Aug 202014

FortWhyte Alive view

FortWhyte Alive: a 640-acre nature preserve in Winnipeg, Manitoba

FortWhyte Alive is a 640 acre nature preserve in south-west Winnipeg, Manitoba. On the site of what was once a cement quarry, it features prairie, forest, lakes, and wetlands. FortWhyte Alive is dedicated to providing environmental education and outdoor recreation. It promotes awareness and understanding of the natural world and actions for sustainable living.

Although I visited FortWhyte Alive many times when my daughter and step-daughters were young, this summer was my first visit back in a lot of years. The facility had expanded its offerings. There was a new building and restaurant. The natural beauty and appeal remained. There is much to see, do, and learn here.

FortWhyte Alive

One of paths through FortWhyte

You can hike or cycle on several paths through the park. Bicycles are available for rent. Watch for wild flowers and wildlife along the way. Listen to the birds and the crickets. Smell the freshness.

wildflowers at FortWhyte Alive


Chokecherry tree

Chokecherry tree

FortWhyte Alive resting spot

Benches along the way offer opportunity to stop and sit a while

squirrel in tree

This squirrel was on the path and scurried up the tree when I approached, where it “chittered” at me to leave its territory.

sod house and tipis at FortWhyte Alive

Outdoor exhibits: Sod house, tipis

Outdoor exhibits include a sod house as would have been built by early settlers and a couple of tipis. The 12 by 20 foot sod structure housed 6 to 8 family members and possibly a couple of oxen in winter. Although the holes were plugged, tiny visitors like mice and bugs were common. Tipi is a Dakota word for “place where one lives”. The plains tribes were a nomadic people following the bison and homes needed to be easily moved and assembled.

artifacts at FortWhyte Alive

Artifacts inside one of tipis.
At left a travois used to pull heavy loads behind a horse or dog.
Top right: bow drill used to spin a wooden bit quickly to create a hot spark to start a fire.
Bottom right: small basket that may have made by a young girl to pass the time and learn a valuable skill.

A herd of 30 bison, aka buffalo, roam the 70-acre Bison Prairie. These animals are known both as bison and buffalo. Bison is the genus name given by scientists. Early North American settlers called them buffalo because they compared them to water buffalo.

bison field

The bison were in the far end of the field from the viewing station when I visited. Can you spot them in the top right corner?

Displays inside FortWhyte Alive provide facts about bison. Here is a sampling:

  • A bison’s natural life span is 40 years
  • A bison’s eyesight is poor, but its sense of smell and hearing are excellent. It can smell water miles away and can live without water for days in a prairie drought.
  • In a blizzard, herds face the snowy wind in a V-shape with biggest bulls at the front. When the animals at the rear get covered over, the whole herd moves ahead and takes a new stand.
  • Cows, not bulls, lead the herd.
FortWhyte Biodiversity Garden

FortWhyte Biodiversity Garden

An interpretive centre houses an indoor aquarium displaying local freshwater fish, a burrowing owl and prairie dog exhibit, several dioramas, and the Touch Me museum of mounted wildlife.
FortWhyte Alive Touch Me Museum

Touch Me Museum

FortWhyte aquarium

Turtle and frogs in aquarium

prairie dogs at FortWhyte Alive

Prairie dogs

FortWhyte Alive

The lakes at FortWhyte Alive are stocked with Manitoba sport fish and open to year-round catch and release fishing. You can also sail, kayak, or canoe.

Fort Whyte Alive


Fort Whyte Alive swamp boardwalk

Swamp floating boardwalk

Duck eating algae

Duck eating algae



Turtle in the reeds


Geese wandering the grounds

FortWhyte Alive is open year-round. The fall Sunset Flights are spectacular. Arrive before sunset to watch thousands of geese flock in and land on the lakes for the night. The winter offers ice-fishing, skating, cross-country skiing, and tobogganing. I remember winter deer sightings as well.

Fort Whyte Alive tobaggan slide

Toboggan slide

FortWhyte Alive offers many educational and recreational programs. They also offer tours: a bison safari tour which takes you on a bus up close to the bisons and a longer tour focusing on how bison influenced Manitoba and its aboriginal peoples. The second tour includes canoeing or snowshoeing, depending on the season. Visit their website for information.

This was the closest I got to a bison on this visit – in the Touch Me Museum

Have you visited Fort Whyte Alive?

Fort Whyte Alive

PIN ITFortWhyteAlive, nature preserve in Winnipeg, Manitoba
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  26 Responses to “Alive With Flora, Fauna, and Fun”

  1. Forte Whyte Alive is a beautiful place. It’s so cool and natural. I will keep it in my diary.
    I blog here

  2. What a beautiful and tranquil place. Love the fauna and flora, and I’d like to have a squizz inside the Tipis as well.

  3. They have really done a great job of turning the quarry into a great educational and nature experience! I enjoyed all your photos too!

  4. It’s hard to believe that people survived Manitoba winters in sod houses and tipis. Fort Whyte Alive looks like a wonderful asset to have and a nice place to spend a day.Do they have hiking/walking trails requiring various degrees of exertion?

    • It is hard to believe how people used to survive the winters. The walking trails are all fairly gentle. There is one long trail, but it isn’t much more strenuous than the others except for taking more time.

  5. What a lovely way to spend the day, wandering around in nature, and conveniently close. I am always amazed at the size of bison. Just enormous, thundering herds indeed.

  6. Lovely photos…

  7. Thanks for sharing your walk. How sensible to have benches along the way~

  8. Very nice, love the tree house.

  9. I’ve never heard of the place and I’m just back from a quick trip to Manitoba looking for adventures. Loved the Spirit Sands hike in Spruce Woods PP and canoeing the Caddy Lake Tunnels in Whiteshell Prov’l Park. Thanks for putting this on the map.

    • It’s been a number of years since I visited Spruce Woods. We took a wagon tour of Spirit Sands and it was fascinating. Sadly, the sandhills are in danger of disappearing due to encroaching vegetation.

  10. This is an amazingly well developed area and museum. I had to chuckle at the comment that the cows, not the bulls, lead the way – you go girls.

  11. Thank you for the tour through the Fort Whyte Alive nature preserve. It’s amazing how nature can be reclaimed from an old cement quarry. Seeing the chokecherry tree made me think of my grandparents in Saskatchewan, as they always had my grandma’s chokecherry syrup on the breakfast table.

  12. Chokecherry jam is also very nice.

  13. What a beautiful way to spend a day! There is nothing I like more than being around all the nature in your photos. The picture of the squirrel is awesome!

  14. So much about Fort Whyte Alive really appeals to me – the beauty, nature, history and even the convenience of a restaurant. I’d especially like to rent a bike there. The trails look great for a ride.

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