Manitoba’s beautiful Hecla Island is covered in its entirety by Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park, one of the province’s largest contiguous areas of protected wilderness. Dotted with pristine beaches, well-preserved Icelandic fishing villages, and moose-mowed marshlands, it’s the perfect place to spend a few days in the great outdoors.
Sights abound at the end of the 90-minute drive north from Winnipeg. Once you set foot on Hecla Island, make sure you make time to see these seven memorable attractions.
1.- Hecla Village
Decades ago, Hecla Island was home to a bustling fishery staffed by the descendants of Icelandic emigres who braved the long ocean- and land-crossing to reach the heart of the North American continent in the 1870s.
The fishery collapsed in the 1960s, but Hecla Village remains as a lovingly preserved homage to its former inhabitants’ heritage and customs. Take a self-guided walking tour or visit when a ranger is on duty for the “full Hecla” experience.
2.- Gull Harbour Lighthouse
Located near Gull Harbour Marina, a small seasonal resort owned by local resident David Janeson and his wife Lori Janeson, Gull Harbour Lighthouse is a humble reminder of the island’s maritime past. Today, it’s a popular destination for hikers, birdwatchers, and photographers looking to capture the perfect Lake Winnipeg memory.
3.- Grassy Narrows Marsh
Grassy Narrows Marsh is an expansive wetland that contains some of the richest and most varied habitat in this part of Manitoba. There’s no better place on Hecla Island to catch a glimpse of the elusive moose, the spirit animal of so many Manitobans. Even if you don’t see one of the big fellas, you’re sure to encounter waterfowl and small mammals.
4.- Lakeview Hecla Resort
High-end Lakeview Hecla Resort boasts a fine dining restaurant, an 18-hole championship golf course, and a full-service spa, among other tony amenities. In short, it’s an ideal place to relax and unwind — should your budget permit. If you’re staying somewhere more modest, the grounds are still worth a visit.
5.- Sunset Beach
Eager to capture the perfect sunset photograph? Head to Sunset Beach, which lives up to its name and then some. In full sun, Sunset Beach is a fine place for a leisurely walk or (weather permitting) a quick dip.
6.- West Quarry Trail
Up for a longer hike? Hit West Quarry Trail, a multi-hour loop that wends through a variety of island habitats, past a disused quarry, and through scattered remnants of First Nations settlements that long predate the Icelanders. Don’t forget your camera — birds tend to be less wary in this lesser-traveled part of Hecla.
7.- The Wetlands Boardwalk
Head out on the boardwalk and find yourself lost in a sea of waving grasses. It’s just you, the sky, and the whispering wind out here. Make it all the way to the end for a rewarding view of Lake Winnipeg’s seemingly endless expanse.