Gimli is located on the west shore of the eleventh largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Winnipeg. Less than an hour’s drive north of Winnipeg, Gimli is a convenient escape from city life.
With more than 5000 permanent residents, Gimli continues to grow in size and population. The population booms between May and October when summer residents return to the relaxing environment of the resort community. Gimli was established in 1875 by Icelandic settlers.
The word Gimli means "heavenly abode” or "home of the Gods” in Icelandic. The community remains the largest population of Icelandic people outside Iceland.
Gimli was settled as an independent state from the rest of Canada. It remained the Republic of New Iceland, with its own constitution and code of law, until 1887.
A second wave of immigrants arrived in the area in the early 1900’s. This wave was largely Ukrainian and Polish. While the Icelandic settlers developed a fishing industry in the area, the Ukrainian and Polish settlers established an agriculture industry.
The fishing and agriculture industries developed by early settlers are still very important to the community. Although tradition is strong, Gimli is keeping stride with the changing world economy.
Along with a thriving business district and tourism industry Gimli is the home of Faroex, the Gimli Industrial Business Park, which includes the Gimli Airport and Diageo Canada/Crown Royal.
While the community encourages growth and change, it also places high value on history and heritage. Both the Icelandic and Ukrainian communities have made efforts to keep the culture of their homelands alive through the generations. One of the larges cultural events in Gimli is the Islendingadagurinn, a summer festival celebrating Icelandic culture.
The New Iceland Heritage Museum showcases local history, and houses excellent traveling exhibits that relate to the community and Gimli’s heritage. The community also places high priority on the preservation of heritage buildings.
One of the many heritage buildings in Gimli is a fully restored public school built in 1915, which now houses the RM of Gimli offices, among others.
Another historic building is Tergeson’s Store, which was built in 1899 and remains family run.
The arts also flourish in Gimli. There are many galleries where area artists display their work.
Gimli is also home to a 24 hour gallery; the harbour wall. The concrete wall that shields the harbour from the lake is also the canvas for many beautiful murals depicting the history of the area.
Gimli also boasts a film festival, which features world class short and long films displayed on screen suspended over the lake. Gimli is a perfect blend of small town charm, a
nd big city business; colourful history, and vibrant future.
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