Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are sandy. – John Muir
My grandparents have a cabin at Grand Beach, less than an hour north of my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have been going out there since I was small, and while I was still in school I would spend at least one week with my grandparents during summer vacations.
Grand Beach has many unique features that make it stand out from other beaches in Manitoba. These includes sand dunes that can reach heights of up to 12 meters above the beach, a lagoon that is home to many bird species, and two beaches: the East beach and the West beach, both which have kilometers of very smooth sand. This freshwater beach, considered one of the best in North America, is part of Grand Beach Provincial Park. It is located within the Rural Municipality of St. Clements, on the northern edge of Grand Marais town. Grand Beach is on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, which is a very large and shallow lake in central Manitoba. A unique fact is that Lake Winnipeg is Canada’s sixth-largest freshwater lake, and it is also the eleventh-largest freshwater lake on Earth. It is used by Manitoba Hydro as one of the largest water reservoirs in the world!
Grand Beach Provincial Park has many bike, hiking and ski trails, along with camping areas. Due to the proximity to Winnipeg and the natural attractions, this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Manitoba. There are a wide variety of species that inhabit Grand Beach, which include bald eagles, bears, seagulls and the piping plover. The plover is an endangered shorebird that nests on beaches, and it is featured on the entrance sign when you pass through the park gates.
Grand Beach is more than just a beach for me. It’s a chance to relax, and take some time out of being in the busy city and just be at peace. The memories it holds are so precious! Every day when I was younger, I would wake up early and go for hour long walks with my Grandpa – on Mondays we went down 1st street, on Tuesdays it was 2nd street, and so on. We would pass by the neighbours and call greetings, go along the boardwalk which was usually unoccupied that early in the morning, and finish by the lagoon and the old eagles nest. After our walk, my Grandma and I would often sit on the porch with the windows open, reading and enjoying the serene environment. I loved it best when it was storming out, and you could see the lightning, hear the thunder, and feel the storm around you. As long as the rain wasn’t coming in the windows, we would keep them open as long as possible! On sunny days, we would walk down to the beach with baked apricot muffins or butter tarts (my Grandma has always been a great baker) and talk with some of the beach-front store owners. My favourite store was Crave Designs, who happens to also own the salon at my University, the University of Manitoba. The owner would customize anklets for me and bracelets for my Grandma, especially when we got new swimsuits. Another pastime of ours was going to visit some neighbours and checking out book sales – my love of reading comes from my Grandma. After supper, depending on our mood, we would do a puzzle, watch a movie, or play Rummikub (a rummy-tile game).
One landmark in Grand Beach that is very dear to me, is a big rock that I named “Fish” when I was younger. It’s one street down from my grandparents cabin, located in the centre of a meadow that overlooks the lake. When you look at it from the side, it’s angled and looks like a fish head and even has a circle marking where the eye would be. I would climb up this rock, sit and watch the water and the birds – and if I timed it properly, I would be able to catch the sunset.
Thank you for reading about my Grand Beach memories!