Discover the Charm of Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba: A Historical and Tourism Perspective
Winnipeg Beach, a quaint town nestled in the Interlake Region of Manitoba, Canada, is a gem waiting to be discovered. Founded in 1900 by Sir William Whyte, this town is strategically located at the junction of Highway 9 and Highway 229 on the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg. It's a mere 56 kilometres north of Winnipeg and is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Gimli, the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews, and Dunnottar, as well as Lake Winnipeg. Nearby towns include Ponemah, Whytewold, Matlock, Gimli, Sandy Hook, Teulon, and Selkirk. As of 2021, Winnipeg Beach is home to 1,439 residents.
The Historical Journey of Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba
In 1900, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) purchased 13 hectares of undeveloped shoreline 65 kilometres north of Winnipeg on the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg. This marked the beginning of the construction of a resort town. The CPR built an array of accommodation, recreation, and amusement facilities, including a prominent dance hall, to complement the three-kilometre stretch of sandy beach.
In the early 1900s, Winnipeg Beach was a bustling resort town with ritzy hotels lining the main street. Piers, parks, and picnic grounds were constructed to accommodate the weekend masses that would travel from the nearby capital city. By 1913, the summer retreat had become so popular that the CPR had 13 trains running the line between the beach and the City of Winnipeg. The famous Moonlight Special returned to the city at midnight every Saturday for fifty years, with the round trip fare being only fifty cents.
The Pavilion, housing a 1,300-square-metre dance floor, was reputed to be the largest in Western Canada. However, the romance of Winnipeg Beach began to wane during the 1950s, and although the beach itself still remained a popular destination, in 1964 the amusement park was permanently closed.
The Iconic Water Tower of Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba
Of the many structures erected by the CPR at Winnipeg Beach, only the steel water tower survives. Designed and constructed in 1928 by the Vulcan Iron Works Ltd. of Winnipeg, the 40-metre-high tower supported a 90,000-litre capacity tank. It provided a source of pressurized water for the CPR steam locomotives and fire protection services for the resort's facilities. Non-operational since the resort closed, the structure is the best example of only five surviving riveted-steel water towers in Manitoba. The tower remains a prominent visual landmark in and around the beach community.
Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba Today
After the closure of the resort and amusement facilities at Winnipeg Beach, the Province of Manitoba attempted to revitalize the town by creating a recreation park, Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park, in the 1960s. Various improvements were made to the beach and the parks lining it. A restaurant and lounge and several change-room structures were built, in addition to a large parking lot. The recreation park continues to be a popular destination for beachgoers. The town has also built a skateboarding park to stimulate the youth community.
The Global Television Network TV series Falcon Beach was filmed in the town during the summers of 2005–2006. Several different residential summer camps, including Camp Massad of Manitoba, lie just north of the town. The town is governed by a mayor, currently Pamela Jackson, and a five-member town council.
Demographics of Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba
In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Winnipeg Beach had a population of 1,439 living in 757 of its 1,661 total private dwellings. This marked a change of 25.7% from its 2016 population of 1,145. With a land area of 3.91 km2, it had a population density of 368.0/km2 in 2021.