12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Saskatchewan
The prairie province of Saskatchewan, also known as the "province of 100,000 lakes", shares very straight borders with Manitoba in the east, Alberta in the west, and the two U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota to the south. Visitors driving across the province will see the seemingly endless fields, but the northern portion is also a treat for anyone with a love of canoeing, angling, and swimming which can all be enjoyed on the numerous lakes - especially as the province is Canada's sunniest.
To the Cree First Nations, hunting buffalo and living on the Great Plains centuries ago, the biggest of the river waterways was "the river that flows swiftly" or "Saskatchewan". It was from this that the province eventually took its name. Later, large-scale settlement took place as plots of arable land were sold to pioneer farmers for just a registration fee, resulting in the agricultural landscape still present today.
1 Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park is a gently undulating landscape of spruce bogs, large lakes, and aspen-dotted uplands. First Nations people have lived here for thousands of years, and there is archaeological evidence that in severe winters, tribes from the prairies moved north to these sheltered woodlands, intermingling with the people who lived here.
The park's creatures vary according to habitat, with Canada's second largest colony of white pelican at Lavallée Lake, a roaming herd of Sturgeon River Plains Bison, plus moose, wolf, black bear, fox, lynx, caribou, and eagles in the northern forests, and elk, deer, badger, coyote, and squirrel in the parkland in the south. Grey Owl, a colorful and controversial naturalist of the 1930s, lived in this park for seven years in a small log cabin called "Beaver Lodge" on Ajawaan Lake. The author's popular books tell of his love for the wilderness, threatened by the advance of civilization. His cabin can be reached by boat or canoe across Kingsmere Lake, or by a 20-kilometer trail from the south end of the lake.
2 Fort Walsh National Historic Site
Fort Walsh National Historic Site was established in 1875 under the direction of James Walsh. It was intended to stop the illegal whisky trade and became one of the most important posts in the West. During its life, the fort negotiated with the whisky traders, the native peoples, and the thousands of Sioux warriors who sought refuge in Canada after clashes with the U.S. cavalry. Following the building of the railway and the return of the Sioux people to the USA, the fort was dismantled and left. In 1942, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police acquired the land and built a ranch on which to breed horses. When the RCMP transferred to Ontario, the estate became a national historic site with a comprehensive reconstruction program.
3 RCMP Heritage Centre
The RCMP Heritage Centre is the largest of its kind in Canada, with displays of equipment, weapons, photographs, and more. Both the Sergeant Major's Parade (held in the Parade Square, alternately in the Drill Hall in winter or bad weather) and the Sunset Retreat (summer) attract large crowds. The latter is a colorful flag ceremony involving a parade of recruits and a marching band, harking back to the tattoos of 18th and 19th century British military tradition.
Address: 5907 Dewdney Ave, Regina
Sunny Saskatoon is a pleasant city in the South Saskatchewan River. Many tourist attractions explore the local heritage, from the first Prairies peoples at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park to European settlers and culture at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada. The largest of the province's four Western Development Museums is located in the city and features a vibrant reconstructed main street known as "Boomtown 1910."
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Saskatoon
A cosmopolitan commercial and cultural center, Regina is the setting for many government and provincial institutions. It enjoys economic prosperity, and boasts a number of arts and heritage attractions including the illuminating Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Mackenzie Art Gallery near the parklands of Wascana Centre around Wascana Lake. Parades and other military-tattoo-like events are a popular feature at the city's RCMP Heritage Centre.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Regina
6 Batoche National Historic Site
Batoche was the headquarters of the famous Métis, Louis Riel, during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. It is also where the rebellion finally came to an end, following a decisive battle.
Displays illustrate the way of life of the Métis, events leading up to the rebellion, and the battle of May 1885. The presbytery, still showing shell and bullet-holes from the battle, and the Church of St. Antoine de Padoue (1883-84) are now excellent museums. The graves of Dumont and Letendre and a mass grave of fallen Métis can be found in the churchyard.
7 Trans-Canada Highway
Following the Trans-Canada Highway as it runs across the prairies and wheat fields of southern Saskatchewan, visitors can see a substantial part of the province. It is best to start from the province's southeast border with Manitoba, and drive east-to-west along the Highway (which passes through the capital, Regina, and the town of Swift Current). Detours can then be made either north or south to visit the many places of interest (Moose Mountain Provincial Park, Qu'Appelle Valley, Cypress Hills Provincial Park, etc.). Plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, and hunting will be found along the way.
8 Cypress Hills
The highest point in Saskatchewan is in Cypress Hills, a vast tract of land in the province's southwest. The region encompasses premier outdoor attractions, including an inter-provincial park that straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border and Grasslands National Park, near the U.S. border. Though prehistoric sites in the Drumheller area of Alberta are better known, Saskatchewan's Eastend is home to the T.rex Discovery Centre and its full-size skeleton replicas.
9 Fort Carlton Provincial Park
Fort Carlton was originally built as an outpost in 1820 to provide river patrols and provisions for fur traders. Visitors can take a canoe tour in summer, or wander the grounds to see the reconstructed fort, a Cree village, displays of hides, and various supplies.
10 Moose Jaw
The "friendly city" of Moose Jaw sits at the meeting of the Moose Jaw River and Thunder Creek. The Tunnels of Moose Jaw remain from the days of the first Chinese immigrants. Today, costumed guides recreate characters from Moose Jaw history here. Another branch of Saskatchewan's Western Development Museums is located in Moose Jaw, focusing on the history of Prairie transportation. Other museums are in Saskatoon, North Battleford, and Yorkton.
Accommodation: Where to Stay Moose Jaw
11 Qu'Appelle Valley
Extending along the Qu'Appelle River is a beautiful, steep-sided valley, carved out of the gently undulating prairie by glacial waters. It is a rich garden-style landscape with eight lakes strung out along the valley, from Buffalo Pound (where there is a provincial park) in the west, to Echo Valley Provincial Park near Fort Qu'Appelle and Round and Crooked Lake further east. There are several scenic parks and little townships along this lovely stretch.
12 The Battlefords
During the early settlement days, Battleford was an important Mounted Police post and the first seat of Northwest Territories government. Fort Battleford National Historic Site explores the past of the Mounties with exhibits in refurbished buildings. The city's Western Development Museum puts agricultural history into practice with a farm and village.
Accommodation: Where to Stay North Battleford