I visited Victoria Beach for the first time this summer. I knew it had been a popular summer cottage site for thousands of Winnipeg residents since the turn of the century, but during my visit and after doing some subsequent research, I discovered lots more.Even though I’ve lived in Manitoba almost all my life I’d never been to this Lake Winnipeg peninsula at the end of Highway 59. In winter its home to some 450 people but in summer more than 16,000 cottagers and tourists live there. You can’t drive your car into Victoria Beach. You have to walk, bike or take a beach taxi.
The first summer visitors began coming in the early 1900’s and arrived on a boat called Pilgrim. Once the railroad line was completed and trains started running to Victoria Beach in 1916 the population expanded.
A community club was organized in 1921 and in 1925 this clubhouse was built which is still being used today. As a member of the club you can take part in all kinds of community organized events, golf tournaments on the course built in 1923, tennis competitions on the courts built in 1924, regattas and races. The club house was the site for weekend dances, socials and movie nights.
VIctoria Beach even has its own library and grocery store.
The Victoria Beach Herald newspaper has been publishing every summer for the last 83 years. In 1943 it became the center of a controversy when a Jewish family bought a cottage at Victoria Beach. The paper published an editorial which said………”You have an obligation to your neighbours at Victoria Beach to see to it that these unwanted people…….are not permitted to buy or rent here.” A counter editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press criticized the antisemitism being practiced at Victoria Beach calling it “sanctimonious and cowardly.”
The Victoria Beach paper is available online now on the Victoria Beach website. The Moonlight Inn is famous for its ice-cream and that’s what we decided to order when we visited the spot about halfway through our walk around Victoria Beach. We did briefly consider the daily special below but we’d had a late breakfast and it seemed a bit too hearty.
Perhaps the most popular business at Victoria Beach is Einfeld’s Bakery which opened in the 1930’s and is still being run by the same family. In a column in the Winnipeg Free Press Margo Goodhand writes about her childhood memories of buying delicious baking there.
Victoria Beach is a beautiful and historic place and has been a popular summer destination for thousands of Winnipeg residents for over a century. I’m glad I finally got to see it.
Other lakeside posts……..