Whiteshell Business: Home 204 Kitchen

safe_image.phpFalcon Lake’s Olympian, Megan Imrie, is back home for the summer and she’s opened a healthy food restaurant in Falcon Lake with two culinary extraordinaires called ‘Home 204 Kitchen’. Imrie, along with brothers Scott and Lisle Edmunds are running Home 204 out of the ski chalet at Falcon Trails Resort on the southeast end of Falcon Lake.

“I knew that these guys (Scott & Lisle Edmunds) had amazing cooking ability and I saw a real need for somewhere to eat in Falcon that had healthy and really good food,” said Imrie. “Coming from the sport background, I wanted to have some place that I felt really good about, that I could eat at almost everyday, and that was athlete-friendly.”

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A Celebration Dinner with Megan Imrie

It’s time to celebrate the success of Falcon Lake’s Olympic hero:  Megan Imrie.

The Whiteshell Trapper’s Association is putting on a social evening to celebrate the Olympic biathlete and her success at the Sochi 2014 Olympics and all throughout her biathlon career. The evening is also to thank the Trapper’s Association and everyone else who supported Megan on her journey to the Olympics. 32223_G08_W01 Continue reading

A Frozen Obsession

Many people don’t understand the sport of ice fishing. Many people wonder why anyone would want to sit out in the cold, staring at a hole in the ice, waiting and hoping for some legendary fish will come out of it. However, as the anglers in this documentary will show you, it’s so much more than that. Many Manitobans prefer to embrace winter with their love of chasing an adventure in the great outdoors, and there’s no better place to do so than in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. Here is a brief documentary about why people love to do this crazy Canadian pastime known as ice fishing. Filmed in the Whiteshell at the 2014 Falcon Lake Winter Fish-Off and on West Hawk Lake with Shield Outfitters.

Filmed/edited by Marney Blunt, Experience the Whiteshell editor.

 

Wolves of the Whiteshell: Part iii

Photos & writeup submitted by Josh Dewitt.

Back on Thanksgiving Day, 2013, a friend and I were hiking the McGillivray Falls trail. It was getting late, so we figured we’d start heading back to Winnipeg. After about 5 minutes of driving, a big animal ran in front of my car. At first I thought it was just a white-tailed deer, but as it ran across the ditch, I saw its tail. I slammed on the brakes. I slowly got out of the car, and there it was, sitting on the other side of the ditch. He stayed around for at least 10 minutes, sniffing the ground, and wandering back and forth. He allowed many good pictures.

We were ecstatic! This is the first wolf sighting we’ve had in the park, they’ve eluded us for years. I myself have heard packs howling at Otter Falls, Big Whiteshell, and have found fresh tracks along the Pine Point Rapids trail several times.

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Aron Coates Fine Art Studio

Coming from a construction background in West Hawk Lake, Aron Coates has been making the shift from construction to design and is currently working on his Masters in architecture at the University of Manitoba. Aron has built a beautiful portfolio consisting of a wide range of construction, sculptures, paintings, and design/drafting. Much of his work is inspired by and relates to the Whiteshell Provincial Park, particularly from hunting and fishing trips. Most of Aron’s artwork begins with the use of photography, and is then transformed into paintings. Here are a few examples of his Whiteshell-inspired work:Sailing LakeIMG_0847

Waiting for Ducks - PhotoWaiting for DucksWaiting for Ducks

These photos and paintings are from a duck hunting trip in the Whiteshell. These images are perfect examples of Aron’s ability to replicate photos with artwork. The first painting captures the early morning mist rising off the lake as they boat to their hunting spot, and the second painting portrays sitting in the bulrushes and waiting for ducks to fly overhead in the early morning sunrise.

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This trout fish sculpture was done in winter 2009 using a 8″ radius ball of plaster. It was Aron’s first sculpture and may be his best to date. He began the project by poring liquid plaster into a plastic bag.

George TroutThis painting replicates a lake trout caught during an October deer hunting trip on George Lake.Post Foundations-Clay

Post Foundations-Clay 2Artistic Building Solution

These are two beautiful post foundation sculptures that are in-progress at Caddy Lake. The inspirations of these sculptures stems from a passion of fishing in the Whiteshell and from the concept of integrating water and fish. The sculptures are of two popular species in the area: Lake trout (see top photo) and walleye.
The project started from carving away at a solid piece of plaster. With this project, Aron intended on using the two different species of fish and the flowing water as a geometric pattern by using deep cuts into the clay.Post Foundations-Plaster CastPost Foundations-Concrete castPost Foundations-Concrete 2Post Foundations-ConcreteYou can see more of Aron’s work at aroncoates.com.

The 40th Annual Beaver Days Winter Festival

Don’t have any plans for next weekend? Come out to the Whiteshell for a weekend of winter fun that the whole family can enjoy!

The 40th Annual Beaver Days Winter Festival kicks off on Friday, February 7th at the Whiteshell Community Club located on Highway 301, right beside the Falcon Lake entrance (adjacent to Highway 1). Here’s a list of awesome winter activities throughout the weekend.

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Friday, February 7th

• Family Skate Night – A great way to get the family out on the ice and enjoy the new outdoor skating rink at the Whiteshell Community Club!  Family Skate Night goes from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm and there will be free hot dogs available for children!

• Casino Night & Texas Hold’em Tournament – Some fun and games for the adults on Friday night! Both start at the Whiteshell Community Club at 8:00 pm. The Texas Hold’em tournament, organized by Falcon Beach Auto, will have a $40 entry fee.

• Beer Gardens –  Open from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am at the Whiteshell Community Club.

• Variety Auction – Organized by West Hawk Marine Ltd.  Tickets will be on sale from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm and all day Saturday and Sunday until 4:00 pm. Lots of great prizes!

Saturday, February 8th

• Breakfast – Saturday kicks off with a breakfast at the Whiteshell Community Club from from 8:30 am to 11:30 am courtesy of the Falcon Lake Golf Course restaurant.

• Snowmobile Poker Derby – The snowmobile poker derby goes from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday. Both registration and the starting point are at the Whiteshell Community Club. The second checkpoint is at the Mud Lake shelter, third checkpoint is at Pittman’s on 44, the fourth is at the Zubek Shelter, and the final checkpoint is back at the community club. Prizes are: Gold – $1,000; Silver – $400; Bronze – $300. Come ride the beautiful snowmobile trails in the Whiteshell and possibly win some cash while you’re at it!IMG_1001• Demo Day – Looking for a new ride for the trails? Come check out the lineup of new sleds in the Falcon Mall parking lot from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. Sponsored by Winnipeg Sport & Leisure and Enns Brothers.

• Sponge Hockey Tournament – Starts at 11:00 am Saturday on the outdoor rink at the Whiteshell Community Club and continues on Sunday. $150 entry fee per team. 100 per cent payout. If you would like to register a team call or text Ian at 1(204) 295-6052. Organized by the Falcon Lake Marina.

• Beer Gardens – Open from 11:00 am to 1:00 am at the Whiteshell Community Club. There will also be a canteen open from noon till 5:00 pm.

• Kids Activities –  From noon till 3:00 pm on Saturday kids can enjoy games, crafts, face painting, glitter tattoos, animal balloons, and more. Noon to 1:30 pm is open for children ages 6 and under and 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm for children ages 7 and up.

• Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides – Nothing says winter fun more than dashing through the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh. The Falcon Beach Ranch will be providing sleigh rides starting at 1:00 pm on Saturday, You can register at the gym at the community club.

• Whiteshell Fur Trappers Display – From 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.995008_677465482306457_723471048_n

• Beard & Moustache Competition – Come showcase your fantastic facial hair at the Falcon Ridge Ski Hill and get some skiing or boarding in to boot! The competition is part of the Beaver Days festivities. Entry is free. Prizes will be awarded to the longest, the thickest, and best groomed beards and moustaches (all separate categories).
Prizes will include: – A free season pass at Falcon Ridge Ski Hill – A free stay at Falcon Trails Resort – A $50 food voucher for Falcon Ridge cafe – Falcon Ridge apparel. To register, come on down to the ski hill anytime before February 9, 1:00 to have your photo taken. Judging and prizes will take place on Sunday February 9 at 5:00 pm at the Whiteshell Community Club (right before the Red Moon Road show!)• Snow Dance Performance – By the Falcon Beach Academy of Dance at 5:00 pm.

• Homemade Ukrainian Dinner – 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. $25 for dinner and entertainment. $15 for dinner-only or entertainment-only. $10 for kids.

• Family Skating – 7:00 pm at the Whiteshell Community Club.• Entertainment by Steve Chmara – Performance by illusionist and classic magician at 8:00 pm. Great entertainment for the whole family!

• Music by Dagan Haddad – 9:30 pm at the Whiteshell Community Club.

Sunday, February 9th

• Breakfast – Another breakfast will be held at the Whiteshell Community Club from 8:30 am to 11:30 am. Courtesy of the Falcon Lake Golf Course restaurant.

• Beer Gardens – Open from 11:00 am to 1:00 am at the Whiteshell Community Club.

• Kids Poster Contest – 11:00 am.

• SnoMo Radar Runs – Take your sled for a run down Falcon Lake! Goes from noon to 3:00 pm at the main beach in Falcon Lake. Prizes will be awarded at the Whiteshell Community Club at 4:00 pm.

• Whiteshell Winter Olympics – Teams of four can compete in snowshoeing, trap setting, and biathlon. Registration is at 11:00 am at the gym at the Whiteshell Community Club. Races begin at noon.

• Whiteshell Trappers Fur Display – From noon till 4:00 pm.

• Chilli Cook-Off – Register your delicious chilli at 2:00 pm!

• Mini Cupcake Contest – Kids-only event. Judging will happen at 3:30 pm.

• Variety Auction Wrap-Up – All tickets must be in by 4:00 pm. Draw for the great prizes will happen at 5:00 pm.

• Music by Red Moon Road – Enjoy tunes from the creators of the Whiteshell-inspired album, Tales From the Whiteshell. Red Moon Road will play at 5:30 pm.

Red Moon Road will be performing at Beaver Days on Sunday at 5:30 pm.

Red Moon Road will be performing at Beaver Days on Sunday at 5:30 pm.

A Winter Woodland Expedition

During the brutal cold snap we had around New Years, there was one day that was a balmy -15C. A perfect day to go camping in the woods.

The quinzee on Caribou Lake.

The quinzee on Caribou Lake.

I have never gone winter camping before, in fact I have barely gone summer camping before. Having a grown up with a cottage on Star Lake, I never really thought to go camping. Holidays and vacation time were spent hanging out on the dock and the boathouse.

So this winter camping trip to Caribou Lake was a great new adventure for me. Caribou Lake is an isolated little lake, just northeast of Caddy Lake. It has no cottages on it and is not accessible by road, so we took the snowmobiles through the woods to get there.

Hollowing out the quinzee.

Hollowing out the quinzee.

Firewood had been previously chopped and snow had already been piled up for the quinzee. You want to do this in advance so you don’t work up a sweat before sleeping in the quinzee. We got there around two in the afternoon. About six of us had sledded in, but only two of us were going to spend the night.

We started off the day with ice fishing for walleyes. The walleye on this lake aren’t huge, but they are a perfect eater size. What is really interesting about the walleye on Caribou Lake is that they have blue fins! According to the fishing experts and zoologists I was with, this is most likely because of the water colour in the lake. Fish can vary in colour from lake-to-lake as the water colour varies. However I was told that apparently there is a certain type of blue walleye, but not found in these areas.

A very blue tail on a walleye from Caribou Lake.

A very blue tail on a walleye from Caribou Lake.

After landing about five or six fish, we hollowed our the quinzee. The previous cold snap and massive amounts of snow had made it quite firm.

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A large cliff with a little nook in it made the perfect natural spot for a fire as the rock cliff reflected heat back quite nicely. This was the perfect place to sit and keep warm throughout the evening, and it also was the perfect place to cook dinner. My boyfriend had brought a deer roast – An entire hind leg wrapped in tin foil. Low and behold, there was a little ledge in the side of the cliff right above the fire; a perfect place to cook the deer roast over the fire. It was a true caveman style dinner… Except we had injected our roast with garlic-infused olive oil. The deer roast cooked for over the fire for about five hours. To be honest, I wasn’t overly confident in the idea of cooking an entire roast on a rock by the fire, but it turned out to be the best deer meat I have ever had!

The deer roast cooking over the fire.

The deer roast cooking over the fire.

Sitting beside the fire.

Sitting beside the fire.

After dinner my boyfriend took the rest of the crew home on the snowmobile, giving me some time to myself in the woods. They took the remainders of the deer roast with them – And thank goodness. While I know wolves are highly, highly unlikely to approach a human, when you’re alone in the woods in the dark your mind can have a tendency to run away on you. The last thing I wanted was to be sitting there alone with a delicious garlic-infused deer roast! However I enjoyed the fire for awhile while the others were gone, and no wolves were seen.

The candlelit quinzee.

The candlelit quinzee.

When it was the end of the evening, we rolled the snow door over the quinzee for a long winter’s nap. Well, it wasn’t that long. The quinzee was candlelit and actually created a lovely atmosphere, but our only mistake was that we should have layed down a tarp inside the quinzee to provide a bit more of a barrier between us and the ice. However the temperature outside was around -20C and the inside of the quinzee stayed at about zero degrees so we had a decent temperature to sleep in.

This was a great experience and a true outdoor adventure. I would recommend anyone to give winter camping a try. If you come equipped properly it is an amazing experience and an awesome thing to check off the ol’ bucket list.

Written by Marney Blunt.

The Road From Falcon Lake To Sochi

Falcon Lake’s local Olympic biathlete is on the home stretch to the Sochi 2014 Olympics, her second Olympic games.

Imrie has recently left Ruhpolding, Germany, where she raced a couple races while struggling with jet lag, she says. She now in Antholz, Italy, where she will be racing the final world cup race before the big event in Russia. Image“I’m finished with the jet lag,” said Imrie in a recent newsletter update. “And just like we would sometimes do in an open field with our horses: I just want to get on my skis and let them run.”

As she travels from country-to-country to race, Imrie receives support from many, including the Rocky Mountain Soap Company. The company is selling their limited edition Great White North Soap with all proceeds going toward Imrie’s Olympic journey. For all you Manitobans, the soap is available at the Rocky Mountain Soap store in Polo Park Shopping Centre.

Tomorrow in Italy, Imrie will be competing in a sprint race followed with pursuit and relay races on the weekend. Her parents have flown in from Manitoba and are there to cheer her on as she makes her last laps before heading into the Olympics.

Experience the Whiteshell would like to wish Megan Imrie the best of luck in her races this weekend. Go Megan go!

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Bass Fishing in the Whiteshell

By: Jeff Gustafson

As someone who loves to fish and be on the water, growing up in Northwestern Ontario was great because there was never a shortage of top-notch fishing opportunities outside my door – I grew up with a fishing rod in my hand throughout all seasons.

Jeff Gustafson shows off a nice Falcon Lake smallmouth.

Jeff Gustafson shows off a nice Falcon Lake smallmouth.

My passion for bass fishing and competing in tournaments first brought me to the Whiteshell region back in the early 2000’s to participate in the annual opening day bass tournament on Falcon Lake, an event that has been put on by the Manitoba Bass Anglers Association for many years.

Since the tournament always took place on the opening day of the fishing season, we were never able to pre-fish (or practice) for the event.  We just showed up the day of the tournament and went fishing.  After several years we learned the lake a little bit better and our catches went up significantly.

Eventually my friends and I started making day trips over to Falcon Lake so that we could catch a bunch of fish.  It’s funny because as many people as there are that use Falcon Lake, very few of them take advantage of the great smallmouth bass fishing available there.

The author's wife with a new West Hawk Lake smallmouth.

The author’s wife with a new West Hawk Lake smallmouth.

My experience there has always been earlier in the season, in May and June and our expectations when we go there now is that we’re going to catch big numbers of fish.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever caught 100 bass in a day there, but 50 plus fish, including some really nice ones, is quite common.  Factor in the shot at a monster pike or walleye and you have a great place to fish.

As far as location goes, it’s all about finding structure around the lake.  From a boat it does not look like Falcon Lake has a lot of structure because it is so open and exposed, but when you turn on your depth finder and watch it as you troll the shoreline it quickly becomes apparent how many little bumps and humps there are around the lake, all prime bass habitat.

Baitfish make up the bulk of the diet for all sport fish in Falcon Lake, species like shiners, perch and cisco in particular so anglers should use minnow imitating lures in their pursuit of all species.  Over the years I caught hundreds of bass on three and four inch suspending jerkbaits.  Simply cast them out and work them back to the boat in a jerk-jerk-pause cadence.  Some days the fish like a longer pause, some days shorter is better.  Let the fish tell you what they want.

Across Highway 1 to the north is another gem of a lake in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.  West Hawk Lake may very well be the deepest lake that I have ever been on in my life.  It’s deep, cold, clear water is not the best bass habitat but the many shallow bays that surround the main basin of the lake provide plenty of good water for bass to live.  Much like Falcon, local anglers are much more interested in the walleye and lake trout that live on the lake than they are in the bass population.

A quick screen shot shows how deep the water is in the middle of West Hawk Lake. Those are lake trout, shown suspended on the screen.

A quick screen shot shows how deep the water is in the middle of West Hawk Lake. Those are lake trout, shown suspended on the screen.

The secret to finding bass on West Hawk is to find stretches of shoreline in these bays that have a sand or boulder bottom composition.  These are going to be shallower stretches of water that much of the smallmouth bass’s forage prefer.  Much like Falcon, many types of baitfish are prevalent in West Hawk so minnow imitating baits are best.

For anglers looking to visit the Whiteshell Park, I assure you that you won’t be disappointed with the beauty in the scenery or the fishing opportunities that await.  Fishing licenses can be purchased at the gas station in the heart of the town of West Hawk, one of prettiest little communities you will ever visit during the summer months.  Out of province anglers should know that Manitoba has a province wide barbless hook rule in effect, so if you visit these lakes, remember to pinch your barbs.

Today, Jeff Gustafson makes his living as a professional bass tournament angler, fishing tournaments across the United States on the Walmart FLW Tour. He is also host of his own TV fishing show called Fishing with Gussy, an active outdoor writer and photographer as well as an all-season fishing and hunting guide.  You can find him online at www.gussyoutdoors.com 

Jeff Gustafson on-stage at a 2013 FLW Tour bass tournament.

Jeff Gustafson on-stage at a 2013 FLW Tour bass tournament.

14 Reasons Why Winter Rules in the Whiteshell

So the snow is here, the temperatures are dropping, winter has begun. If you live in Manitoba, a bad case of the wintertime blues may be setting in.

Well, it’s time to bundle up and embrace the climate. Honestly, winter can be fun! Especially if you take a quick drive out to the Whiteshell on the weekends. Here’s 14 reasons why winter rules in the Whiteshell. Give them a try, it might just change the way you feel about Manitoba winters:

IMG_18471 – Walking in a Whiteshell wonderland – As proved in the past few weeks, winters in the Whiteshell are breathtaking. Frozen snowed-covered lakes and tall pine and spruce trees decorated with a dusting of snow and hoar frost – The Whiteshell in the winter is a dream. Take a break from the slushy-salted streets of the city and you’ll see!

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2 – Cross-country skiing – There’s no better way to stay in shape than cross-country skiing, and in the Whiteshell scenery really beats staring at a TV screen in the gym. Cross-country skiing is a great full body workout and easy on the joints. The Whiteshell is full of beautiful groomed ski trails including the South Whiteshell trail, and come check out the new section connecting High Lake to the Falcon townsite along the south shore of the lake. The Falcon Ridge Ski Hill is a great facility and has a beautiful network of trails as well. Whether you prefer hill climbs and downhills or a flat trail across the lake – The Whiteshell has got them all.

IMG_10013 – Snowmobiling – The Whiteshell also has some of the most beautiful groomed snowmobile trails in Manitoba. The Whiteshell has a large network of groomed snowmobile trails that run from lake-to-lake. The Whiteshell Snowmobile Club has erected and maintained warm up shelters along many of the main trails, so even  out in the wilderness you’re never far from a warm fire.

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4 – Ice fishing – Northern pike, walleyes, crappies, lake trout, and dozens of stocked trout lakes – The Whiteshell has some of the best fishing in the province, both from the boat and through the ice. There’s nothing like spending a day on the lake enjoying the scenery, catching dinner, or watching the graphs to see the master anglers following your bait up to the surface. Every March is the annual Falcon Lake Winter Fish Off, an all-species fishing tournament that awards over $40,000 in cash and prizes and $10,000 to the heaviest fish.

IMG_18105 –  Falcon Ridge Ski Hill – Down-hill, cross-country, snowboarding, biathlon, or tubing; over on the far side of Falcon Lake is a happening place known as Falcon Ridge Ski Hill. Falcon Ridge has several groomed runs for both beginners, intermediates, and even a park with rails, boxes, and jumps. The ski hill also has a network of beautiful groomed-ski trails, a biathlon course, and downhill tubing. The chalet at Falcon Ridge is a great hangout with great food and drink and a talented live music act every Sunday throughout the winter. The ski hill will also be hosting Snowdance Festival of Music and Winter on January 18 and 19.

IMG_25976 – Biathlon – There’s not too many places in Manitoba where you can check out biathlon, and Falcon Lake is one of them. Come watch the biathlon races held at Falcon Ridge or take the opportunity to get involved with Biathlon Manitoba. Race ates include the Manitoba Cup Races [Cup #1, Dec. 14th + 15th (snow dependent)], [Cup #2, January 11th + 12th], [Cup #3 & 4, Feb. 15th + 16th], Biathlon Provincial Championships on February 22nd & 23rd, Cadet Biathlon Provincials on Feb. 1st & 2nd, and Masters Cross Country Ski Race on Feb. 8th. Also, biathlon at Falcon Lake produced a Olympian – Who just qualified for the Sochi 2014 Olympics!

7 – Beaver Days – Probably the biggest community event in the Whiteshell during the winter, and this year February 7 – 9 will mark the 40th anniversary of Beaver Days. The event includes a snowmobile poker derby, a sponge hockey tournament, a Texas holdem tournament, several kids activities, and much more. Stay tuned for details from Experience the Whiteshell.

8 – Curling – The Whiteshell curling club has a great league that runs through the winter. Weekly draws are going on already and the bar is open if you’d like to come watch. The club also hosts a bonspiel in the spring – enter a team and enjoy a weekend at the lake at the same time.

9- The new outdoor hockey rink – The Whiteshell Community Club now has a beautiful new outdoor hockey rink, recently redone by a group of dedicated locals. The ice is great and available to all members of the Whiteshell Community Club.

1469830_10152078513746810_78396146_n10 – Whiteshell Hockey League – What’s a new skating rink without a new hockey league? The Whiteshell Hockey League is kicking off  with an opening tournament on December 6 and 8 at the Community Club. Games will be going on every Wednesday evening throughout the winter with playoffs February 28 to March 2.

11- Snow shoeing – Big open lakes and back-county trails in the Whiteshell are a great place for snow shoeing. Come experience some true wilderness by floating across the deep snow on your snowshoes.

12 – Sleigh rides at Falcon Beach Ranch – Taking a scenic drive on a horse-drawn sleigh? Nothing says winter wonderland more than that. Contact Falcon Beach Ranch to setup a sleigh ride.

IMG_0918_213 – Wildlife – Wolves running across the frozen lake, white-tailed deer lightly stepping through the deep snow, a great grey owl perched on top of a pine tree – There are always some fantastic wildlife sightings in the Whiteshell. The frozen lakes make it easier for wildlife to travel around through the park, making it far more likely for you to see wildlife that you wouldn’t normally see at other times of the year.

IMG_184414 – Serenity – There’s nothing more peaceful than curling up by the fire in a cozy cabin and watching the snowflakes fall. Don’t have your own cabin? No problem – The Whiteshell has lots of beautiful cabins that are available to rent year round.

Stay tuned for more details on these activities and events throughout the winter.

Photos by Emily Christie & Marney Blunt.