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Oak Lake

Oak Lake, Manitoba is a town in the south-western "Westman region" of Manitoba, Canada. It is located 52 km (32 mi) west of Brandon along the Trans-Canada Highway.

The town is enclaved withiin the northern part of the Rural Municipality of Sifton, while the lake after which it was named is in the R.M.'s western area.

During the late 19th century, the area around Oak Lake was a popular stopping point for fur traders and settlers due to the large number of big oak trees (revered for their strength) located around the lake that could be used to repair their wagons.

In the fall of 1881, work crews on the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway had reached Flat Creek to the east of the current townsite. In the spring they moved the camp west and built a siding and station (now long gone) where the town's flags and flower garden are now located.[1]

Geography and climate

The area around Oak Lake is dominated by the Assiniboine river, the nearby lake by the same name, areas of flat farm land, and to the north, large, rolling hills left by receding glaciers.[2] Oak Lake's location in the middle of the Canadian prairies means that Oak Lake experiences an extreme continental climate. The area is known for its long, cold winters owing to its northerly location. There is often much snowfall during the winter, with the possibility for blizzards that can drop in excess of 35 cm (~14 inches) of snow at once, which can be blown into drifts that are much deeper.[3] The town can be cut off for a day or more while snow is cleared from the highways.

Temperatures during the coldest winter months of December, January and February can reach -35°C (-31°F), though colder temperatures occasionally occur. Windchills during the winter can reach as cold as -45°C (-49°F), making outdoor activity difficult on those days.[4] The average winter temperature is a more moderate -12°C (10.4°F). Winters are often characterized by extreme shifts in temperature with near 0°C (32°F) changing to frigid temperatures within the span of a few days. Summers are often very warm with the possibility of temperatures in excess of 35°C (95°F), though the average summer temperature is 26°C (78.8°F).[5] Year round, Oak Lake has an abundance of clear, sunny skies.


The economy of the Oak Lake area is dominated by farming, although nearby Virden has a booming oil economy. The municipality and town share an office and employ a handful of people to manage the running of public services. Other employers include the town's gas station, Valleyview CO-OP grocery store, Golden Embers restaurant, Dandy's confectionery, Yate's Garage, Lewis Cattle Oilers Ltd., Kreutzer Garage and several smaller, personal businesses.[6]

Basic groceries and household items can be purchased from the Co-op and the gas station. Other locations for shopping are Virden, 15 minutes away, Brandon, 30 minutes away, and for rare items, Winnipeg and Minot each 2½ hours away. Oak Lake has the seasonal Dandy's Drive In and Golden Embers. Virden and Brandon have a number of casual and fine dining restaurants as well

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