Spread along the banks of the Assiniboine River, Brandon is the second-largest city in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Previously home territory of the nomadic Sioux people, Brandon was chosen as a town site along the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881. Although the railway ultimately bypassed the location, newcomers who had already been drawn here stayed and added to the ranks of early settlers. The city’s name comes from the Blue Hills of Brandon located to the south of the city. Brandon is also nicknamed the “Wheat City” to honour the city’s prosperous farming heritage. Today Brandon has a population of over 46,000, and it was voted sixth of the best places to live in Canada by the MoneySense website in 2012.
Visitors to Brandon should make their first stop the Riverbank Discovery Centre. Built in 1996, the Riverbank Discovery Centre houses the Brandon and Region Tourism Centre, Ducks Unlimited Canada Provincial offices and other booster organisations. Open year round to the public, the centre is a wealth of information on the city of Brandon and the surrounding region.
During the summer months you can find activities ranging from bird watching to paintball in and around the City of Brandon. The Riverbank Discovery Centre is a nexus for many walking or bike paths of varying difficulty. The Assinboine River is a great place for fishing off one of the docks or relaxing on the water in a boat or canoe. Golfers will want to visit the city-run public golf course, the Wheat City Golf Course.
The Eleanor Kidd Gardens is one of the top attractions in Brandon. In summertime, families enjoy strolling through the beautiful and peaceful park system. These gardens have become a popular gathering spot for most of the community and visitors to enjoy music, picnics and other events or social gatherings. From June to August the city of Brandon holds a special Music in the Park celebration here, and local musicians put on live shows for the community in the park’s performing arts centre.
During the winter months those local hiking and biking trails turn into paths for backcountry skiing and snowmobiling, where visitors can take in some of Brandon’s frostier scenery. One of top attractions in Brandon during this season is the Winterfall of Lights. First held during the city’s 125th anniversary in 2007, the light festival creates a stunning backdrop for cold-weather pursuits and group get-togethers. Skating, skiing and sleigh rides offer exciting ways for Brandon visitors to get around and enjoy the lights from many different angles and locations.
Every year visitors to Brandon can attend numerous big events at the Keystone Centre, such as the Brandon Wheat Kings hockey games, the Manitoba Winter Fair, Manitoba AG Days and the Brandon Folk and Music Festival. Keystone Centre, originally built in 1972, has gone through considerable expansions and renovations in recent decades and, today is one of the largest multi-use exhibition grounds in all of Canada.