Watrous and Manitou Beach

A piece of Saskatchewan history

Watrous and Manitou have been delighting visitors for decades

Danceland is one of the must-see attractions in Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan.
Danceland is one of the must-see attractions in Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan. — Photo courtesy the Watrous/Manitou Marketing Group

RVing in Watrous and Manitou Beach means having your cake and eating it too. You can enjoy a bit of everything - a vacation there is like combining a spa day with an intriguing walk through history.

Located just a short drive from Saskatoon, Little Manitou Lake has long been revered for its healing waters (First Nations tribes believed that it could even cure smallpox).

The body of water gained a lot more popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, when the community of Manitou Beach grew to accommodate more than 10,000 residents and tourists during the summer months. In response to the growing demand, the town built a spa, drive-in theatre and a dance hall. 

Some things haven't changed

Historical attractions have been preserved and brought back to life here, so modern-day visitors can enjoy them. The Jubilee Drive-in is one of only three drive-in movie theatres remaining in the province of Saskatchewan (and one of few left in North America). You can either watch movies outside under the stars, or sit inside the 24-person indoor theatre. The theatre often shows old movies on 35-mm celluloid film, giving guests a real feel for the good old days.

The Jubilee Drive-in is open on weekends from May through October, and Thursday to Sunday during July and August.

May we have this dance?

If you're camping in the Watrous and Manitou area, you have to make sure you visit Danceland.

Constructed between 1928 and 1930, this historic dance hall features a 5,000-square-foot hardwood floor that was built on top of six to 10 inches of horse hair, giving it a bouyancy that dancers love.

Back in the day, a dance cost 10 cents, or you could buy three dances for a quarter. The hall was known to draw crowds of more than 500 people, and such full attendance was common.

Over the decades, Danceland has hosted a roster of big-name performers, including Prairie Oyster and other well-known bands. It was originally open on a seasonal basis, but now you can visit any time of year. Events held here include buffets, square dances, gospel shows and dinner theatre - and of course, the Friday and Saturday night dances.

The All Saints Anglican Church

If you still haven't had your fill of fun historical attractions, visit Watrous to see the All Saints Anglican Church. The neo-Medieval stained glass windows are well worth viewing, and were once part of the Church of St. John the Baptist in England. The glass pieces were once buried in a churchyard to protect them from vandalism, however they were later recovered by a vicar and brought back to Watrous where they were incorporated into the local place of worship. There were more than 2,000 pieces that had to be shipped.


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