Leaf Rapids lies 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg in the heart of an endless forest of pine and spruce trees, meandering sand eskers and some say 10,000 lakes. It is a place of elegance and beauty. In summer, the days are long. Indeed, there are times when the sun seems reluctant to set, it dips its head just barely in the west, and there, it paints the horizon in deep, fiery shades of reds and yellows, signaling that yet another day is about to begin. On the other hand, the winters in Leaf Rapids are long, cold and beautiful. During the shortened daytime hours, the snow sparkles and dances in the frozen sunlight. Across the night sky, the northern lights waltz to the profound eurythmics of their silent music. And the stars go on forever.
The First of its Kind
This is hardy picturesque country; it was harsh and untamed until the townsite was developed. Wild bear and moose, wolf packs, lynx and fox hunted and fed where the Town of Leaf Rapids now stands. When copper and zinc were discovered at Ruttan Lake, approximately 25 kms east of the community, Leaf Rapids was built to house employees who worked at the new minesite.
From the beginning, Leaf Rapids was never the kind of town you would expect to find in the middle of a Manitoba wilderness. In fact, it was absolutely unique. Leaf Rapids was an experimental town, a model for other communities from around the world to copy as they strove for modern convenience and luxury in a northern environment. It is built in a semi-circle of residential bays around a town centre complex, the community’s most unique feature, and the reason Leaf Rapids became an award winning town.
The complex is truly the centre of the town. Housing the bulk of the community’s service and retail outlets, residents walk or drive to the town centre on a daily basis to shop, pick up mail, attend school, browse through the town’s modern library and National Exhibition Centre, watch a movie, attend to medical or dental concerns, or simply to share a conversation with friends and neighbours over a cup of coffee. In a very real way, the town centre is the heart of Leaf Rapids.
The integrity of the forest was maintained when Leaf Rapids was built. Only those areas that were necessary for the construction of roads and homes were cut to clear the way. Today, the town stands nestled comfortably among the trees that were left, only a blink away from being completely hidden from sight as you drive by on Highway 391. Lighted trails lead into the bush from the residential bays and no home is any more than ten minutes walking distance from the town centre.
Over the years, other towns followed suit and today Leaf Rapids is not alone in offering a combination of modern urban convenience in the midst of a commanding wilderness – but Leaf Rapids was the first.
Another first that Leaf Rapids is very proud of is its ban on single use plastic bags – the first community in North America to do so. This has also brought many awards and recognition to the forward thinking ideas of Leaf Rapids.
A Recreational Paradise Summer and winter sporting facilities abound in Leaf Rapids. The Churchill River provides hundreds of kilometers of safe, navigable waterways for fishermen dreaming of trophy catches. Camping, rustic cabins, fly-in services and friendly guides ensure safety, convenience and comfort in accessing some of Manitoba’s more isolated lakes. The great fishing ranges from quota catches of Great Northern pike and walleye to rainbow trout.
A free nine hole golf course is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking scenery in northern Manitoba. The golf course, like the town itself, was designed to preserve the integrity of the natural environment. Everywhere you look, you are reminded that several decades ago you would be standing in the middle of an untrammeled wilderness.
Turnbull Lake lies 4 kms south of town and offers safe sandy beaches and crystal clear water for great family fun and entertainment. Recreational boaters and waterskiers fly across the deep waters of the lake in the distance. As the long days fade into short nights, the beach area comes aglow with outdoor barbecues and late evening picnics. Closer to the town centre there are tennis courts, playgrounds for the children, ball diamonds, track and field facilities and a football and soccer field. Two gyms provide modern basketball, volleyball and badminton courts for youth and young at heart. A youth centre provides other recreational activities.
Walking paths and bush trails wind in and out of the surrounding forest and across the crest of eskers, where sinkholes, thousands of years old, give character to the landscape. Wild blueberries blossom everywhere in August of each year – colouring the land purple – and entire families waste no time gathering bucketfuls of the succulent fruit. Trails lead to the Churchill River, past waterfalls and rapids. Here, the mighty power of the river is unleashed and unbridled as it begins to push its way northeast towards the Hudson Bay.
Winter activities include cross country skiing through an environment that sometimes feels like you are traveling through the inside of a beautiful picture postcard. Snowmobile trails crisscross the forest, passing through some of the most isolated and exquisite wilderness areas imaginable. Ice fishing shacks dot the thick ice on Turnbull Lake and the serenity of winter brings peace.
Modern Conveniences and Services
The town is accessible by vehicle along Highway 391 north of Thompson. Bus service is available five days a week. There is an airport (no services) and float plane base. A restaurant and café are available for meals and co-op store for groceries. A Field’s store located in the town centre can accommodate most of your other shopping needs.
The Leaf Rapids Education Centre houses kindergarten through Grade 12 and the Adult Education Centre combines academic upgrading, life skills, regular high school courses and employment preparation. University distance education is also available.
The Leaf Rapids Health Centre is owned and operated by the Burntwood Regional Health Authority and offers a range of essential services. The clinic is staffed with a full time physician, a lab and x-ray technologist, and other support staff. Policing is provided by the local RCMP detachment.
For information about Leaf Rapids visit www.townofleafrapids.ca