Visiting Little Manitou Lake – The Dead Sea of Canada

With a salinity content three times higher than the ocean, The Dead Sea of Canada lives up to its name.

While searching for unique stops on my road trip across Canada, I stumbled on Saskatchewan’s Little Manitou Lake. Affectionately known as The Dead Sea of Canada, this lake in the middle of prairies offers a similar, albeit chilly, experience as the Dead Sea in the Middle East. With the pandemic taking away my planned trip to Isreal and Jordan in 2020, I opted for the next best float out there. This is my experience visiting Little Manitou Lake, The Dead Sea of Canada.

Where is The Dead Sea of Canda?

The Dead Sea of Canada is located in the province of Saskatchewan. It’s roughly 190 km northwest of Regina and 120 km southeast of Saskatoon. If you take the “scenic route,” Little Manitou Lake is a nice detour on the way to Saskatoon from Regina or Moose Jaw.

Little Manitou Lake is accessible by the small village of Manitou Beach. Although mentioned as a resort town, amenities and services are limited.

Why So Salty?

So what makes Little Manitou so salty? Minerals, and lots of them.

Similar to the Dead Sea, Little Manitou Lake is fed by springs underground. The mineral-rich soil includes magnesium, potassium salts, and plenty of sodium. This makes the water three times saltier than the ocean and, therefore, incredibly buoyant. Little Manitou Lake is also a terminal lake, meaning there are no outflowing rivers. This keeps the minerals content high and its visitors above water.

Interestingly, Little Manitou Lake is one of only three lakes in the world with these characteristics. The others are Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and, of course, the Dead Sea.

What’s It Like To Float in the Dead Sea of Canada?

In a word, cold. You certainly float and it is a unique experience but man it was chilly.

I visited on a cool day in early September so that certainly didn’t help. The area was very quiet, just me, my travel partner, and a group of elderly folks curious if we were going to take a dip. After I changed in the public changeroom, they watched as I took several (SEVERAL) minutes to build up the courage to jump in. I think they got bored and left, only to return thanks to my shrill screams once I finally dove in.

Although the water is cold, the float is real. On top of this unique quality, the high mineral content in the water is said to have healing powers. As such, there is a spa next to the lake and has been a tourist attraction since the 1930’s. Long before that, aboriginal people have been praising the lakes powers and have used it to cure the sick.

I certainly was not in the water long enough to fix any of my alignments however, Glenn, my buoyant model for the day, surely got his monies worth.

Hot Tip: The water is muddy so water shoes are recommended.

What Else Is There To See and Do in Manitou?

Manitou Beach was deserted on my visit, granted I was there during the pandemic and in the fall. Still, Manitou Beach clearly has seen better days. The resort town of the ’30s seems to be stuck there. This, oddly, adds to its charm.

The town does boast a golf course and one of the only drive-in theatres in the prairies. At the beach there’s a shuttered snack stand and resort next door and that’s about it. The resort does have a steakhouse however we did not check it out. I would be curious to return in the summer months to see the village alive. Then again, I was more than happy to have it to myself with only a small group of people chuckling at the commotion I created.

What say you?
What are your thoughts on The Dead Sea of Canada? Would you take a dip here?
Let me know in the comments below!

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3 replies on “Visiting Little Manitou Lake – The Dead Sea of Canada”
  1. Avatarsays: Cedric Noronha

    Very good post. Highly informative for travellers who want to visit the little Manitou Lake in Canada. Nicely written. Keep up the good work.

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