Dana Meise (photo: William Sineux)
A Trail to Be Explored
The tracks that Dana Meise leaves behind him may well remain indelibly imprinted on Manitoba’s soil. This hiker has undertaken to walk across Canada, treading the Manitoba section of the Trans Canada Trail, the Crow Wing Trail, which cuts through the towns of St. Malo, Saint-Pierre-Jolys and Saint-Adolphe, among others. A journey and a testimonial by Dana Meise that says a lot about Manitoba’s potential for ecotourism.
“For many people, Manitoba is just a province you drive through on your way to somewhere else, but I think that stereotype is unjustified,” explains Dana Meise. “It’s one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada with a huge potential for tourist development and a myriad of hidden points of interest.
“As I was travelling through it, I discovered this area myself and observed that the history of the place was very strong, the warmth of the people beyond compare, and its friendliness unmatched in Canada,” he says.
And so Dana Meise has been hiking across Manitoba, going from town to town, meeting with the locals. It took him two months to cross the province.
“The Crow Wing Trail is of the highest quality and has great regional development potential,” he points out. “First, the fact that it is maintained extremely well makes for a very pleasant bicycle path connecting all the towns. Such rides through the prairies leading to picturesque towns with beautiful churches or lovely parks can attract countless families interested in a more eco-friendly and natural form of tourism. The signs put up all along the trail provide historical, cultural or geological information for the passersby.
“There is also a great deal to learn about these towns culturally,” he adds. “The people in these rural communities strongly feel the need to preserve their unique history and culture, which are just waiting to be discovered. The locals look after each other and that’s so nice to see. Unlike in Québec, here you can tell that there is real empathy between the francophone and anglophone communities. The fact that I was an anglophone did not stop francophone families from welcoming me with open arms as never before.”
And so Dana Meise is using the opportunity of his seven-year odessey—22,500 km of hiking—to write his travelogue, kilometer by kilometer, describing each province down to the very last detail. And he can’t say enough good things about Manitoba. “With this very descriptive book, which is in no way sensationalist, I hope to tear down all these prejudices and show what I truly experienced and observed about the provinces I hiked through,” he adds.
Crow Wing Trail Association president, Murielle Bugera, thinks this Manitoba section of the Trans Canada Trail gives nationwide visibility to the area. “In addition to drawing a healthy clientele of tourists such as hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, plus cross-country skiers in the winter, the trail could attract businesses related to these tourists,” says Murielle Bugera. “And so we are counting on ecotourism with a trail like this one to spread the word about our beautiful province’s treasures.”