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.
- 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 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.
There is no intercity bus service to Gimli (Nov 2019).
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.
- 1 The New Iceland Heritage Museum, #108 – 94 1st Avenue, ☏ . M-F 10AM-4PM, Sa 1-4PM. The New Iceland Heritage Museum has exhibits at two sites in Gimli. It explores the history and development of New Iceland, and the natural history of Lake Winnipeg and its fishing industry.
- Gimli Viking Statue, 104 2nd Avenue.
- Gimli Glider Museum, 119b 1st Avenue, Lakeview Resort and Conference Centre, ☏ . Daily 11AM-5PM. The "Gimli Glider" 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. It put down at the former Air Force base, now the Gimli Industrial Park Airport, about 2 km west of town. Family $20 (2 adults and 2 or more youth), adults $7, seniors $6 (over 60), youth $5 (6-18).
- Harbour wall murals. The outdoor seawall gallery displays 72 small murals that show Gimli's history, landmarks from around Manitoba and important events.
The public beachfront is lovely for barefoot sunset walks on the water.
- 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. You can become an honorary Icelander by eating dried fish and knocking back a shot of Icelandic schnapps. Watch or compete in the Islendingadunk, in which two combatants sit on a soap-lubricated plastic pole suspended over the water. Each tries to bat their opponent off the pole and into the water using a wet sack filled with sponge.
- Gimli Ice Festival. The first weekend of March at the harbour in Gimli you'll find on-the-lake car racing, and mini sled racing for youth. There's a frozen fish toss, story telling, ice fishing, and a family ice sculpture area. Have Bannock & Tea at the harbour. Vikings make an appearance at the museum with fighting demos and an indoor village.
- Ice fishing in the winter.
- Gimli Film Festival. Late July. A 5-day festival of films by Manitoban and Canadian filmmakers with a selection of feature films and documentaries from around the world. Four indoor venues and free on-the-beach movies. Q & As with filmmakers. Workshop and panels for aspiring filmmakers.
- Enjoy the Splash Park in Gimli Park.
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.
- H.P. Tergesen & Sons, 82 1st Avenue, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. This Gimli institution was established in 1899 as a general store and has been passed down through four generations of Tergesens. The store carries clothing, locally-made jewellery, unique Gimli souvenirs and books.
- 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.
- Flatland Coffee, 41 Centre Street, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-3PM.
- Locals drink at the Gimli Grinder pub. It's a live music venue.
- Ship & Plough Tavern, 42 Centre St, ☏ . Daily noon-10PM. A gastropub that features many Manitoba products, and tap beers made by local craft brewers. Live music, stand-up comedy, open mic, games night, and pub quizzes.
- Always Summer Bed and Breakfast, 1-3rd Avenue, ☏ .
- Viking Lodge, 78 7th Street, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 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.