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Saskatoon revisited

This was my fourth visit to Saskatoon and, while some of our family lives there, we will probably make many more. So the challenge is to find something different to see each time.  We drove there this time in convoy with Tracy and the boys, their dogs and cat and our dog, Sherry.  On the way we stopped at a picnic ground at Alsask, on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan,  to walk the dogs (and the cat).

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During the week in Saskatoon we decided, in addition to our usual activities, we would visit Lake Waskesiu and take a ride on the Southern Saskatchewen River on the Prairie Lily.

In the end the day chosen for the drive to the lake, a trip of about 3 hours, was overcast and threatened rain and only Tracy and I chose to risk it.  It was worth the effort.  We had lunch at the Elk Ridge Lodge- the photo of which is unfortunately a little dark due to the low light –

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– before driving down to the lake itself.  The roads on the way to the Lodge and down to the lake were bounded by boreal forest. Who knew that the Prairies had so many trees?

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Lake Waskesiu is roughly in the centre of the Prince Albert National Park and is one of 7 major lakes in the park.   The name means elk in the Cree language, hence the Elk Ridge Lodge which together with cabins, cottages and townhouses provides accommodation for the many holidaymakers who enjoy the facilities at the Elk Ridge Resort.  There are a couple of public camping places nearer the lake and a little community of quaint shops and restaurants. Despite the development the lake itself looks serene and untouched and there are a number of hiking paths in the area. Unfortunately we did not have time to do more than wander along the banks near the town-site and visit a couple of the little shops.

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Our boat ride on the South Saskatchewan River was also taken in the rain.  This wasn’t really a problem since the rain was intermittent and the riverboat has both a canopy on the top deck and a heated cabin below.  The Prairie Lily offers a variety of cruises on the river, including dinner and brunch trips and can be booked for business and family events.

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We opted for a straight hour cruise up and down the river.  The hot chocolate we bought on board was lousy but the cruise itself was a fun way to see Saskatoon from a new perspective.  We passed the Delta Bessborough, also known as the Castle on the River – a beautiful hotel dating back to 1930 – where Tracy and I stayed when we first drove through to Saskatoon to look at purchasing a house there for the family.

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We also passed under a number of bridges, some of which sheltered flocks of pigeons, hiding out from raptors which apparently never think to look for them under a bridge!  Saskatoon has 8 separate river crossings and is known as the City of Bridges.

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The week went past far too quickly but I look forward to exploring Saskatoon and its surroundings further on our next visit.

 

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September 13, 2014 Posted by | Day Trips from Calgary, Living in Canada, Travels | , , , | 1 Comment

Saskatoon

Last weekend we drove back to Saskatoon.  Now that the canola and alfalfa have been harvested most of the fields are lying fallow, brown, yellow and beige.  I’ve been wanting to get a photo of an old grain elevator for some time and have only seen these on the prairies in Saskatchewan.   Apparently there was a time when these tall, stately structures dominated the prairies.  In the 1930’s there were nearly 6000 of them. They must have been quite a sight, painted in bright colours,  and standing in fields of golden corn.  Today, most have been replaced by more prosaic concrete structures and only about 80 wooden elevators are still operating.  The one I photographed stands alongside an abandoned railway line and, traditionally, bears the name of the town it used to serve.

Old wooden grain elevator

On Saturday we took a drive to the Wanuskewin Heritage Park, just outside of Saskatoon.  Wanuskewin, in the Cree language, means being at peace with oneself.  We were fortunate enough to be able to watch Josh Wabash, from the Waywayseecappo First Nation peoples in Manitoba.  Josh has been dancing since he was 3 and he demonstrated his talent in full, colourful regalia and then explained the dances to the audience.  His motto: I dance for those who can’t, and I will keep sharing my talents with those who are willing to experience it.

The First Nation dancer at Wanuskewin

Besides the dancer, we also visited the Mistatim exhibition, in honour of the horse.

One of a number of stories of horse battles painted on hide

Wanuskewin has much more to offer, including a number of interpretive trails which we were unable to sample, due to time restraints, but we will be back to visit again some day.

Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day so we drove out to Blackstrap lake, which none of us had seen yet.  Blackstrap is a large, manmade lake, fed via an earthern aquaduct from Lake Diefenbaker.  Only about 1/2 hour out of Saskatoon it is a perfect recreational area, offering boating, sailing, fishing and, in winter, cross country skiing.

Cale, ready to go paddling on the lake

Mount Blackstrap, also man-made, was constructed in 1971 for the Canada Winter Games.  Asher remarked, on seeing it, that only someone who has never been out of Saskatchewan would ever consider it a mountain!

The discovery of a self-serve yoghurt shop – Pure – with many flavours of yoghurt and any number of toppings to try – you load up your container and pay by the gram – was the cherry on the top of another enjoyable visit to our neighbouring province.

September 30, 2011 Posted by | Living in Canada, Travels | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calgary to Saskatoon

With Tracy, Mark and the boys living in Saskatoon now we will probably be making many trips to Saskatchewan, our next-door-neighbour province.  Our first trip was on the Monday after they left, ostensibly to help move some of their belongings but, far more importantly, to see them settled and happy in their new home.

An 8 hour drive through the Prairies did not really appeal to us and we resigned ourselves to a long, boring trip.  Happily, this was not the case, and the trip reminded us anew of the particular charm this part of Canada holds for those who are open to its beauty.

Driving through the badlands

The drive took us through the badlands with their distinctive coulee landscapes and hoodoo rock formations and along route 9 past endless fields of yellow canola flowers.

Canola fields

We took Shandy with us which necessitated a number of stops for walks and water.

A 'Shandy' stop

In Hanna we found a lovely coffee shop/antique store where we stopped for the obligatory latte before continuing on our way.

With only one wrong turn we found our way to our destination and spent the next two days exploring Saskatoon.  What a pretty little town!  Highlights of our stay were the visit to the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo,

Taken at the zoo

lunch at the Berry Barn

The Berry Barn taken from the pathway alongside the lake

and cooling off at Pike Lake Provincial Park which is just 20 minutes from Saskatoon where the boys took the pedal boats out onto the lake.

The boys set off across Pike Lake

The 8 hour drive no longer seems so daunting and we look forward to our next visit at the end of September when the Fall landscape should offer us a completely different perspective.

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Living in Canada, Travels | , , , | 1 Comment