Mineral springs have held out the promise of improved health for millennia in pretty well every part of the world. In fact, the Smithsonian reported that life on land may date back more than 580 million years earlier than originally suggested — and that life may have started in ancient hot springs! So what’s there about hot springs that make them so nurturing? Well, the temperature and the minerals.
And one of the most important minerals may be the salts. In fact, you may already be adding Dead Sea salts to your own pool or tub. And of course, the actual Dead Sea, located on the Israel/Jordan border, has been a health destination since early times due to the restorative properties of its mineral-dense water.
What you may not know is that Canada has its own “Dead Sea:” Little Manitou Lake.
Where is Canada’s Dead Sea?
Little Manitou Lake is located three miles north of the small prairie town of Watrous (175 km north of the capital city, Regina, and 62 miles east of Saskatoon). Since the water was considered to have the power to heal, it was given the name Manitou by local Indigenous peoples. Indeed, Manitou means God. For centuries, tribes across the province took their sick and ailing to Little Manitou to be cured.
Little Manitou Lake, Canada’s Dead Sea, is roughly half as salty as the Dead Sea (9.6 times saltier than the ocean), or just 5 times saltier than the ocean. So, you’ll find a few brine shrimp survive in the water.
As you might guess, a dead sea is one that doesn’t support life. Rather than having fish, or even the dreaded green algae that sometimes covers our local lakes in the summer, a dead sea is so salty the water kills almost everything.
Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral Spa
The 1920s and 1930s were a busy time at Little Manitou Lake. Summers, thousands of people from around the prairies flocked to the lake to experience its restorative powers — and to float in the buoyant water. Indeed, as a non-swimmer I can guarantee that anybody can readily float there simply by relaxing and letting your feet float up from the bottom of the lake or the pool!
However, the times changed and many of the services, from the hot bath houses, to the many ice cream parlors and places to eat, to the boat rentals, all closed up. It wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that the lake regained its popularity. In fact, after the old Chalet pool was destroyed by fire in 1983, the Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral Spa opened in 1987.
Today, Manitou Springs is a four-season resort offering access to the natural waters in different-temperature pools to both hotel guests and daytime visitors.
A Weekend of Relaxation at Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral Spa
Twice a year my writer’s group gathers for a weekend of critiquing manuscripts, relaxation and laughter, not always in that order! Manitou Springs regularly serves as the destination.
Rooms at Manitou Springs hotel and spa are comfortable and spacious enough for two queen sized beds and a cot. Bedding is a significant factor for me in choosing a hotel, so I appreciated the quality sheets. And the bed? Perfect. A soft duvet covered the gel fiber mattress topper providing the ultimate sleep.
A free pass for as many hours as you want to spend in the mineral pools comes with the rooms. So do amazingly soft full length robes to wear in the hallways — something I always find essential as I like to pack light when I travel. Other freebies include parking and high speed Internet.
Dining at Manitou Springs Resort and Spa
As you might guess, food is an important consideration for a group of women spending a weekend at a resort. Our writers’ group looks for great tasting food at a good value dollar-wise. And that’s exactly what we got at Mineral Springs’ Water’s Edge Restaurant.
Mornings start out with the free hot buffet breakfast. My favorite? The pancakes with a variety of delicious toppings. Mind you, the baked egg breakfast casserole tasted great too, but since it was a buffet I could enjoy both instead of having to choose.
Choosing lunch and dinner options was a lot tougher! I did come up with some favorites though. The sweet potato fries were delicious and made for a lighter lunch with a grilled cheese sandwich. For dinners I tried the orange and ginger salmon filet (excellent!) and one of the Asian noodle bowls, also tasty.
But of course, when it comes to dining out, you have to save room for dessert. Luckily, I can usually talk somebody into sharing, so I tried a few. These were my favorites (in order): a pecan dessert (check out the pin of it!), an apple crumble, and the peanut butter dessert.
Things to Do at Manitou Springs Resort and Spa
Most people spend as much time as they can in the pool’s mineral waters relaxing and healing. The waters are well known for reducing arthritic pain, so many visitors are baby boomers. However, you don’t have to be a senior to enjoy the benefits of the water. Magnesium, one of the elements with the highest density, is a natural skin toner, tightener, refresher, allergy fighter and moisture retainer. In fact many of the elements are important for the skin, so all ages leave the pool with benefits.
We enjoyed many long walks outside during our visit even though it was early April and the ice was just breaking up on the lake. The community of Manitou Beach is small, so the streets aren’t busy — or you can always walk along the water’s edge. And if the weather outdoors isn’t appealing, the resort has a fitness centre.
Like most resorts, you can also indulge in a little shopping while you’re at Manitou Springs. You’ll find all kinds of health options for the skin (I bought a bag of minerals for my hot tub) as well as bathing suits for all ages and sizes. They have a particularly good selection of ladies plus size bathing suits, as well as some beautiful lines of blouses and dresses — just in case you arrive to find it’s a dancing weekend and didn’t bring anything to wear!
Manitou Springs’ World Famous Danceland
You might wonder how on earth a small beach town could have a world famous dance attraction? Well, it all started back in the 1920s during the heydays of Little Manitou Lake’s beach parties. Back in 1928, Wellington White built the ultimate dance hall and named it Danceland.
The feature that has always made a dance hall superb is its floor. And Danceland’s floor is something else! The building has two floors consisting of a sub floor and a maple hardwood floor. But they aren’t stuck together with glue as we’d build them today, rather there’s a six to ten inch thick layer of horse hair between them. At the time, local farmers didn’t have nearly enough horse hair for the construction so much of it was imported from Quebec.
A full 5000 sq. ft. in size, as many as 500 people used to attend the dances at Danceland to dance the night away. Today, Danceland is open year-round with dances every Friday and Saturday night during the busy season. To find out more, see: http://www.danceland.ca/
Plan Your Visit to Little Manitou Lake — Canada’s Dead Sea
Visit the Manitou Springs Resort and Spa website to plan a weekend at the resort — http://manitousprings.ca/
Visit the Watrous-Manitou Beach website for information about all facilities in the area: http://watrousmanitou.com/
Chemistry & Benefits of the Water at Little Manitou Lake by Manitou Lake Resort and Spa: http://manitousprings.ca/water-benefits/
Brief History of Manitou Beach published by Manitou Beach Tourism at: http://watrousmanitou.com/HistoryManitouBeach.pdf
More Places to Visit in Saskatchewan
About the Photo
The photo in the header above was taken by Linda Aksomitis at Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan, Canada, in April, just as the ice on Little Manitou Lake was breaking up.
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