Assiniboine Park is the main urban park, gathering place and nature destination in the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and to many who visit the City of Winnipeg it is the most memorable natural attraction and recreation destination they will visit while in the region.
Assiniboine Park measures over 153 hectares (402 acres). It is situated next to one of the largest urban forests in Canada called the Assiniboine Forest. The park is very well developed while the forest next door is left in a wilderness state.
Assiniboine Park dates back to the early 1900s when in 1904 the City of Winnipeg purchased 115 hectares (283 acres) of land on the southern banks of the Assiniboine River. The land was designated as a protected park and was named "Suburban Park" for the first ten years until it was renamed... Assiniboine Park.
Assiniboine Park was the first park in the City of Winnipeg. Since its early beginnings the park has grown into a major sightseeing and activity destination in the region. Some of the earlier attractions to take root in the park include the 1914 Palm House, 1907 Formal Garden and the 1929 Pavilion Gallery Museum (artifacts and art).
The Palm House has gone under some renovations since its early beginnings. In 1968 a new Palm House was constructed over and around the old existing attraction. Together with the Display Garden they form "The Conservatory". It is a large complex which houses over 8,000 non-native plants and trees - it is reminiscent of a forest with many plants not known for growing in the province of Manitoba.
The Assiniboine Park is treated to many gardens and floral displays. Some floral displays are indoors and some outdoors making it a year round destination.
There are many gardens in Assiniboine Park ideal for weddings, business meetings and special occasion celebrations and photos. So much so there are sections of the park which can be reserved for such an occasion like the Foyer Gallery (art gallery, gift shop & restaurant), Palm House (wilderness gardens) and the Floral Atrium.
There are many gardens, not all floral, in Assiniboine Park including the Herb Garden, Garden of Life, Daylily Garden, V.O.N Cutting Garden, Lily Garden, Mayors Grove, Butterfly Gardens, English Garden, Citizens Hall of Fame, Leo Mol Garden and the 1907 Formal Garden.
The Leo Mol Garden is part of and next to the English Garden. They are both housed in an enclosed section of the park. The Leo Mol is an escape for artists and the gardens is a horticultural gem.
The Leo Mol Garden includes outdoor sculptures, bronze statues and porcelains. A walking path explores from one statue to another. On site is the Schoolhouse Studio. It is where artists gather to work... and it operates as a gift shop and base for providing interpretive guided tours.
The Assiniboine Park is a recreation destination as well. There are some wide open spaces covered in grass lawns and shaded by groves of trees. People arrive to read books, play catch and enjoy picnics. Not far off in the distance are some sporting fields used for soccer, lawn bowling, bocce ball, baseball, volleyball and cricket.
There are many kilometres of recreation paths connecting facilities, services, gardens and attractions together. Some of them include an animal zoo, duck pond, outdoor stage, steam train ride, coffee house, restaurant, bike rentals, day use picnic sites, washrooms and a children's playground.
For the young ones the Children's Nature Playground is a popular destination. It is a large play area with tree forts, playground apparatus like swings and slides and some cool willow tree tunnels. In addition there are some mazes, sculptures and a large garden area designed as the popular board game "Snakes & Ladders".
For the grown ups there is an outdoor stage called the Lyric Theatre. It is a summer bandshell and the site of jazz concerts, opera, stage shows, music symphonies, ballets, festivals and educational programs.
Assiniboine Park is not just a summer destination. Oh no. During the snow months the park becomes a winter wonderland straight out of a fairy tale. There are lights decorating buildings and artists having their way with the snow creating snow forts and ice sculptures. To warm up there are often open fire pits roaring with flames as people gather around singing Xmas carols.
For the more active the winter pathways in the park become a 5 kilometre network of xc ski trails. After a day on the trails head back to the Duck Pond where there is a warming shelter and some good stories shared by the locals.