Walk the Path of Meditation and Relaxation at The Crossing at Grasslands


We sit under a large tree in a pair of Adirondack chairs, the dappled morning sunlight filtering through the branches and the smell of fresh coffee filling my nose. Susan Howard, co-owner of The Crossing at Grasslands, and I look out across the pond on the edge of her property. The grass on the far side of the pond give a little shake before a furry nose pokes out where the vegetation meets the water. A small mass of slick brown fur dips into the pond. It’s a muskrat. Susan mentions they’ve got four or five living in the pond now. We watch the muskrat paddle around for a few moments and I lean back into the chair, thankful for a bit of shade on a hot summer morning.      

Photo credit: Neil Ward


“One of the wonderful things about this location is that we do share a fence line with Grasslands National Park so that we can walk directly into the park” Susan says. We’ll do that exact thing in a few moments, but, for now, I just stare out at the buttes visible in the distance to the east, as barn swallows chirp overhead.


The Crossing at Grasslands is an easy place to let the stress of life’s busy schedule wash away. Located just five minutes south of Val Marie, the relaxation retreat borders the West Block of Grasslands National Park. As you cruise up the driveway and crest a hill, you’re greeted with a bucolic view of several barn-shaped buildings with red roofs overlooking a pond, complete with a shady tree to sit under. There are three self-contained suites, each with a three-night minimum stay, on 80 acres of rolling grasslands.



“What we’re hoping that our guests feel and experience when they’re here is that sense of homecoming...to slow down and leave their busy lives behind, leave whatever it is that is filling their daily lives and instead create a pause where they can breathe, breathe more deeply and come home to themselves,” she says. A few moments later and, as if on cue, the family cat, Drifty, hops up onto Susan’s lap, lays down and starts purring. We’re all very relaxed already.

 Photo credit: Neil Ward


Susan and her husband Neil Ward know a thing or two about leaving behind a busy life to find some relaxation. The pair visited Grasslands National Park in 2007 and, while that trip was cut short with three flat tires, it didn’t deflate their interest in the park. “We always wanted to come back because our two-and-a-half minutes in Grasslands National Park, before we realized we had a flat tire and had to exit very quickly, was magical,” she says.


It was 2014 when the opportunity to come to Grasslands presented itself again. “And it was just like I was being called home,” Susan says.


“We were living in downtown Toronto...We were looking for a little acreage to park a trailer. A business, and 80 acres was not in our plans. But we fell in love with this place, and I fell in love with this place. And that is what brought us here,” she says.


Photo credit: Neil Ward


While the tranquil setting and abundance of wildlife supply ample opportunity for relaxation, the pair have added their own monument to peacefulness – Mary’s Labyrinth. The labyrinth is a circular stone pathway that winds around a central boulder. Seen from above, it’s a beautiful symmetrical artwork that invokes Celtic traditions. Experienced from ground level, it’s a container for walking meditation. Its twists and turns form a single path, with no wrong turns or choices to make.


Photo credit: Neil Ward


At sunset, Susan and I wind our way through the labyrinth. She walks peacefully and deliberately, while I lag behind, fumbling with camera gear in an attempt to capture some video. As we reach the centre, she sits on the large central stone, while I continue to struggle with technology. Mercifully though, the sun sets and takes the available light with it putting an end to the video I’m shooting. Before I conclude my day, Susan invites me to enjoy a few moments of relaxation. We both lay on the large central boulder, and I stare up at the sky, the first stars appearing in the evening twilight. I take a few deep breaths and close my eyes. I realize that Mary’s Labyrinth is working. I am thoroughly relaxed now.



Learn more about Mary's Labyrinth, Canada's only Legacy Labyrinth.



Author: Matt Duguid

Matt Duguid is a Content Creator for Tourism Saskatchewan. He experiences Saskatchewan every way he can – whether it’s on-road, off-road or via bike path, hiking trail or on a stand-up paddleboard. Favourite campsite: Deer Hollow #17 in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Want to know more about a place he’s been? Ask him at @duguidoutdoors.