The Lake Diefenbaker guidebook
Elbow is a joint with a surprising resort feel
For Michael Clancy and his wife Anna, there’s a whole lot more to Lake Diefenbaker than just the water’s edge. The couple, who travels extensively around Saskatchewan penning destination guides, has recently written Lake Diefenbaker: Yours to Explore, a guide that looks not only at the lake itself but also at the people and events that make up the lake’s culture.
“There’s an awful lot more stuff there than we thought there would be,” said Michael Clancy. “And one of the real takeaways for us, no matter where we travelled around the lake, was the quality of people we would bump into in so many of the little towns and villages.”
One such little place is the village of Elbow. Located at the easternmost portion of the lake, halfway between Regina and Saskatoon off Highway 19, Elbow is a fast-rising star on the new Lake Diefenbaker resort scene, with a number of little-known sites and attractions that add to its appeal.
The queen of the lake
While the Elbow Marina is indeed an impressive site on the prairie, with more than 150 large sailing yachts and motorcraft nestled in a cut-out of the coulee, nothing is more impressive to Clancy than the Wendebee II.
“It’s a Chris-Craft motorcraft manufactured in 1951,” said Clancy. “And with its mahoghany and brass hull, the thing is absolutely a work of art. I can phrase it no other way.”
Available for private functions, the Wendebee II is also available for tours of the lake once a year on Canada Day for only $20. Tickets are available from the village office and should be purchased well in advance.
“You’ve got to see this thing, if for no other reason than to let your jaw hit the ground,” said Clancy. “It’s very much old-world, and to see her serenely sailing out on the lake is a sight indeed. But despite her age, she’s not out of place out there at all, and everyone who sees her acknowledges her as the queen of the lake.”
Elbow has a population of only 300, so one might not expect much in the way of amenities to be available in the village. But just as surprising as the size of the lake is the number of great little shops and restaurants available.
“One of the most glorious candy and toy stores you’re ever going to see is The Jelly Bean,” said Clancy. “Just walking in there is like having a flashback, with all the candy you remember as a child. They’ve also got educational toys and crafts in there for those wet summer days.”
Next door to The Jelly Bean is The Pelican, a place Clancy described as being as eclectic as the village itself.
“It’s part interior decor store, part antiques, part Saskatchewan artists and artisans, and they have these artisan teas I haven’t been able to find anywhere else,” said Clancy. “It’s a really neat, eye-catching kind of place, one of those places that is really easy to get in to but kind of hard to leave.”
An art collective down the street from The Jelly Bean and The Pelican offers a place for local artists to showcase their works, while a small gym allows visitors to stick with a workout regimen. Add in the sweet treats available at the Back Home Bakery and Deli and the fabulous meals available at both the Chinook Winds Boathouse Restaurant and the Harbour Golf Club and Resort dining room, and you’ll see why you need to work out.
Golfers can try their luck at the mini golf located right in the village or at the Harbour Golf Club.
“I’m not much of a golfer,” said Clancy. “So all golf courses are difficult from my perspective. But this one is particularly unforgiving.”
To help you get over the challenge or the sorrow from losing a ball or 20, Clancy suggests heading back to the clubhouse to sit on its harbour-view deck, enjoy a cold drink and watch as one of Saskatchewan’s amazing sunsets streaks across the lake.
“Watching the sunset bleed right across Lake Diefenbaker is one of the most glorious moments you’ll ever experience,” said Clancy.
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-way destination that will offer you one surprise after another, Clancy assures you the village of Elbow won’t disappoint.