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