A Sample of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan might be hard to spell or pronounce but it is easy to find on the map. Located in the middle of Canada bordered by Alberta to the west, Manitoba to the east and North-West Territories to well…the north! The south borders the US states of Montana and North Dakota.

Sakatchewan HolidaysIt has a varied landscape with forests and nearly 100,000 lakes in the north, the south is made up of golden fields, grasslands and rolling hills. An outdoor lover’s dream with over 2,500 hours of sunshine each year and a spectacular array of experiences – golf, birding, canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking and much more. Saskatchewan has many unique features and the people are warm, welcoming and hospitable. Did you know for example that Canada is the world’s leading lentil exporter with 96% of the crop produced in Saskatchewan? It is also the world’s chief source of uranium and potash. My favourite ‘unique’ feature is what they call a ‘hoodie’ – in Saskatchewan they call them a ‘bunny hug’!

Regina, the provincial capital is located in the south of the province. Home to a national icon, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or ‘Mounties’ have trained there since 1885. Other southern highlights include the Grasslands National Park, Cypress Hills, a designated dark sky preserve and the tunnels of Moose Jaw. My trip was to the north of the province this time and started in Saskatchewan’s largest city, Saskatoon.

Situated on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon was founded in 1882 and is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. A vibrant city in a beautiful setting, seven bridges span the river and there are 21kms of trails along the river banks to explore. Our first night was at the James Hotel, an all suite boutique hotel located on the banks of the river. I had a whole suite to myself with a balcony overlooking the river – it was a shame we had to leave the next morning!

20171001 132300After a delicious buffet breakfast we visited the Saskatoon branch of the Western Development Museum. There are four locations throughout the province and each showcases a different part of Saskatchewan history. We spent a few hours exploring the buildings of 1910 Boomtown.

Next we had a sneak peak at the Remai Modern Art Gallery. Due to open in late October 2017, this stunning building overlooks the river. The gallery will feature the world’s most comprehensive collection of Picasso linocuts.

We had brunch at Drift’s Vista Lounge, a multi-level casual restaurant in the Riversdale district with some original lighting features. The food was amazing!

20171001 174510From there we drove 2 ½ hours north to Elk Ridge Resort which is located close to the Prince Albert National Park. Set in a beautiful location surrounded by boreal forest this 4 star resort has a 27 hole championship golf course, spa and indoor pool as well as an excellent restaurant. Accommodation varies from hotel rooms in the main building to comfortable cottages and cosy but more rustic cabins. After unpacking and taking a tour of the resort by golf buggy, we enjoyed a campout dinner, cooking sausages and making smores over an open fire.

The following morning after breakfast we were split into teams for our adventure challenge. The first activity was golf. After a very short lesson – my first!! We competed in a series of golf related challenges. I managed to hit my ball off the tee, not very far but I hit it!! The weather was against us, I have decided I am a fair weather golfer - it was raining and very cold!

saska007Late morning we departed for Waskesiu, a beautiful little town located right on the lake of the same name. Unfortunately, we didn’t see it at it’s best as it was still raining, I imagine the beach is stunning in the summer. After lunch at Hawood Inn, in the second part of our challenge, we explored the town, the visitors centre and tried geocaching for the first time.

We then headed to Boundary Bog for a leisurely 2km guided walk with Sundog Excursions. We learnt about the local flora and fauna during our walk. The scenery was stunning especially with the golden autumn leaves and at the centre of the bog is a pretty lake. We headed back to Elk Ridge to warm up and had a lovely meal at Fireside Dining, the resort restaurant.

20171003 132859Breakfast was on the go as we headed back towards Saskatoon. We stopped for lunch at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. For me this was one of the highlights of my trip, the main building is designed to look like a bison’s head and they plan to have a herd of bison grazing in the grounds within the next few years. We watched a hoop dancer dance to traditional music before having a go ourselves. It was great fun!

We had a short tour of the valley where for more than 6,000 years First Nations people have gathered to celebrate, worship, share stories and hunt bison. It is a very special place, well worth a visit just minutes from the city.

From one type of spirit to another, our next stop was the Lucky Bastard Distillery, Saskatchewan’s premium micro distillery. We learnt how the spirits and liqueurs are produced and got to sample several.

We stayed at the Radisson Hotel, Saskatoon for our final night in Saskatchewan. A larger property in a slightly more central location to the James. It was handy for some last minute shopping. Our final meal was at the Odd Couple, a fantastic Canadian - Asian restaurant which combines Japanese, Vietnamese and Cantonese cuisines into amazing dishes.

It’s not the first part of Canada most people think of visiting but I really enjoyed my short stay in Saskatchewan and can’t wait to go back and visit the southern part of the province. Go before everyone else discovers it!