Prairie Day Trips from the City of Saskatoon: Take a day trip just outside the city, from First Nations sites to Ancient Forts and independent Distilleries, there is so much to see and do in the surrounding Saskatchewan countryside, including Medicine Walks, Tipi Raising and Foraging – enjoy the open skies and walk off all the amazing food you will have enjoyed in Saskatoon!
Fascinating Day Trips from Saskatoon
The sun beat down on me, the sky was crystal clear and a deep, vivid blue, in front of me was a magical spectacle of dancing horses and smart uniformed riders, and not just any riders, but The Royal Canadian Mounted Police; as long as I can remember I have always wanted to see “The Mounties”, in the flesh so to speak, and here I was sitting in a National Historic Site in the middle of Canada’s Prairies, watching The Mounties and their beautiful horses dancing to music……it all seemed like a dream come true. I was enjoying a day trip on my recent stay in Saskatoon, in the Prairie province of Saskatchewan – the city offered so many highlights, from riverside walks, museums, art galleries, vintage shops, farmer’s markets as well as all the wonderful food on offer, but the proximity of the city also offers visitors a chance to go out into the countryside, and with no need to change your bed for the night either. Car hire is readily available and the tourism offices can help with bespoke itineraries.
Today’s post, Prairie Day Trips from the City of Saskatoon, is a list of where you can go to, and what you can do whilst staying in Saskatoon; the list is based on my recent experiences to the city and province, and if like me you are an adventurous and inquisitive kind of person, then why not take a few days off from city life and embrace some of what Saskatchewan has to offer you…….hire a car and take off for the day, explore and learn, listen and engage, drink it all in, and, there has never been a better time to visit some of Canada’s Parks too, as in the celebratory year of 2017, to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary as a confederation, all of Parks Canada’s parks and sites are free to the public. My suggestions range from visiting historical sites, engaging with over 6,000 years of Northern Plains Indian culture, exploring over pre-contact sites, walking ancient trails on a medicine walk, viewing buffalo jumps and of course enjoying some wonderful locally produced food and drinks!
I was lucky enough to travel to Saskatoon in June as part of a special Canada 150 City Bloggers Plus project in collaboration with Destination Canada, Tourism Saskatoon, Tourism Saskatchewan, Air Transat and Canadian Affair.
With thanks to all the people, who made this happen, especially Jodie, Aviva, Nim and Michael and all of the establishments as mentioned above who made me feel so welcome and fed me so well!
Disclaimer: This was a sponsored collaborative press trip with Destination Canada, Air Transat, Canadian Affair, Tourism Saskatchewan and Tourism Saskatoon.
Where to go and what to do on a Day Trip from Saskatoon:
Fort Battleford was central in the Conflict of 1885 and the intricate relations between the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP), First Nations people, settlers and Métis people in these difficult times. The site is now a wonderfully peaceful and interesting site to visit, with picnic tables available for al-fresco dining and where you can explore five original NWMP buildings, whilst discovering the role the Mounties played in the early years of the settlement. Fort Battleford is also rumoured to be one of the most haunted sites in the region, and for those who are brave, you can join in on one of their Ghost Walks; take part in a lantern-lit adventure and explore the fort after hours, whilst listening to stories of the ghosts who taunt staff and visitors alike at this historic site….or take part in the ULTIMATE Halloween experience…….where there are FIVE creepy, haunted historic buildings to be broached!
For all food and drink aficionados, Black Fox Distillery is a “must visit” place on the itinerary; this farm-based distillery is located just minutes out of Saskatoon, on Valley Road. They carefully select the finest fruits and grains to grow, cultivate them with care and transform them into truly unique and enjoyable spirits, including their award-winning Black Fox Barrel Aged Vapour Infused Gin, which won the Best Cask Gin at The World Gin Awards in 2017. Saskatchewan’s premier farm based micro-distillery also grows and sells their own fresh flowers too, and the owners Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote and John Cote, made me feel very welcome when I visited, as well as showing me around their farm. Before visiting the Distillery, you can check if there are any activities going on, that may interest you, such as The Black Fox Pumpkin Festival, or World Gin Day Celebration Day!
“We work to advance the understanding and appreciation of the evolving cultures of the Northern Plains indigenous peoples. Wanuskewin will be the living reminder of the peoples’ sacred relationship with the land”
A fascinating place to visit, Wanuskewin has been a gathering place for thousands of years for the First Nation’s peoples who live in the area; the site is a living reminder of the sacred relationship with the land and the First Nations peoples. In partnership with the Meewasin Valley Authority and the City of Saskatoon, Wanuskewin Heritage Park became a Provincial Heritage Property in 1983. In 1987, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II declared it a National Historic Site, and in 1992 the Interpretive Centre and trails were opened to the public. I was lucky enough to walk some of the trails and observe some of Canada’s longest-running archaeological digs. On my visit there, I was able to chat with some of the archaeology students from the University of Saskatchewan, who were working on two of the many dig sites – I was able to hold in my hand, some of their recent finds of buffalo bones and buffalo bone tools that were thousands of years old, an experience that was incredibly humbling. I also went on a foraging “Medicine Walk” around the site, where I learned about herbs, flowers and shrubs that were used by First Nation’s people to combat everything from sun burn, stomach upsets and fevers to unwanted pregnancies! There is a fabulous cafe/restaurant in the centre, which only uses local, fresh ingredients in all of their dishes. The menu reflects a mix of traditional First Nations cuisine infused with a contemporary style, as you can see from their menu here: Wanuskewin Heritage Park Restaurant ~ Seasonal Menu I enjoyed the Wanuskewin Bison Burger when I was there! Which is a Bison Patty served with Bison Bacon, Saskatoon Berry BBQ Sauce, Cheddar Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onions and Pickles, which is served in a Bannock Bun.
(The park is conveniently located just 15 minutes from the Saskatoon International Airport, and 15 minutes from downtown Saskatoon)
This vast National Historic Site offers you a chance to travel back in time to talk with 19th century Métis settlers about life on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. Imagine the shocking changes as men gathered on both sides and battle began to rage. You will witness the bullet holes at the final battlefield of the Northwest Resistance of 1885 and learn about how a traditional way of life changed forever as a new country began to form. You can also explore the village by the winding South Saskatchewan River, which is breathtaking, and listen to stories told by knowledgeable staff who are dressed in period costume playing the characters who once called this land home. I was taken on the full tour which takes you through the Zareba, the Caron’s Home Farm, the Church, Rectory, Mission Ridge and the Cemetery……for those of you who may be there in late September, there’s two great activities that you can immerse yourselves in: Taste of Métis Culture Craft Show and Journée du patrimoine.
Not actually outside the city, but situated within the city, but why not be taken out of the city on an old riverboat? Cruising on the Prairie Lily you’ll see the natural beauty of the Meewasin Valley, as well as all of the riverside homes, which is always fascinating! There is a bar on board, and you can book special dining cruises such as The Captain’s Sunday Brunch cruise, Dinner cruises and Sailing with a Sommelier – Tasting cruises. There is also their very popular Big Sunset cruise, which takes place every Friday between 6:45 pm and 9pm, depending in the time of year, just in time to see the sunset over the river.
(The Prairie Lily dock is located at the edge of the river adjacent to the former Mendel Art Gallery, across from Kinsmen Park, on Spadina Crescent)
The RCMP Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32 riders and their horses. Their performance consists of intricate figures and drills choreographed to music. These movements demand the utmost control, timing and coordination.
The Musical Ride performs in up to 50 communities across Canada between the months of May and October. They help raise thousands of dollars for local charities and non-profit organisations.
The Musical Ride provides the opportunity to experience the heritage and traditions of the RCMP. The riders act as ambassadors of goodwill who promote the RCMP’s image throughout Canada and all over the world.
I was lucky enough to see them perform at Fort Battleford, as part of Canada’s 150 celebrations – here’s the tour schedule for the rest of 2017 and up to 2020:
2017: Cross Canada tour – 150th anniversary of Canada
2018: Northern Ontario and British Columbia
2019: Quebec and Alberta
2020: Atlantic Provinces and Saskatchewan