THE TIMELESS APPEAL OF VICTORIA BEACH
"The Home of a Thousand Pleasures"
By George Siamandas
Summer in Manitoba has always meant a trip to the lake. Whether on the west shore at Winnipeg Beach or Gimli or the east shore at Victoria Beach or Grand Beach, Winnipeggers have always flocked to the lake..
As early as 1902. Charles and Fred Kennedy and their families began to vacation at Victoria Beach as early as 1902-1903. Charles Kennedy was a land speculator, land titles registrar and insurance broker. Kennedy and his Victoria Beach Land Company persuaded the CNR to run a line up by offering them half the land that they controlled. The Victoria Beach company controlled much of the land. In the fall of 1916 the railway finally went through and people could finally get there. But they had to hand half their land to the CNR for the privilege of a rail connection.
It has had a resident population from about 1900. There have been people engaged in fishing, including a woman called Freda Jonhsen who was one of the first three women to hold a commercial fishing licence. There were small merchants. The Ateah family is famous at Victoria Beach. Albert Ateah came from Lebanon to go to the Klondike but ended up at Whitemouth in 1898. He worked as a pedlar at Victoria Beach carrying two trunks on his back going door to door. Later members of his family worked at mink ranching another popular activity up until the 1960s. There was also Charles David another Arab who came in 1920 who ran David's Store and did mink ranching.
THE DAYS OF THE MOONLIGHT SPECIAL
For nearly 45 years people would take the CNR Moonlight special up to Grand Beach and then up to Victoria. The trains left at 9:00 am 1:30 pm and 6:15 pm. In its hey day of the 1930s a ticket was 25 cents. Everyone took the train up until cars became popular in the 1950s. It was abandoned in the 1960s. But for many years the railway trip up to Victoria Beach was part of the experience.
Victoria Beach has always had a kind of a cachet. Exclusive. High standards of planning. There are restrictions on the use of the automobile. It is considered a perfect place to raise small children as there are virtually no vehicles. You cannot drive a car in during July and August. Everyone uses a bike. It is considered one of the top 10 fresh water beaches in the world. There is still a high degree of control over what happens at VB. It has always been the place for Winnipeg's Anglo Saxons. Jews were not allowed. And in fact this may explain why many people of ethnic origins found places on the other side of Lake Winnipeg at Winnipeg Beach.