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Irene's Adventures

Saskatchewan - Manitou Beach

CANADA | Wednesday, 3 September 2014 | Views [873]

This may seem like the silliest set of blogs to Albertans, but for those who do not live in Western Canada and for those who appreciate what is ourown back yard – this is for you.....

 Manitou Beach - Saskatchewan

It started with my Mom reminding me that I promised to take her to Manitou Beach. She had gone to Manitou for years, with her sisters. Two sisters are not well enough to travel and the other was moving to the Senior's Lodge that week. Mom, who is 82 years old and not the best of health, thought the healing waters of Manitou might help with some ailments.

 Manitou Springs

Manitou Lake has a mineral content high in sodium, magnesium and potassium salts,which supposedly have curative powers. It is half the density of the Dead Sea, making it very buoyant. Mom, my sister and I stayed at the Manitou Springs Hotel and Spa. In years past Mom and her sisters would stay in less expensive accommodations nearby, but we thought it would be easier for Mom if we were right in the hotel and only an elevator ride to the heated spa.

 mineral content

The pool in the hotel was fairly large. In the larger pool the water was only 3 feet deep, but the temperature at one end was 104 degrees Celsius while the other end was 100 degrees. The hotter side had a center area with benches and jets of water, like a hot tub. The cooler side had benches only. There was a smaller pool, at 94 degrees, that went from 3 feet to 9 feet deep. It was more relaxing to stay in the smaller and coolest pool. The buoyancy was very good, and if you did not fight with the water, could actually bob along without effort. We spent about 6 hours a day in the pools.

 Irene, Mom, Helen

There are massage treatments available at the hotel. Mom went for a massage and a cranial-sacral treatment, which really helped her balance a lot. While Mom was getting her massage, my sister and I slipped out to look at the town.


Legend says that many many years ago a group of aboriginals were crossing the land near the lake when some of the braves got very sick with smallpox. They stayed behind to die while the remaining tribe carried on. One of the braves dragged himself to the waters edge of Manitou Lake. He drank some of the water and because of his weakened state was not able to pull himself out of the lake. He woke in the morning feeling healthy. He went to find the other sick friends and told them to go to the lake. They all get well. When they caught up with their tribe a few weeks later, the tribesmen thought these men were ghosts.


Since the start of the 20th century Manitou Beach was a real hot spot for tourists. There were excursion trains from as far away as Edmonton and Winnipeg. Old photographs around the hotel testify to the popularity of this region in its hey-day.


Because of this popularity, local entrepreneurs flourished. These were simpler times and a good night out on the town generally meant a good dance hall. Manitou Beach boasted three dance halls. Only one still stands. Danceland was built in 1919 and is very unique in its structure. Under the hardwood floor are two sub floors with rolls of horsetail, which was imported from Quebec, wrapped in burlap and tightly wound with wire between the two floors. The six inch rolls of horsetail gives he floor its 1-1.5” spring. These rolls run cross ways under the floor every 4 ft. Not a nail was used in the construction of the 5000 sq. ft. maple hardwood floor , it is all tongue and groove.


The rest of the building is Douglas fir. The arched roof is intricate in design. 7” square timbers, cut from a single piece of wood, support its 110 ft width and 140 foot length. This is what makes the sound as close to perfect as possible. The acoustics are due to the shape of the dome, height, material used and open beams.


I can vouch for the amazing acoustics. We went for the buffet supper on Saturday evening – and delicious home cooked meal of pork roast, mashed potatoes with gravy, steamed vegetables, salad and the most mouth watering desserts imaginable. Yummy, yummy, yummy!!! But I digress from the acoustics. We stayed a bit longer to hear the band and to watch the dancers. We were at the opposite end of the hall from the band and we could hear them perfectly, yet could maintain our conversation without raising our voices. We then had to leave, as we had not purchased dance tickets.


The next day, I talked with some ladies who went only for the dance. They said they danced all night and their legs were not tired nor sore at all. They said the floor really does have a lot of spring to it and there was no shortage of dance partners. People who go there to dance make the most of it, apparently.


As the dance halls were seasonal, the same band played in each for the whole summer, seven nights a week. Some of the bands were actually housed in the hall. Some of he bands who have been featured through the years at Danceland are Mart Kenny, Wilf Carter, Bobby Gimby of 'The Happy Gang' fame, Don Messer and his Islanders, Gene Dloughy, Clem Gelowitz and the Inkspots, Budd Knox, and Guess Who. (You may need to Google some of these, but believe me they were huge in their time.) People would attend all three dances in one given night. Couples rented canoes and would venture out on the lake and listen to the music from the different dance halls. Romantic!


Today, the lake water is rising due to the hight rainfall and spring run-off. A 7 foot berm has been built around Danceland, with pumps to keep the water away from this historical building.


We drove over to the Easter Seal Camp. It sits on the grounds of the first provincial park in Saskatchewan. The chalet was a government initiated "make work" project for men during the Great Depression. The beautiful stone structure became the centre of a resort for upscale clientele during the 1930s. The property was later sold to the Saskatchewan Abilities Council who created a permanent summer camp, completely wheelchair accessible, for children and adults with disabilities.

 Easter Seal Camp

The camp was closed, but the gates were open so we walked around a bit. The stone chalet is breathtaking. Further along we found what was obviously a horse stable, some corrals and cabins. The lake had risen to overtake the entire area.

 high water

The high water appears to be swallowing all the lower parts of the town. A gazebo, that Mom said used to be on a nice beach, was now completely in the water.


A playground was 50 feet into the water. Watching some kids on some playground toys out in the water gave it a very apocalyptic feel.

playground in water

Some business along the water were closed, with hopeless “For Sale” signs in the window.

For Sale

A Motel was obviously trying to have the upper hand with Mother Nature and was doing renovations behind a berm. The view from the patio doors had one looking up to the water.

 motel behind berm

The road past Danceland was completely washed out. We talked to a fellow who was raised in Manitou Beach. He said the water has risen 12 feet in the past few years. According to him, water drains into the lake from a 60 mile radius, and with the amount of snow and rain the past few years, it was no wonder the lake is rising. He anticipates the water will breach the remaining road next year. I am glad we went when we did – it may not be there much longer.

berm around Danceland



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