by Paul Yanko
|Good Spirit Lake.
For as long as I can remember, going to "the beach" has been a
highlight of summer. Saskatchewan has an abundance of great beaches.
But it's only recently that I found the best one -- the one that
best suits my current lifestyle. And this one does just that. Perfectly.
We got up early on a sunny Saturday morning, partly to check the
weather and partly because it takes us a good chunk of time to pack
everything that our two young children might need or want during
a day at the beach.
As I write this Ashleigh is almost 4, and Teig is just about
1. Lifejackets, pails, a frisbee, sipper-cups and, of course, Ashleigh's
You know, all that essential beach stuff.
We were headed for Good Spirit Lake.
Good Spirit Lake is located in Good Spirit Provincial Park, about
200 kms (120 miles) northeast of Regina. It's a little over an hour's
drive from our home in rural Saskatchewan. And that means the kids don't have time enroute
to get over their initial excitement and move into the cranky are-we-almost-there-yet
mode. That Good Spirit's beach is regarded by many as the best in
the province is a most pleasant bonus!
"We've never been to Good Spirit before today, but we'd heard stories
about how nice it is up here," says Don LaFreniere, of Regina. "Friends
had told us it's one of the best beaches in the province because
of the sand and the low water levels."
The sand -- and there's plenty of it -- is certainly what sets Good
Spirit apart. Hundreds of years ago, according to park authorities,
a river ran through this area. Drought caused the river to dry up
and the sand from the riverbed was blown into dunes, some as high
as 15 metres (50 ft.). When the drought ended and the water returned,
a shallow lake (about eight or nine metres at its deepest point)
with a very sandy bottom was formed.
And sandy bottoms, especially the variety attached to young children,
are very common at Good Spirit.
"Other lakes get so deep so fast it can be a little scary for small
kids," says Tracee Ivey, of Ituna. "Here, the water is clean and
shallow, and there's lots of stuff for kids to do."
|There, now it's shallow
enough to play in.
Ashleigh quickly gets to work on an elaborate construction project
at water's edge, using every utensil in her well-stocked kit. Teig
is content to explore, and on occasion attempt to sip from the shallows,
which to me seem pretty close in temperature to her evening bath
water. She tries to drink that, too.
My wife Pam strategically locates her folding camp chair in about
10 cm (four inches) of water, where she can simultaneously cool her
feet and keep an eye on the kids. Looking along the water's edge,
I see a handful of other parents similarly equipped and positioned.
I set off on a 15-minute hike along the shore to the sand dunes
on the south end of the lake. Along the way I chat with others now
completing their hike and heading back to the main beach.
|Good Spirit. Our Beach
"They're pretty cool," one young boy tells me when I ask what he
thought of the dunes. "But I played on them for too long and I think
I may have burned my feet -- I was just having too much fun!"
Shortly thereafter I find deer tracks near the water's edge.
The dunes are home to many different species of wildlife. In addition
to the deer, rabbits, red foxes, ground squirrels and coyotes
frequent the area. Among the avian residents are sharp-tailed grouse,
grosbeaks and waxwings.
The dunes offer a commanding view of the
lake and surrounding terrain. They extend for some four km (2.5
miles) along the lake's shoreline and cover about 250 acres.
|Lots of kids, lots to do.
Only a handful of people dot this more remote, high-quality beach.
"It's kinda like having our own private beach over here," jokes
Earl Argue, of Regina. His wife, Connie, plays in the water with
their children Andrew, 5, and Nicole, 3. "No rocks, no weeds and
the water's shallow,'' says Earl. "So the kids can't get into any
"They've even got a nice golf course, too. What more could you
For more information on the park, including camping opportunities
and recreational facilities, check out the provincial parks