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Lake Winnipeg's Paradise Beaches

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Page 9

VICTORIA BEACH
NAR: In areas like Winnipeg Beach and Victoria Beach cottages are handed down from generation to generation. About an hour and a half north of Winnipeg along the east shore is Victoria Beach.

FRANCES RUSSELL: Victoria Beach is absolutely beautiful It's the most gorgeous physically in terms of its environment of all the beaches. It attracted a very upper class group of cottagers to begin with that had their own private club, They operated it not as a municipality but as a club. They had restrictions on who could buy and who couldn't buy. That was quite off putting for a lot of other people.

NAR: Victoria Beach was advertised as everything Winnipeg Beach and Grand Beach were not. No boardwalk, no dancehall, no amusements and no day-trippers. Planned like little English town Victoria Beach has a grocery store, a library, a bakery, a community club, tennis courts, a golf course and the Moonlight Inn.

For the many that found a cottage at Victoria beach life was idyllic:

LORNA OBRIEN: I remember coming quite young to visit an aunt of mine and after that we pestered our parents that we had to go to VB every summer and we did keep coming.

In those days of course there was no road to Victoria Beach so we had to come on the train. And we packed like mad I came at the first of the year and packed a trunk full of food because we knew you didn't get out again you stayed all summer.

Most husbands came on weekends but the families stayed all year. In the beginning when we bought our cottage in 52 we came in the summer of 53. There was no running water no power no roads we had coal oil lamps and I had to carry the water in pails from the pump. And that was a tough life with little children to do their laundry with the water you had to carry you know. But it was fun we never thought it was tough and of course I had to chop wood I never knew how to wield an axe but I learned in a hurry.

Now it's a very strange thing that happened to us about our cottage. In 1952 my husband was poring over the advertising for a house. He saw in the paper the ad for this cottage. It was a friend of his that was advertising it. My husband gave him a $100 deposit and we were owners of a cottage, still no house. We came and stayed...and the kids loved it so much.

I've gone to a lake since I was 2 and if you've gone to the lake all your life you have this thing that you like to live in the outdoors. And to be able to come here and live in the outdoors. And the beauty of this place is no cars the little children can run in the streets. The biggest problem is bicycle accidents. Coming to the beach is different for me now my children come. And so long as they keep coming I have a lovely time.

NAR: Victoria Beach is like a time a machine. You enter under the sign and leave today behind. For all you know it could be 1960, or even 1930. All is the same. Trish Rathwell and her family have enjoyed endless summers at their Victoria Beach cottage.

TRISH RATHWELL: I've been coming to Victoria Beach since I was a little girl and I just loved it. And I just love passing it on to my own children. And watching them all do the fun activities that I did as a child. What I love about this beach is the walking the tennis the golf. It's a totally physical beach. You come out in just wonderful shape in the fall.

I think my very favourite time is Friday night about 6:00 o clock sitting down on the beach with my husband who is swimming. And my kids are all around. And we're just watching the sunset it's absolutely gorgeous. And you can hear the lake and see the seagulls overhead. And all the stress of the week is gone.

My dad turned 80 last summer and came down to the beach and has been here since he was a little boy himself. And he said it never changes and that's the beauty of Victoria Beach.

BEACH POEM

Our Lovely beach is a place unique
For rest and quiet it's the spot to seek
To spend a long, dreamy summer's day
It's the perfect vacation in every way

Down a shady path to the beach you go
Where billowy waves waft to and fro
The pure white sand is so clean and bright
You bask in the sun with complete delight

Join with the bathers so carefree and gay
In the cool of the lake they swim and play
In your ears are the echoes and shrieks of glee
These afternoon hours are happy and free

Then as the sun slowly sinks in the west
Comes the time of day we all love the best
As the last beams dip down into the lake
The heavens now glow and the sky comes awake.

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