The Interlake is a region in Manitoba. Situated north of Winnipeg, between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba, the Interlake offers visitors parks, beaches and outdoor recreation. The region's lakes and rivers are popular destinations for boating, swimming and fishing.
The Interlake's towns provide an interesting glimpse into the region's rural past. Gimli, the one-time capital of New Iceland, is the region's most popular tourist destination, with an annual Icelandic Festival drawing thousands of visitors every summer.
Cities and towns
- 1 Selkirk — home of the Marine Museum of Manitoba
- 2 Gimli — the centre of Icelandic settlement in Canada
- 3 Winnipeg Beach — a lakeside resort community
The region is located north of the Assiniboine River and the City of Winnipeg. On the east, the region is bordered by Lake Winnipeg (the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world) and on the west by Lakes Manitoba, Winnipegosis and Cedar.
Combined within the natural lake borders are features of the Red River Valley, the Prairie Parklands and the lake and marshlands of the northern fringe.
The principal ethnic groups are Indigenous peoples (First Nations and Metis), Ukrainian, Polish, Icelandic, Anglo-Saxon, German and French.
- Interlake Tourism Association, ☏ , toll-free: .
English is spoken everywhere, but don't be surprised to hear other languages including French, Ukrainian, Icelandic and Cree, among others.
The Interlake is most commonly accessed by road. Take one of Highways 6, 7, 8 or 9 north from Winnipeg. If you have access to a boat, you can take the Red River north to Lake Winnipeg.
There are three small airports in the Interlake that are capable of serving small passenger aircraft. The nearest airport with commercial service is in Winnipeg.
Getting around the Interlake generally means highway driving. The road system in the Interlake is excellent. The region is served by six paved provincial highways and a network of paved or gravelled solid provincial roads. Four of the paved highways (Provincial Trunk Highways 6, 7, 8, & 9) run north and south from from the City of Winnipeg to the northern sector of the Interlake. The other two paved highways (Provincial Roads 67 and 68) run east and west. The region is also crossed by a network of well maintained provincial and municipal roads.
Most visitors to the Interlake gravitate to the shores of Lake Winnipeg or Lake Manitoba. However, there are a number of interesting sights in between that are not to be overlooked, including Oak Hammock Marsh and the Narcisse Snake Dens.
History buffs will enjoy the Martime Museum of Manitoba and its six historic ships in Selkirk, and the Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site near Selkirk, an old fur trading post.
The Prairie Dog Central is a vintage train that takes passengers from Inkster Junction station on Winnipeg's northern edge to Grosse Isle the southern Interlake. The trip takes 50-60 min, and there is a 75-90 min stopover before the return trip. Tickets from $22. Reservations required. May-Oct ☏ .
1 Narcisse Snake Dens (off Highway 17 6 km N of Narcisse). A provincial wildlife management area an hour north of Winnipeg. The dens are the winter home of tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes. These pits are the largest known concentration in the world of this particular type of snake. Their winter dens are caverns formed by the area's water-worn limestone bedrock. The snakes can viewed in April/May when they come up from their dens to the snake pits, where they mate, then they disperse into the nearby marshes for the summer. In September, you can watch them return to their dens.
Interlake really is about the lakes: boating, swimming and fishing. Winnipeg Beach and Gimli are particularly popular in the summer.
Take a self-guided tour on the Interlake Barn Quilt Trail. Visit over 50 barn quilt sites viewing the colourful, painted quilt art and the variety of designs, including the largest one to date on a wooden grain elevator in the southwest area.
1 Go birdwatching. The Interlake region offers a rich diversity of habitats with its long shorelines, rivers and wetlands straddling the aspen-parkland, boreal and prairie biomes. The region is on the busiest migratory route in North America, used by billions of bird each year. More than 100 species of birds breed in or near the Oak Hammock Marsh Wildlife Management Area, and about 300 species have been recorded here. During migration more than 100,000 waterfowl might visit the marsh in a day.
In winter, there's ice fishing, and the Gimli Ice Festival in March.