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Parks Canada Celebrates 100th Anniversary
Submitted by Parks Canada
In 2011, Parks Canada invites you to join in the 100th anniversary celebrations being held across the nation. The national parks service, the first of its kind in the world, was created in 1911 to protect what would become today’s impressive network of 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas.
Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert and Grasslands national parks and Batoche, Fort Battleford, Fort Walsh and Motherwell national historic sites will showcase some of the best that Parks Canada has to offer this summer.
Prince Albert National Park is located within an hour’s drive of Prince Albert and made up of two diverse ecosystems: aspen parkland with native fescue grasslands and boreal forests full of lakes and wetlands.
You can take a wagon or trail ride by horse and view free-roaming plains bison or paddle a canoe along the scenic Narrows and camp under the stars. If speed is your preference, boating is allowed, as well as catch and release fishing.
The park is home to the only fully protected white pelican nesting colony in Canada, one of only two free-roaming plains bison herds in North America, and, arguably, one of the more colourful and controversial conservationists known – Grey Owl.
Englishman Archibald Belaney pretended to be a First Nation man and went by the name Grey Owl. He became famous in the years after WWI when he turned in his trapping gear for a fountain pen, publishing books and lecturing around the world about saving the wilderness. Beaver Lodge, Grey Owl’s cabin, still stands in the park and can be reached by hiking trail or canoe. You can explore a replica of his cabin in The Friends of the Park Bookstore if a day at the beach and in the village of Waskesiu with its shops and cafes is more your style.
At Grasslands National Park, journey into pre-history with a walking tour of the Rock Creek Badlands and Wood Mountain Uplands where fossil beds still hold the remains of dinosaurs and ancient teepee rings are found.
In the Frenchman River Valley on the west side of the park, keep a watchful eye for endangered species such as burrowing owls, short-horned lizards, sage grouse, plains bison, and the most recently reintroduced animal – the black-footed ferret.
Created in 1981, Grasslands is one of Canada’s newer parks. Located in southwest Saskatchewan, you can reach the East Block of the park via Highway 18, near the town of Glentworth. To enter the West Block, head to the town of Val Marie and have a chat with our park staff at the visitor centre for recent updates on park activity.
Batoche National Historic Site is a centre to celebrate the culture and history of Canada’s Métis. This is the site where the 1885 armed conflict erupted between Canadian government forces and the Métis led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont.
Situated along the South Saskatchewan River, a visit to Batoche will find you singing and jigging, beading, finger weaving, and rug making. Also enjoy hiking, bird watching, and canoeing.
Fort Battleford National Historic Site is along the Yellowhead Highway, just south of the Town of Battleford in central Saskatchewan. This North West Mounted Police post was the base for the Canadian Government military operations during the 1885 conflict and was involved at the battles of Duck Lake, Cut Knife Hill, Fort Pitt, and Frenchman Butte. The fort provided safety for 500 settlers who fled inside its protective walls.
You can dress up as either a prisoner or a Northwest Mounted Policeman during your visit then try out all of the 19th Century chores and training drills that people did when Fort Battleford was active. You can even fire a canon (age restriction)!
Ghost tours are a popular activity at the fort and are scheduled once each month throughout the summer.
Motherwell Homestead National Historic Site is a small working farm one hour east of Regina preserved to highlight the life and times of Saskatchewan’s first Minister of Agriculture, W.R. Motherwell.
Come and watch as an old-time crew harvests the crop with a 1911 Hart Parr tractor and a 1920s Case thresher. Then, head in for a delicious homemade meal and live musical entertainment.
Fort Walsh National Historic Site has a rich policing history. This is where the internationally recognized image of the RCMP riding mounted on black horses first became a tradition and where Canadian law was introduced in the West.
This fort in the Cypress Hills was also a gathering place for First Nations, fur and whiskey traders, and Métis. Through diplomacy and conciliation, the Northwest Mounted Police and local First Nations avoided much of the violence that often characterized other frontiers.
For fun, children can arrest their parents and then take part in a mock trial. Watch historic weapons demonstrations, working horses, eat fresh baking at the cook tent, or go geocaching, hiking, and horseback riding.
As Parks Canada celebrates its 100th year of national parks service, we invite you to visit us and experience the many outdoor and family-fun activities that each park and historic site has to offer. For more information, visit www.parkscanada.gc.ca or call 1-888-773-8888.