Seven Rural Activity Ideas for Children

Kenza Zaoui

Are you looking for rural activities to do with your children this fall? Here are seven ideas for all tastes: a bit of history, a bit of adventure, a few treats, a few animals and a lot of discoveries!

St. Pierre Jolys Museum

Learn more about the history of the province’s francophones at the St-Pierre Jolys Museum. The site is home to important artifacts that illustrate the history of the parish and region, such as a replica of a school from the early 1900s, which your kids might find intriguing. And bring them to Goulet House, too, built in 1870.

The museum has a room dedicated to Bicolo, which will bring back memories for many parents! The mascot has appeared in La Liberté, the province’s French-language weekly, since 1972 and has been part of Franco-Manitoban culture for several generations.

If your kids have a sweet tooth, it might be best to postpone your visit until maple syrup season or grab a bite to eat at Jem Bistro!

Private guided tours are available by reservation. For information, visit the museum website here.

A Maze in Corn

A Maze in Corn near St. Adolphe has become a must-see destination, regardless of the season. Summer fields of sunflowers give way to a corn maze in the fall, which in turn becomes the largest snow maze in the world!

It took me a full hour to find my way out of the maze, and I sincerely hope you can beat that unimpressive record!

A Maze in Corn is a perfect evening outing, preferably during the week if you want to avoid crowds and not be rushed. Leave some time to climb a few straw bales, look for pumpkins and pet some farm animals. Kittens, goats, rabbits and lambs are just some of the animals on hand.

The maze only opens if the weather permits, so check out their website for daily updates and clothing tips. In September, hours are 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. In October, the site is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oh, and there’s also the Haunted Forest, which opens in October!

St. Malo Provincial Park

Another place that’s open year-round is the St. Malo Provincial Park. In the summer, you can go swimming or do other aquatic activities, such as paddleboarding and kayaking, and, of course, there’s camping (check out this map of rural campgrounds).

In the fall, go for a walk (the park boasts over 6 kilometres of trails). In the winter, take your pick from ice fishing, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, or don’t pick at all and try all three!

 

Farm and Food Discovery Centre

The Farm and Food Discovery Centre in Glenlea opened in 2011 and is run by the University of Manitoba. It’s THE place in the province to learn more about farming and raising pigs, cattle and chickens with its clear, engaging and interesting interactive panels designed with children in mind. There are pigs and a beehive on site.

The centre also offers hands-on culinary activities every weekend in the summer and at several times of the year (Halloween and Christmas in particular).

 

I attended the pizza workshop in August. For two and a half hours, you get to cook, tour the centre with a guide, cook again and then sample what you’ve prepared. It’s sure to be a hit with the entire family!

While waiting for your next gourmet cooking class, check out the many printable activities on the centre’s Facebook page. For a list of upcoming events, click here.

St. Leon Interpretation Centre

Salamanders, wind turbines, birds and ecology are the centre’s four main themes.

You can study the tiger salamanders, which are native to the region, or learn more about the site’s 73 giant metal neighbours, as well as about wind energy and nature conservation. A lookout tower and interpretive panels will help you spot local birds before you set out on a stretch of the 27,000-kilometre long “Great Trail”.

Centre hours are Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. or on request. Call 204 242-4374 or 204 825-7215 to arrange your visit.

St. Joseph Museum

This museum is another time machine of sorts that provides a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of farmers in southern Manitoba at the beginning of the 20th century.

Your kids will get to explore historical buildings (a general store, Union Point school and a house), tractors and a beautiful collection of antique cameras. If you visit during the Montcalm Festival in June, you’ll be able to take in a farm implements parade and demonstrations at the forge.

Hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until October, and then on request. To book a visit, contact the museum through its website.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a giant treasure hunt that’s free of charge. The activity is practiced all over the world, and bilingual regions are no exception. Basically, you register on the website, decide which caches to look for, read the description and then head out. You’ll need a pencil and a GPS or smart phone, since a satellite signal will tell you where to look.

Caches come in all sizes (from microscopic to several feet in length) and can be any type of object, including a box, bird feeder or magnet. The possibilities are endless. They all contain a small piece of paper that you must sign to prove your find.

This is an excellent family activity that involves a bit of adventure and discovery. Caches are usually situated in beautiful locations off the beaten track. In my own geocaching experiences, I’ve discovered churches, old mines and historical sites. Bonjour Manitoba has a few surprises in store for you in that regard, by the way. Geocaches are everywhere, from St. Malo to St-Georges to St-Pierre-Jolys, so give it a try!