'The water's calling': Southern Albertans head to the lake to escape the heat

Stafford Lake, east of Coaldale, Alta., is a popular spot for southern Albertans trying to beat during a record-setting heatwave

Boat and water sport sales skyrocketed during the pandemic, and that trend is continuing as temperatures soar.

“36, 37 (degrees), that’s crazy,” said Bo Cyr, who took his boat for a test run at Stafford Lake.

“I wanted to make sure everything works in the water,” added Cyr, who was planning to do some fishing this weekend.

Cyr said up until now he has been spending a lot of time on his motorcycle. “Now it’s almost too hot to ride the bike, so I thought I’d go fishing.”

“The lake is calling,” chuckled Bob Hawkins, owner of Lethbridge Marine, a boat repair shop.

“We’ve been so busy,” added Hawkins, who is looking after customers from across southern Alberta, southeastern B.C. and Saskatchewan.

“There’s lots of boats in this country, and now they’re starting to pull them out of storage.”

BUSINESS IS GOOD

Hawkins said January and February are usually slow months, but not this year. He said business has been good during the pandemic, because people were preparing to spend extra time enjoying the outdoors.

“COVID has done a lot for us. Now we’re just swamped, because everybody is getting their boats ready to go on the water, because it’s so hot.”

The heat has also been good for business at High Level Canoes and Kayaks, a Lethbridge retailer that sells and rents equipment for paddle sports.

“People are looking for anything to get themselves out and on the water, especially with this heat,” said employee Abby Phol. 

She said a lot of people have indicated they won’t be travelling this year, “so they are looking at canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and things like that.”

Pohl said more people are signing up for lessons and rentals too, a trend that is likely to continue through what is expected to be a hot summer.