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Manitoba's first wonder


There’s a hill in New Brunswick that has been one of their most popular tourist attractions since the 1930s. It is a freak of nature that boggles the mind as when you park on this hill it is said that you defy gravity by sliding uphill.
While no scientific explanation is needed – the effect has nothing to do with magnetic fields and everything to do with the power of illusion – it has been widely rumoured that the Swan Valley has their own version of a magnetic hill but finding someone who knows the actual location has been a little trickier... until now.
A $26,000 project, made possible by a generous grant of $10,000 by Travel Manitoba, has allowed signage to be placed along the access points to the first official Manitoba Wonder, officially named Magnet Hill.
“When exploring the Swan Valley area we went to Thunderhill Ski area where I experienced first hand Magnet Hill,” said Colin Ferguson, President and CEO of Travel Manitoba. “After the first run back up Magnet Hill, I actually got out of the car to watch it one more time. From that moment, Magnet Hill became the first Manitoba Wonder... and for good reason. All I can say is give it a try. It literally goes against everything one would expect.”
Back in 2017, Valley resident Stephen Tanner took a hiking trip that was organized by Swan Valley RISE to Thunderhill and it was there he finally learned of the ‘secret’ location, sharing his experience with the Star and Times at that time.
“I moved to the Valley back in June 1996 and recall hearing about the magnetic hill near Thunder Hill,” said Tanner. “Although I have been up to Thunder Hill on many occasions I had no idea where the optical illusion was located.
“Prior to our hiking trip, (long-time Valley resident) Stan Anderson heard where we were going and he mentioned the magnetic hill.”
Tanner said that Anderson described the location, citing that as you approach Thunder Hill, heading west on P.R. No. 487, there is a dip in the road just past a yellow left turning sign. If you stop at the bottom of the dip in the road and place the vehicle in neutral, your vehicle will move back up the dip as if being pulled by a magnet.
“I had heard of the famous magnetic hill in New Brunswick and was excited to finally try out our local version,” said Tanner.
“The dip in the road was easy to find as there is only the one yellow turn sign as you approach the hill. We drove down the dip in the road, approximately 50 to 100 feet, and skeptically placed the vehicle in neutral.
“To my delight, the vehicle began moving back up the dip we had just driven down,” he continued. “Eventually I had to break to stop the car from continuing.
“I know the vehicle wasn’t actually being pulled up a hill by a magnet and that we were actually going downhill, but the landscape creates an optical illusion that tricks your mind into thinking you are going uphill (in reverse).”
Tanner added that what really is happening becomes very clear when you drive down from Thunder Hill and you can see the dip is really going downhill along with the rest of the road.
“It is worth experiencing if you are ever in the area,” he said. “Just be sure you are alone on the road and it is safe to backup in your lane.”