Manitoba's Interlake is nestled between Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg. It is bounded on the west by Lake Manitoba and the east by the East beaches of Lake Winnipeg, Canada’s third largest freshwater lake, and by the mighty Red River. Once part of the great Lake Agassiz, water is the lifeblood of the region. Summer, winter, spring or fall, it brings food, playtime and a lifestyle to enjoy.
Grand Beach, once the playground for the staff of the Canadian Northern Railroad is rated as one of the top 10 beaches in North America with its white sand and 12-metre-high dunes. The East Beaches Heritage Wing at Grand Marais celebrates the exciting history of these beaches, including the story of the “Moonlight Express” train run, and the history of the Grand Beach Hotel built in 1920.
During a visit, you can feel the romance of the past, when a run out to the beach by train was to enjoy the dance hall, or the carousel or the white sands and a family picnic. Strolling along the boardwalk, one that's been built a few times since 1920, feels like strolling along the beach at Malaga, Spain or some other exotic place.
Hwy 59 takes you to the East Beaches along the western shoreline of the south basin of Lake Winnipeg. Most are family friendly, but there is a clothing-optional beach for the adventurous. Further north on Hwy 9, you will be on the way to more public beaches, such as in the Village of Dunnottar. These offer sandy stretches next to uniquely built, wooden pole piers that stretch over the stony areas at the shoreline. These piers, built annually, lead you across the rocky shore area to wooden seats and steps leading you down to the water. There you find a nice shallow sandy area for swimming. Ensure you snap some photos of these piers, they are an Interlake treasure!
Many cottagers rode the former “Daddy train” to Winnipeg Beach on Friday nights and back to work on Sunday evenings while their families spent the summers here. This community and resort was built to be the playground of the Canadian Pacific Railway employees in the early 1900's, along with the Empress Hotel, a dance pavilion, as well as a 300-foot-high wooden roller coaster, among other things. Winnipeg Beach was developed as a beachside resort, with a long winding boardwalk and weekend entertainment all summer. There is a newly developed accessible campground and a marina. Today Winnipeg Beach is a 365-day home to many.
Just north on Lake Winnipeg, Gimli Beach offers scenic views of the harbour and marina with its tall masts of sailing boats, and wide views of our inland sea. The pretty little town of Gimli, pop. 2200, offers some unique shopping.
You will find public beaches all along the lake, north into Hecla Island and Grindstone Provincial Park. These playgrounds vary in size and the types of experiences they offer. Boating, water skiing, knee-boarding and many more water activities engage your summertime interests. The Lake is 416 km long.
But wait! We can't stop there, as we have two major lakes, our inland oceans, so you'll be able to enjoy Lake Manitoba, a smaller lake only 200 km long, and one with a slightly different looking shoreline. Not all are quite as sandy, and there are some man-made beaches, but it’s quieter for those seeking fewer crowds. Lake Manitoba, running along the west side of the Interlake region, is not as deep as Lake Winnipeg, nor as large, being only the 13th largest lake in Canada.
Fishing is a given on the lake, or you might be one to enjoy kite surfing at Twin Beaches, at the south basin where the winds push you into this sandy beach. Paddle boarding or kayaking to see the Steep Rock Limestone Cliffs from the water is an awe-inspiring experience! But you can get a pretty good idea from the shore as well. Pontoon boating is a popular pastime, as is kayaking along the lakeshore, at one with the peaceful surroundings of nature, bringing with it an opportunity to embrace a beautiful sunset as it streaks across the western sky at day’s end.
Along with the numerous beaches on both major lakes you will find some small beach areas on other lakes, such as Lake St. Martin and Norris Lake. If you are looking to relax, enjoy and play in the sun and water, you can find it here. From sunrise to sunset, from east to west, the golden days of sun and sand greet you. Pick a favourite beach or visit a different one each week from the dozens the Interlake offers.