The prairie province of Saskatchewan, also called the “province of 100,000 lakes”, has a very straight border with Manitoba in the east, Alberta in the west and the two US states of Montana and North Dakota in the south. Visitors driving through the province will see the seemingly endless fields, but the northern section is also a treat for anyone with a love of canoeing, fishing and swimming, all of which can be enjoyed on the numerous lakes – especially as the province is the sunniest in Canada is.
For the Cree First Nations, hunting buffalo and life on the Great Plains centuries ago, the greatest of the river waterways was “the river that flows swiftly” or “Saskatchewan”. From this the province ultimately got its name. Large-scale settlement later occurred, as plots of agricultural land for pioneer growers were sold for only a registration fee, leaving the agricultural landscape still present.
1 Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park is a gently rolling landscape of spruce swamps, large lakes and aspen-dotted highlands. First Nations people have lived here for thousands of years, and there is archaeological evidence that prairie tribes traveled north into these sheltered forests during harsh winters, intermingling with the people who lived here.
The park’s creatures vary according to habitat, with Canada’s second largest colony of white pelicans Lavallee Lakea wandering herd Sturgeon River Plains Bisonplus moose, wolves, black bears, foxes, lynx, caribou and eagles in the northern forests, and moose, deer, badgers, coyotes and squirrels in the park in the south. Gray owl, a colorful and controversial naturalist of the 1930s, lived in this park for seven years in a small log cabin called “Beaver Lodge” on Lake Ajawaan. The author’s popular books tell of his love for the wilderness, threatened by the advance of civilization. His cabin can be reached by boat or canoe across Kingsmere Lake, or via a 12-mile route from the south of the lake.
Official site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/sk/princealbert/index.aspx
2 Fort Walsh National Historic Site
Fort Walsh National Historic Site was founded in 1875 under the leadership of James Walsh. It was intended to stop the illegal whiskey trade and became one of the most important posts in the West. During its lifetime, the fort negotiated with the whiskey traders, the indigenous peoples, and the thousands of Sioux warriors who sought refuge in Canada after clashes with the American cavalry. After the construction of the railroad and the return of the Sioux people to the US, the fort was dismantled and abandoned. In 1942, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police acquired the land and built a ranch on which to raise horses. When the RCMP were transferred to Ontario, the estate became a national historic site with an extensive reconstruction program.
Official site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/sk/walsh/index.aspx
3 RCMP Heritage Centre
The RCMP Heritage Center is the largest of its kind in Canada, with displays of equipment, weapons, photographs and more. Both the Sergeant Major’s Parade (held on the Parade Square, alternately in the Drill Hall in winter or bad weather) and the Sunset Retreat (summer) attract large crowds. The latter is a colorful flag ceremony with a parade of recruits and a brass band, harking back to the tattoos of 18th and 19th century British military tradition.
Address: 5907 Dewdney Ave, Regina
Official site: https://www.rcmpheritagecentre.com/
Sunny Saskatoon is a pleasant city on the South Saskatchewan River. Many tourist attractions explore local heritage, from the first Prairies peoples to the Wanuskewin Heritage Park for European settlers and culture on the Ukrainian Museum of Canada. The largest of the four in the province Western development museums is located in the city and features a vibrant reconstructed main street known as “Boomtown 1910.”
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Saskatoon
Legislature Building, Regina
As a cosmopolitan commercial and cultural center, Regina is home to many government and provincial institutions. It enjoys economic prosperity and boasts a number of art and heritage attractions, including the enlightening Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Mackenzie Art Gallery near Wascana Center parkland around Wascana Lake. Parades and other military-tattoo-style events are a popular feature in the city RCMP Heritage Centre.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Regina
6 Batoche National Historic Site
Batoche was the headquarters of the famous Métis, Louis Riel, during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. It is also where the rebellion finally came to an end, after a decisive battle.
Displays illustrate the Métis way of life, events leading up to the uprising and the battle of May 1885. The parsonage, still with shell and bullet holes from the battle, and the Church of St. Antoine de Padoue (1883-84) are now excellent museums. The graves of Dumont and Letendre and a mass grave of fallen Métis can be found in the cemetery.
Official site: https://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/sk/batoche/index.aspx
7 Trans Canada Highway
Following the Trans-Canada Highway, which runs across the prairies and wheat fields of southern Saskatchewan, visitors can see a significant portion of the province. It is best to start from the southeastern border of the province with Manitoba and drive from east to west along the highway (which passes through the capital, Reginaand the city Swift Current). Detours can then be made north or south to visit the many sights (Moose Mountain Provincial Park, Qu’Appelle Valley, Cypress Hills Provincial Park, etc.). There are plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing and hunting along the way.
8 Cypress Hills
The highest point in Saskatchewan is in Cypress Hills, a vast tract of land in the southwestern part of the province. The region includes premier outdoor attractions, including an interprovincial park that straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border and Grasslands National Park, near the US border. Although prehistoric sites in the Drumheller area of Alberta are better known, the Eastend of Saskatchewan is home to the T. rex Discovery Center and are full-size skeletal replicas.
9 Fort Carlton Provincial Park
Fort Carlton was originally built as an outpost in 1820 to provide river patrols and facilities for fur traders. Visitors can take a canoe trip in the summer or walk the grounds to view the reconstructed fort, a Cree village, exhibits of hides and various supplies.
10 Moose Jaw
The “friendly town” of Moose Jaw sits at the meeting of the Moose Jaw River and Thunder Creek. The Tunnels of Moose Jaw stay away from the time of the first Chinese immigrants. Today, costumed guides here reproduce characters from Moose Jaw’s history. Another branch of saskatchewan Western development museums is located in Moose Jaw and focuses on the history of Prairie transportation. Other museums are in Saskatoon, North Battleford and Yorkton.
Accommodation: Where to Stay Moose Jaw
11 Qu’Appelle Valley
A beautiful, steep valley stretches along the Qu’Appelle River, carved out of the gently sloping prairie by glacial water. It is a rich garden-style landscape with eight lakes stretching along the valley, from Buffalo Pound (where there is a provincial park) in the west, Echo Valley Provincial Park near Fort Qu’Appelle and Rond and Crooked Lake further east. There are several scenic parks and small townships along this beautiful stretch.
12 The Battlefords
During the early days of settlement, Battleford was an important mounted police post and the first seat of the Northwest Territories government. Fort Battleford National Historic Site explores the Mounties’ past with exhibits in renovated buildings. The city Western Development Museum puts agricultural history into practice with a farm and a village.
Accommodation: Where to Stay North Battleford