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Healing Waters: Saskatchewan’s Version of the Dead Sea Will Cure What Ails You

Little Manitou Lake


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Saskatchewan’s Little Manitou Lake will cure what ails you, unless what ails you is open skies, mineral baths and prairie landscapes.

In This Saskatchewan Article You Will Discover:

  • Where You Can Find Canada’s “Dead Sea”
  • Why Little Manitou Lake is So Special
  • How You Can Own Land on This Unique Lake

The waters of east-central Saskatchewan’s Little Manitou Lake are the stuff of legend. It is said Cree Braves desperate to escape the smallpox epidemic that had ravaged their tribe first paid note of the lake in the early 1800s. En route from their disease-riddled settlements in the south to the Saskatchewan River, three Cree travellers camped out on the shores of Little Manitou Lake. Sickness had taken hold, though, and in delirium one of them ventured down to the lake and collapsed in the mineral-rich waters, unable to move for an entire night.

When the Brave awoke, though, he found his fever had broken, his lesions had healed and his strength had returned. It was the water that had healed him, and that would save his companions as well.

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Saskatchewan’s Little Manitou Lake is so mineral rich, they say “even a goat can float!”

Today, Little Manitou Lake is still the main draw for the 1,800 residents and many seasonal visitors to the area. Flanked by the cottage community of Manitou Beach and the Town of Watrous, this Prairie lake is a vacation hot spot waiting to be discovered. What makes it all the more attractive to the cottager, though, is the rock-bottom real estate prices.

“Lot prices have changed a great deal since last spring,” said Joan Harding of Watrous Realty. “[From 2007] to the end of the year, prices doubled.”

Still, 120’ by 50’ lots are available for between about $42,000 and $49,000 — although most are being privately sold, as Albertans and British Columbians eager to take advantage of Saskatchewan’s affordable real estate have bought up many of the Village lots.

“Last year there was a lot of activity,” said Harding. “Because of the economy in Alberta and BC, the market was hot. But there isn’t the same fever this year.”

According to her, sales have slowed as the economy leveled off — but construction is booming, as those people who purchased land in 2007 are now building their homes and cottages.

Of course, most of those lots are merely lake view — lakefront property is still the most in-demand. In Manitou Beach, where most of the houses are summer cottages, waterfront lots have a road separating the property form the beach — but nothing impedes the view. And when these homes and cottages hit the market, they are bought up fast.

“Three years ago, a lakefront home sold for over $300,000. Another small cottage sold that year for $89,000,” said Harding, adding that a few cottages in the past years have sold for less than $100,000. However, in 2008, another lakefront house sold for about $220,000. Buyers have to keep their fingers on the pulse of the community, and act fast if lakefront comes up. Even at $300,000-plus, Manitou Beach has cheaper lakefront than could be found most places in Alberta or BC.

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Saskatchewan’s prairie landscape is famous for its abundant deer.

The area’s property prices were the main factor in new resident Stephen Slusar’s decision to relocate from Edmonton to Watrous. “Cheap property drove me here, but the best aspects are the summer activities… quadding, fishing, horseback riding, there’s everything here,” he says. It’s by no means perfect though. “The winter is cold and long, and the nearest city is an hour away,” laments Slusar. “Although there is curling, ice fishing and sledding.”

Compared to the Dead Sea in Israel and Karlovy Vary Hot Springs in the Czech Republic, Little Manitou Lake is so rich with minerals it actually has three times the mineral density of the ocean.

Still, the healing waters of Little Manitou Lake seem to trump all other forms of recreation. For good reason too — this spring-fed lake is unique in the Western Hemisphere. Compared to the Dead Sea in Israel and Karlovy Vary Hot Springs in the Czech Republic, Little Manitou Lake is so rich with minerals it actually has three times the mineral density of the ocean. Not only do the minerals offer all-natural therapeutic treatments to swimmers, they also impart a specific gravity that is 10 per cent higher than regular fresh water, meaning it’s nearly impossible to sink.

According to the town’s tourism brochure, Little Manitou Lake “is the only salt water lake where even a goat can float!”

The floating of livestock not withstanding, a study done on the lake in 1997 by Dr. William Last of the University of Manitoba confirms what Cree First Nations have known for centuries: the water heals. For example: rich in calcium (480 milligrams per litre), the lake can treat sunburn; the magnesium (9,505 milligrams per litre) helps regulates the body’s PH levels for proper functioning of nerves and muscles; the sulphate (39,577 milligrams per litre) maintains health of the lymph system; and the lake’s mineral salts aid in hydration, skin tightening and boost the immune system. The healing waters even brought a health spa to the area — Manitou Springs Hotel & Mineral Spa, a luxury resort offering many treatments based around the lake’s mineral-rich waters.

However, if buying a lot or a cottage is out of the question due to cost, availability or both, you can still enjoy a stay in the area at one of the campsites, the spa or at the hotels and motels in the area. Who knows? You may just want to stay. After all, a stroll along the lakefront boardwalk amidst a spectacular prairie sunset or a night at the town’s famous Danceland — a legendary dance hall with a 5,000-square-foot “built on horsehair” dance floor — can prove intoxicating.

“People are so friendly here, everyone has a smile on their face,” says Slusar of his new hometown. “The horizon is nice too — there’s no mountains blocking your view.”

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Resources:

Watrous: www.watrousmanitou.com

Tourism Saskatchewan: www.sasktourism.com/



Booking.com

Images courtesy Saskatchewan Tourism

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

7 comments… add one
  • Doug McCloud Apr 21, 2018 Link

    I have a friend who has hailey hailey syndrome, would going to this help her? How does this Lake prevent you from contracting anything from other people?

  • David Webb Jul 7, 2015 Link

    Hey — it’s about 750 km east.

  • Darleen Jul 5, 2015 Link

    How far is this place from Drayton Valley, Alta. ?

  • Theresa Bull Jul 17, 2014 Link

    I’m interested in bringing about 5 – 10 elders to Manitou Lake Healing Waters during the week. When would be the best time to bring elders for less intrusion and what is the dress code for going into the waters? We would be coming from central Alberta so we would have 2 travel days, one going and one returning and we would spend 2 days there. What are the rates at your hotel and is there fees to pay for the healing waters? If someone could return my inquiries please. Thank you, Theresa Bull

  • joyce g. lanham Jun 16, 2014 Link

    when I come down there ,I would like to know if I could rent a place for myself,how much is the rent for a senior.can you please send me some information about this town ,the pictures I have seen are very beautiful.here is my address 04-136-12 ave nw Calgary alberta t2moc3 thankyou very much. joyce g. lanham

  • David Webb Aug 6, 2010 Link

    There are not a lot of choices – but the best would certainly be http://manitousprings.ca/ or you can rent a cottage.

  • Suzanne Fellman Aug 6, 2010 Link

    Very interested in visiting Laake Manitou. Just wondering where one would stay if coming to the lake

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