If you find yourself craving a hit of Canadiana, Fort Whyte Alive has more than enough to fill that need, from bison and Canada geese to Sir Sam Steele, Louis Riel and Superman.
The nature park in southwest Winnipeg, which features a 70-acre bison enclosure along with prairie grasses, wetlands and forest that attract deer and birds, is celebrating Canada's 150th birthday by screening vignettes of people, places and events of importance to the country.
Formally known as Heritage Minutes, the 60-second pieces bring to life the stories of people like Viola Desmond, who challenged racial segregation at a film theatre in Nova Scotia in 1946, or Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack, whose death in 1966 sparked the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools.
Another Heritage Minute features Winnie the black bear, a mascot belonging to Canadian soldier Harry Colebourn and named for his hometown of Winnipeg. Later donated to the London Zoo, Winnie became the inspiration for A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh.
First introduced on March 31, 1991, with the most recent, about the Edmonton Grads, released on March 8 to mark International Women's Day, there are 86 Heritage Minutes in all. Every one of them is being shown, back-to-back, on Wednesday at Fort Whyte.
"Some people know them very, very well. To others, it's a very new thing, so it's an interesting reason to come out to see them for either reason — nostalgia or because it's new," said Tara Kenny, the public programs co-ordinator for Fort Whyte Alive.
The vignettes, which can be quirky, funny and emotional, have also been the subject of parody. Some lines have become so well-known that Canadians can recite them to one another.
"Burnt toast, Dr. Penfield, I can smell burnt toast," is one of the most well-known lines, coming from the Heritage Minute about how neuroscientist Dr. Wilder Penfield discovered the triggers for epileptic seizures.
"It starts to really hit home about how poignant they area," said Kenny. "I like that they take the good and the bad to show exactly what our country is about."
People who want to take in the screening on Wednesday are encouraged to dress up as their favourite Heritage Minutes character. After the screening, there will be some bannock roasting on an open fire "and we're just going to be enjoying the thousands of geese and other animals that are awake in the evening.
"It's a great place in the evening because there's not as many people around, so the animals kind of come out to play."
Some other Heritage Minutes feature:
- Louis Riel
- Sitting Bull
- Grey Owl
- Vimy Ridge
- Emily Carr
- John McCrae
- The underground railroad
- Nellie McClung
- J.S. Woodsworth
- Laura Secord
- Tommy Prince
- Winnipeg Falcons
- Andrew Mynarski
- Jackie Robinson
- Marshall McLuhan
- Winnipeg's Valour Road
- Maurice "Rocket" Richard
- Jacques Plante
- Terry Fox
- Agnes Macphail
- The Avro Arrow
- The Halifax Explosion