Most Manitobans know we live on a flood plain due to the regular reminders of our rivers. Many don’t know that we live on a lake bottom, Lake Agassiz to be exact, which accounts for the flatness of the land. For several thousand years this massive lake harboured the meltwater from glaciers, some of them a mile and half thick, that covered the province during the last Ice Age which lasted about 85,000 years. Other than the thousands of lakes that dot the province, most of them remnants of Lake Agassiz, we still have a few beaches remaining to remind us of the huge glacial lake.
In eastern Manitoba there is evidence of various lakewater levels along the edge of the Canadian Shield. In the western part of the province, the Manitoba Escarpment formed the boundary of the big lake. There still remain a few places where the beaches of the lake are visible. You can clearly see evidence of numerous levels of the lake on the Arden Ridge off Hwy #16. Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Provincial Park is, in fact, the delta of a huge river that drained meltwater into Lake Agassiz at that spot. Around Riding Mountain National Park there are still beach ridges visible. The park offers a short hike that takes you along the ridges.
Just a few miles west of Miami, MB as you climb up the Manitoba Escarpment on Hwy #23, an opportunity to drink in the vistas of the old lake bottom has been created. Called Alexander Ridge Park and located almost at the top of the escarpment, the site features grand views of the flatland below and a satisfying roadside stop. The top picture is one of the long views of the plains below offered from the park. Signage explains the origins of the park and its lighthouse theme, picnic tables await and a wooden lookout tower enhances your 20-mile view of the plains. Several Sea Buckthorn bushes flourish in the well-maintained park. Last fall they were loaded with bright orange berries.
A worthwhile roadside stop but you have to be vigilant to find it. Located on the north side of Hwy #23 is a large sign with a lighthouse on it that identifies the park but you have to doubleback on a side road to get into the place.