SASKATCHEWAN

LAND OF LIV­ING SKIES

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY ROBIN AND AR­LENE KARPAN

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.

WHAT’S NEW

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).

CITY LIGHTS

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

1,150,600

Regina

www.tourism­saskatchewan.com

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

APRIL

• SPRING CEL­E­BRA­TION POW­WOW, FIRST

NA­TIONS UNIVER­SITY, REGINA

MAY

• YORK­TON FILM FES­TI­VAL—GOLDEN

SHEAF AWARDS

JUNE

• PO­TASHCORP CHIL­DREN’S FES­TI­VAL OF

SASKATCHEWAN, SASKA­TOON • SASKPOWER WINDSCAPE KITE FES­TI­VAL,

SWIFT CUR­RENT

• SASKTEL SASKATCHEWAN JAZZ

FES­TI­VAL, SASKA­TOON

JULY

• BACK TO BATOCHE FES­TI­VAL, BATOCHE • COUN­TRY THUN­DER SASKATCHEWAN,

CRAVEN

• NESS CREEK MU­SIC FES­TI­VAL

NEAR BIG RIVER

• SASKATCHEWAN FES­TI­VAL OF WORDS,

MOOSE JAW

• WOOD MOUN­TAIN SPORTS & STAM­PEDE

JULY – AU­GUST

• RCMP SUN­SET RE­TREAT CER­E­MONIES,

REGINA

AU­GUST

• REGINA FOLK FES­TI­VAL • SASKATCHEWAN PRE­MIER’S WALL­EYE

CUP FISH­ING TOUR­NA­MENT, NIPAWIN

SEPTEM­BER

• PO­TASHCORP FIRE­WORKS FES­TI­VAL,

SASKA­TOON

NOVEM­BER

• CANA­DIAN WEST­ERN AGRIBITION,

REGINA

www.saskatchewan-events.com

SASKA­TOON • SHUTTERSTOCK/JEFF WHYTE

RCMP SUN­SET RE­TREAT CER­E­MONY, REGINA • CTC/ASYMETRIC/FINN O’HARA

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