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Summer Rain in the Boreal Forest

Author: Ellen Criss, Slave Lake Region

Ellen Criss is a high school teacher, musician, ATV enthusiast and mother of two, who has spent the last 30 years living in Slave Lake. She contributes to many community events and she is passionate about showcasing the region.

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Northshore Homestead

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There are few things more relaxing than waking up to the sound of gentle raindrops on the tent. I snuggle into my sleeping bag cocoon as the children get an extra hour in theirs. Over steaming coffee by our crackling fire, we discuss what to do with our day. It’s tempting to just listen to the drizzle in the pine boughs overhead and smell the fresh earth from under the overhanging branches. But we are camped near Slave Lake, and there are many other alternatives close by.

Children’s Activities

The weather at Devonshire Beach is too windy for swimming in the lake, so we decide to check out the Northern Lakes Aquatic Centre, where there’s a slide and a gentle shallow end for little ones. After a soak in the hot tub, we discover that the Slave Lake Rotary Library organizes children’s activities that only run on rainy days in the summer. Here, we check our emails on the free wifi while the youngsters do crafts and watch the movie of the week. If we are looking for a little more activity and want to burn off some steam, we can visit the Multi Rec Centre, which includes an indoor playground, walking track and fieldhouse. There's always something going on, and we even catch a Farmer's Market in the foyer there. Wonderland is a new attraction in Slave Lake, opening in the spring of 2017.  This is an indoor playground and cafe, with plenty of climbing activities for young children, and arcade games for teens and adults. Tons of activities are available for the energetic kids in the family.

Shopping

Slave Lake boasts some great locally owned and operated boutiques for a little retail therapy. At the Visitor Information Centre we discover a showcase for local artisans and photographers - a place to pick out a postcard and get our bearings.   We can visit Distractions, a great boutique for men’s and women’s clothing, purses, footwear and gifts. Random Toughtz is filled to the rafters with brand name women’s clothing, décor and unique gifts. The staff there act like hostesses instead of salespeople, and offer us free tea and samples of homemade fudge. Southshore Hidden Treasures is within walking distance of Big Fish Bay, with a great selection of gifts, sourvenirs, candles, home décor, and even teas. For our little ones, Grateful Heart is the place to go. There are many unique children’s and babies’ clothing, toys and gifts here. For antiques and collectibles, we explore Flipside, which is not an ordinary consignment store. There is even a knitting class being held there! At the end of our shopping spree, we can enjoy a steaming latte and some homemade pie at FIX, the main street coffee shop and bakery, which doubles as an art gallery, with its displays of local creations.  

Outdoor Options

Rain or shine, we can rent a kayak from Mike’s Kayak Shack, or do a little fishing. Mike is often available for some guided paddling, and has good advice about where to catch a big walleye.  The beautiful 18 hole course at Gilwood Golf Course on highway 88 is a perfect place for the golf enthusiast who likes a challenge, or the amateur who just wants the panoramic view of the lake.  Just up the highway from the golf course, we can visit one of the most unique spots in the region, the Northshore Homestead.  Here, there is a chance to tour hunting and trapping displays, visit live buffalo in their natural setting, and view antique autos and equipment. Along the highway we can turn into the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation, where, to our surprise, we find a whole bird observatory nestled in the woods.  The BCBC is the only educational and research facility in the world strategically located to study boreal birds on their breeding grounds. It offers 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits, and a range of interpretive programming.

No matter what the weather is, there are lots of activities for all ages in the Slave Lake Region in the summer. For more information, please go to www.slavelakeregion.ca, www.slavelake.ca, or www.md124.ca

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