Why People Love “The Other” Great Canadian Lake
Lake Winnipeg may seem small, but along its Canadian shores one can find a variety of adventures.
Lake Winnipeg may not be one of the Great Lakes, but it’s so big you’d think it might as well be one. This massive lake is entirely located in the Canadian province of Manitoba and is located about 55 kilometers or 34 miles north of the city of Winnipeg.
If planning to go to Manitoba’s frozen north along Hudson Bay, consider joining a Manitoba polar bear expedition. But the huge Canadian province of Manitoba is so much more than just polar bears, there’s plenty to see and do in this province (including seeing the Northern Lights).
About Lake Winnipeg
Lake Winnipeg (along with Lake Manitoba) are remnants of the prehistoric Lake Agassiz from the last Ice Age. This lake was so massive that it changed the global climate and was larger than all five Great Lakes combined. It disappeared about 4,000 years ago.
Lake Winnipeg is large, but it is also relatively shallow. It is the sixth largest freshwater lake in Canada and the third largest to be located entirely in Canada. It is home to many islands most of which remain undeveloped.
- Cut: 24,500 square kilometers or 9,500 square miles (about the size of New Hampshire)
- Average depth: 12 meters or 39 feet
- Eleventh largest: It is the eleventh largest freshwater lake in the world
On the eastern shores of the lake are pristine boreal forests that are not listed by UNESCO as Pimachiowin Aki. When Winnipeggers say “going to the coast” in reference to the lake, it may sound like a very large lake.
Unfortunately, this huge lake suffers from environmental problems – one of the most pressing being the explosion of the algal population due to excessive amounts of phosphorus seeping into the lake.
Attractions and Activities at Lake Winnipeg
Lake Winnipeg is a favorite local destination because it’s affordable, the beaches and lake are beautiful, and because there are so many beaches it’s not crowded. The beaches of this majestic lake are among the whitest and most beautiful beaches in Canada.
Activities include sunbathing in the summer, snowkiting on the lake in the winter, Nordic skiing, kitesurfing in the summer, and fishing (catching walleye and perch). It is considered an all season getaway.
Point: The 1.8 Long Sandy Grand Beach has warm lake water
- High season: July and August
Manitoba Icelandic Festival
Come during Manitoba’s Icelandic Festival (which has been celebrated continuously since 1890) and watch people discover and embrace their inner Viking. This is held in the summer of early August in Gimli and normally draws a crowd of around 50,000 visitors.
- Manitoba Icelandic Festival: One of the oldest continuous ethnic festivals in North America was held here in Gimli in early August
The event includes a folk music festival, fireworks, an AD 800 living history village, and more. In the living history village, you will see about a hundred clan re-enactors in authentic Viking attire.
Have fun reliving the Viking Age (of course, most of what is believed about the Vikings comes from 18th century revisionist history, but don’t let that get in the way of the Viking fun).
Fishing in Lake Winnipeg
Fishing is one of the main attractions and things to do here. The lake has a range of varied habitats and these are home to a large number of fish species (some of which grow very large). The number of fish species found here is greater than any other lake in Canada west of the Great Lakes.
- Number of native species: 60 of the native species are in the lake
Fish include catfish, sturgeon, whitefish, pike, trout perch, cod, sunfish, perch and others. Additionally, rainbow trout and brown trout are stocked in Manitoba waters by provincial fisheries (curiously, neither of the two popular trout species can sustain themselves independently in Manitoba). Bass and common carp also found their way to the lake.
Where to stay
As for places to stay around the lake, National Geographic the main recommendations are:
Inn among the oaks: Located just outside of Grand Beach Provincial Park and is a wooden B&B
Lake View Hotel: Located in Gimli and offers stunning lake views from its rooms
Lakeview Hecla Resort: Pet-friendly and located inside Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park (plus it has an 18-hole golf course)
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