LAND OF LIVING SKIES
NATURE AT ITS FINEST
Beneath those skies lies a tremendously diverse landscape. Head south to ride the open range in some of the largest expanses of rare native grasslands left in North America; explore rugged badlands or experience rural life in Canada’s agricultural heartland. Venture north to choose among 100,000 lakes famous for fishing, and a boundless network of unspoiled wild rivers. Then there are unique landscapes such as the Cypress Hills with its enchanting mix of highlands, grasslands and forest (www. saskparks.net/cypresshills), or the spire-like Sandcastles formation of Lake Diefenbaker (www.beechysask.ca).
Saskatchewan is the sand dune capital of Canada, boasting both the largest and second largest dunes in the country, plus a few others thrown in for variety. The vast, other-worldly Athabasca Sand Dunes are some of the largest active dunes this far north anywhere in the world. Situated along the south shore of Lake Athabasca in a pristine northern setting, these dunes support some 50 rare plants and offer the ultimate wilderness adventure.
A RICH LEGACY
With locations in Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, North Battleford and Yorkton, the Western Development Museum is the most prominent chronicler of Saskatchewan’s early years (www.wdm.ca). The Hepburn Museum of Wheat, a half-hour north of Saskatoon, makes it easy to experience that most iconic
Saskatchewan licence plates proudly proclaim the “Land of Living Skies,” a poetic salute to the province’s big open skies, clear air, dancing northern lights and breathtaking spectacles during bird migrations. Sunrises and sunsets have a well-deserved reputation as the most dazzling on the planet.
prairie symbol—the traditional wooden grain elevator. Two national historic sites, Fort Walsh and Fort Battleford, bring to life the early days of the North-West Mounted Police, and their role in establishing law and order in the West (www.parkscanada. gc.ca/fortwalsh; www.parkscanada.gc.ca/ battleford). Visitors are always awe-struck by the remarkable rare book collection at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, just south of Regina. It houses the largest collection of 13th to 17th century books and manuscripts in Canada—everything from original treatises of philosophers and saints to handwritten decrees by popes and kings. To really go back in time, as much as 6,000 years, head to Wanuskewin Heritage Park in a scenic valley on Saskatoon’s northern outskirts (www.wanuskewin.com). It is considered among the best examples of pre-contact occupation sites on the North American Great Plains. Ancient archaeological nds including a bison kill site and medicine wheel meld with a vibrant present-day Aboriginal culture.
ENJOYING THE BEST
Given that Saskatchewan is a major food producer, it is not surprising that folks here like to eat well. With a cuisine re ecting local products and the province’s diverse ethnic makeup, there are more foodcentred events than you can shake a skewer stick at. Try Mortlach’s Saskatoon Berry Festival (www.mortlach.ca) or Saskatoon’s Taste of Saskatchewan (www.tasteofsaskatchewan.ca). Foodies can also take Taste-It Food Tours in Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon and the Cypress Hills (www.tasteitfoodtours.ca).
Calling Saskatchewan golf-crazy is an understatement; there are more courses per capita than anywhere in the country. Choose from hidden gems in small communities to famous award-winners such as Dakota Dunes Golf Links (www. dakotadunes.ca), named among the top public courses in Canada by SCOREGolf. For an extensive listing, see www.saskgolfer.com.
Grotto Gardens Country Market, just south of Maple Creek, is a new destination for farm food in a family-fun setting. The combination fruit orchard, bakery and eatery specializes in local and seasonal fare, plus Saskatchewan’s rst “Goat Walk” (www.grottogardens.ca). Regina’s spanking new Mosaic Stadium, home of the beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders football team, is now open (www.newmosaicstadium.com).
Fishing is wildly popular in Saskatchewan. If you are new to the sport, the “Learn to Fish Program” operated by Waskesiu Marina in Prince Albert National Park shows you how to get in on the action and land that big one (www.waskesiu marina.com).
Regina’s heart is Wascana Centre, one of the largest urban parks in North America and home to several key attractions including the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, lined by an impressive summer ower garden; the Saskatchewan Science Centre and Kramer IMAX Theatre; and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, interpreting everything from the Age of Dinosaurs to Saskatchewan’s diverse landscapes and wildlife, and Aboriginal Peoples link to the land (www.wascana.sk.ca). The 125-year-old Government House, with its impressive Edwardian Garden, captures a bygone era when this was the residence of the Lieutenant Governor (www.government house.gov.sk.ca). Regina is famous as home of the RCMP, where Mounties have trained since 1885. The RCMP Heritage Centre showcases the history of this world-renowned police force (www.rcmphc.com).
Saskatoon’s most de ning feature is its beautiful riverbank along the South
Saskatchewan River—home to parks, walking trails, numerous festivals and the popular River Landing development in the south downtown (www.tourismsaskatoon. com). For a different perspective of the heart of Saskatoon, climb aboard the Prairie Lily riverboat for a one-hour river cruise, or opt for a Sunday brunch or dinner cruise (www.theprairielily.com ).
Moose Jaw has capitalized on its Roaring Twenties’ past when it was a hotbed for Prohibition-era bootlegging and gangster activity. The Tunnels of Moose Jaw runs tours recreating this colourful time when Al Capone was rumoured to have been a regular visitor (www.tunnelsofmoosejaw.com).
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Saskatchewan is known as a stellar canoeing destination with everything from adrenalinepumping whitewater to tranquility in stunning wilderness. Churchill River Canoe Outfitters is the go-to source for guided trips, equipment rentals and advice (www.churchillrivercanoe.com). They are members of the Canada Nature Escapes Co-operative, offering an array of naturebased trips and experiences such as horseback excursions and dogsledding (www.canadanatureescapes.ca).
The fishing in Saskatchewan is legendary, where trophy-sized catches are practically taken for granted. For the ultimate experience, head to a remote fly-in lodge for a combination of exceptional fishing and resort-style pampering in pristine forested lakelands. The Saskatchewan Outfitters Association lists sport fishing operators that meet high standards (www.soa.ca).
Situated on the Central North American Migratory Flyway, Saskatchewan is a birdwatcher’s dream. Among the easiest hotspots to visit is Chaplin Lake, right beside the Trans-Canada Highway. The lake is so significant that the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network named it a Site of Hemispheric Importance. Each spring, a hundred thousand migrating shorebirds of some 30 species stop here to feed on their northward migration, including half the world’s sanderlings.
HISTORIC REESOR RANCH, CYPRESS HILLS • CTC
MEEWASIN VALLEY • SHUTTERSTOCK/RICHARD ESPENANT
Regina International Airport, 8 km (5 mi.) from downtown
Skyxe, Saskatoon Airport, 6 km (4 mi.) from downtown
FORT WALSH NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE • TOURISM SK/GREG HUSZAR PHOTOGRAPHY
SPECIAL EVENTS FEBRUARY
• CANADIAN CHALLENGE DOG SLED
RACE, LA RONGE
• SPRING CELEBRATION POWWOW, FIRST
NATIONS UNIVERSITY, REGINA
• YORKTON FILM FESTIVAL—GOLDEN
• POTASHCORP CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL OF
SASKATCHEWAN, SASKATOON • SASKPOWER WINDSCAPE KITE FESTIVAL,
• SASKTEL SASKATCHEWAN JAZZ
• BACK TO BATOCHE FESTIVAL, BATOCHE • COUNTRY THUNDER SASKATCHEWAN,
• NESS CREEK MUSIC FESTIVAL
NEAR BIG RIVER
• SASKATCHEWAN FESTIVAL OF WORDS,
• WOOD MOUNTAIN SPORTS & STAMPEDE
JULY – AUGUST
• RCMP SUNSET RETREAT CEREMONIES,
• REGINA FOLK FESTIVAL • SASKATCHEWAN PREMIER’S WALLEYE
CUP FISHING TOURNAMENT, NIPAWIN
• POTASHCORP FIREWORKS FESTIVAL,
• CANADIAN WESTERN AGRIBITION,
SASKATOON • SHUTTERSTOCK/JEFF WHYTE
RCMP SUNSET RETREAT CEREMONY, REGINA • CTC/ASYMETRIC/FINN O’HARA