6 reasons why Saskatchewan Doesn’t Suck

Saskatchewan is probably one of the least visited provinces in Canada. Most people only know Saskatchewan for the #1 highway which get’s you from one end to the other in roughly 7 hours. It unfortunately gets a bad rap from other Canadians, whom occasionally define it as boring, flat, plain, and dull.  All of which can occasionally be true. But any true traveler knows that if you’re willing to dig deep enough, something good is always bound to turn up.

1. Craven Country Jamboree

Craven Country Jamboree is Canada’s longest running multi-day music festival. Known locally as just “Craven”, this unique festival is located on the same plot of land for 25 years, smack-dab in the middle of the Qu’Appelle Valley. 23,500 fans flock to the small town of Craven, Saskatchewan to catch four days of some of the worlds best Country Music.

The 2009 lineup included George Strait, Taylor Swift, Clint Black, Kellie Pickler, Billy Ray Cyrus, and the Charlie Daniels Band. Whether you’re into Country Music or not, if you like drinking (heavily), you’ll fit in just fine here. Don’t forget to bring a cowboy hat, a tent you have no sentimental feelings about, and a few cases of Pilsner.

Check out Craven’s website and watch for the 2010 lineup being announced soon.

Photo by Tim Wiest

2. Regina Folk Fest

Come the 2nd weekend of August, downtown Regina’s Victoria Park is flooded with 20, 000 people seeking to catch a glimpse of their favourite folk and indie bands. This festival has been going on for over 40 years, and in recent years has been scoring some huge names in the indie/folk scene. Recently they were able to get Blue Rodeo, Michael Franti, Iron & Wine, Bedouin Soundclash, Steve Earle, Feist, Nihaz, Buck 65 and many more. Tickets are relatively cheap considering how many bands you’re able to see, and when the music isn’t playing there are countless workshops you can attend, along with children’s activities going on to keep every member of the family entertained.

Check out the Regina Folk Fest website for more information.

3. Hot Summer Days at the Lake

Those who have never been to Canada have a strange assumption that’s it’s always cold up here. Toss in a unfamiliar province name like Saskatchewan, and within one sentence you’ve gone from being a regular guy or girl to being an expert in Igloo and Quinzhee Design.(Read How to build an Igloo) Fact of the matter is, come summer time, this place get’s hot. Between the months of June and September, the weather in Saskatchewan will stay well above 30 degrees Celsius  for weeks on end, and occasionally make it all the way up to 40. With over 100,000 lakes scattered across this square shaped province, you’re sure to find somewhere close by to cool off.

If your staying in Regina, you’re best bet is to check out Last Mountain Lake. It’s roughly 40 km North West of Regina. This lake is 70 km long, and only 2 km wide at it’s widest portions. Local favourites of Last Mountain Lake include Regina Beach, Grandview Beach, and Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park, which has a marina for boaters and sea-dooers, a full service campground, a small restaurant, and every campers favourite…mini golf.

4. Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding in the Prairies

The thought of downhill skiing or snowboarding in the prairies has boggled the mind of many a non-flat-landers alike. “How is it downhill if it’s always flat?” – Glad you asked Kemo Sabe – Saskatchewan is home to thousands of valleys and hills, some of which are large enough to ski or snowboard down. The demand for winter activities in Saskatchewan has caused several Ski Resorts to pop up around Saskatchewan. Including Mission Ridge, 40 Minutes from Regina (near Fort Qu’Appelle),  Wapiti, located north of the of Melfort, and Table Mountain Regional Park, located 16km west of Battleford.

I’ve personally been going to Mission Ridge for years. It gets a good amount of snow, occasionally icy, but that’s to be expected given Saskatchewan’s climate. It’s home to several rails, boxes, kickers, and a half pipe. These little ski resorts are cheap compared to the lift tickets in the Rockies, and if you’re just getting started, or need to keep the “itch” at bay until your next trip to the Rockies, they’re the perfect choice.

5. Pond Hockey / Shinny

Located in just about every city or town in Saskatchewan is a pond, lake, stream, river, or something that will freeze over by winter. Rent, borrow, or steal some skates and a hockey stick, and you’ve made the cut to one of Saskatchewans favourite winter pastimes. The trick to getting a good Pond Hockey game going is to either wait until the Ceremonial Stick Throwing, or start your own pile and scream “Shinny!“.  The Ceremonial Stick Throwing is where all participants throw their sticks into a pile. One blindfolded pond hockey player then kneels in front of the large pile of hockey sticks, and begins throwing one to the left, one to the right. One to the left, and one to the right. And repeat. Once all of the sticks are gone; the teams are made. Retrieve your stick and commence getting your “Game On.”

Saskatchewan has a superb habit of having very clear winter nights. There isn’t really anything like looking up from a hockey rink into a starlit sky. The sound of skates tearing into the ice, pucks hitting sticks, the sight of your breathe leaving your mouth, and the cold feeling you get in your lungs once you inhale. Sooth your frozen aching feet with a warm cup of mocha and you’ve got yourself a perfect Saskatchewan evening.

6. Saskatchewan Roughriders

Throwing the ol’ pig skin around isn’t just an American thing. In fact, the CFL (Canadian Football League) is one of the most followed leagues in Canada, next to the NHL. This surge in popularity, along with our passion for drinking & partying, has earned ‘Rider Fans a reputation amongst other cities. Whether your in it for for sport, the heritage, or just an excuse to slap an emptied watermelon on your head and hammer back a dozen beers, you’ll find somewhere to fit in amongst the masses of Rider Nation. The Saskatchewan Roughriders play their home games at Mosaic Stadiums Taylor Field, located in downtown Regina. Be sure to show up a few hours ahead of the game for the pre-game entertainment, and remember to cheer loud as you walk down the Green mile.

I’m sure if I thought hard enough I could come up with a few other reasons, but six is my favourite number, so stopping here just feels right. The idea for this post came from the many conversations I’ve had with people who know absolutely nothing about Saskatchewan aside from it being flat. Hopefully this will give you something to talk about next time you run into somebody from Saskatchewan. Just a tip: Scream “RIDERS” or “CRAVEN” to any group of drunks to make instant friends. 60% of the time, it works every time.

Wapiti is located along Highway #6, 47 kms north of the City of Melfort

My favourite skit the Gemini’s did a couple years back

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  • Ted Klassen

    What a great site. I think you are doing a great job despite your challenges of being raised in Saskatchewan. It just shows hard work will overcome.

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com Corbin

      @Teddy – Hahaha, thanks for the praise! Glad to see a friendly face reading. Hope Alberta’s treating you swell.

  • http://jephmaystruck.com/ Jeph Maystruck

    Great post! I love Saskatchewan and I would like to add to the list…. Summer Invasion is one of Regina’s craziest party’s and the fact that our summer is among the sunniest in Canada makes for a great golf season.

    Keep up the great work!

    Cheers!
    .-= Jeph Maystruck´s last blog ..A Two Word Strategy for Guaranteed Results =-.

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com Corbin

      @Jeph – True stuff! Summer Invasion rocks something fierce! Check it out here Gotta love Regina’s sunny summers! Nothing like flexin’ the farmer tan arms in Wascana Park. lol. Thanks for reading amigo

  • http://travelerahoy.wordpress.com Alouise

    My dad is from Saskatchewan, so we go there at least once a year to visit family. I’ve spent many great summers at Good Spirit Lake, camping in Saskatchewan is always fun. And even though I’m from Edmonton, the best CFL games to watch are the ones where The Riders play, the fans are so devoted it’s fantastic. I’ve even seen melonheads at the Edmonton International Airport.

    In the end I think it’s all about perspective. If you go somewhere and expect it to be boring, well it probably will be. But if you go expecting to have a good time and meet great people you’ll enjoy yourself.
    .-= Alouise´s last blog ..2010 =-.

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com Corbin

      @Alouise – Couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve traveled with some “Debbie-downers” before, and making assumptions about cities or destinations before you ever spend some time there is probably the worst thing you could do to yourself while you’re traveling.

      Love the fact that the Melon Head thing took off so quick! Can’t go a game-day in Regina without seeing one. lol.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Canada seriously needed a post like this! Hah!
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..A Toast to Some Travellers: People to Stalk =-.

  • http://www.shorttraveltips.com Vi

    Never was thinking about it, but may I’ll check Saskatchewan someday :) Is it easy way to get North(Nunavut) from Regina or Saskatoon?
    .-= Vi´s last blog ..Frommer’s cover photo contest: how to win it =-.

  • http://www.sportsnowboarding.net Phillip

    I am from Australia but I visit canada yearly, for the snowboarding.. I have yet to snowboard in the prairies, would it be worth my time to go there? I usually snowboard at whistler but I am wanting to see more of canada..

    im sure the folk fest alone would be worth the trip though:)

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com Corbin

      @Philip – Well if your sole purpose for travelling to see more of Canada involves snowboarding, just keep in mind all the best snowboarding is in BC and Alberta. If you’re willing to settle with hard icy snow, and significantly shorter runs (We’re talking like 90-95% shorter) then yea, it might be worth it. It’s sorta like having a delicious T-bone steak, then switching to a Hot-Dog. Still good in their own rights, but they’re completely different in terms of quality.

      It would be wrong of me to say “Go to Saskatchewan for the snowboarding”. So instead I’ll say “If you find yourself in Saskatchewan during the winter, Snowboarding in SK is worth checking out, but not worth spending all your travel money to see/do”

      Hope that helps! Safe travels!

  • http://jim.com Jim

    I am sorry but the first five are things that suck about Saskatchewan. I really dislike country music. The folk festival is not great – just looked at the list of artists – unrecognizable all of ‘em. Summer at the lake? Well this is the same around Canada, really not a “Sask” thing. Skiing, really,I am shocked, there is no response to this — do not come to Sask to go on a ski trip you will be extremely disappointed. Pond hockey, – playing hockey is great – it’ll be mostly kids that enjoy this though. The only time I like to play pond hockey is if it is a warm day in the winter, — there is better outdoor rink hockey in any other Canadian province because *shocker* it’s not as cold in the rest of Canada. Football, well pro sports will always be popular — in every nook and cranny of the frigging globe.
    —> basically anywhere else you can get what Saskatchewan offers and more, and usually better quality.

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com Corbin

      dear jim

      your invitation to saskatchewan has been officially revoked.

      that is all

    • Limbo

      You, sir, are a douche.

  • http://www.milatos.com maria

    Crete is just like Saskatchewan except from the snow and the river ab passes . So i would suggest summer in Crete and winter in Saskatchewan Canada for all my life !!
    .-= maria´s last blog ..new photos from kiveli apartments in Crete =-.

  • Jimmy

    Why would you revoke someone’s “invitation” to Saskatchewan just because they gave their opinion?

    “That is all” ???

    LOL

    One thing I don’t like about Sask is that there are so many darned mosquitos in the summer. Once the sun sets, prepare for a blood-sucking orgy by those infernal buggers.

    Of course, the winter is pretty long too..

    So, you have a bone-nipping icy road fest

    OR

    Decent days, with insects ready to eat you alive the minute you step into shade or outside after sunset.

    Let’s not forget those small flies in a swarm that buzz around your head.

    Another thing is that businesses seem quite disorganized, mainly the public schools (Catholic ones are pretty much the same thing, province-owned an unionized)

    We asked to get health cards for SK because we moved from a difference province, but they messed them up. Put my daughter as male, her age incorrectly, our names misspelled, my date of birth wrong, etc.

    • http://ibackpackcanada.com admin

      @Jimmy – I apologize if I came off prudish, but I get very defensive when people insult my home province and city. People are entitled to their opinion, but when they blatently go out of their way to bash something I love, it’s my duty as a Saskatchewanite to defend my home & heritage.

      I apologize on behalf of our government for messing up your health card and being disorganized, but that shouldn’t ever stop people from visiting this amazing province. Nor should the bugs, mosquitos exist all over the world, I suggest if you plan on being outside for long to keep a bottle of Skeeter Spray in the in your pack. Works wonders!

  • http://www.premiumeyecenters.com/ Eye care solutions

    Hey Corbin, I like your posts, they are very useful. I discover many things about Canada, I hope someday I will visit this country.

  • Michaela

    ugh i know EXACTLY how you feel about people insulting sask all the time. I was born and raised on the praires (on a farm too), and ive traveled to bc, ab, and manitoba ( i have yet to go to the other provinces). I have to say, i still like sask the best. In my opinion, we have the best sunsets, and there is a strange beauty to the wide open praires. I wish people could just picture it in their minds; standing in some relatively tall grass, and being able to see as far as possible, with the sunset in the west. Just wide open spaces, just waiting for you to make what you want of it, the wind dancing with the grass. BUT people choose to stick their noses up, pull their touques over their eyes and stomp their feet while saying that all it is is flat.. flat flaaaat and booooooooring. (skiddooing here is amazing though) It makes me sooo mad!!! I’d rather be able to stare way off into the distance and daydream then have to look out the car window and BAM big giant rock or hill in your face.But, i love this country. Every single province too. But sask is my favourite. Ad the whole motto about saskatchewan being the “land of the living skies” is true. plus we have pronghorn antelope in the south….

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