Scenes from Brightsand Lake.
In a 2005 article in Prairies North, Burl Jantzen described the cherished family cottage at Brightsand Lake and the role it played in a close family. A decade later, he reflects on the impact the cottage has had on the next generation.
The metallic clink of a spoon in a cereal bowl interrupts my dreams and rouses me from sleep. Someone is enjoying breakfast! Erick must be up, I am guessing, and then I remember my son wants to go canoeing this morning. I haul back the blankets and head for the shower. Another lazy summer day at Brightsand Lake has begun.
Our family has enjoyed summer days at the cottage on Brightsand Lake for almost 40 years. My parents, Harvey and Doris Jantzen, purchased this cabin in 1978 and it has been the primary destination for family vacations ever since. Our family has grown since my parents and their three boys first visited the lake. There are 19 of us now, including a score of grandchildren and one great-grandchild. In 2005, I wrote about the family cottage for this magazine. At that time I described the cabin as a place for recreation and renewal -- a place for making memories and building family relationships. Although the entire clan cannot gather as it once did, the cottage Brightsand Lake still serves these roles.
Doris describes how the cottage has kept the family together. She says, “All of us are living in different provinces. It has been a place where we can gather together and meet.” Harvey agrees. “Having the cabin was a focal point for the family,” he says. They also recognize the challenges of continuing this tradition. Doris notes, “Now that the grandkids are working and employed it’s been more difficult, but it’s been a good place to make memories.”
The warm morning sunshine slants through the trees as Erick and I carry our paddles and life jackets down to the lake. I pause to enjoy the fireweed scattered among the aspens along the road to the lake. Wildflowers are abundant in Brightsand Lake Regional Park, including our provincial floral emblem, the western red lily. My father remembers searching for their distinctive blooms with his granddaughter as part of a province-wide lily survey. “I asked Johanna to help me,” says Harvey. “We went biking around the whole area counting western red lilies. It was a good year. We had lots of lilies that year.”
Erick and I flip the old green canoe onto its keel and slide it into the clear, cool water. The boat’s yellowing fibreglass patches are reminders of encounters with rocks and storms, including a big blow at Jackfish Lake that tossed the canoe into the trees. We paddle north along the shoreline, past a line of cabins with assorted docks and watercraft. And we talk as we paddle, discussing books, music, art, and our hopes and dreams for the future. This is quality time with my son and it’s why I made the journey back to Saskatchewan.
To read the rest of Burl's reminiscences about the family cottage, buy the digital edition of the Spring 2017 issue of Prairies North, or purchase a print copy. Curious about the most popular lakes in the province? Read Saskatchewan's Fastest Growing Cottaging Lakes.