Discover Gimli, Manitoba: A Blend of History and Tourism

Gimli, Manitoba, is an unincorporated community nestled on the west side of Lake Winnipeg in Canada. This charming community, with a population of 2,345 according to the 2021 Canadian census, is known for its strong Icelandic roots, vibrant tourism, and rich history.

The History of Gimli, Manitoba

The first European settlers in Gimli were Canadian Icelanders who began settling the area in 1875. These settlers were part of the New Iceland settlement in Manitoba, fleeing volcanic eruptions in their homeland. The community of Gimli developed a unique constitution of by-laws for local government, which remained in effect until 1887.

Gimli was incorporated as a village on March 6, 1908, and held town status between December 31, 1946, and January 1, 2003, when it amalgamated with the RM of Gimli. The Canadian Pacific Railway reached Gimli in 1906, transforming the town and surrounding region into a tourist and vacation destination.

During World War II, the Royal Canadian Air Force constructed a training facility, RCAF Station Gimli, west of the community. The station was operational from 1943 to 1945 and was reactivated in 1950 before finally closing in 1971.

In 1983, the Gimli Industrial Park Airport gained fame when an Air Canada Boeing 767 ran out of fuel over southern Manitoba and successfully glided to a landing at Gimli Motorsport Park. This incident gave birth to the term "Gimli Glider."

The Meaning Behind the Name: Gimli, Manitoba

Gimli is an Icelandic variant form of Gimlé, a place in Nordic mythology where the righteous survivors of Ragnarök are foretold to live. It is described as the most beautiful place on Earth, more beautiful than the Sun. The etymology of Gimli likely means "the place protected from fire," combining two Old Nordic elements: gimr "fire" and hlé "protected place."

The Climate of Gimli, Manitoba

Gimli, Manitoba, experiences a humid continental climate (Dfb) under the Köppen climate classification. This climate is characterized by vast temperature differences between summer and winter, owing to its relatively northerly latitude and distance to coastlines. Summers are warm and sometimes hot, while winters can be bitterly cold.

The Demographics of Gimli, Manitoba

Gimli, Manitoba, is home to an aging population, with the average age of a Gimlungar at 51.1 years old. The community is the cultural heartland of Icelanders in Manitoba and the country as a whole, with 28.4% of residents claiming some Icelandic heritage. English is the mother tongue of 89.3% of Gimlungars.

The Culture of Gimli, Manitoba

Gimli, Manitoba, is notable for its Icelandic culture and celebrates this unique heritage throughout the year. The Gimli Film Festival is a five-day summer event held annually, featuring an 11-metre outdoor screen on Lake Winnipeg. The Gimli Seawall Gallery, a cement wall 977 feet long featuring 72 murals, depicts the history and stories of the community.

The Icelandic Festival in Gimli, Manitoba

The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba has been celebrated in Gimli since 1932. This three-day event attracts several thousand tourists each year during the first weekend in August. The festival features artworks from jewellery to paintings, traditional Icelandic dishes, and a reenactment of a Norse shield wall battle.

Sunfest in Gimli, Manitoba

Gimli, Manitoba, was the host of the Sunfest rock festival, held at Gimli Motorsports Park every August from 1990 to 1996. This event was attended by tens of thousands of people every year.

The Infrastructure of Gimli, Manitoba

Gimli Harbour

Gimli Harbour, the largest harbour on Lake Winnipeg, was built in 1900 with a grant from the Government of Canada. Today, it serves as an important economic driver for the community, supporting both tourism and commercial fishery.

Utilities in Gimli, Manitoba

In 2016, the Province and Federal government announced cost-shared upgrades to the water treatment and distribution systems in Gimli. The project, completed in November 2018, included a new Water Treatment Plant, two wells, and replacement of several meters of pipes. The water distribution infrastructure serves Gimli and the nearby cottages of Pelican Beach.

Discover the charm of Gimli, Manitoba, a community that beautifully blends history, culture, and tourism.