When talking about The Forks in Winnipeg, one always imagines the Forks Market. And a dirty old train yard being at its origin.


Little is ever said about the origins of The Forks. Origins that go back at least 15,000 years. Now this is how the original inhabitants talk about these origins…

First off, I have to tell you that The Forks, even if it looks a great place to live, is a floodable area. Nobody is supposed to live there or even stay there for an extended period of time. It has been like that for thousands of years. No First Nations lived here on a permanent basis. All of the pictures in this post have been taken in and around The Forks.

This is a story about the origin of The Forks and its surroundings.

Many, many thousands of years ago, the world was full of animals, plants and people. Not many people, but all the more animals and plants. But none of them had a name, and that had to change. Wanabozho was designated to name everything.

Old roadOld road

The trees, the plants, the animals, everything had to have a name. But that was a tough task to do alone, so Wanabozho asked the Creator: “Can you help me out, because this is going to be lonely and long!”. The Creator answered: “Alright, I’ll give you a friend, a companion, one that will go with you, and be faithful to you wherever you have to go.” The friend was the wolf.

The Footbridge, decorated with lanternsThe Footbridge, decorated with lanterns

So the wolf and Wanabozho went around the world naming everything, all the trees all the animals, everything. “What do you call that? - We’ll call that one a loon”. And so on, all over the world. One time, Wanabozho wanted to build a fire because was getting quite late and cold.

But Wolf wanted to hang out for a little while longer. So Wanabozho tells the wolf: “Don’t cross the lake, even though it’s ice, don’t go there. Because the Manitou is there and he’s mad at me and he might want to take away your life.” But it had gotten very late and the wolf said: “If I run very fast, the Manitou won’t even know I’m there.” So he decides to just do it. So he ran off, very fast. But he didn’t make it.

The end of the Assiniboine RiverThe end of the Assiniboine River

The Manitou, the water spirit, took his life. It greatly upset Wanabozho, and he got so mad, he declared war on the water spirit. The water spirits in retaliation said: “We’re gonna take everything that you love and cherish, because you started naming all the stuff and that’s pretty good work there. So we’re gonna take that all away from you.”

Flooded, for the most partFlooded, for the most part

And they flooded the earth. So all the animals were swimming for their lives and all were taking turns on the backs of the great white bears. Wanabozho realises that they’re all not going to make it.

He said: “If we could just get back that earth, that land, we’ll do ceremonies, we’ll make new land and between those lands my dear white bear, you can swim.” So they asked the great white bear to swim as far as he could to find that lost land.

By night...By night

The great white bear swam and swam, came back and said: “It’s too far, I don’t think any animal’s gonna make it!” They all took turns with this, many of them almost did make it, most drowned.

Then Muskrat swam, and was there the longest, even too long, everyone was thinking he must have drowned too. But then they saw a shadowy shape coming back, floating and when they got to it and saw it was the muskrat, belly up, so they were very sad. But when Wanabozho opened a paw, because it was clenching something, they found the earth, the paw was clenching earth!

Mystery at Oodena, The ForksMystery at Oodena, The Forks

They were all happy, Muskrat made it! He did it, He found earth! And Wanabozho took that earth and said, “Who among you would sacrifice their life too so that we all can live?”

And it was Turtle that came forward, saying, “Put it on my shell!” So, Wanabozho put the earth on the shell and asked for all the sacred elements to breathe life into it, the air, the fire, the earth and the four winds and it started forming land.

Green is coming backGreen is coming back

Grass was growing, trees and mountains too, and it grew and grew and grew to what we call today “Turtle Island”. That is why a lot of indigenous tribes call the area around Winnipeg Turtle Island.

And they call the Forks, the Heart of Turtle Island.

Top of The Forks MarketTop of The Forks Market

Today, The Forks are still not inhabitable. The land is still floodable and is still very much impregnated with the water spirits. If you are sensitive enough, you will feel something there. Otherwise, just go there and enjoy the place on a sunny afternoon.

This story was told to me by Allen Sutherland, a master story teller of First Nations History.

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5 days 14 hours

Thanks :) !

5 days 17 hours

---Very nice Blog Henk - some nice shots there...-:)

10 days 10 hours

Presets can speed up your workflow a lot, provided you have plenty of the same type of pictures. People doing weddings will a ...

10 days 11 hours

Hi, I hadn't noticed that the typing colour was that dark... changed it to pure white, that should do it ... Henk

10 days 12 hours

I certainly agree the use of presets will discourage people learning their own methods but they can offer a shortcut to fulfi ...

1 month

Well, I was told so by a "pro" that later recanted... :-) I removed the name, so at least it is now correct.

josie brendle
1 month 1 day

nice blog but sorry the horses are not Clydesdales. Those are a little bigger. :)

1 month 2 days

Test comment here

Henk Von Pickartz
1 month 2 days

This is a comment. I will see if this works or if this will be taken over by spammers. If so, then I will take it down again.