Old Man Winter loosened his frigid grip on the thermometer Monday, giving Brandonites plenty of reasons to spend the day outdoors with friends and family.
Although Monday marked a provincial holiday in honour of Louis Riel, it was the clear blue skies and warm sunshine that had plenty of community members outside celebrating.
"This is one of the first nice days we’ve had in a long time," Chet Hetherington said while taking a break from ice skating with his wife Lindsay and their daughter Macy, 4, at Valleyview Community Centre on Monday afternoon. "Everybody’s kind of itching to get outside ... so we thought we’d spend it as a family."
In Manitoba, the third Monday of February is Louis Riel Day.
Riel, who led two resistances against the government of Canada in the late 19th century, is now recognized as the father of the Métis people. The annual celebration gave many community members the day off work and school.
Meanwhile in Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, residents celebrated the importance of family. The annual celebration is now known as Family Day.
While some local families were out celebrating either Family Day or Louis Riel Day on Monday, many were choosing to celebrate both.
"We have to honour what our province does, it is Louis Riel Day, but we made it a family outing," Hetherington said.
While Brandon’s Valleyview Community Centre hosted a free Winter Carnival Monday afternoon, earlier in the day, the Riverbank Discovery Centre was handing out free hot chocolate and hotdogs. Grand Valley Local and the Southwest Region of the Manitoba Métis Federation was also providing those in attendance with free horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Among those participating in the Louis Riel Day activities at the Riverbank Discovery Centre was Dawn Oberlander and her daughters Marin and Kael. Dawn, who’s originally from Brandon, said she and her daughters drove in from Winnipeg to spend the day with family as well as take advantage of the "beautiful weather."
Dawn said the family spent much of the day outside skating, playing in the snow at the park as well as taking a sleigh ride.
She said the weather and warm temperatures made for a "fantastic" day with family.
Although temperatures on Monday hovered around -13 C to -10 C for much of the morning, by mid-afternoon, Brandonites were treated to a warm -2 C.
According to Environment Canada, that warm weather is expected to stick around for a least a couple more days.
Today, the forecast is for sunny skies with a high of -1 C and a low of -14 C. Wednesday is expected to be cloudy with a high of -3 C and low of -12 C, while Thursday will bring periods of snow with a high of -7 C and a low of -19 C.