NAR: Manitoba's cottage communities were built by the railroads. In 1901
Sir William Whyte of the Canadian Pacific purchased 330 acres on the west
shore for $3,000. By June 1903 the first Winnipeg Beach train brought up
vacationers to their new summer paradise. By 1912, 10 trains took 40,000
vacationers to the beach each weekend.
WERIER: A couple of friends and I when were 15, decided
we were going to go on a vacation to the lake; the lake
meant Winnipeg Beach. So what did we do? We had no money.
We got a bell tent and all our belongings, groceries
hopped on a streetcar went to the CPR station got on
a CPR train and went to Winnipeg Beach. And there we
camped in a field opposite the station.
FRANCES RUSSELL: The train was a very, very big factor in the early development
of the beach community. In fact of the rhythm of beach communities circulated
or revolved around the train.
was a 7:20 train that went in in the morning and used
to take the daddies into work and the same train would
come back out. It was called the 5:20. It would arrive
on the beaches on the west side around 7:00 at night,
just in time for them to have a swim and a drink before
dinner. Then there was the other train known as the Moonlight
was a Moonlight Special on both sides of the lake. It
was a Saturday train that left Winnipeg about 6:00 at
night. It was for the partygoers, the people that would
come up to use the big dance pavilions at both Winnipeg
Beach and Grand Beach.
would leave at midnight. It would blow its whistle at
11:45 to tell everybody to get to the train station because
if you missed it you were on the beach until the next
morning because there was no other train coming back
VAL WERIER: To encourage traffic on Saturday night they had what they called
the Moonlight. You'd go there about 6:30 come back at 12 and they packed
them in and you'd go to the dance there. They had a fine ballroom. It was
considered one of the best in western Canada. Good hardwood floors. You paid
your nickel and you had your dance. And people stood around a balustrade
and railing around the dance floor. People stood around to watch who was
on the dance floor and who was dancing with who. And what songs were being
RUSSELL: So the train was a part of the romantic era
of the beaches. In between the two world wars and then
after the Second World War the advance of the automobile.
As the auto advanced, the train retreated. The very last
trains to go virtually were the Moonlight Specials. At
the same time, the dance hall craze, that faded too.
And the dance pavilions the one at Winnipeg Beach was
made into a roller rink, the one at Grand Beach just
burned down. It was never rebuilt.
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