This past September I hit the road with my mom in a Kia Sportage and headed east. Our first stop was Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan - the dead sea of Canada. The whole trip was a pilgrimage of her youth, and a real eyeopener for me as the provinces between Alberta and Ontario are not ones I've explored much.
Toonie Tuesdays draws quite the crowd. The evening was made special with two live musicians (elderly ladies cranking out waltzes on keyboards) and fresh hydrangeas on every table.
Dating back to 1928, Danceland in Manitou Beach is home to a famous horse hair dance floor, the legend that Elvis played a show there, as well as many other stories that can only be trudged up by those who lived them.
It was the summer of1967, my mother was 14 years old and on a holiday with her parents, a brief stop off on the way to Winnipeg. They were staying at a campground that is now underwater due to heavy rainfall and an overwhelming spring thaw. (This already feels like the beginning of a scary story, Manitou Beach certainly has the aura and aesthetic to be the perfect setting for David Lynch to work his creepy mystery magic.)
"It was Saturday night and for a teenager it was boring, what is there to do at campground? My parents told me to go check out the dancehall to see if there was anything going on. Right as I was walking back to the car, they started pulling away and said 'We'll see you at midnight!' and they knew I would never in a million years walk back to the campground alone in the dark," explained my mother.
And that was how my mom became acquainted with Danceland. Clad in bellbottoms and a Robin Hood cut blouse, she had no choice but to go inside.
"I was so nervous going inside alone that I tripped onto the dance floor. I didn't notice it was a step down, there are signs up now."
Audrey has always been able to strike up a conversation with anyone, these stories about being abandoned and forced to socialize (and there are a few) lead me to believe she was conditioned for this at a young age.
"I met a bunch of girls, Janice from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, who I was penpals with for years and who even came to my wedding."
Very little has changed since that summer in '67, at least at Danceland. The interior has remained as charming as ever. The only noticeable difference is the burm surrounding the building as the lake continues to rise.
Labels: fall, Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan, stories with sj, travel, travel guide