hike length - 7.5 km loop
This pleasant route takes you through the thickly wooded landscape of St. Vital Park and along the Red River past historic Riel House and back along the Bishop Grandin Greenway.
This event is open to Prairie Pathfinder walking club members (i.e. members who have paid an annual $25. fee) and guests. CONTACT US to request a complimentary invitation and try out the club 'for free'. Everyone is welcome to try out a hike or two before deciding to purchase a membership. Visit our website HERE.
some history -
St Vital Park was originally designed for motorists. When the land was purchased by the city in 1929, the idea of using a park for a short automobile excursion drew popular response from the citizenry. The emphasis on roadways over walking paths however, is more than compensated by beautiful natural features of the park. Tucked into a bend of the Red River, are sections of thick woods mixed with open meadows and outstanding viewpoints along the high river bank. Wide asphalt pathways border the centrepiece man-made lake and nearby rock garden.
Riel House -
This was the home of Louis Riel’s family from 1880 to 1969. Riel House is now a National Historic Site. The national importance of Louis Riel is the raison d’etre of Riel House National Historic Park, but its interpretation focuses more specifically on the Riel family and Metis society during the 1860s. The Metis had pursued mixed farming in the parish of St. Vital since the 1830s, and Riel House displays the typical farm layout. The barn, chicken house, milk house, and other farm buildings were customarily located close to the river bank for easy access to water and waste disposal. Small fenced and cultivated grain fields were located “at the back”, or as in the case of the Riel Farm, in the area between the Red and Seine rivers. Beyond this, occupying the rest of the long narrow lot, was the larger hay field. Cattle were usually allowed to graze in unfenced areas around the barn and probably close to the residence. River Lot 51, occupied by the Riel family in the 1880s, was larger than a standard lot. It was twelve chains (792 feet) in width and two miles in depth, for a total of 232 acres. The property also included a twenty four acre parcel at the Seine River or eastern boundary, where a grist mill was built around 1855. Since the 1960s, urbanization had been creeping over this originally rural farming district. Since Riel House became an historic park in 1981, a housing development has been built to the west and much of the illusion of a river lot setting as it existed in the 1880s is gone.
Bishop Grandin Greenway -
Sometimes referred to as a ‘retrofit trail” or a trail built after major construction, this scenic trail weaves its way through a strip of public greenspace that skirts Bishop Grandin Blvd.
In 2000, volunteers began developing an accessible network of nature areas and public pathways to link and support both human and wildlife communities. This recently completed multi-use trail now effectively serves that purpose. Bishop Grandin Greenway Inc. continues to be a catalyst for improving the area with extensive tree plantings, interpretive signage, a community garden, eco-education site and bench and planter installations along with many other amenities.