Heading north out of Riding Mountain National Park on Hwy-10, you’ll soon hit DAUPHIN. Founded as a French fur-trading post in 1739, it’s now a pleasant town that straggles across the flat prairie landscape and would be largely unremarkable, if it weren’t for the preservation of its Ukrainian ancestry. Those who cleared and settled this part of Manitoba between 1896 and 1925 assimilated rather more slowly into local culture, leaving the onion domes of Ukrainian Orthodox churches scattered throughout the region.
The National Ukrainian Festival (cnuf.ca) celebrates Dauphin’s ancestry on the first weekend of August at a purpose-built complex on the edge of Riding Mountain Park. The complex has a splendid thousand-seat hillside amphitheatre, ideal for music and dance performances, and a tiny heritage village dedicated to early Ukrainian settlers.