President: Iris Reilly
The first introduction to The Friendship Force organization in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada was held at a meeting on October 28, 2009. At the third meeting, held on February 19, 2009 the membership reached 27 members. We received our charter on March 06, 2009. An inbound exchange (now called Journey) from Belgium and an outbound exchange to Costa Rica were successfully planned in 2010.
Brandon, situated on the banks of the Assiniboine River, with a population of approximately 43,000 residents, was incorporated as a city in 1882 and acquired its name from General Rosser. The city is situated in the southwest corner of Manitoba and is located 100 kms from the International Peace Gardens and the USA border.
Nicknamed the “Wheat City” recognizing the rich agricultural heritage and its reputation as a prosperous farming community, Brandon continues to prosper and grow as an agri-business center. It is a multi-cultural prairie city with shops and restaurants that highlight the diverse cultures. Brandon and surrounding areas are surrounded by five parks.Approximately 100 kms north of Brandon, is Riding Mountain National Park. This park covers 3000 kms of vegetation ranging from grassy meadows to boreal forest. It has an abundance of wildlife, with 400 kms of trails for hiking, bicycle and horseback riding, and has an accessible handicap boardwalk at Ominnik Marsh. At the foot of the mountain is a spring fed lake called Clear Lake, the home of one of Canada’s most challenging golf courses. Wasagaming is a small tourist town located in the hub of this resort area.Spruce Woods Provincial Park is about 70 kms south of Brandon and offers a unique desert-like environment with rolling hills, hiking trails, and an eerie spring-fed pond called the Devil’s Punchbowl. Our Army base (CFRB Shilo) is located on the edge of this park.
Turtle Mountain Provincial Park is about 70 kms south of Brandon and is composed largely of deciduous forest, 200 lakes and wetlands that straddle the USA border and Southwest Manitoba. It offers many kinds of summer and winter activities. The towns of Killarney, Boissevain, and Deloraine are in the area.
William’s Lake is east of Turtle Mountain and offers a rewarding hike up the Turtle’s back presenting a panoramic view of Southwest Manitoba.
Rivers Provincial Park, having 38 acres of grass prairie, is located northwest of Brandon on Lake Wahtipanah which means “canoe people.” Via Rail (the passenger train that travels across Canada) makes its stop in Rivers, Manitoba and passengers who wish to visit Brandon and area disembark here.
Our summer season extends from May to September with day time highs of 12.2 degrees C to 30 degrees C. The months of November to February usually have considerable amounts of snow and below freezing temperatures. We have 2000 hours of sunshine per year.
Activities for Incoming Ambassadors:
Tour Brandon – 16 beautiful parks, 7 museums, 11 Provincially Designated Heritage Sites, Brandon University with its outstanding music faculty and Assiniboine College with the best culinary arts training in Canada, our performing and visual entertainment centers and the Keystone Center, a facility which offers 540,000 square feet of multi-use all under one roof.
International Peace Gardens – beautiful floral gardens and a monument constructed from some of the Twin Tower material after 9/11.
Riding National Park – provides many outdoor activities
Neepawa – World’s largest Lily Festival with over a thousand different varieties of lilies.
Souris – the site of the longest swinging bridge in the world – built in 1904 and spans the Souris River.
Hutterite Colonies – local colonies give welcoming tours providing an opportunity to visit their operations and some exposure to their cuture.
Spruce Woods – hikes or wagon rides into the desert-like environment.
First Nation’s Communities – these communities around Brandon provide opportunity to visit and enjoy Native American Culture.
Cattle Farms – view herds of cattle and listen to local farmers share some of the practices of farming in this region.
Reptile Gardens – largest reptile exhibit in Canada housing 300 reptiles.
Carousels and Doll Museum – has largest collection of modern and reproduced dolls in the prairie region as well as a collection of 20th century dolls and early Barbie dolls.
Riverbank Discovery Centre – 17 kms of the Assiniboine Riverbank Trail System.