Winnipeg’s hidden summer gem

IMG_20150722_164648

Splash Dash Water Bus cruising along Assiniboine River. PHOTO: LuAnn Lovlin

Winnipeggers are known for their love of water – especially in the summer – from cottaging at ‘the lake’ to fishing at Lockport or trekking about the trails at Seven Sister Falls, once the ice is gone, we embrace our love of water in every way possible. Well, perhaps almost every way!

After three years of having its dock-to-dock bus service dry-docked because of adverse river and docking conditions, the Splash Dash Water Bus is back in service this summer and if you haven’t had the pleasure of taking this mode of transportation home from work – you must!

Is there anything more pleasurable on a summer afternoon than heading from your office tower down to the Exchange District dock at the end of McDermot Ave, in Stephen Juba Park?

The water bus runs every 15 minutes around a circuit encompassing its potential five-stop route.

IMG_20150722_164602

There’s nothing quite like a boat ride on a warm summer’s day. PHOTO: LuAnn Lovlin

A quick wave to the boat from the shore and the amenable driver pulls in and shimmies the boat up to the dock. I was the only passenger at 4:45 p.m. on a Tuesday after work – lucky me, and pity for all those folks stuck behind the wheel inching down Portage Avenue and over the Osborne Bridge!

The sun was hot, the wind was just right and being on the water has the amazing power to take your day right out of your head.

IMG_20150722_164725

Boat driver recalls how previous mayor dreamed of water transit ways. PHOTO: LuAnn Lovlin

Chatting with our driver set the stage for conversation about the loveliness of Winnipeg’s waterways year round – from water buses in the summer to skating the trails in the winter.

He went on to say that back when Glenn Murray was our city’s mayor, he had big plans for the water bus service in Winnipeg … apparently our former mayor wanted the city to support the water bus service and give riders the option to use the water bus as part of their transit system.

Less than two minutes into my ride, all I could think was too bad for all of us, former Mayor Murray’s dream did not come to pass.

That quick trip from the Exchange dock, with a brief stop at the Forks to pick up additional passengers, didn’t take more than five minutes, then off we went heading for the Hugo Street dock.

Passing by the Manitoba Legislature. PHOTO: LuAnn Lovlin

Passing by the Manitoba Legislature. PHOTO: LuAnn Lovlin

The entire ride might have taken 12 minutes – not one red light, no horns or sirens blaring – just the fresh summer breeze, and the river.

We did pass two other boats from the Splash Dash fleet – one bus heading in the opposite direction and one tour boat lulling at the back side of the Manitoba Legislature building – both vessels full of folks enjoying Winnipeg’s rivers and this well-kept summer secret.

The water bus won’t get you to work (unless you work afternoon shift) as this year’s hours are noon to 9 pm Monday through Thursdays, and noon to 11 p.m. Fridays to Sundays. One way fare is $3.50 – doesn’t this sound a whole lot better than a packed transit bus crawling through rush hour streets on a 28 degree day?
You can check the routes, times and dock locations here: www.splashdash.ca

About