Saskatchewan, Blackstrap Mountain and Manitou Beach Resort Town, June 12, 2008

19 07 2008

Robin dips her toe into the healing waters of Manitou Lake

Blackstrap Mountain from afar

Blackstrap Mountain from afar

A little south of Saskatoon is Blackstrap Mountain,a ski hill not made completely out of garbage—it’s made out of dirt. It was built for the 1971 Canada Winter Games. I guess even people in Saskatchewan need a little ski getaway sometimes. Other than the fact that remote pictures of it make the prairies look like it has a pimple, (and, did I mention it’s not made out of garbage?), there was not much going on when we passed through it.

Step at the foot of Blackstrap Mountain

Step at the foot of Blackstrap Mountain

Snacks on Manitou Beach

Snacks on Manitou Beach

I saw a picture of a woman floating in a lake, and the caption said the waters were thought to have healing qualities. It was in Little Manitou Lake, which was not too out of the way from Blackstrap, so we went there. It’s too bad we got there at twilight, for Manitou Beach has a lot offer. As well as aqua magic, there is curious beauty; the dense mineral content of the lake makes a border of fluffy white foam around the lake, and the wind picks up bits and it kind of floats around. Manitou Beach has been a resort town forever, and it hasn’t been invaded by any major developers yet, so it still has old school charm and ‘50’s style hamburger stands. We passed some nice B&Bs and a Drive-In movie theatre. The jewel of Manitou Beach Resort Town, though, has to be DanceLand.

The Legendary Danceland

The Legendary Danceland

When we went in there was a jazzy live dance band and couples doing some sort of ballroom dancing. It was a 5000 square foot dance floor warmly decorated. The guy I asked for road directions from turned out to be Arnie Strueby, the King of Danceland! Arnie Strueby used to live in Chilliwack like I once did, so we felt some sort of misplaced kinship. He told us the dance floor of Danceland (1928) was sprung with horsetails, the same way the famous one at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver was before they renovated it with rubber (reported to Arnie to be a mistake by current employees of the Commodore who have pilgramaged to Danceland to check out the floor). There were 5 such floors built and Danceland’s was the only one remaining.

Dancers of Danceland

Dancers of Danceland

We had a date with a flight to Vancouver out of Winnepeg in two days, to be at our friend’s memorial, so we didn’t have the luxury of time, which was too bad because I would have really liked to stay in Manitou Beach and explore more the next day. (In fact, I would like to stay there for a week or so before some developer gets to it, which will be not long from now, I am sure). Instead we drove the back way back to the highway, and were glad we had got some deer whistles for the bumper not long before from Canadian Tire, because the road was really dark and the deer plentiful. We drove far and then found a nice campground called Foam Lake on the highway (so far I think Saskatchewan has the best camp sites) where we were the only people there, and we paid by dropping money into the mail slot of a little museum.

Robin with the King of Danceland




3 responses

16 09 2011
Larry Krause

Thanks for the photo tour. Have never been to Blackland but spent many hours at Manitou beach back in the 50’s and 60’s. Lived in New Brunswick for over 40 years now. See my photography at

11 12 2012
David Garvie

Check you sources… Blackstrap mountain is not made of garbage… if for no other reason that is is on the side of a reservoir. Also,the name of the valley goes back at least to 1883… I can fill you in on details if you please…

16 12 2012

Ha! You are right, so I edited. Someone from Saskatoon gave me that erroneous information, and I, like a wikiless fool, took their information at face value. I am sure this blog is full of things like that, but since it’s about our personal experience of traveling Canada, I feel at peace with that, and I am always willing to edit information to make it true or truer.

Thanks for pointing that out, and I would be interested in a comment about the valley! Cheers.

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