The 41st Annual Beaver Days Winter Festival

The 41st annual Beaver Days Winter Festival is one darn good reason to spend a winter weekend in the Whiteshell.

Whether you’re heading out to the lake with a group of friends or your family, the Beaver Days Winter Festival in Falcon Lake/West Hawk Lake is the perfect way to spend an action-packed weekend in the Whiteshell. The fun and games begins Friday, February 6 at the Whiteshell Community Club, located on Highway 301 right beside the Falcon Lake entrance. Here’s a schedule of events and activities happening throughout the weekend:

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2015 Snowdance Festival of Music + Winter

68456_686433198076352_1639633397_nThe Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes are well-known for their music scene, with just about every employee at the hill being a singer, songwriter, or musician. If you’ve ever been in the ski chalet for live music on Sunday afternoons or during a concert, you’ll know this for a fact.  And if you want to check out their music scene and get a true taste of winter in the Whiteshell, then the Snowdance Festival of Music and Winter is what you’re looking for. Now in its fourth year, the annual festival is scheduled for this upcoming weekend, Saturday, January 17 and Sunday, January 18. Each year the event seems to keep getting bigger, and this year the folks at Falcon Ridge are geared up for yet another fun weekend of music and outdoor activities. Even the weather is supposed to cooperate! 1545124_686432894743049_1937661563_n 1528495_686434858076186_1639403337_nThe fun all starts on Saturday afternoon live music in the chalet and several outdoor activities. In true Canadian fashion, some of the outdoors activities happening throughout the weekend include igloo building, trapping demonstrations, canvas tent cabins, bannock-making, chilli-eating, hot chocolate-sipping, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, skating, turkey shoot, snow-ga, shinny hockey, sauna, a polar bear swim, and, of course, snowboarding, downhill skiing, and tubing. 1554532_686432978076374_1951544883_n1601561_686433121409693_1608695562_n1017398_686435194742819_624286109_nSome of the talented musical acts that will kickoff the festival on Saturday afternoon include The Heinrichs Maneuver, Holly Stratton, and Slow Spirit. The music will carry on into an evening dance party with Biped Radio, The Mad Trappers, Shotgun Jimmie, The Sheena Band, and DJ Co-op. The festival music starts back up on Sunday with Railroad Tye, Red Moon Road, The Reverend Rambler, and Kacy + Clayton. There will also be musical workshops offered on both days. 1505306_686433788076293_563554658_n1535639_686433694742969_123098480_n1618690_686433441409661_2127754596_nSnowdance is truly a great way to embrace Whiteshell winters and enjoy great local talents as well. For more information on Snowdance or for ticket prices, head here. To get a taste of what to expect throughout the weekend, check out this video of last year’s Snowdance Festival. See you this weekend in the Whiteshell!

— Written/compiled by Marney Blunt & Emily Christie. — Photos by Emily Christie.

2015 Whiteshell Winter Wonderland Bucket List

IMG_0535 copyWinter is officially here… And we Manitobans can make it through this. Although the past few weeks have been surprisingly mild, you may be waiting for the times where you’ll be scraping your car windows, getting stuck in the deep, heavy snow, or freezing at the bus stop. However, as stated once before on this blog, winter rules in the Whiteshell, and we’re not just saying that. Some even say winter is their favourite season at the lake. Winter is what you make it, and the Whiteshell has endless opportunities for fun winter activities in the most beautiful and scenic place in Manitoba. So instead of staying cooped up inside counting down the days until the snow melts, bundle up and venture out to the winter wilderness wonderland of the Whiteshell, where winter truly rules. To kick off a season of winter fun, here is our 2015 Whiteshell Winter Wonderland Bucket List: Continue reading

SNOWDANCE: Festival of Music and Winter

Falcon Ridge ski hill is gearing up to host the third annual SNOWDANCE Festival of Music and Winter again this year, and the date has been set for January 18 and 19 2014!
snowdance_1Music has long been a part of the Falcon Ridge Ski Hill experience, with a staff comprised of about three quarters touring musicians, and a year long concert series hosted at the resort, it only makes sense that the two worlds be combined in a ski hill winter music festival, and if we’re lucky all this music and dancing will appease the snow gods and we will be rewarded with a season of that white stuff we love so much!

Photo by Sabine Trégouët.

Photo by Sabine Trégouët.

January 18 & 19 will bring two days of concerts, festival style workshops featuring winnipeg favourites Nathan, Red Moon Road, the Sweet Alibi, Darwin Baker (of the Crooked Brothers), Beth Hamilton, as well as some local talent to include Brooke & Ben, the Heinrichs Maneuver, and a fiddle concert featuring students from the local school.

Photo by Cheyenne Rae Music Photography & Video.

Photo by Cheyenne Rae Music Photography & Video.

In addition to the music, folks visiting the festival will be able to enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding, tubing, x-country skiing, ice skating, outdoor campfire and a bannock bake, snow sculptures, night tubing, great food from the on site kitchen, and an organized sauna and polar bear swim.

Photo by Sabine Trégouët.

Photo by Sabine Trégouët.

 Tickets for the weekend are $35 which include full access to the two days of music, a lift ticket, a night tubing pass, and all the outdoor fun you can dream up!  Individual day passes are also available.
For more info, go to the website at www.falconridgeski.com/snowdance.php, including a full lineup for the weekend, prices, and videos from last year’s SNOWDANCE!

Whiteshell Business: Falcon Trails Resort

Written by Emily Christie & Caleigh Christie.

960047_559212490834233_1781299275_nFalcon Trails is a family-run resort located at the southeast end of Falcon Lake which welcomes guests year round to enjoy private lake-front cabins with hot tubs, magnificent views, friendly people, and the beauty of the Boreal Forest and Precambrian Shield. It is a perfect mix of wilderness and rustic luxury. Owners and operators Barb Hamilton and Craig Christie first started building the resort in 1996 after teaming up with two other couples; Mike & Yuki Valasman and Rich & Lois Pettit, who worked together to dream up a business proposal of a year round resort which would provide a crutch to the struggling local ski hill. The resort accommodation would allow for visiting skiers to have a place to stay and thus make the ski hill operation a more viable business. Today, the ski hill and the resort operate in tandem and are run solely by Barb, Craig, their three daughters Emily, Caleigh, Brooke, and an amazing host of staff who contribute what has become a vibrant micro-community workplace.

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The resort embraces a progressive environmental ethic by striving to reduce their ecological footprint wherever possible. Some of the sustainable initiatives include:

  • All Natural Cleaning Products: we use non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products to maintain all our Falcon Trails and High Lake cabins.
  • Well-insulated cabin design to save heating energy.
  • Passive solar lighting utilizing large windows on the southern wall.
  • Cold-water washing with phosphate-free detergent for all laundry.
  • Composting and recycling program to minimize household waste.
  • Naturally focused landscaping embracing the local habitat.
  • Native plant garden.
  • Inspiring a love for the environment by getting people outdoors and in the woods!
High Lake Eco-Cabin.

High Lake Eco-Cabin.

One initiative that the resort is particularly proud of is the High Lake off-the-grid Eco Cabins which were the winners of the Tourism Manitoba Eco Tourism award in 2003. These four cabins which are located on High Lake, 2.5km from the rest of the resort boast incredible luxury in a very remote and private setting.

373911_176271789128307_1968856398_nThe cabin’s shared features include:

  • Built using largely reclaimed or local materials.
  • ‘Remote Access’ to avoid habitat destruction and to promote sustainable transport alternatives (walking, running, biking, cross country skiing).
  • Solar-powered electricity.
  • Gravity-fed water supply.
  • State-of-the art indoor composting toilets.
Whiskey Jack, the straw bale eco-cabin on High Lake.

Whiskey Jack, the straw bale eco-cabin on High Lake.

The latest two additions to the Eco Cabin rental fleet include a log and straw bale cabin. The log cabin which was built with the help of local swiss log builder Walter Keller is a beautiful, rustic cabin made for couples with a fantastic lookout over the lake, right from the master bed. The straw bale cabin, with an interior timber frame design, is a beautiful example of how an unconventional yet extremely smart and environmentally friendly building technique can also be luxurious and comfortable. Falcon Trails pursues these efforts to respect and sustain the environment for ourselves and future generations to live, work, and play.

395515_499700016749672_496207185_nIn recent years, the resort has become akin to Manitoba’s vibrant music scene.  As an intimate live music venue, playing host to many concerts from artists such as Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans, The Crooked Brothers, Red Moon Road, Fish and Bird, Ridley Bent, Scott Nolan, Oh My Darling, the F-Holes, and many more. In addition to this, the resort and its cozy little cabins have acted as recording studios for a handful of albums. To offset the lack of weekend music festivals in the winter Falcon Ridge Ski Hill has recently started hosting the “Snow Dance Music Festival” where people can come out, go skiing for the day and enjoy music workshops all the day through in the comfort of the warm chalet, with a cup of hot chocolate of course!

1470207_559211180834364_1889254026_nClearly Falcon Trails is about more than just cabin rentals.  It’s participation in music, outdoor recreation, community, environmental ethic, and hospitality makes for an excellent opportunity for folks to get out and explore, participate and really experience what the Whiteshell has to offer.

Photos by Emily Christie.

Ski the Whiteshell

unnamed copyCross-country skiing is an excellent form of exercise in the winter. And if you go cross-country skiing in the Whiteshell, you get to take in all the beautiful scenery and nature while doing so. Whether you want to build stamina with hill climbs or just go for a smooth ski across the lake, the Whiteshell has got a variety of beautiful terrain for every skier to explore.

The South Whiteshell Ski Trail.

The South Whiteshell Ski Trail.

The South Whiteshell Ski Trail.

The South Whiteshell Ski Trail.

One of the best ski trails in the Whiteshell is the South Whiteshell Trail, also a great trail for walking, running, and biking during the summer. The South Whiteshell trail can take you from the the Nite Hawk Cafe in West Hawk, through spruce and pine trees and down a scenic trail to Faloma Beach Marina and then onto the Falcon Lake Community Club. The trail also includes a loop to the isolated McHugh Lake, which then loops you back to the West Hawk townsite. The South Whiteshell Trail, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail, also has a warmup shelter perched at the top of a hill approximately halfway between West Hawk and Faloma.

Falcon Ridge Ski Trails.

Falcon Ridge Ski Trails.

The Falcon Ridge Ski Hill also provides a great network of groomed ski trails that start at the ski hill, including one loop that even takes you into High Lake. The Falcon Ridge trails have a variety of terrain including anything from a 1 km loop on Falcon Lake to a 7.5 km ski to High Lake and back. There is also a new trail connecting High Lake to the Falcon townsite along the south shore of the lake. Falcon Ridge is even home to one of the two biathlon courses in Manitoba and hosts several biathlon races throughout the winter. Check out the map of the Falcon Ridge trails below:

Map of ski trails at Falcon Ridge Ski Area.

Map of ski trails at Falcon Ridge Ski Area.

A cross-country ski trip in the Whiteshell is the perfect winter getaway. It’s great for just a day trip, or for a weekend trip if you would like book out a cozy cabin at one of the local resorts.