Experiences to add to your Saskatchewan Bucket List
With a land mass of over 650,000 square kilometres, Saskatchewan is a province that covers a massive amount of territory. Stretching from the grasslands in the south to the rugged Canadian Shield in the north, the amount of uninhabited land offers great opportunity for exploring off the beaten path. Within these borders, there is also a chance to explore rich cultures and step back in time. The following list – let's call it a "experience bucket list" – offers an idea of what I think everyone in Saskatchewan, resident or tourist, should attempt to experience to get an idea of what this province has to offer.
Explore the North and the South
Missinipe to Val Marie runs a distance of 845 kilometres and offers a look at two at distinctly different landscapes within Saskatchewan. Missinipe is a hotbed for outdoor enthusiasts, acting as the gateway to the northern Saskatchewan for paddlers and anglers alike. Whether it be a quick weekend of whitewater rafting, a longer expedition or a fly-in fishing trip, northern lakes of the are a veritable playground for those yearning for solitude. Be sure to stop by Robertson Trading Post in La Ronge on your way through to purchase some local wares and get in touch with Ric Driediger from Churchill River Canoe Outfitters to plan your adventure.
In the south of the province lies a completely different opportunity for culture and exploration. Grassland National Park, Cypress Hills and Castle Butte all challenge the typical stereotype that Saskatchewan is flat and boring. Backpacking into the Valley of 1,000 Devils, one starts to wonder if The Martian was filmed right here in Saskatchewan. Maybe all the Matt Damon sightings in Gravelbourg were true. Speaking of Gravelbourg, make sure to stop in and check out some of the Western themed art that sprinkles the walls of many of the restaurants. Both northern and southern Saskatchewan have vibrant local arts communities that are waiting to be discovered, with the work of writers, painters and photographers who are heavily influenced by remote and unforgiving landscapes and lifestyles of the lands’ inhabitants. Don't avoid making a pit stop in a small town, because you never know what type of eclectic art (or eclectic artists) you may find.
Check out an Outdoor Rodeo
While technological advances have affected most sports with better equipment, instant replays, etc, rodeo has remained relatively unchanged over the last 100 odd years. Man and animal dancing in a gritty and enchanting competition. Take your pick of small-town rodeos across the province and you will get a glimpse into the world of an extremely dedicated and passionate group of individuals who spend their weekends chasing belt buckle dreams across western Canada.
The Wood Mountain Stampede is especially interesting as it is not only the longest running rodeo in Canada (the second longest in North America), but its grounds are located next to a memorial of Sitting Bull. The Stampede offers a step through a window into an event that seems to be untouched by time.
Go to a Music Festival
If you don't pay attention to the Saskatchewan music scene you may not realize that our province is a hotbed for talented artists. The Sheepdogs, Colter Wall, Andy Shauf, The Dead South, Megan Nash – the list goes on. While on any given weekend you can find beautiful melodies wafting out the door of your nearest watering hole, the best chance to take in a multitude of artists, both local and international, is at any one of numerous music festivals that take place throughout the summer. The Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival and Regina Folk Festival are the largest centres’ festival offerings, but take a dirt road and you will find amazing venues in the most unlikely places. Gateway Music Festival in Bengough, Ness Creek Music Festival at Ness Creek, Dog Patch Music Festival at Loon Lake and All Folk'd Up in Montmarte just scratch the surface of opportunities to treat your ears to a weekend out!
See Where Your Food Comes From
Saskatchewan's history runs deep with agrarian roots, with many farms supporting multi-generational operations that have been passed on over the years. Not to mention the fact that our province exports nearly 14 billion dollars’ worth of agricultural products annually. While not a typical tourist destination, there are few places in the world where engaging in your food chain is accessible as right here in Saskatchewan. Whatever your eating habits are – omnivore, vegetarian, organic, conventional or a mix of all, there is a farm somewhere near by that is creating that type of food! Visit a guest ranch, farmer’s market or rural bed and breakfast to get a glimpse of farm life.
Author & photographer: Nathan Jones
When Nathan isn't working at his day job in the renewable energy industry, he can be found collecting dust on one of Saskatchewan's dirt roads on the hunt for the undiscovered with camera and pals in tow.