The CREIGHTON-DENARE BEACH AREA
BY: Catherine Hynes
A pleasant drive around the communities of Creighton and Denare Beach will give you a greater understanding of the makeup of our region. More detailed information, maps and a visitor package can be obtained from the Creighton-Denare Beach Visitor Information Centre at 216 Creighton Ave., Creighton Saskatchewan S0P 0A0 or by calling (306)688-3538
In early years before it was properly mapped, travellers were commonly lost on this lake because of its odd shape and many confusing bays. Because of this is was given the name Phantom Lake.
Phantom Lake was established as a summer resort in 1932, and began as a rocky, scenic lake with a good location. Through the help of volunteers, a sandy beach was established, the portage road to Hapnot Lake was cleared, and various buildings were built. Diving platforms and a 400 foot boardwalk extended into the water in those early years.
By 1943, Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company (HBM&S) had taken over the development of Phantom Lake, and a picturesque footpath led from the Flin Flon townsite to the beach. There were expanses of grass, elaborate picnic sites, a playground area, docks, change house and a dance hall, all gleaming white with red trim. A quaint bandstand provided a venue where entertainment and concerts were provided. Tennis courts were laid out in two locations. The landscaped grounds at Phantom Lake were accented by formal flower beds and stonework ledges, paths, and a pond. A community grassroots organization, Friends of Phantom Lake, has recently begun a revitalization project to again make it the popular recreation spot it was during the 1940's.
Access to Phantom Lake is from Highway 167 just west of the turnoff to the South Main shaft south of Flin Flon. Just follow the signs that will also take you to the golf course.
PHANTOM LAKE GOLF COURSE
The Phantom Lake Golf Course is located between Flin Flon and Creighton. If you are a golf enthusiast, and you are up for the challenge, then our nine-hole course is for you. When playing Phantom Lake there is no question you have entered the Precambrian Shield. The fairways roll with hills Studded with barren rock outcrops and pockets of muskeg. Besides adding a distinctive character to the course, these features also provide some truly hazardous conditions for the game. The muskeg is well known for swallowing errant golf balls, and who can guess the final resting place of a ball after having ricocheted from a rock?
TOWN OF CREIGHTON
The Town of Creighton had its beginning in the 1930's, when some twenty homes were built on either side of the winter trail between Flin Flon and Sandy Bay (Denare Beach). The community increased in size after the Saskatchewan Department of Natural Resources constructed a road from Flin Flon to Amisk Lake. Creighton was named in honour of Tom Creighton, one of the discoverers of the mineral deposits that were eventually developed by HBM&S as the Flin Flon mine. A commemorative cairn is located on Main Street near Creighton School.
ROAD TO DENARE BEACH
Following Highway 167 from the Town of Creighton south will take you to the Northern Village of Denare Beach. This 18 km road is now a scenic ride that will take about 15 minutes. In 1934 the same trip required a 16 km (10 mi.) drive over a corduroy road from Creighton to Loon Lake, followed by a canoe ride over Loon Lake, a portage from Loon to Mosher Lake, continuing by canoe over Mosher Lake to its south end, and finally walking 3 km (2mi.) to Denare Beach. This amounted to an all-day trip. Highway 167 was finally opened to general traffic the summer of 1937; however, weather conditions affected the quality of the road, and often it was impassable. At one point this road was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most curves within a given distance for any highway in the world! It has since been somewhat straightened out.
NORTHERN VILLAGE OF DENARE BEACH
Originally called Sandy Bay by the local residents, this was the first resort project in the north established by the Saskatchewan Department of Natural Resources in 1933. As a quick means of reference in the Regina office, the first two letters of the words Department of Natural Resources were used, and the project was called "Denare Beach". The decision not to name the community "Beaver Lake" was arrived at because of the many places named after this creature in the north, which officials believed would cause confusion. Some of this confusion exists to this day. Denare Beach is located on the shores of Amisk Lake, "amisk" being Cree for "beaver", and many local residents still refer to the lake and community as Beaver Lake.
With the completion of the road, Denare Beach quickly became a popular resort area. The cottage atmosphere continues to characterize the community today, with numerous public beaches, tennis courts, boat launches and both camping sites and lakeside accommodations available.
NORTHERN GATEWAY MUSEUM
The Northern Gateway Museum, laced on Moody Drive in Denare Beach, was constructed in 1956, making it one of the oldest museums in Saskatchewan. It holds many fascinating pieces of history, from native artifacts such as stone tools, pottery and beadwork, to artifacts of the first European explorers to pass through tis area including Alexander Henry, Joseph and Thomas Frobisher, and Sir John Franklin. The museum also has displays about the settling and mining activities in the Amisk Lake - Denare Beach area. One of the "not to miss" displays at the museum is the "birch bark biting", an ancient art form once commonly practiced by the Cree women of the area.
The museum is open seven days a week during July and August. Its hours of operation are from 1:00 to 5:00 PM and 6:00 to 9:00 PM.
additional information can be obtained by calling (306) 362-2141.
The limestone crevices are a spectacular natural feature of the area. They are located approximately 10 km south of Denare Beach on Highway 167. If you Pass Meridian Creek, you have gone too far. Turn around and drive back towards Denare Beach for about 2 km. Watch on the right side of the highway. At the 1-lane road, turn east (right) down it and drive to the end, several hundred metres. You can park in the area at the end of the road. Follow the trail east a short distance to the crevices.
Please be extremely careful when exploring the crevices! It is very easy to slip and fall a long way with resulting sever injury or death! Rescue would take a long time because this is an isolated area! Watch and supervise your children closely so that a tragedy does not happen! Also, please respect the natural beauty of this area. Take all garbage back to town with you, and leave the plants in their natural state!
These crevices occur in carbonate rock that is part of the Ted River Formation, deposited on the Canadian Shield during the Ordovician period 500 to 440 million years ago. The crevices are recent features, formed since the glaciers from the last ice age receded from the area about 10,000 years ago. Water percolates along thin cracks in the rock. As water freezes, it expands. The repeated expansion of ice during the freeze-thaw cycle in fall and spring forces the joints to expand, wedging the rocks apart and eventually forming the crevices. The crevices range from up to 12 metres (40 ft.) deep. Even in the summer, you can look down and see snow or ice at the bottom of some of the deeper crevices.
A monument to Beaver city stands at the south end of Highway 167 at the Sturgeon-Weir River 20 km south of Denare beach.
In 1910, some prospectors discovered gold on the west side of Amisk Lake, the first major discovery of gold west of the Ontario border. These included Jack and Dan Mosher, Thomas Creighton, and Leon and Isidor Dion, people who were also involved with base metal discoveries of the Flin Flon area. The Mosher-Creighton party's gold strike at Amisk Lake in 1913 was the first significant mineral discovery in the region, and it caused the increased exploration activity that ultimately led to the discovery of the Flin Flon deposits. More than a thousand men and women from all over Canada came to make their fortune. Kathleen Rice, a well-educated woman from Ontario who eventually settled on Wekusko Lake near Snow Lake, was one of the early pioneers of this region. Beaver City had its beginning in 1914, when a row of tents and log cabins, along with two cookhouses capable of feeding two hundred people at a time, sprang up. A freighting outfit began business, and barns and boarding houses were built to look after the many travellers. With the gold rush, the freighting industry, and the fishing industry, it seemed that the boom town Beaver City would continue to flourish. However, when the Great War broke out, many returned home or moved to Sturgeon Landing where the Mandy Mine hauled its ore. Beaver City began to deteriorate, and by 1918 it was practically a ghost town.
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