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Little Manitou Lake

(51°44’, 105°30’W: Map sheet 72/P 12). Located in central Saskatchewan just north of Watrous, Little Manitou Lake is named for the Algonquian word meaning “mysterious being.” It covers 13.3 sq. km, with an average depth of 3.8 m, and is renowned for the purported healing properties of its saline waters. Lying within a former glacial spillway and fed by underground springs, the lake has mineral salt (sodium, magnesium and potassium) concentrations of 180,000 milligrams per litre; this high salinity gives it a specific gravity of 1.06, making the water exceedingly buoyant. People have visited the lake since at least the early 19th century, when some Assiniboine, suffering from smallpox, were reputedly cured by its waters. Recreational facilities were developed in the early 20th century, including dance halls, stores and hotels. A provincial park was designated there in the early 1930s, when construction of a luxury hotel was funded as a relief project. However, during the Depression tourism declined. In the 1950s the 290-acre park was divided, with part going to the Saskatchewan Society for Crippled Children (for Camp Easter Seal) and the remainder forming Manitou Lake Regional Park. During the 1980s a new spa was developed, and the old 1928 Danceland building restored, reviving Little Manitou Lake as a tourism and convention destination.

Marilyn Lewry

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Further Reading

Schellenberg, R.M. 2001. Lake of the Healing Waters: Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan, Canada. Watrous, SK: Star Books.
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