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Friday, 20 July 2012

My Heart Belongs in Manitoba

I live in a Canadian province that is undervalued by the rest of Canada. It’s virtually unknown in the US, never mind the world at large.
We Manitobans are actually okay with that. In fact, one might say we encourage our anonymity. Why would we choose to be so cloistered?
Because, we’re a little bit selfish.
We have access to lakes, beaches and forests that rival those found in all the better known tourist locals. Camping and cottaging is a provincial pastime that we have finessed, leaving the capital city, Winnipeg, nearly people-free every weekend in the summer. We just love our wilderness and there is so much of it to enjoy. So, selfishly, we want to keep our provincial and national parks to ourselves, free of tourists and the gong show that would arrive once we’ve been “discovered.”
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Think of Cancun circa 1980, just with more mosquitoes and freezing winters.
We have the Interlake; home of Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba, both within an hour's drive from the city - each lake the size of Lake Superior. Grand Beach, nestled on the south shores of Lake Winnipeg, has such soft white sand and expansive dunes, it ranks as a world-wide top 10 beach.
(According to Playboy Magazine and when are bunnies ever wrong?)  

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 To the far west we have Riding Mountain and Duck Mountain National Parks, where the pine trees grow thick and the water runs clear. 
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 Driving towards the eastern edge of Manitoba  we pass through The Whiteshell Provincial Park and Brereton Lake, where I spent every summer of my childhood. On the outer western edge of the Canadian Shield, our cottage was perched high on the bedrock, overlooking the lake. My grandfather built the cabin in the early 30’s and if I close my eyes and think of our Brereton Lake log cottage; childhood memories flood back, cascading over each other like waves hitting the rocky shore. 
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There’s also Churchill in the far north, where polar bears walk the streets and guided tours are in hot demand. And Dauphin, Flin Flon, The Pas, and Nopiming Provincial Park – each with their own beauty, enjoyed by the locals.

And where do we Carmichaels spend our summers?

Our wee cottage, "Stone’s Throw," is on the other side of Lake Winnipeg, almost directly across from Grand Beach, in Ponemah. We can rarely see across the vast water as it’s so wide. Lake Winnipeg resembles more of an inland ocean when standing, toes wiggling, on one of the sandy beaches that dot its shores. The lake is wide, shallow, and warm. In the low water years, sand bars arise over night when the wind shifts direction, allowing the kids to walk for miles without getting deeper than their waists. In the high water years, we jump off the pier into the deep waves.
It’s a different beauty than my rugged and wild Brereton, but it is a prairie beauty that I have grown to love. The girls call it their second home, building treasured memories of their own and really, how awesome is that?
Our door’s always open and you’re welcome to visit. You can even buy a beach house and call it your own. Just don’t tell anyone where you’ve been.
It can be our little secret.

5 comments:

  1. If I had to pick a favorite spot, it might be the west quarry at Hecla - best sunsets in the world.

    I just hope the politicians stay on top of things and don't let pollution and corporate greed mess things up.

    I love Manitoba, too! It's a great little secret. Good post!

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  2. Gabe,

    I love Hecla as well. Once I posted, I remembered Hecla, Moose Lake, and the Carberry Desert and so many more unique destinations.

    By the way, our neighbour's cottage is for sale. Hint hint. :)

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  3. Yup, a nice place to live and its great we've got writers who can articulate it its beauty so well. Thanks for sharing (but not so loud or we're going to be up to our armpits in visitors!)

    Drew

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  4. I spent my childhood summers at Ponema and have many wonderful memories of the place. I enjoyed reading your blog post

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