by Lisa Lysen …
Deep in the heart of Saskatchewan, Canada, nestled between Saskatoon and Regina, lies a little known magical body of water!
Little Lake Manitou has been shrouded in folklore and tales of mystical healing powers since its discovery almost two hundred years ago. Even the name Manitou, an indigenous word meaning Great Spirit, suggests reverence and honor.
Reportedly first stumbled upon in 1837 the legend goes like this:
In a desperate attempt to escape the horrors of a smallpox epidemic plaguing Canada’s early settlers and subsequently Indigenous people, a group of First Nations families left civilization to travel west through unexplored country.
As they came upon the shores of an unknown lake, it became tragically obvious that some of their youths had contracted the deadly and very contagious disease.
With no hope at all for the boys’ survival they saw leaving them behind as their only choice, thus protecting others from terrible illness and certain death.
A shelter was built next to the lake and the youths, provided with as much comfort as possible were left to await their inevitable fate.
Hot, thirsty and alone they made their way together to the lake’s edge for a drink. The feel of the water on their hands and faces as they cupped it to their mouths was soothing and they were lured in a little farther.
As they stepped into the waters of Little Lake Manitou they relaxed and felt so comforted they couldn’t bring themselves to return to shore.
In spite of being weak, their bodies wracked with terrible illness, they had no fear of drowning. The lake kept them buoyant and as the water quietly worked its magic, they floated and rested, eventually falling asleep in Manitou’s gentle arms.
They awoke several hours later, refreshed and feeling some relief from the agony of the disease that had been stealing away their lives and destroying their healthy young bodies.
After a few more days of bathing in the mystical waters, the boys were miraculously free of smallpox.
They quickly rejoined their people and returned to the lake to rejoice in what they felt could only be the work of the Great Spirit.
To celebrate the miracle of the young boys’ recoveries, what we now know to be the 3rdlargest body of salt water in the world, was christened “Little Lake Manitou”.
Originally formed by glaciers during the latest ice age, Little Lake Manitou is a dying lake, fed by underground springs. It is 13.4 km 2 (5.2 sq. miles) in surface area with an average depth of 3.8 m (12 ft.).
A dying or terminal lake happens when there is no inflow or outflow. No creeks, streams or rivers connect to Little Lake Manitou. With its waters never being replenished and continuously escaping through seepage and evaporation, it is expected to one day dry up.
However, having no flow has resulted in Little Lake Manitou being very rich in minerals.
Salt levels are measured at half that of the Dead Sea, explaining why floating on the surface is so easy.
As well as being high in salinity, the lake is also abundant in naturally occurring magnesium, potassium, silica, calcium and sulfate. Copper gives Lake Manitou an intriguing reddish tinge and might be the reason many afflicted with arthritis find a dip in its waters to be so soothing.
But it’s not only those suffering arthritis who’ve reported feeling better. Resting in the lake for a few hours every day has been credited with curing eczema and other skin conditions over time, as well as with healing numerous types of infection, including gangrene. Bathing in the lake has been reported to have once cured an infection so severe that amputation would have been the next step.
Its soothing waters have been recommended to help with anxiety disorder and stress-related illnesses.
Tales of healing power has earned Little Lake Manitou the reputation of being Canada’s Dead Sea and tourist attractions are being developed along its shoreline in the towns of Watrous and Manitou Beach.
A sandy beach, European-type spa, mineral baths, golf course, an historic “Dance land”, award winning hotels, delicious cuisine, bird sanctuary, an “Artist walk” and shopping that highlights local artists are only a few of the attractions to be found.
From the event of its discovery in 1837 Little Lake Manitou has been a place where people go to heal and celebrate. And while no actual scientific studies have been done on the long term effects of taking a dip in the unusual copper colored waters, many will tell you their personal experiences have been nothing short of magical.
Without a doubt, though visiting this charming little town with all it’s attractions and friendly enthusiasm is simply magical in itself!