When I say I grew up in Manitoba, most people roll their eyes and think “How much fun could the praries be?”. Well, first of all, there are lots of sweet trails in the Manitoba praries, and 2nd, the part of Manitoba I grew up in was not praries. It was the Canadian Shield. Think rocky outcroppings, rugged landscape, and more lakes than there are people. And maybe a few mosquitoes too.
There are lots of hiking options, but the canoeing is pretty sweet to. One of my favourite canoe routes is Elbow Lake in Nopiming Provincial Park. The parking area and campground is at Tulabi Falls, about 45 minutes north of the town of Lac Du Bonnet. Its perfect for a family day trip of a week long backcountry adventure. On weekends and during summer the designated campsites can get fuller near the put-in, but as you get past Elbow Lake (a good 1 day paddle from the in) people and boats become more scarce.
The camp spots are frequent enough that you can be choosy, but far enough apart to keep real novice paddlers working on a popular weekend. Please use the designated spots, there are enough of them. Random camping might be fun, but it really hurts the ecosystem when you clear a space for a tent and rampage the bush for firewood.
The fishing is excellent with huge pike and pickerel making daily dinners, but you may need a Manitoba and Ontario license, depending on how far in you go. The border is at Snowshoe Lake, a 2 day paddle from the launch.
Be prepared for portages and pack accordingly. The longest is just over a kilometer and there are 3 to reach Elbow Lake and about 6 to reach Snowshoe. The portages are well used near Tulabi, but degrade as you get further from civilization. Get ready to get wet feet, even if it’s not raining. There are trail maps (sometimes) available at the trailhead, but the trail is pretty clear. I have gotten lost leaving Elbow Lake before, so maps are just as necessary on this trip as on any backwoods adventure. The 1:250 000 government topographical map that covers this area is 52L.
There are lots of other river/lake trips in this area. Gem Lake is another great trip. If you want some white water and longer trips, the Manigotagan River is good too. I did 28 days on the Bloodvein river, which is a Heritage River full of all levels of everything.
Manitoba is not only praries. Remember that next time you are looking for your next great adventure.