We've always thought Pisew Falls is a cool place and never hesitate to say so, extolling its scenic and serene virtues as recently as in a July 11 editorial in the Thompson Citizen. Readers seem to agree and as new residents of Northern Manitoba arrive every year, it's not unusual to find one of their stunning colour photos of Pisew Falls, 64 kilometres south of Thompson, gracing the cover of our Nickel Belt News from time to time. Pisew Falls never gets old.
But it does get cold, at least in the winter. And best of all, Pisew Falls just went summer cool at 24.8°C Tuesday, making it the coolest spot in sweltering Manitoba at what at one time would have been described as 76.6ºF. The runner-up, George Island within the north basin of Lake Winnipeg, about 400 kilometres north of the City of Winnipeg, came in at 25.5°C.
As for Thompson, well, it was hot … as in record-setting hot. Environment Canada meteorologist Dale Marciski in Winnipeg said July 11 Thompson topped off July 10 at 32.6°C (or 90.7ºF) "beating the old record of 30.8°C set in 1998." Two other record highs were also set in Northern Manitoba, Marciski said, as Churchill hit 30.2°C, eclipsing its old record of 29.5°C set a decade ago in 2002, while Lynn Lake at 33.1°C (91.6ºF) said sayonara to its old record high of 30.7°C set 15 years ago in 1997.
At Pisew Falls, the Grass River drops 13 metres or 42.7 feet, changes direction and jets down through a gorge. Located just 500 metres east from Highway 6, about halfway between Thompson and Wabowden, it is Manitoba's second-highest waterfall and the starting point of a backcountry hike to Kwasitchewan Falls, the province's highest.
Pisew Falls takes its name from the Cree name for lynx because of the similarity between the sound of the rushing water and the hissing noise made by the wild northern cat. The falls can easily be viewed or photographed from viewing platforms on a boardwalk located at the end of a trail leading from the parking area. The Rotary wood plank suspension bridge crosses the Grass River just below Pisew Falls. It was built through the efforts of the Rotary Club of Thompson, founded in 1961.
Now, we can truly say Pisew Falls really does have a summer cool in the absolutely literal sense. While Environment Canada relays daily results on its website for 66 reporting locations in the province, Manitoba Conservation's Operations Division Fire Program tracks weather data from 83 reporting stations – 81 in Manitoba, as well as Creighton, adjacent to Flin Flon, and Collins Bay, Saskatchewan, on the northwest side of Wollaston Lake.
If you wanted to keep cool during the July 10 scorching heat the hot humid air mass extended up even along the northwest coast of Hudson Bay to north of the 60th parallel and into Nunavut. Arviat reached a comfortable daytime high of 22.4°C July 10, which is considerably above the normal high of 17°C. You would have had to press on further north to Rankin Inlet to find a genuinely cool spot. Rankin was a rather brisk 14°C Tuesday, a tad cooler than its norm of 16°C for the date.