In 2004, when the Spirit Way Master Plan was presented to City Council, the goal was to create a Manitoba Star Attraction. After 5 years, over $1.3 million raised, and an unbelievable amount of volunteer effort and community support, Minister of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Eric Robinson, has informed the Board that Spirit Way is officially designated as a Manitoba Star Attraction! That signifies it is one of the top tourist attractions in the province of Manitoba. It is Thompson’s second MSA after the Heritage North Museum.
Travel Manitoba, on their website, www.travelmanitoba.com, now shows Spirit Way as one of the top 20 places to visit in the Province. Considering that Spirit Way did not exist five years ago, that is a tremendous accomplishment. Once the yellow star logo goes on all Travel Manitoba literature and on the highway sign, it has been shown that tourist visits increase. People want to see what’s unique and different about Manitoba.
For rubber tire travellers heading North, the Star Attractions are Pisew Falls, Heritage North Museum, Spirit Way, and then Churchill Polar Bear tours. Spirit Way now has great company! Because Spirit Way is a walkway with various points of interest, it offers a range of interests to the visitor… the only Robert Bateman painting as a mural and the largest lighted mural in the world, the start of Canada’s largest rock sculpture, a stunning Norseman float plane overlooking the seaplane base, a unique tribute to firefighters (coming soon), and 24 beautiful wolf statues along the Way are just some of the art, culture, and heritage tributes the embody Spirit Way. Someone said for any community to undertake one or two such tributes would be special, but to have 16 Points of Interest is remarkable.
For those travelers going to Churchill to see beluga whales or polar bears, stopping a day or two in Thompson will add to their adventure. Monthly guided public walking tours are planned for this summer. Downloadable audio tours will be available on this website later this year. By next year, we expect to have regular guided walking tours of Spirit Way.
Spirit Way is a credit to all the partners, supporters and volunteers who made it happen. Thompson can show itself with pride. The number of people who are constantly taking photos daily of the various sites to take home and show their friends puts Thompson in a new light. Taking photos within the community in this manner seldom happened five years ago.
Spirit Way is not finished. Consultant’s work is progressing on a Canadian Centre for Aboriginal Art – The Spirit Way Arts Centre. More details will become known in late summer. This would be a signature facility in Thompson and unique in Canada. Yet, others are working hard on a strategic plan to position Thompson as Wolf Capital of Canada. Again, more details will be forthcoming later this year. Some people feel there are two more Manitoba Star Attractions in Thompson’s future. Considering that only Winnipeg, Brandon and Stonewall have two or more Star Attractions, Thompson is defining itself in a new way.
Spread the word that Thompson has become a unique and interesting place to visit! And please keep coming back to this website to stay current with new developments.