Gimli is a community of 2,250 people (2016) in the Interlake Region of Manitoba. It is part of the larger Rural Municipality of Gimli, which has 6,100 people. It is known best for being the home of Crown Royal whiskey, and for having more Icelandic immigrants than any other area of Canada.
The first European settlers in Gimli were Canadian Icelanders, moving west from Ontario to the region they called "New Iceland".
Volcanic eruptions in Iceland soon spurred additional immigration. In 1875 300 people left Iceland, arrived in Ontario and took a ship to Duluth, from there they made their way to Grand Forks, North Dakota and took a steamer up to the mouth of the Assinboine. 75-100 people stayed in the Winnipeg area while the rest made their way to Lake Winnipeg and onto boats; they landed south of Gimli at Willow Island and then walked the rest of the way. A second group of approximately 800 would follow in their footsteps the next year.
The Canadian Pacific Railway reached Gimli in 1906 and soon the town and surrounding region became a tourist and vacation destination for people from Winnipeg. By the 1930s the south shore area of Gimli began to see cottages replacing farmland. With 68 km (42 mi) of shoreline on Lake Winnipeg, Gimli is a popular fishing destination in summer.
During World War II an area west of the community was appropriated by the Royal Canadian Air Force to construct a training facility. RCAF Station Gimli was opened in 1943 and remained in operation until 1945. The Station was reactivated in 1950 and was closed again in 1971.
Gimli is approximately:
- 1 hour north of Winnipeg. Take Highway 7 and exit onto Hwy 231 at Fraserwood, Hwy 8 or 9 will all get you there.
- 3½ hours north of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Take Interstate 29 to the border then Highway 75 to Winnipeg.
Greyhound Canada terminated all services in Western Canada and Northern Ontario effective October 31, 2018.
As Gimli is such a small town you can walk anywhere. The closer you get to the beach the harder parking is to find on hot weekends.
- The New Iceland Heritage Museum, ☏ . The New Iceland Heritage Museum has exhibits at two sites in Gimli.
- Waterfront Centre Gimli, 108 - 94 1st Avenue. Open year-round, seven days a week, has multi-media exhibits
- Lake Winnipeg Visitor Centre (LWVC) (at Gimli Harbour on Centre Street). daily in summer, 10AM-6PM. Open seasonally, the LWVC pays tribute to the fishing industry and interprets the natural history of Lake Winnipeg
- Gimli Viking Statue, 104 2nd Avenue.
- Gimli Glider Museum, 119b 1st Avenue, Lakeview Resort and Conference Centre, ☏ . Daily 11AM-5PM. Those interested in aviation history will be interested in this exhibit. The "Gimli Glider" put down at the former Air Force base, now the Gimli Industrial Park Airport, about 2 km west of town. It was an Air Canada 767 that ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet (12,500 m) in 1983, and glided to a safe landing at Gimli. Family $20 (2 adults and 2 or more youth), adults $7, seniors $6 (over 60), youth $5 (6-18).
The public beachfront is lovely for barefoot sunset walks on the water.
- Enjoy the Splash Park in Gimli Park.
- Icelandic Festival (Islendingadagurinn). An annual festival held in early August, Islendingadagurinn celebrates the fact that Manitoba is home to the largest Icelandic population in the world outside of Iceland. The festivities include a film festival, a music festival, and daily Viking battle re-enactments.
Gimli is home to a number of small shops along Main Street and First Avenue targeted toward visitors. Handmade jewellery, unique artwork, and other interesting items can be purchased in a range of prices.
- Europa, 81-1st Ave. Awesome homemade Greek food and fine pizza. Large portions. Also has an ice cream parlour inside. Right in the center of town by the beach. Service is superb. American classics like fries and burgers also tasty.
- Beach Boy, 70 1st Avenue. Good Greek food, burgers, sandwiches and they are known for their pickerel dinner. Also serves ice cream. Also licensed. Dine in and take out available. Parking nearby.
- Locals drink at the Gimli Grinder pub. It's a live music venue.
- Always Summer Bed and Breakfast, 1-3rd Avenue, ☏ .
- Viking Lodge, 78 7th Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 22 rooms (5 kitchenettes), Little Vikings Indoor Playground, Viking Chinese Food Restaurant, Viking Bar and VLT Lounge, cold beer vendor. From $90.
- Lakeview Hotels & Resort, 10 Centre Street, ☏ . Hotel right on beach in the heart of town, Seagulls restaurant and Pier Lounge pub. Parking on site, VLTs.