Neil FisherNeil grew up on Canada’s west coast exploring beaches, climbing mountains and learning to appreciate everything that Mother Nature has to offer. For five years he worked as a marine mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, it was during this role that he started using a camera in a professional capacity. It’s Neil’s adventurous spirit and unique storytelling ability that make him the perfect fit as the Saskatchewanderer.
Since February, he has been exploring the province as the 2016 Saskatchewanderer. He has uncovered much of what Saskatchewan has to offer throughout his many adventures. When asked about his best experiences so far, here is what Neil had to say:
1. What surprised you most about Saskatchewan?
Throughout my travels across our stunning province, there were many instances that demanded a momentary pause, remarkable vistas and bizarre geological formations. However, the one thing that surprised me the most was how proud we as Saskatchewanians are of where we live. Whether in Climax or Stony Rapids, everyone I spoke with was excited and passionate to share their reasons for loving their home.
A necessary part of life in northern Saskatchewan is air travel - more specifically air travel with fun small planes. In late July, Joe Ronan, Geordie Mason and their Transwest Twin Otter helped me explore the Athabasca Sand Dunes, Hunt Falls and Selwyn Lake lodge. Not only did they provide transportation from one amazing destination to the next, they also would bank at just the right moment to provide spectacular views of the land below. #ExploreSask #StonyRapids #TwinOtter #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada
I had planned to go stargazing last night in the Old Man on His Back Prairie Heritage and Conservation Area. However, with that massive thunderstorm rolling through southwest Saskatchewan, I decided against transforming my tent into a combination Franklin-Wright Brothers electrified flying machine. Instead I began editing imagery captured over the past week and this photo in particular jumped out at me. Chay Anderson (left) and his father Lloyd, are cattle ranchers outside of Wood Mountain. Over the course of one very long and exciting day, they shared with me many fascinating aspects of ranching. This photo was taken towards the end of the 25 kilometres we travelled and nearly twelve hours after starting the day. #ExploreSask #Saskatchewan #Cattle #SaskAg #WoodMountain #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada
Growing up surrounded by mountains and trees, I’m a sucker for the complete opposite. I still view the treeless and rolling hills of south Saskatchewan as an exotic destination and Grasslands National Park has become somewhat of a second home. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time exploring the west side of Prince Albert National Park – along the shores of Amyot Lake. In the midst of winter, the leafless deciduous forests are incredibly peaceful as you meander through the extensive trail system in complete solitude. Finally, I’ve really taken a liking to the shores of Lake Diefenbaker. Whether it’s Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park or the sandcastles south of Beechy, the landscape here is one of a kind. The relative youth of the lake is reflected in the visible erosion which molds and sculpts some truly breathtaking shorelines.
Where did you rest your head last night? The buzzing nighthawks, crying coyotes and symphony of crickets may have contributed to my troubles sleeping, but ultimately it was the knowledge that an amazing landscape waited outside that kept me awake. I’ll certainly return here soon and share more in depth the wonder of Gasslands National Park’s East Block. #ExploreSask #GrasslandsNP #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada
Alright, last one from the big lake. On the north shore of Lake Diefenbaker just south of the village of Beechy, are some very unique formations of sand. They’re known locally as the Sandcastles and they’re plenty of fun to explore. The texture of the sun cooked sand is like that of old asphalt, but as fragile as melted chocolate. If you've ever find yourself with the urge to explore, I seriously suggest checking this place out. #ExploreSask #LakeDiefenbaker #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada
It may sound boring and simple, but my favourite outdoor activity is walking. To explore any corner of our province on foot allows you to absorb every sound, smell and texture along the way. With that said, I’ve also grown fond of exploring on horseback.
This isn’t simply a photo of a lake. It’s a photo of a lake steeped in history. Way back in the mid-1700’s the Hudson Bay Company was in jeopardy of losing its monopoly over fur trade in the region. The Sturgeon Weir River and Amisk lake were just upriver from the HBC’s first inland post - Cumberland House. Comprised of independent traders, the newly formed North West Company successfully intercepted pelts headed for Cumberland House by establishing a foothold along Amisk Lake. #ExploreSask #DenareBeach #AmiskLake #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada
4. What’s left on your Saskatchewan “bucket list”?
To be honest, I was able to check off a large number of bucket list destinations over the summer. The Athabasca Sand Dunes were otherworldly and the Limestone Crevices south of Denare Beach were so incredibly interesting – and considerably accessible too. As for what’s left. I still would love to canoe down the Churchill River and spend some time in Prince Albert National Park looking for wolves in the dead of winter.
The Athabasca Sand Dunes are Canada’s largest sand dunes and also the most northern active sand dunes in the world. They were formed roughly 8,000 years ago towards the end of the last ice age. The dunes are constantly moving and shifting with the wind - slowly engulfing sections of forest as they advance. They’re home to numerous plant species found nowhere else in the world, such as field chickweed and felt-leaved willow. #ExploreSask #AthabascaSandDunes #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada
Mobile internet reception is spotty up here, so I figured I'd try something different. Any guesses as to where I ended up yesterday afternoon? I'll give you the answer in 400 km when I once again have a Internet connection - which should be closer to Prince Albert 😝 #ExploreSask #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada Update: Just south of Denare Beach are a number of giant crevices in the limestone and they're plenty of fun to explore 😀
I was first asked this question while speaking with students at Pense School and after a moment of thought, my favourite place to eat is perched on the edge of the Killdeer badlands overlooking the Valley of 1,000 Devils in the East Block of Grasslands National Park. In the middle of summer, the 4 a.m. sunrise is a perfect alarm clock and watching the light slowly creep across the badlands is spectacular. The actual meal has little impact on the experience, but if you must know – breakfast is typically four of those instant oatmeal packages.
The East Block of Grasslands National Park is one of my favourite places in Saskatchewan to explore. The rugged terrain can make traversing the landscape a challenge, but it’s that same ruggedness that creates some wonderful scenery. If you’re at all like myself and have yet to abandon your childhood, the chance to see a dinosaur fossil sticking out of a butte is also a big draw. #ExploreSask #GrasslandsNP #ValleyOf1000Devils River #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada
This is a question I receive very frequently and my answer is always the same: go somewhere you’ve never been. If you live in the south, travel north – likewise, if you live in the north travel south. The colours of our flag represent the green boreal forests of the north and the golden rolling prairies of the south, and they’re so wonderfully different.
Here’s another shot of Hunt Falls and there’s likely to be at least one more. At sixty metres wide and fifteen metres in height, Hunt Falls is the largest waterfall in Saskatchewan. Standing at the base of these falls can be overwhelming; surrounded by a cloak of fine mist and unable to hear anything but the deafening roar of endless tumbling water - such an amazing experience. Thanks to @stumpadelic for cooking up a massive lunch before we began exploring. So many great times at Selwyn Lake Lodge! #ExploreSask #HuntFalls #SelwynLake #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada