Wheels to ’43 – Backcountry Bicycle Adventure

There is nothing I love more than a mother who wants to make sure all of her family members are taken care of, during a summer vacation. Particularly, moms who also enjoy exposing her children to the wonders of nature through requesting and arranging for programs, customized specifically for their family.

Family bicycle adventure_Riding Mountain National Park

Today, I had the privilege of taking a family of five (mom and her husband and two kids, and mom’s sister) out on a very special trip that we (Earth Rhythms) have been guiding for over 15 years. Wheels to ’43 is a trip into the heart of the intriguing history of a Prisoner of War Camp (PoW) for German soldiers, that was located in the wilderness of Riding Mountain National Park from 1943 – 45.

This is a good summer physical activity – 11.2 km (7 miles) one way or 22.4 km return; it combines an all-day guided nature trip (identifying wildlife tracks; bird calls; animal scats), with a peek into a cultural and historical event that was very unique in Canada – German prisoner of war camp (PoW), and the opportunity for some unique photography. It helped that we were able to take advantage of the archaeological research that is ongoing in this location.  

We use a variety of interactive tools to help turn this backcountry adventure trip into a memorable experience: Reading stories from historical documents, newspapers, and personal anecdotes from previous prisoners; locating the different buildings that existed onsite from photographs and digital elevation maps; being detectives in “20 questions” to figure out some unique treasures; and walking around the site to discover various archaeological middens, and old wooden canoes carved by the prisoners.

Everyone returned home, feeling the spirit of elk, prisoners of war, and carrying new insights about this unique backcountry historical site. 22 km by bike on a day that was in excess of 27C, and a high Humidex was a great achievement for all who took part in this adventure trip.

Earth Rhythms provides fall backcountry bicycle adventures for families and small groups to photograph wildlife, experience the wilderness, and look for evidence of moose, elk, coyotes and other wild species. Call us at 1.888.301.0030 to book your small group guided day trip into Riding Mountain’s wilderness and experience a fall wildlife immersion!


Bergamots and Nodding Onions ablaze

Fire in natural systems is a renewal agent. It’s like having a glass of fresh carrot, beet, ginger and spinach juice. Nutrients are released. The grasslands of Riding Mountain National Park are being carefully restored through the use of fire as an agent of renewal. One of the best places to experience this rejuvenation right now are the Lake Audy grasslands.


Yesterday, as I traveled through the Lake Audy grasslands, getting ready for a family group who will be biking with me next week, I took a few photos of the burst of bergamots, nodding wild onion, and brown-eyed susans that are the more brilliantly coloured representatives that have burst out from this spring’s prescribed burn.

I feel awed when in the presence of this “nature bloom”.  It’s like being up in the Yukon where fireweed glows across hundreds of acres of burned lands. Or, perhaps in Namibia where spring rains bring out the wildflowers. While this bloom is on a smaller scale, it is nevertheless awe-inspring. Perhaps, not the least, because this beautiful shade of bergamot pink is one of my photographing colours. I have been photographing the Riding Mountain area for over 30 years. We provide photo safaris in 4-seasons for travelers to learn to use their digital “point and shoots”, or for seasoned photographers to discover unique locations to photograph nature and wildlife.

Call Celes at Earth Rhythms for a tailor made photo safari at 1.888.301.0030 or email him at celes.davar at earthrhythms.ca

Please take a moment to see the five slides below advance automatically as a slideshow, and revel in the colour pink from the fescue prairies.  

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Garbage dumps are an archaeologist’s chocolate

Garbage dumps are an archaeologist’s chocolate“. With those words, Adrian Myers, PhD Candidate, with the Department of Anthropology & Stanford Archaeology Centre, Stanford University, gave me and insight to his sense of humour in the midst of a hectic and intense summer field season.

Along with a number of other colleagues that forms part of his team, they are mapping, excavating and discovering the archaeological history of the Whitewater Lake prisoner of war camp which existed between 1943-45. Adrian brings a passion for his work, a great sense of humour, and a good understanding of a research methods approach for this kind of research.

Earth Rhythms has been taking groups out to explore Whitewater Lake’s nature and history for over 15 years. It is great to add this archaeological chapter to the story of Whitewater Lake. Thanks to Parks Canada’s support of this research initiative, this story is coming to light in many ways. Our program – Wheels to ’43 – offers a great glimpse into the character of Riding Mountain’s backcountry as well as the spirits of years passed. Using unique interactive methods, this “backcountry experience” becomes fun and informative.

If you are interested in more information about this project, you can find out more at the Whitewater Archaeology Project blog site. Please note that this is a research site, and as such it is a location for learning and research. It is illegal to remove any artifacts from the site.

I enjoyed the bike trip in, realizing what poor physical shape I was in. The next few times will be much better. Please contact Earth Rhythms at celes.davar@earthrhythms.ca or call 1.888.301.0030 if you are interested in a customized (tailor made) trip to learn about the wildlife, history and archaeology of this unique location.