Heading into the Valley that holds Pelican Lake and the Village of Ninette
As a young boy, travelling to Ninette, Manitoba where my Mother grew up and my Grandparents still lived was always an exciting time. There were new adventured to be had along Pelican Lake and everywhere both in and out of the valley that contains this spellbinding area. Even today as an adult, I feel the excitement that draws me back in time and look forward to this trip down memory lane and it’s final destination from my childhood.
A short stop at Lookout Hill, gives a bird’s eye view of this enchanted valley and lake
There are 3 different ways to enter into the valley at the north end of Pelican Lake and the Village of Ninette. The one along highway 23, coming in from the east has always been my favourite as it gives the most beautiful view of the whole area. With Pelican Lake to the south of the highway and Grass Lake on the north side of the highway, this entire area is a mecca to be explored and enjoyed in many different ways.
The Administration Building from the old Ninette Sanatorium
As you enter the valley on the left you will see an RV Camp and just beyond that lies the original building that was the administration for the Ninette Sanatorium. This housed many people with Tuberculosis from the early 1900’s until it closed in the 1960’s. This building has been restored, but many of the original buildings that housed the patients were torn down when the property was sold. My Grandfather was a Finishing Carpenter for the Sanatorium for all of his working life after arriving in Manitoba from England.
The old Trestle Bridge still stands between Pelican and Grass Lakes
Once you are at the bottom of the hill along the highway, on your right you can see the trestle bridge that passed over the causeway joining Pelican and Grass Lakes. As a child this was a place that we were not allowed to go, and of course as all children who are left to their own devices and filled with adventure and spirit, we would immediately disobey our parents and grandparents and head to this bridge, watching all the while to not get caught in the middle of the bridge when a train was coming along the line. Somehow this bridge seems much smaller today than when I was a child.
What remains of the rental Cottages along Pelican Lake
When I was a child the highway into Ninette along the north shore of Pelican Lake, was situated right along the shore of the lake. Today it goes behind where the rental cottages were located as they made room for a campground that would allow campers better access to the lake without the worry of crossing a highway. I recall these cottages as being busy in the summer and if memory serves me correctly there was a store where those staying here could shop for a few items and a get a cool soda on a hot day.
Looking South along Pelican Lake from the North Shore
Pelican Lake is the largest lake in SW Manitoba. It is 11 miles long and 1 mile wide, with a surface area of 10.2 square miles. In the summer it is home to boaters, fisherman, birders and cottage dwellers. In the winter as it lies beneath the ice there are ice fishing huts that dot the surface of the lake. If you arrive at the right time, you may be lucky enough to see one of the many sailing regattas that take place on the lake during the summertime.
Ninette Fairground and Community Club
A little up the highway on the left, just past the campgrounds you will see the Ninette Fairgrounds where there is an annual AgFair as well as Farmers Markets held during the Summer and Fall. In the distance you can see the stables for the horses and cattle as well as the Ninette Community Club, which has both an Ice Rink and Curling Rink in the winter and is used for dances and other events in the summer.
Pelican Lake Yacht Club and Marina
Traveling through through Ninette and heading south along the west shore of Pelican Lake you will come to the Pelican Lake Yacht Club. PYC was established in 1965. In 1968 a schoolhouse was purchased to be used as a clubhouse. Today the clubhouse consists of a full kitchen, bathrooms, dining/meeting room, and a sunny deck that overlooks the marina and the lake. PYC are one of 20 registered sailing clubs in Manitoba, and have hosted the 1997 Canada Summer Games, and the 2004 Mobility Cup. PYC offers boating memberships, and social memberships, as well as a CanSail registered Learn to Sail program.
Gulls resting on the diving platform, as two Canada Geese Swim past.
As you head north again from the Yacht Club back to the centre of Ninette, you pass by Terry Fox Park, where there is a sandy beach, a dock and a diving/swimming platform out on the lake. As you can see in this picture the platform is a favourite for Gulls and other birds when not being used by swimmers.
Looking north along the main street of Ninette, Manitoba
The Village of Ninette has been in existence since about 1884 and has a population of approximately 224 people year round. In the summer months these numbers swell as cottage dwellers spend their time away from their homes in Brandon and Winnipeg and converge on the lake making it a very vibrant summer community. Ninette is home to two Churches, a Community Club, a Community Hall, and an active Agricultural Society. At one time there was a school in Ninette, but after the Sanatorium closed in the 60’s and the population dwindled the school was closed and sold and is now a private home.
Looking East along what was once the CN Rail Line, which is now a Walking Trail
During the time that the Ninette Sanatorium was still open, and like many other farm communities in SW Manitoba, Ninette had a rail line that passed through the Village and there was a Train Station located at the north end of town. The original Ninette Post Office was established in 1883 north of the present site, on Overend Lake. However, when the Northern Pacific & Manitoba railway line was constructed further south in 1899, the Post Office was moved closer to the railway, and the Village ended up on the north shore of Pelican Lake. The railway, of course, later became the Canadian National Railway in 1919.
Final Destination ~ My Grandparents Home for Many Years
This is the home that my Grandparents lived in and where my Mother and her 6 brothers and sisters grew up. There was a beautiful garden between the giant fur trees that was my Grandfather’s pride and joy and where I as a child was not allowed to venture into. Of course, being anywhere near the garden would earn us a quick scolding and a nickle or dime to go and buy some candy from the store. So you can be sure that we would not mind a bit of a scolding at the opportunity to get some candy.
Thanks for taking this childhood journey with me and following some of my memories from a time when life was much simpler and things moved at a slower pace than today. It was a time when children were given the freedom to wander and have fun and to explore and use our imaginations to create dreams that helped to mould us into the adults that we are today. I head back to Ninette and Pelican Lake every opportunity that I can as I still have friends who reside in this small Village and who like me, spent their childhood exploring and creating adventures that will stay with them for a lifetime.