Project Description

HISTORY

Watrous Manitou is rich in history: from the First Nation’s people that came centuries ago as remembered by our legend of Manitou, to the settlers of a pioneer town along the Grand Trunk Railway.

Our community started as a unique destination in western Canada for our many spas and dancehalls, and later became the home for communication for the CBC and CBK Radio. Now we are a thriving community where agriculture, automotive, tourism, and potash industries meet. The history of Watrous Manitou is yours to discover.

The Watrous-Manitou Beach Heritage Centre is located at 403 Main Street, Watrous, SK.  It is run by volunteers and is open daily throughout the summer and reduced hours in the Winter.  Please check their website, or call 306.946.1177, to confirm availability.  The museum features historic memorabilia from Watrous, Manitou Beach and surrounding areas.  Stop in at the Watrous Manitou Beach Heritage Centre to see a comprehensive selection of artifacts and learn the many histories of our area.

The Legend of the Spirit of Manitou

Long before European settlers emigrated to Canada and the western territories-Saskatchewan was designated as part of the Great Plains of western Canada—a variety of Canadian First Nations tribes traveled throughout the land, utilizing the available resources for their survival while still respecting the land from which it came.

The arrival of the European settlers impacted the tribes in a variety of ways. One of the most devastating effects settlers had upon the First Nations people was the introduction of foreign diseases such as smallpox. The Cree people who populated the land area known as Saskatchewan were exposed to smallpox and suffered devastating losses. Traditional medicines and remedies proved ineffective against this new disease.

According to legend, some young men fell ill during their tribe’s move. Fortunately, the tribe’s choice of camp was in the vicinity of what is now known as Little Manitou Lake.

The men were too weak to travel so the tribe built a shelter for them before continuing their journey. It is said the afflicted men were overcome with fever and thirst and crawled their way to the lakeshore where they slaked their thirst and immersed themselves in the cool water. Spent from their efforts, they remained on the beach overnight. In the morning, the men experienced some relief from their symptoms. They attributed the respite to the water and remained on site, consuming and immersing themselves into the liquid medicine. Within days of their arrival at the lake, the young men regained their previous state of healthfulness and continued on their tribe’s journey. Upon reuniting with their tribe, tribe members were astounded by the men’s seemingly miraculous return to health.

So was born the legend of the healing waters of Little Manitou Lake. Medicine men named the lake Manitou in reference to the Great Spirit, which is the First Nations equivalent to the European God. As the legend of the lake with healing powers spread via word of mouth, First Nations tribes were followed by the settlers and then visitors from all parts of the world, traveling to the Lake of the Healing Waters to experience relief from a number of maladies. An entire profession of healing and therapeutic products sprang up from the lake resources, a profession that is still strong and vibrant today in the new millennium. Come feel the effects of the healing waters first-hand. Experience the Spirit of Manitou for yourself!

  • 403 Main Street
    Watrous, SK

  • Winter hours: Friday/Saturday 1-5pm

    Summer hours: Tues-Sat, 1:00-5:00 pm (or anytime, by appointment)

Watrous ~ Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan old timey photo
An old timey photo of a general store

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