Hillside Beach, Manitoba
Manitoba summers are short but gorgeous. With temperatures ranging from the mid 20s to the mid 30s on the Celsius scale during July and August and the fine sand white beaches such as Hillside Beach, it can rival the Caribbean in recreational value.
Hillside Beach today
Though not as well known as Victoria Beach or as commercial as Grand Beach, it is one of the nicer resorts in southern Manitoba. It is valued by cottagers as a quiet resort with a grand two kilometer sand beach and dunes in a protected bay of Lake Winnipeg, just across from Victoria Beach. The protected bay offers good conditions for sailing, surfing, water skiing and fishing.
Behind the dunes there is a large lagoon (three kilometers across) used for fishing, canoeing and birdwatching. When the larger bay becomes too choppy water skiers often prefer the quieter waters of the lagoon.
Hillside Beach has few available facilities and services. They mainly consist of a general store and gas station, an antique shop and a utility rental shop. A new addition will be a lawn care and landscaping company, like all other facilities located at the corner of Hary Craig Road and Hillside Beach Road.
During the fur trading expeditions of the Voyageurs and Coureur des bois the lagoon was part of a portage for traveling between the Winnipeg River and Lake Winnipeg en route from French eastern Canada to the Red River Valley, avoiding the long often choppy route around Elk Island.
The Beginnings of the Resort
One of the first cottage subdividers at Hillside Beach was Colonel Chambrey. It is my understanding that Colonel Chambrey was a veteran of the Boer War(1899–1902)and he received Hillside as a land grant for his military service.
Edith and Arthur Williams purchased a cottage lot from Colonel Chambrey in the early 1920s. At this time, Hillside Beach was made up of homesteaders and cottagers. Some of the homesteaders were the Smeltzers, Rodgers, Taylors, Bergeys, Watleys and Lesters. Some of the cottagers were the Cavanaughs, the Lyons, and the McLellans. Tony Chapple was the local entrepreneur, contractor, and employer. At this time, the CNR train was the quickest way to get to Hillside, Albert, Victoria and Grand Beaches from Winnipeg(no good roads, yet). In about 1938, George and Elizabeth(Bessie) Williams (George Williams is the son of Edith and Arthur Williams) bought Hillside Beach Lodge including a half-section of land with beach and lagoon frontage at Hillside Beach. The Lodge included six sleeping cabins on the beach front with hundreds of yards of sand in front of them. Meals and transportation from the train were provided. The Lodge included a store. Activities included horseback riding, volleyball and swimming in the lake. The cabins on the Beach front had to be moved to higher land two times(once in 1940 and once in the late 1940s) because of rising Lake Winnipeg levels. In 1950 the lake water reached up to the Lodge and the road to the lake was under seven feet of water during a storm!
Harry Craig is Elizabeth Williams' brother. Harry Craig became a business partner with George and Elizabeth Williams in the 1950s. When George Williams died in 1959(age of 46yrs), Harry Craig became a major business partner with Elizabeth Williams.
Elizabeth Williams and Harry Craig started the Hillside Beach Trailer court and campground in the 1950s and 1960s. The amount of surrounding cottages kept growing as they sold off property to new cottagers. Soon other land owners, such as the Trainor Family and the Bergey Brothers started developing cottage property - first along the shore and then gradually further inward. Upon the death of Mr. Craig(age67) in the early 1970s the Williams estate sold his trailer court to a co-op, jointly-owned by the people that used the trailer park. No new trailer sites are currently being added to the park and the waiting list to become a member of the co-op is quite long.
- Lord Selkirk School Division
- Government of Manitoba on Eastern Manitoba
- More information on Hillside Beach and the Beaches Area