The Piers of Dunnottar
Lake Winnipeg is the sixth largest great lake in Canada. It runs
several hundred miles in a north to south location which exposes it
to sometimes unpredictable weather and winds that can create north
Atlantic scale gales that have claimed several boats and lives over
the years. The north Atlantic does not freeze however, and lake ice
makes this body of water almost singular for its potential treachery.
The spring of 2010 illustrated this when ice walls were created by
strong winds blowing the lake ice up into massive mountains.
A harbour at Gimili and another at Winnipeg Beach shelter lake
going craft over the seasons. All craft are pulled from the water and
stored on land for the winter. Similarly, the piers are taken down each
season to escape the damage of the ice. While the ice wall was a
freak phenomenon, shards of lake ice battering the shores are the
norm in any year.
Storms are frequent on the lake. Many are run of the mill, high
wave creating yet manageable occurrences that attract the thrill
seekers who revel in the waves. It is very invigorating to walk out to
the sandbar and take on the waves. For the most part you just bob
with the waves riding them up and down. Every now and then, a high
roller will break right over you which adds to the fun.
There are storms that no one should be in the water for.
Fortunately these are rare, perhaps one or two a season. That the
piers survive them is remarkable as often the shoreline does not.
Beaches are washed away, shoreline timber is washed out into the
lake again to become potential missiles on their return and a few
cottage owners see their frontage torn into and taken away. A few
seasons back, the combination of high water levels, fall freezing and
a strong winds ravaged the shoreline leaving it skirted in ice
extending several feet up into the trees on shore. For long time
residents, it is all a reminder of the power of this lake to take lives.