A historical and cultural journey waiting to be discovered

October 05, 2020

The Dawson Trail is a vestige of the past that runs through several Francophone communities in southeastern Manitoba. It was the first road built to connect the Great Lakes to the Canadian prairies. A committee has been struck to promote the trail’s many treasures.

Pierrette Sherwood is a member of the Dawson Trail Art & Heritage Committee tasked with promoting those treasures. “After spending several years down east, I returned to Manitoba in 2003. One of the first things I wanted to do when I got back was explore the Dawson Trail.”

“I knew some of its history but wanted to learn more. And then I thought it would be good to tell others about the trail, which played such a key role in Manitoba’s development.”

After sitting with the idea for several years, Sherwood placed a call in 2019. “This kind of project requires help, experts interested in sharing their knowledge.”

A committee was soon set up. “We worked hard to highlight the trail’s treasures. A lot of historical research was done to explain various points of interest.”

One of the things the committee did was create a website (1). “We hired an expert from the museum world, Mireille Lamontagne, to create our website. She was able to help us design it and make it as efficient and informative as possible, as well as appealing to potential visitors.”

“Her help was invaluable. For now, the site is in English only, but we’re working hard to get everything translated. We hope to have the translation in place by Christmas.”

The website offers a wide range of information and anecdotes about the trail, both historical and cultural.

Historical and artistic tours have also been organized, with a view to promoting the trail. Sherwood explains. “Visitors can take self-guided tours using our website. This allows them to explore the trail at their own pace.”

“We also wanted to offer an annual art tour along the way, to showcase the many local artists living along the trail, but that project was postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ultimately, the committee hopes that the project “will generate positive tourism and economic spin-offs for the communities along the trail’s path and lead to more visitors.”

It’s a long-term project. “For now, we’ve laid the foundation, but we still have three or four years of work ahead of us to achieve our goals. Later on, we’d also like to develop an interpretation plan and install explanatory panels along the trail to make it more visible.”

 

(1) Website: www.dawsontrailtreasures.ca; Facebook: Dawson Trail Art and Heritage Tour