Moose Jaw to Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
Exhausted from days of driving, Louise and I arrived into Moose Jaw and made a beeline for the geothermal mineral pool…where time and any sense of urgency slipped away from us. That alone was worth visiting town for, and it seems that plenty of families and couples from nearby Regina had the same idea.
But aside from being a getaway for Reginans, Moose Jaw is a pretty cool town in its own right. Though small and compact, Main St downtown is picturesque with beautiful historical buildings, murals, and tree carvings in the nearby parks. Outside of downtown, well, there’s Mac the Moose and a cute little burrowing owl centre dedicated to the pop can-sized birds that take over gopher holes.
Its branch of the Western Development Museum, which we didn’t have time to visit, is dedicated to planes, trains, and automobiles, and that legacy lives on. Formerly an important rail junction between the Canadian Pacific Railroad’s cross-country Dominion line and its Soo Line heading southeast to Chicago, there’s a grand train station too…which is now a grand liquor store. Well, at least there’s still the planes: Moose Jaw’s home to the Canadian Air Force’s famed aerobatics team, the Snowbirds. We were lucky enough to see them on a lark, practicing in formation right above us.
What it’s currently most famous for, however, is what’s underground.
Cypress Hills to Grasslands NP, Saskatchewan
As we left behind the prairie on our way to Maple Creek, we felt more like we had took a wrong turn and left Canada for a different continent. Surrounded by flat fields one minute, then descending into an Okanagan river valley the next. (Hey, there’s even a winery in the area.) Left turn onto some gravel roads, then here’s what looks like a bunch of desert shrubs. Now right turn aaaaand we’re in the Sahara.
Saskatoon to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan
I know what this looks like.
It’s the second year of a pandemic, international borders are a hassle, the world’s on fire (specifically British Columbia), and I’ve visited every other province and territory of Canada. And so, Saskatchewan, right?
Even Saskatchewanians (Saskatchewaners? Saskatchewanderers? who knows) seem altogether forgiving of this explanation. When I mentioned that my friend Louise and I are on here a roadtrip, they assume we’re passing through. When I then say that we flew in and rented a car for a 10 day “Saskatchewander”, well… Even some of them were surprised. Many expressed the irony of us picking a trip here, when they would pick Vancouver for theirs.
Surface knowledge doesn’t exactly spark passion: Canada’s quadrangular province renowned for being flat, treeless fields of grain, containing the portion of the Trans Canada highway you can speed straight through on a cross-country trip without stopping. I’ve made all these jokes myself.
I will admit that this originated as an exercise in box-checking, to fill in that last gap. But the planning process alone revealed so much to see, turning what started as a joke idea into genuine enthusiasm such that I had to cut out large portions of the province (the forested northern part full of lakes!) from my plans and focus just on the southwest. This wasn’t a trip I would have done without a pandemic, but having done it, this is a trip that I would heartily do in a world without one. It’s a shame that it took a pandemic to made me realise how much I’ve been missing out.
Stereotypes be gone! Saskatoon makes an immediate first impression — and it’s not one of being flat and treeless.