Mysteries of Winnipeg: Ancient Ceremonies and Masonic Secrets - June 19, 2019 - Atlas Obscura Trips

Winnipeg, Canada

Mysteries of Winnipeg: Ancient Ceremonies and Masonic Secrets

Is the Manitoba Legislative Building a Masonic Temple in disguise? Why is Winnipeg called the “Ectoplasm Capital of the World?" And what is it about this region that makes it such a hotbed of supposed supernatural phenomena, from UFO sightings to encounters with Bigfoot?

Explore the hidden side of a city steeped in mystery, myth, and mysticism. Whatever your level of skepticism, you’re sure to come home with an entirely new appreciation of the unexpected wonders of Manitoba’s capital. 

This trip is best for people who are...

  • Eager to learn about local folklore, mystical architecture, and indigenous spiritual traditions.
  • Happy to walk 2 to 3 miles a day, whether deciphering symbols or seeking out ancient petroforms and signs of legendary cryptids.
  • Inclined to explore cryptocurrency mines, investigate extraterrestrial landing sites, and enjoy fresh blueberries and bannock cooked over an open fire. 

Architectural wonders, spiritual mysteries, ancient ceremonies, cryptozoology, and more await you on this five-day exploration of Canada’s enigmatic heartland. We’ll travel on horseback to the best-documented UFO landing site, participate in a traditional Anishinaabe healing ceremony, and spend our evenings in a notoriously haunted historic hotel. Along the way, we’ll dine on the finest Manitoba cuisine, from pickerel cheeks to bison steaks, while getting used to hearing Bigfoot stories swapped about as lightly as small-town gossip. 


  • Esoteric architecture: Unlock the mysteries of Canada’s most distinctive landmarks through a trail of hidden messages and Masonic symbols.
  • Local mysteries: From UFO sightings to Sasquatch footprints (Winnipeg is a magnet for cryptozoologists), delve into local perceptions of the supernatural and the arcane.
  • Spiritual traditions: During visits to the Turtle Lodge and Tonkiri Centre, learn about ancient ceremonies, indigenous traditions, and healing rituals, with the opportunity to participate in one yourself.


Dr. Frank Albo has been called the real-life Robert Langdon, and is a renowned expert in secret societies and symbolic language systems in art and architecture. He was featured as the code-breaking protagonist in the bestselling book, The Hermetic Code, and holds graduate degrees in ancient Near Eastern languages, Western esotericism, and a PhD in the history of architecture from the University of Cambridge. His approaches to architecture, landscape, and design seek to transform public spaces into interactive journeys of discovery that elevate the mind and promote a sense of wonder. His latest book, Astana: Architecture, Myth and Destiny is a visually sumptuous treasure hunt about the “Illuminati Capital of the World.”

Frank Albo
Day 1
Winnipeg Arrival & Welcome
  • Arrive this afternoon in Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, and settle into the luxurious Fort Garry Hotel, considered by many to be one of the most haunted places in Canada.
  • We’ll meet in the hotel lounge for introductions before stepping into the magnificient Palm Room for our first dinner as a group.
  • In the evening, we’ll have the unique opportunity to join virtuoso film director, Guy Maddin, for a private viewing of his docu-fantasy, My Winnipeg, a hypnotic tour de force that blends myth and reality, cinema and psychotherapy.
Clarence Abrams
Day 2
Architecture & Hermetic Code
  • In the morning, we’ll have breakfast at the award-winning Clementine Café before taking a guided tour through the Exchange District, a National Historic Site heralded as the “Chicago of the North.” This unrivaled collection of heritage buildings and industrial architecture helps illustrate the driving forces that turned Winnipeg into Canada’s gateway to the West.
  • After lunch together at the delicious Deer + Almond, take some time to wander the city on your own, or pop into a cafe to rest and recharge. We’ll then meet up for a visit to the Manitoba Legislative Building, where Frank will lead us along a trail of occult clues concealed in the building’s architecture. These include hieroglyphic inscriptions, numerological codes, and Masonic symbols so intelligently masked that they escaped historians and visitors for nearly a hundred years.
  • Afterwards, we’ll take a guided tour through the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, an architectural marvel designed to parallel an epic journey through life. Explore the galleries that connect compelling stories of courage and action with human desire for hope, equality, and freedom.
  • Just before dinner, we’re making a quick stop for a guided tour of one of the most innovative and perfectly engineered Bitcoin mining facilities in North America. Here we’ll have a rare insider’s glimpse at the technological revolution in cryptography disrupting the financial ecosystem.
  • We’ll have dinner at a tapas restaurant, where we’ll delve into the unusual world of cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, and its enigmatic founder, Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • After dinner, we’ll return to the Fort Garry Hotel, where we’ll join a resident paranormal researcher on an unforgettable journey through the hotel’s dark past and its infamously haunted Room 202.
Jim Sanders
Day 3
Turtle Lodge & Tonkiri Centre
  • Today, we’ll pack up early and have breakfast at the hotel before our 90-minute drive to the Turtle Lodge, an international center for indigenous wellness and education. First Nations elder and visionary Dave Courchene (Nii Gaani Aki Inini) will share with us ancestral knowledge about the spiritual belief systems of the Anishinaabe People and the Seven Sacred Laws.
  • During our visit, we’ll take part in a ceremony involving the lighting of a sacred fire, and enjoy a traditional lunch of pickerel, wild rice, blueberries, and bannock. We’ll also head on a pilgrimage to an ancient petroform site called Manitou Api (“Where the Great Spirit Sits”), where we’ll be surrounded by symbolic boulder mosaics and immersed in ceremony and sacred songs.
  • In the afternoon, we’ll make a 45-minute drive to the Tonkiri Healing Centre, nestled along the pristine shores of the Whitemouth River. Inspired by the Ashaninka tradition of plant medicine from the Peruvian Amazon, Tonkiri is an integrative wellness and learning center that merges entheogenic plants with the indigenous knowledge of the Boreal Forests of Canada.
  • After taking some time to get settled into our rooms, we’ll meet with Tonkiri’s founder, Jim Sanders, for a teaching on the healing uses of plants and spiritual mysteries, followed by a delicious, home-cooked organic meal.
  • In the evening, we’ll have an opportunity to participate in a Palero ceremony, an ancient indigenous healing ritual that provides a window into the rich traditions of the Amazon rainforest. Participants drink a tea made of bark and will be guided through a ceremony that uses magical songs to invoke the spirits of the forest to impart their healing. The Palero ceremony and medicine is a safe experience in which all can participate. Our Palero guide, Jim Sanders, has studied under the Ashaninka master-healer, Juan Flores, one of the last practitioners of this tradition still alive today.
  • The ceremony lasts several hours, followed by a rejuvenating night’s sleep amid a canopy of stars in the deep wilderness.
Falcon Beach Ranch
Day 4
Sasquatch & UFOs
  • This morning, enjoy breakfast and take some time to rest and relax. 
  • In the late morning, we’ll drive to nearby Lily Pond for a Sasquatch lookout with Canada’s leading paranormal writer, consultant, and UFOlogist, Chris Rutkowski. Sasquatch sightings are a regular occurrence in this neck of Manitoba, and the area is particularly known for anomalous footprints. We’ll stop for photographs and a short exploration of the area, looking for signs of cryptids and learning about the lore that surrounds them.
  • We’ll then head to a local family-run cafe for lunch, with some time afterwards to check out the adjacent West Hawk Lake Interpretative Centre.
  • No day focused on local supernatural lore would be complete without visiting the site of the world-famous “Falcon Lake Encounter.” With Chris as our expert guide, we’ll mount horses at Falcon Beach Ranch and trot along to the exact location of the most well-documented UFO sightings, and hear about that fateful day in 1967 when Stefan Michalak is believed to have encountered a saucer-shaped craft deep in the forest. Extraterrestrial sightings not guaranteed.
  • After a steak cookout at the ranch, we’ll drive back to Winnipeg for a final night at the Fort Garry Hotel, where we’ll be introduced to one of the foremost researchers of ectoplasm and spirit photography. 
Day 5
Farewell & Departure
  • This morning, depart for homeward travels, or extend your stay to explore on your own. This is the official end of our time together, but we are happy to arrange extra hotel nights and provide suggestions for additional things to do and see.
  • Until the next adventure!
The Fine Print


  • All lodging in double-accommodation rooms in a comfortable, modern hotel throughout the trip, in addition to one night at the Tonkiri Lodge. (Single supplement for a private room is available for $290. Otherwise we'll work to place singles of the same gender together.)
  • All meals during the trip, starting with dinner on Wednesday and ending with dinner on Saturday.
  • A talented local guide, as well as special guests along the way.
  • Private bus transport.
  • Admission to all proposed activities.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all that Winnipeg has to offer!!


For flights in and out of Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG), you should plan to arrive by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19, and depart any time on Sunday, June 23. If you'd like to extend your stay before or after the tour, we're happy to reserve extra nights at our hotel in Winnipeg or provide additional recommendations.


Itineraries are subject to change. This particular tour has been designed with specific activities and events in mind. Schedules and availabilities may change in coming months or be affected by weather during the trip. If any activity or attraction that is advertised is missed or not available, then we will always replace it with another activity or location of significant interest and value. We do expect to have the chance to see everything on this itinerary, if perhaps not in the same order. However, flexibility and an adventurous spirit are key.


This tour is moderately active. Travelers should be reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking 3 to 5 miles over the course of each day and remaining outside and on their feet for long periods of time. We will be walking both in the city and in more rural, wooded areas. One of the activities also requires riding on horseback, though travelers are welcome to skip it if they’re not comfortable on horses. 


The total cost of this trip is $2,485. A $500 deposit is required to hold your space, which is nonrefundable after three days. The final payment of $1,985 will be due by April 1, 2019. All reservations will be final after this date and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the trip's Terms & Conditions. For travelers wishing to have single accommodations during the trip, an additional $290 will be included in the final payment.


  • Flights and other transport to and from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Baggage charges.
  • Additional food and drink outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including most alcoholic beverages.
  • Applying for a Canadian visa, if applicable (not required for U.S. citizens).

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