Since I am Saskatchewan born and raised, it always bothered me when people said there's nothing to do in my home province. If you're looking for culture, history, food, beer, sporting events, community or a touch of quirkiness, Saskatchewan is the best place to visit!
If you've been following my blog for awhile now, you'll know I could write a whole article about places to visit in Saskatchewan (actually, I have written it). For sake of brevity, I handpicked some of my favourite places, but there are many that I left out. Are there any places you'd add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.
This tour starts off in the capital city, Regina. At 131-years-old, this city has seen its fair share of tragedy, but in recent years it has blossomed into one of the most thriving cities in the Canadian prairies. When you visit, you'll want to take a stroll along the beautiful Wascana Lake, tour the stunning Legislative Building and explore the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Here you can learn about the geography of the region, the dinosaurs and beasts that once strolled the fields, and the conquests of man upon their arrival.
If you're looking to learn more about history, Government House and the RCMP Heritage Centre are two more places you'll want to visit.
Regina is also a great place to do your shopping. You'll want to visit Regina's downtown area, the Warehouse District or Cathedral Village for some of the most colourful mom-and-pop shops in the city. Don't be afraid to sample many of the delicious restaurants either, as all these neighbourhoods have seen an explosion of new eateries these past few years.
Once you're done in the Queen City, hop on the Trans-Canada Highway for 43 minutes until you arrive in the friendly city of Moose Jaw. Famous for its several underground tunnels and rejuvenating spa, Moose Jaw is a city locked in time. The city's historic downtown is a time capsule from the early 20th century, punctuated with such dramatic architectural facades that would make any history buff salivate. This city is also dripping with incredible restaurants such as Bobby's Place, Hopkins Dining Parlour, Déjà vu Café and The Mad Greek.
Once you're done enjoying what's above the city streets, venture underground into the Tunnels of Moose Jaw. Here you can see where the famous Al Capone once hid his smuggled booze, and where early Chinese immigrants were forced to live while they paid off an ever-growing head tax. While these tunnels are very interesting, they are also underground, so if you have trouble with small spaces you'll want to skip out on these.
Before leaving Moose Jaw, be sure to visit the Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa for some quality relaxation time.
Our next destination is the Great Sandhills, a three-hour drive from Moose Jaw. Seemingly out of place, these sandhills are one of Saskatchewan's greatest wonders. At almost 2,000 square kilometres in size, and with dunes up to 20 feet high, the Great Sandhills are a location unlike any other. Climb the dunes, play in the sand or kick back and work on your tan. The nearby community of Sceptre even has the Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre, which teaches visitors about the sand hills and their importance to both the Aboriginal peoples and the early European traders.
From the Great Sandhills you then head northwest to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan's largest city. Like Regina, Saskatoon has many incredible restaurants, pubs and shopping districts to check out, such as the Central Business District and Nutana along the bustling Broadway Avenue. Nutana is also home to the historic Broadway Theatre.
Because I've only been to Saskatoon once, I asked Twitter where I should visit if I only had a day to spend here. Press'd Sandwich tweeted back and said their food would dazzle my taste buds if I ever dropped by. With no reason to believe otherwise, I'm putting this place as one of the top places to visit while in Saskatoon.
While you're in Saskatoon, you'll also want to spend time outdoors by walking around the castle-like Delta Bessborough, taking a ride on the Prairie Lily Riverboat or go bicycling up and down the mighty South Saskatchewan River.
If you're into museums, Saskatoon is also home to Boomtown, a fictional Saskatchewan town, locked in the early 20th century – like Moose Jaw, but with less traffic. Here you can learn how the first European settlers arrived, where they worked and how they lived. You can also see how the city changed from the 1880s, through the Roaring Twenties, the Dirty Thirties, World War II and into the modern age.
While southern Saskatchewan is primarily prairie, northern Saskatchewan is a different story. North of Saskatoon is thick boreal forest, which contains over 100,000 lakes. One of these lakes, Christopher Lake, is the next stop on our tour. This is the perfect place to adjust to the new scenery, enjoy the silence of nature and sleep in a cozy Mongolian inspired yurt.
If glamping isn't your thing, you're welcome to head a little further to Waskesiu Lake. Here you can rest and relax in the heart of nature, or you can put on your hiking boots and begin the long but beautiful hike up to Grey Owl's Cabin. Just remember that this hike is 32.5 kilometres both ways, so bring a second pair of socks with you.
The last stop on this tour is La Ronge. Here you can camp, hike, fish and enjoy the untouched world of Northern Saskatchewan. For those with a little more adventure left in them, travel a little further north to Stanley Mission and see the oldest building in Saskatchewan. In Stanley Mission you can visit water falls, rapids, and rock paintings. This is a great location to get outside, hike, swim, fish and enjoy the beauty of nature.
From corn to trees and everything in between, there's a lot to do in Saskatchewan. It would be impossible to list everything in just this article alone, so is there anything you would add?
Don't forget to check out all the articles in this series!
Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".
Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.
Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada. Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade. The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.
Stonehenge, Saskatchewan, is just a little over two hours southwest of Regina, just past the town of Assiniboia. I've explored this area of the province before on previous trips, but I've never been to Stonehenge. In fact, my journey started out as a trip to Castle Butte, but after seeing a nearby marker for Stonehenge on a map, that quickly became my primary destination.
I've driven this area a few times looking for abandoned buildings. Normally I'd keep an eye out for them, but I knew most of them were a little further south. Before I got that far, I took the turn off to Ogema.
Cemeteries are a place of solace. All people, regardless of wealth, status, religion or creed are equals within a cemetery. It's a place of remembrance, respect and reconciliation. If you visit a cemetery, you are visiting the graves of lost loved ones. These may be children, pioneers, rebels or everyday people. Every grave has a story, and all are longing to be told.
Because of this, cemeteries are a library of knowledge. They hold the lessons of our past, and the wisdom of our future. As the leaves change and the days get shorter, cemeteries attract a much different crowd than that of just historians and family members. With autumn crisp in the air, cemeteries fill with thrill-seekers and paranormal believers. There is a fine line between what is and isn't acceptable within a cemetery and those who dabble into the affairs of the afterlife know this all too well. Few people go into cemeteries looking to disrespect the graves; instead, most are just hoping they can answer their own questions about life after death.
Not all cemeteries are haunted, but each holds their own stories. Keep this in mind while you read this article. If you end up visiting any of these sites, remember to step softly, speak quietly and respect the surrounding graves. You might not be as alone as you think.