Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

VICTORIA BEACH: Where dreams live forever

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It's a perfect circle: two layers of shortbread, a schmear of raspberry jam in the middle, a shiny coat of white royal icing on top. One crumbly bite can make you six years old, instantly. It's magic.

It's called a dream, and it comes in a little brown paper bag at Einfeld's Bakery in the heart of Victoria Beach.

I tasted my first dream cookie when I was six and my family started renting cottages at this pine-scented peninsula at the end of Highway 59 on Lake Winnipeg, about 110 kilometres north of Winnipeg. My mom would take our family of five out for a month at a time, and dad would drive out on the weekends, just like a lot of the dads did and still do at Victoria Beach.

In fact, a whole lot of things at Victoria Beach haven't changed since we first learned to porpoise dive in the waters of the wide, unbelievably fine white sandy beaches of this sleepy little village.

You still can't drive your car into this community during the summer, which hosts some 800 cottages and its own 'club.' You have to bike or walk or take a Victoria Beach taxi in.

Once you leave that car in the parking lot and cross under the archway entrance, you enter a tiny world where everyone says hello, and everyone's there to play. By joining the club, or paying a per-event fee, you get to take part in everything from family volleyball and baseball tournaments to sandcastle-building contests to regattas and races of every kind. These events have been going on for decades, all faithfully chronicled and celebrated in the 83-year-old Victoria Beach Herald.

There are also yoga and Pilates classes, sailing and tennis lessons, dances, golf and bridge tournaments, an annual flea market and a great second-hand book sale.

There are still twice-weekly movie nights at the Clubhouse, where decades ago I lost my heart for the very first time, walking home in the dark, flashlights weaving. He was all of 8.

The village square, where Einfelds has churned out some of the best cinnamon buns for more than 70 years, still has its cottage library and playground, tennis courts and grocery store, and the old Moonlight Inn still serves up excellent cones on hot nights. Kids still learn to swim a half kilometre up the road at the Victoria Beach pier.

The pretty nine-hole golf course has eaten more than its fair share of our family's golf balls, but all five of us learned to play the game there.

For others, days tend to revolve around the tennis courts or yacht club. And the lake, of course. Always the lake.

It's always summer at Victoria Beach, where sunset pilgrimages ebb and flow each night, where four and five generations have played, and grown up, but never grown old.

I lived in four other cities before returning to Winnipeg with a baby boy and a husband. And our first summer back, I took them to Victoria Beach. I'll never forget walking back into that bakery -- that warm, darkly fragrant familiar place -- and ordering, with some disbelief, a half-dozen dreams.

One bite and I was six again. Magic.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2009 E4

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