It had been at least 35 years since I visited Gimli. The town had grown quite a bit and its reputation as an ethnic travel destination is now firmly established — a bit of Iceland in central Canada.
Gimli has an active summer-time harbor, used by local sailing and boating enthusiasts and commercial fisherman (who harvest Lake Winnipeg’s bountiful walleye, goldeye and whitefish, among other species). To protect the harbor from strong winds and tall waves, a six foot high concrete sea wall was constructed that extends almost 1000 feet from shore.
The seawall was an ugly grey slab so in 1977 the Gimli Art Club decided to transform it. Local artists donated thousands of hours to create scenes about the life and history of Gimli and the Interlake area. There currently are about 72 murals on the wall.
Gimli is well known in Canada for an incident known as the “Gimli Glider”., which is included as a painting on the wall. Briefly, an Air Canada flight ran out of fuel while traveling from Montreal to Edmonton in July 1983. Fortunately, the pilots knew how to glide a powerless aircraft to reach an abandoned landing strip in Gimli. Having no engine power, the jet silently glided in to make a crash landing (as the powerless nose wheels had not properly deployed). No one in the plane or on the ground was seriously injured, but the incident was the fodder of much investigation and local folklore.
There are many murals to explore that share the history and culture of the region, some of my favorites following at the end of this blog. It was a pleasant fall day when we visited and several local artists were on the wall, touching up their art. The local weather is frequently harsh on the murals so they need to be spruced up from time to time, or replaced with new ones as they deteriorate.
The Seawall has become a popular attraction and is certain worth seeing. Content on the wall is curated by a local committee.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos)