and wilderness area. For thousands of years aboriginal peoples used the area for harvesting wild rice, hunting, fishing, trade, ceremonies, teaching, and dwelling. In 1734, La Vérendrye was the first European to explore the area during his quest for a route to the Western Sea. First Nations, fur traders, and trappers used the Winnipeg River as the main travel route through this area, along with the Whiteshell River.

Whiteshell Park has many pink granite ridges, cliffs, and flat granite areas used for petroform making by First Nation peoples. There is also archaeological evidence of ancient copper trading, prehistoric quartz mining, and stone tool making in the area. The copper trade, going east to Lake Superior, began approximately 6000 years ago. Many artifacts and prehistoric camps were discovered in Whiteshell Provincial Park and are protected under the Heritage Act of Manitoba.

Around 1920, the development of roads brought tourists into the Whiteshell area. The first summer cottages were close to the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway. In 1922 Brereton Lake Dominion Park was created. A decade later and in 1930 the park was transferred to the province of Manitoba and established the Whiteshell Forest Reserve. Further roadwork continued, linking the reserve to Ontario in the east and campgrounds and picnic sites further north. In 1961, Whiteshell was given Provincial Park status and was set aside for future generations to enjoy. A Manitoba Historical Plaque was erected at the Whiteshell Provincial Park by the province to commemorate Dawson Road's role in Manitoba's heritage.[1]


Whiteshell Natural History Museum[edit]

The Whiteshell Natural History Museum

The Whiteshell Natural History Museum, opened in 1960 and located in a log building, features mounted wildlife displays of local animals. Other displays include the boreal forest, Canadian Aboriginal peoples, petroforms, sturgeon and the Winnipeg River. The museum is open during the summer season, and is located on PR 307 at Nutimik Lake. Admission is free.

Alf Hole Goose Sanctuary[edit]

The Alf Hole Goose Sanctuary and Interpretive Centre is located at PTH 44, just east of Rennie. The sanctuary protects nesting Canada geese each spring, and the Centre provides information about the biology of the geese and the history of the sanctuary, as well as an observation gallery for the lake and interpretive programs.

Whiteshell Trappers Museum[edit]

The Whiteshell Trappers Museum is located on the grounds of the Alf Hole Goose Sanctuary. Built in 1997, the museum is modeled after a fur trapper's cabin. Interpreters discuss the history of fur trapping, trapping techniques, and local wildlife.

West Hawk Museum[edit]

Located at West Hawk Lake, the West Hawk Museum features exhibits about the area's geology, area gold mining, and the formation of the lake from the impact of meteorite that formed the West Hawk crater.

Whiteshell Fish Hatchery Interpretive Centre[edit]

The Whiteshell Fish Hatchery Interpretive Centre lets visitors learn about the hatchery's activities in raising lake sturgeon, trout and walleye. The hatchery is located along the Whiteshell River just north of West Hawk Lake. The fish are used to help stock lakes all around Manitoba. It is open during the summer months for tours and education.


The Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1) will take visitors to Falcon Lake and West Hawk Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park. Additional entry points to the park from the west side include Provincial Road 307 at Seven Sisters Falls and Provincial Trunk Highway 44 at Rennie. The park is located along the eastern side of Southern Manitoba, along the Ontario border. It is the first area that you enter into Manitoba from the east, along the Trans-Canada Highway. There is only one road that enters into Manitoba from the east side due to the difficult Canadian Shield terrain and to protect the park areas.

Park permits[edit]

Park vehicle permits are required year-round in Manitoba Provincial Parks. Permits are available at all campgrounds and district offices, as well as most business locations where fishing and hunting licenses are sold.


Whiteshell Provincial Park is home to a variety of large mammals including black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, wolves and lynx. Smaller mammals such as otter, marten, fisher, red fox, mink, hares, beavers, bats, skunks, raccoons, and red squirrels also inhabit the park. The birds in the park include owls, bald eagles, ruby throated hummingbirds, chickadees, blue jays, grosbeaks, turkey vultures, redpolls, woodpeckers, osprey, loons, ruffed grouse, ducks and Canada geese. There are snakes, muskrats, turtles and a wide variety of insects found in the park. The lakes and rivers within the park are home to perch, walleye, jackfish, lake sturgeon, black crappie, burbot, whitefish, trout, white bass, smallmouth bass and mooneye. Smoked mooneye meat is highly valued and sold as "Winnipeg goldeye".


Mountain biking
  • Boating – Boat launches are accessible at a variety of lakes and many resorts offer boat rentals.
  • Canoeing and kayaking – Up to 325 km of canoe routes are within the park. Paddlers on the Caddy Lake Canoe Route pass through tunnels in a wall of rock that were created when the railways came through this area more than a century ago.
  • Camping – Camping is available at multiple sites in the park. Camping fees vary depending on facilities and services provided. Reservations must be made through the Parks Reservation Service.
  • Cycling – A 4.2-km loop is available at Betula Lake on Provincial Road 307 and a 9 km trail at Big Whiteshell Lake on Provincial Road 309. The South Whiteshell Trail is a multi-use trail system that accommodates cyclists. When completed, the trail will connect Falcon Lake to Caddy Lake and will be approximately 29 kilometres in length.
  • Fishing and icefishing – There are a dozen species of fish that will provide fishing enjoyment.
  • Golf – Falcon Lake Golf Course is an 18-hole course and is one of Manitoba's premier courses.
  • Hiking – Trails range from short 1.5 km routes to the challenging 60 km Mantario Trail. Part of the Trans-Canada Trail is contained in the park.
  • Horseback riding – The Riding Stables at Falcon Lake provide horseback riding.
  • Sailing and boardsailing – Falcon Lake & West Hawk Lake maintain sailing clubs.
  • Scuba divingWest Hawk Lake, the deepest lake in the province, was formed by a meteorite, and is a popular spot for scuba diving and ice diving.
  • Skiing – Cross-country and downhill skiing are available at Falcon Lake.
  • Snowmobiling – Over 200 km of marked and groomed snowmobiling trails offer winter recreation.
  • Snowshoeing – In winter, there is usually a thick layer of snow on the ground that allows snowshoeing on the trail systems and on the frozen lakes.
  • Swimming – Numerous public beaches permit swimming and all lakeside cottages have swimming off their docks.


Piers at Falcon Lake

Whiteshell Provincial Park contains thirteen main freshwater lakes which are used for recreation such as boating, watersports and angling. These lakes are:

  • Falcon Lake
  • West Hawk Lake
  • Caddy Lake
  • Brereton Lake
  • War Eagle Lake
  • Jessica Lake
  • Green Lake
  • White Lake
  • Big Whiteshell Lake
  • Betula Lake
  • Nutimik Lake
  • Dorothy Lake
  • Eleanor Lake
  • Star Lake
  • Red Rock Lake

In addition there are many more remote lakes throughout the park that are not easily accessible, such as George Lake, Crowduck Lake, and Horseshoe Lake.


The park is still used by aboriginal peoples for wild rice harvesting and ceremonies. The park is popular for swimming, boating, canoeing, hiking, cottagers, camping, fishing, and more. It contains part of the Trans-Canada Trail, although construction is incomplete. The best known species of fish in this section of the Winnipeg River System is the lake sturgeon. They are bottom feeders and can reach lengths of up to 3 metres long and be well over 100 years old.[2] Lake sturgeon are an endangered species and must be released upon catching them.


See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°55′N 95°20′W / 49.917°N 95.333°W / 49.917; -95.333