Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Celebrating our rivers !

Having been immersed in the Red River, so to speak, for the past couple of months working on the St. Andrews Lock and Dam 100th anniversary celebration I was really struck by how much we used to use our rivers for entertainment.

Heading to Lockport 1952 (Trib Archives)

Right into the 50s, (that's as recent as I went into the archives so it could have been into the 60s or 70s), regattas and canoe races were regular weekend features. Hundreds would line the river banks and picnic to watch the show.

Above July 14 1910, below July 16, 1910 MB Free Press

Excursions to locales even as close as Lockport were also a regular getaway for city folk. Sail off to Lockport, Selkirk, Gimli with the family for an afternoon.

Since the 60s we've really neglected our rivers. The Forks reintroduced people to the fact that we do, indeed, have a waterfront that many cities would kill to have right in the heart of the city. For many, though, they know the rivers as little more than a dangerous place that can potentially flood us each Spring and where the odd body turns up.

Lord Selkirk II ca. 1970 (Trib Archives)

The recent news that the MS Lord Selkirk II, the largest ship to sail our rivers, had been sold for scrap brought back the fact that we really did enjoy our rivers at one time.

Red River
A couple of years back I had the opportunity to get a boat tour of the city and it was fascinating. It was like seeing the city for the first time ! I encourage folks to get out in what's left of the summer and do something on the rivers.

The Splash Dash costs little more than transit fare to get from one dock to another. For $15. you can get a day pass and hop-on-hop-off all you like.

The Paddlewheel Queen and MS River Rouge offer afternoon sightseeing cruise for about $20 and have restaurants aboard.

From August 25 to 29 something really cool will take place: a River Barge Festival ! Everyone from Fred Penner to the WSO to Greg MacPherson will be playing over the five days !

Definitely worth checking out

Barge Scale Entertainment - Free Press
MS Lord Selkirk II history page

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