In the summer, I seem to have this conversation every Monday at work while standing around the water cooler. This conversation is almost as routine in Saskatchewan as talking about the weather. Many of us don’t really stop to ever think about the absurdity of the blanket response of “Heading to the lake.” It is ridiculously non-descriptive. Of course no one ever says which lake they are going to right off the bat, it is just implied that you should know what lake I call my favourite place to spend a summer weekend. Maybe we purposely do this so we appear humble when we brag about what shores we are spending our 48 hours or more of freedom.
A purple sand beach in Prince Albert National Park
While however absurd that conversation is we all know the true meaning behind it. We can often be jealous of anyone who goes to the lake when we aren’t because we know the promise that this simple saying holds. “Heading to the lake” is an experience that every person from Saskatchewan can share. It seems that anything is possible at the lake and stress never seems to be able to find you there.
We all have experienced the mad rush leaving work or school early on a Friday to try and load up the vehicle to beat the influx of other like-minded individuals hitting the open Saskatchewan highway's. All so we can have that feeling of waking up on Saturday morning either in your cabin, tent or RV and knowing that you are minutes from the cool waters of a Saskatchewan lake.
With 100,000 lakes and rivers to choose from in our province there is really no community that isn’t only a few short hours from taking a dive off a dock. Even in the more arid south you can still find suitable watering holes to take a dip. This geographical gift is why the lake is so important to Saskatchewanians. No matter where you live we all have access to a lake.
Those summer sunsets on the lake.
Heading to the lake to me is a cultural rite of passage in our province that we need to make sure everyone gets to enjoy to its fullest. I remember last summer we spent a day at Pike Lake Provincial Park which is located just outside of my hometown of Saskatoon. This quaint and beautiful park is the perfect place for anyone who’s never camped or spent much time at the lake to get their feet wet.
While I spent my day in the park I came across numerous immigrant families with their vehicles packed to the rim with coolers, toys, bikes, towels and beach chairs enjoying the warm summer day. Seeing these newcomers participating and understanding the importance of lake-life made me smile. Their children were running and playfully screaming along the beach enjoying the same simple pleasures that I so fondly remember of my youth.
I think if you ask anyone who grew up in Saskatchewan to tell you a “lake story” you will be surprised on the responses you receive. It seems that we all have a formative moment in our life occur while at the lake. Whether it be that first fish, first ski, first broken bone, first night in a tent, first beer or your first kiss, Saskatchewan people’s memories are forged at the lake.
Skiing in the Qu'Appelle Valley
We of course all know that some of those lake stories will never be repeated to your parents lest they find out what kind of a delinquent you really are. You should take solace in the fact that you aren’t the only one who did something at the lake that would probably ruin any political aspirations you may have if it ever came to light.
As I get older (I am only 26) I often find myself being nostalgic about my youth where I grew up close to the waters of Katepwa Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Our acreage is only 20 minutes from the beach and our family took full advantage of this. Every Saturday morning was spent rushing to do the chores as fast as possible, usually at a poor quality, followed by checking the weather to see if this was going to be a lake day. All it took was the simple command from Mom or Dad of, “Load up the boat,” and a flurry activity would begin. Everyone knew what needed to be done to get my family of 7 to the lake as quickly as possible. Very rarely would my siblings and I work together unless it met we were heading to the lake.
The ol' Red Beauty
My brothers and sister are now scattered across western Canada with our respective families but we often find ways to reconnect back at the lake. It was where we were raised after all.
My oldest sister knew well enough to stay away from us 4 boys at the lake
As we all make plans for another Canada Day long weekend we will be ensuring we spend as much time as possible with friends and family hoping to create a new batch of memories. The promise of adventure and laughter is waiting for those willing to go out and grab it.