In the cool of the evening, fireflies flicker over the syrupy-smooth water as we begin to paddle ashore, toward the amber glow in the west. My dad, 74 years young, is in his rightful place at the helm. I sit up front, fully content, my belly full of pickerel, and realize that a perfect Manitoba moment is playing out before me. My dad and I are together again in Whiteshell Provincial Park, paddling and reminiscing. Something timeless and true is swirling around in the mist of Falcon Lake.
Granted, the father-son getaway may sound like a warm and fuzzy cliché. But when the paddles are your own, and when your last father-son voyage to the Whiteshell is 35 years in the rearview mirror, these moments are truly poignant.
Those canoe trips in the early ’80s taught me many things, like how golf and fishing go together like cake and ice cream. But most important of all, heading into the great outdoors with someone you love is just an awesome way to spend a summer day.
Fast-forward 35 years. Whether we’re talking about Lone Island, Malloy, Jessica, West Hawk or any of the other 200 or so pike-packed lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park, I know we’re heading to the right place.
The Whiteshell is all about kicking back and getting closer to nature. And there’s nothing pretentious about it. Sure, some of the cottages that hug the shores have grown in size and certainly in price. But for the most part, this is cottage country living the way it was intended. Sun and water are the key ingredients. They are—and forever will be—the cornerstones of the Whiteshell.
Tucked away at the southeast end of Falcon Lake and clutching the ancient Precambrian rock of the boreal forest, the Falcon Trails Resort is one of the finest family-run resorts in the park. Here, nine timber-framed lakeside cabins—all eco-friendly—come with private docks and hot tubs. Each unit’s cathedral ceiling, loft bedrooms and full kitchen provide ample space for four adults or a family of five. There’s additional accommodation in the main lodge, a larger cabin for bigger groups and three remote-access eco-cabins on nearby High Lake.
But before we retire for a cozy evening, there’s much fun to be had. We hit up the Falcon Lake Golf Course for a round to start our trip. The course, which cruises through dense boreal forest and remains virtually untouched from when it first opened in the late 1950s, is one of the best parkland courses in the country.
Although our talent with the Titleists has definitely deteriorated, it turns out we still know how to manoeuvre a canoe. After checking into the Falcon Trails Resort and frying up some pickerel in our cozy cabin, we mosey on down to the water to watch the sunset and paddle in the waning light that washes over the glassy lake.
“It’s like riding a bike,” says dad as we set course for Picnic Island, a pine-peppered rock outcropping and one of the most popular short excursions from the resort.
“Yeah, but do you remember how many times I crashed my bike, dad?” I counter.
Guests of the resort have complimentary use of canoes and the paddling nearby is exceptional. Besides Picnic Island, other popular destinations include the quick jaunt to Camp Lake, which requires a short portage, and the famous Falcon Lake rope-swing/cliff jump on High Lake Bay.
That evening and most of the next day, we snake along the pristine shores, listening to loons, tossing a few lures in the water and enjoying the incredible sunsets—almost as much as we enjoy each other’s company. It doesn’t get much more Canadian than this!
Our conversations cover a lot of ground over these relaxing hours on the water—we squeeze plenty of quality time into just a few days. We also decide to make these father-son getaways more frequent—we don’t want to wait another 35 years to enjoy each other’s company and Manitoba’s great outdoors.
FOOD: Falcon Trails Resort doesn’t have a restaurant, but catering options are available for groups. Bring groceries—kitchens are fully equipped, plus there are firepits and barbecues.
FISHING: Catch your own dinner. You may haul in a trophy northern pike, bass or walleye—all are common in this area.
EATING OUT: In town, you can grab a coffee and homemade cinnamon bun at the Falcon Lake Bakery Bistro. For some nourishment with a side of nostalgia, try the Falcon’s Nest, a classic order-at-the-counter diner.
THINGS TO DO: For active pursuits in town, there’s mini-golf, lawn bowling, tennis courts and an excellent public beach.