I had been in the rooms before. Things seemed familiar—identical even to my memories from 16 years before. Paintings, wallpaper, furniture and even the light in the windows seemed unaltered. But I was astonished by the change I found elsewhere in the resort community of Manitou Beach.
Sixteen years earlier we had stayed at Serenic View Bed & Breakfast—I have forgotten its original name—and wondered if the top drawer of the dresser would work as a bassinet for our newborn son. After a few moments of hearty laughter we opted to tuck him between us in the covers. Then we constructed a nest in a suitcase and settled for a markedly warm night in September. We stayed again when he was two and his sister was the newborn. The indoor mineral waters were endlessly fascinating for them.
Both are now much too big for a bassinet and on this visit to the healing waters of Manitou, I had left my family at home. My stopover in the resort village coincided with the task of writing a eulogy. Memory was very much on my mind.
I made my way into the village from the Yellowhead Highway at near dark, trusting a memory that turned out to be faulty. The “old” highway that swooped around the east end of the lake and came directly into the village centre had been submerged under rising lake water. A series of detours left me disoriented. Rain fell heavily by the time I found that my lodging was behind the golf course, not in front of it as I thought.
I am, by inclination, a breakfast eater. It seems to me a reasonable payoff for abandoning the comfort of sleep. Rita Austin and Hans Weckert recently purchased Serenic View B&B and breakfast there is everything I would do for myself if I took the time. From their enclosed deck, the breadth of the lake is entirely visible. The view overlooks cabins down to the shore and takes in the open pastures of the other side.
Despite the heavy rain, the open fields of the opposite shore looked appealing. They looked quiet. I was also a little curious to see Manitou from there. Things were very different with the high lake level and I wanted to see it in its entirety.
Crocuses were emerging and the first green grass shoots were flooding the meadows. It was quiet on the north-eastern shore. Only the wind churned up noises. I stumbled on a shed antler and was recalled to the work that hummed at the back of my mind, a eulogy for my father I would read four days later. Was a discarded antler a metaphor in some way relevant to my dad? I carried it with me and set aside the thought that, with weird ideas like that popping into my head, perhaps eulogy-writing was too great a challenge.
Indeed, the village of Manitou had changed. My lasting impressions from the place many years before had been of long beaches, jubilantly painted benches and swing sets, and the most clever solar-heated shower for swimmers I had ever seen. There were trees. There was some kind of concession that sold the food you’d eat nowhere else but at the beach.
The new Manitou Beach still possessed these things. But they lay behind a winding berm of earth and stone—a protective apron that kept the healing waters rightfully contained. And the beach was simply gone. According to village administrator, Beverley Laird, the water started rising in 2007 and 2008. The protective berm was constructed in March of 2011. “Not everyone was happy with the berm,” she said, “but we have to adapt to what the lake does.”