By Ron Stern | Global Gumshoe
Drive through Saskatchewan and you’ll understand why it was given the slogan of “Land of Living Skies.” The lush farmland interspersed with forests, lakes and rivers provides beautiful views in all directions, and in its cities no building can be taller than 23 meters.
Saskatoon is the province’s largest city, with some 257,000 inhabitants. Visitors who begin their tour here should place a couple of locations on their must-see list.
Theater: Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival
Annually, from July to mid-August, the repertory company Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan performs two plays by the Bard, and holds other events such as medieval feasts, theater workshops, tours and displays of art. The plays are staged in modern day to ensure that they connect with today’s audiences.
Museums: Remai Modern
In fall 2016, a major event will occur on Saskatoon’s River Landing when the Remai Modern Museum has its grand opening. The Remai is a low-rise building designed to integrate into the city’s river skyline. With 230,000 square feet of space, there is amble room to display one of their gems: a collection of 197 linotype pieces by Picasso created from 1954 to 1962.
Western Development Museum
The Western Development Museum allows visitors to experience life in the 19th century, as they stroll the length and breadth of a replicated prairie town street called Boomtown.
Guests of the museum can walk into a blacksmith’s forge, wander through a general store, the doctor’s office, the chapel, and even pay a call on an old Royal Northwest Mounted Police Station.
Parks: Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Head north from Saskatoon and be sure to visit the Wanuskewin Heritage Park, which honors the history of Saskatchewan’s indigenous inhabitants. Stop in at the visitor center to see the exhibits and then walk along 6 kilometers of nature trails to view birds, mammals and plants native to the valley.
Landscape: Yellow, yellow everywhere
Saskatchewan has a couple of nicknames — “the Prairie” and “the Breadbasket.” As you drive north between acres and acres of bright yellow canola crops, you’ll understand why.
Historic site: Batoche
Batoche is the location where about 1,200 First Nations Métis settlers — native women who had wed French Canadian trappers and raised their children in their own culture — and the Canadian government fought in 1865.
The Métis had laid claim to the area as a country of their own, but the Canadian government viewed this simply as a rebellion and suppressed the settlement after a two-week battle. Today, visitors can soak in the atmosphere of the St. Antoine de Padoue Church and other sites such as one of the last existing homes.
National Park and Wilderness: Prince Albert National Park and Waskesiu Wilderness Area
Continuing to drive north, first on Highway 11 and then Highway 2, the flat terrain of the breadbasket gradually changes to tree-covered rolling hills.
Prince Albert National Park attracts visitors from around the country for its hiking, biking and horseback trails. It is also home to the Elk Lodge, a luxury resort with a 27-hole championship golf course.
Waskesiu Township is close by and provides shops, restaurants, a bakery and a delightful beach.
Resorts: Manitou Springs Hotel Resort & Mineral Spa
Located in the town of Watrus are Manitou Beach and the Manitou Springs Hotel Resort & Mineral Spa. Manitou Beach has been called the “Dead Sea of Canada” because it offers the same mineralized properties as Israel’s Dead Sea.
Both the lake and the resort’s indoor pool are loaded with magnesium, potassium, sodium and sulphate. Even though no medicinal claims are made, people seeking relief from skin conditions and arthritis come to this area in droves.
After luxuriating at the Manitou Springs Hotel Resort & Mineral Spa, it’s time to head south to Regina, capital of Saskatchewan.
Regina: foodie capital
Regina, which is Latin for “queen,” is the capital of the province, and also a destination for foodies. Downtown Regina has been redesigned as a semi-pedestrian shopping extravaganza, with plenty of street vendors, food trucks and restaurants to tempt every appetite.
Twenty Ten City Eatery and Crave Kitchen and Wine Bar are two hotspots. The Hotel Saskatchewan Radisson and Government House also keep alive the tradition of afternoon tea. Government House was, at one point, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governors of the Northwest Territories, and has now been restored and features an excellent museum.
Heritage Center: RCMP
The famous red tunic-clad Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties, were established in 1873. The RCMP Depot Division is located in Regina and features exhibits on the history of this iconic law enforcement organization.
Canadian Football: Saskatchewan Roughriders
Regina is also home to the Roughriders, who last won the Grey Cup (the equivalent of American Football’s Super Bowl) in 2013. In 2017 they’ll start playing their games in a brand new stadium.
Saskatchewan Tourism: tourismsaskatchewan.com