A short history of Victoria Beach Manitoba

A short history of Victoria Beach Manitoba

Isle á la Biche

Victoria Beach was known as the Isle a la Biche to Voyageurs

The first white people, the Voyageurs, to travel Lake Winnipeg knew what is now the peninsula of Victoria Beach as L'Isle á la Biche. What is now the remains of the old railway dam were portaged as a shortcut from the Winnipeg River Estuary to Lake Winnipeg.

Founded in 1910

In April of 1910 the Victoria Beach Investment Company was founded by C.W.N. Kennedy, having a President and 4 Directors. The aim of the Company was to " lay out, improve, sell and dispose of its lands to be used primarily as a summer resort." Any person desirous of running a business had to get the approval of the VB Company.

In 1913, the assets of the Victoria Beach Investment Company were sold to the Victoria Beach Company. The new owners upheld the original goals, and continued to acquire land in the area. By 1915, the company had gained control of the land that now comprises the municipality. In the following years, the company sold numerous lots, and many campers had begun to construct cottages.

Victoria Beach became a municipality on August 6 1919.

In 1919, after negotiations with the province, the Municipality of Victoria Beach was incorporated.

Because Victoria Beach was basically an island with only a narrow spit joining it to the mainland, there was no road access but in 1916 the railway was to arrive at Victoria Beach making it easier to bring in supplies to build cottages. After the war it was a constant desire of cottagers to have a road built to join Albert Beach to the rest of Victoria Beach and 1952 saw the completion of this road. By 1962 most people were arriving by car to their cabins and the railway was no longer required.

In 1921 the Victoria Beach Community Club was organized and in 1925 the Clubhouse was built which exists to this day. The Clubhouse was home to weekend dances and social events and is now the hub of summer activity for under 18'ers.

A golf course was built in 1923 and a tennis court in 1924.

Both amenities exist to this day with the tennis court now being close to the General Store.

Einfeld Bakery was started in the 1930's and is still a viable operation to this day and still being run by the original family. Einfeld's Bakery is so well known that the Coast Guard have been known to boat over from Gimli in inclement weather just for dream cookies.

On June 15, 1926 the Victoria Beach News started publishing

Today it is run by Allen Willoughby under the name of the Victoria Beach Herald, now published only in the summer months.

Because the area was mainly a summer resort, those who lived here full time had to be hardy outdoors people who relied on industries such as commercial fishing , trucking and the lumber industry in the off season. There were many mink ranches in Victoria Beach and Victoria Beach mink became very unique and popular but with the advent of man-made materials which were lighter and the wearing of animal skins becoming distasteful, the last mink ranch pelted out in March of 2003, marking the end of an era.

1935 gave rise to both the Royal Canadian Legion and the Alex Anderson Memorial Community Club.

The Community Club is now a skating rink, curling club and social hall. Other amenities of the area include a marina, swimming docks for swimming lessons, a sailing club, Moonlight Inn Restaurant, a library, childrens playground and 12 of the best beaches in North America sporting very fine and soft white sand. Baseball was very popular and Victoria Beach teams were hugely successful in tournaments throughout the summer.

Hydro Services arrive in 1954

1954 saw Manitoba Hydro service provided to the permanent residents and in 1956 hydro was extended for use by the cottage community.

Victoria Beach Pioneer Cemetery

On a tree-covered knoll along PTH 504 (just north of Highway 59 North) is a lovely small cemetery, donated to the community by the Olafsson family, that is the grave-site for many of the first settlers of the Victoria Beach district. Founding families such as the Olafssons, Hamptons, Lesters and Ateahs are all well-represented. The headstones tell the story of the the district’s early years, with representation of immigration from Lebanon, Iceland and England as well as Métis people. Fishermen, farmers, ranchers, teachers and truckers can all be found. Like the community it serves, the cemetery has evolved to include the markers of summer cottagers who grew to appreciate the beauty and calm of this quiet site.

Author: Fredrick Buetefuer