NAR: About 90 minutes north of Winnipeg along the west shore is the town
of Gimli. A unique beach community on Lake Winnipeg. A town with many
dimensions and a lot of history. Bill Barlow is a high school teacher
and mayor of Gimli.
BARLOW: I applied for a teaching
job and was interviewed and hired.
Well it's almost 32 years ago now.
Once I was here, once I had this
job, the reason I stayed had a
whole lot to do with geography.
I mean here we are on the shores
of one of the world's great lakes
an absolutely remarkable body of
there were other things too, I
mean the story of the Icelanders
scraping ashore here in 1875 and
how they, in the face of really
great hardship made this community
a well planned community.
geography, there's the whole ethnic
cultural thing. That spirit of
tolerance, that progressive view
of where this community is in terms
of the world around us, that is
extremely attractive. It's a great
place to be.
have quite a cultural life the
signal event of the year is the
Icelandic festival. Islendingadagurinn,
the day of the Icelander, which
is celebrated on the long weekend
here in August. This little town
of two thousand has about 30,000-35,000
in it for that celebration.
a great celebration of that cultural
fact, that those people in the
face of incredible hardship, established
here a great foundation for a wonderful
Today Gimli is the lake's largest
community. It's a full service
town. And many are choosing to
live and work from Gimli.
BARLOW: The quality of life that
is here is so attractive. People
are coming to Gimli to live in
the sort of 55 plus early retirement
group which is a growth industry,
people do find the area so attractive
that the growth in that area is
really quite phenomenal.
name Gimli is certainly interesting
to have a look at we know that
Gimli is a place in Norse mythology
where the righteous spend eternity.
The fact that the early settlers
in spite of having gone through
a horrible winter and disease and
so on still had the vision to name
this place Gimli, which is a kind
The first Europeans to settle on
the lake were the Icelanders who
arrived in 1875. Fleeing difficult
times including volcanoes, the
first arrivals liked what they
saw. Their new paradise Gimli was
teeming with fish. And in the woodlands
game and berries were in abundance.
The Icelanders received exclusive
settlement right to an area of
812 sq km, and till 1877 operated
as their own independent republic.
While flooding, smallpox and scurvy
threatened to destroy the community
BARLOW: Today Gimli, the town of
Gimli, a community of about 2000
people, permanent residents. It's
surrounded by the rural municipality
of Gimli, with another 3500 permanent
residents. In the summertime, of
course those populations quadruple
in terms of people who are summer
you move north of the harbour there's
a full kilometre of very excellent
beach, which on a hot summer weekend
will have four or five thousand
people basking in the sun and dipping
in those great refreshing waters
of Lake Winnipeg.
on the shores of this great lake
and it's so much a part of the
history of Gimli.
We have here in Gimli one of the finest harbours that you'll find anywhere
between the lakehead and Vancouver. It's a prairie harbour, and we have here
a prairie ocean.
And I think people are always surprised when they come and can't believe
it's in the Canadian prairie.
you will see when you come into
the harbour is Gimli's first industry,
the commercial fishing industry
that is alive and well as it was
when it was first established in
the 1870's. In three seasons of
the year, in spring and fall and
winter, our fishing fleet is on
the lake, reaping the bounty of