Longtime nudist Bob Migliore said many of the 60 members of the onetime clothing-optional getaway north of Beausejour pitched in to help buy 80 acres of farmland in the RM of Brokenhead, 10 kilometres east of Libau — just a stones throw away from their old haunt along PR 317.
Aptly renamed Naturist Legacy Park, Migliore said the property will be a permanent haven for those looking to provide a safe and secure environment where naturism can be legally practiced in a natural and non-sexual setting.
"It was extremely important that we have our own place because there was nothing for nudists on the prairies until you reached Regina," Migliore said. "To have our own property and organized space that we own means we can never have it taken from us... unless we don't pay the taxes."
For over 40 years, the Crocus Grove Sun Club was one of the longest, owner-run nudist clubs in Canada and last getaway in Manitoba for those who relished swimming and sunbathing in the buff.
Sold in 2006, new owners decided to make the park clothing-mandatory in April 2010 to open it up to more paying customers, leaving the close-knit group of nudists — who have been friends for decades — on the outside looking in.
"It was a very difficult time for us," Migliore said. "Not being allowed to use the site was a definite blow to our community."
Not wanting to access someone else's property and put their fate in private hands again, Migliore said a group led by Mark Brown and John Kundert searched familiar surroundings and found the well-treed cattle pasture less than half a kilometre east of their old site, but on the south side of PR 317.
The group purchased the property in September for an undisclosed but 'substantial' amount. The group is now in the process of having it serviced with hydro and are moving forward with plans for tent and mobile unit lots, a new pool, hiking trails, volleyball courts and a rec centre by the end of summer.
"Lots are planned, park space... it will be very nice," Migliore said.
Naturist Legacy is a private membership-based nonprofit corporation created to own and manage land held in trust for naturist use.
Simply defined, naturism is the practice of going without clothing in social settings (generally in mixed-gender groups of all ages) in the belief that doing so is beneficial.
Being nude, especially in the great outdoors within appropriate settings, draws one inherently closer to nature as well to your own true self, Migliore said.
The only requirements of the Naturist Legacy property are that it offer lots of privacy, be about an hour's drive from the city and have some facilities to get the club started... that and sandy soil to keep down the mosquitoes — the scourge of the nudist.
If any area residents are iffy on the idea of having nude sun-seekers as neighbours, Migliore assures his family-oriented club won't offend, claiming they are a quiet group that just goes about their daily tasks without clothes on, weather permitting.
"We are surrounded on two sides by Crown land so there aren't a lot of neighbours around," Migliore said.
"The Crown land also means there won't be development near us, so that's ideal."
For more information on Naturist Legacy Park go to www.naturistlegacy.com