Let me be straight up with you.
I’m tired of hearing Saskatchewan described simply as, “boring and flat.”
Saskatchewan? Flat? How original. Maybe you’re boring and flat. Maybe that’s the problem.
I just returned to Toronto from ten glorious days in the south of my home province. My very hilly, adventure-filled home province. My visit mainly consisted of whipping my families collective butt at cards, hanging out by the pool, and getting introduced to my friend’s new pet Donkey, Norman Bates.
Oh, and I had a birthday! The big 2-5. I PROMISED myself I wouldn’t write a dorky “25 Things I’ve Learned by 25” post, and gosh darn it, I’m sticking to my guns. For now.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand…
Saskatchewan means a lot to me. It is, after all, the province that birthed me, raised me, gave me my first kiss, taught me to drive, and was the first to make me question the world. Without my small-town Saskabush beginnings, it’s hard to say whether or not I would have ended up where I am today. Unless you’re a fatalist, of course.
It’s no secret that Saskatchewan, with a population of just over 1 Million, lacks the high number luster of other Canadian provinces such as center-of-the-universe Ontario, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer. Just like any boyfriend I have ever had, Saskatchewan is complicated; you really have to get to know it to fully appreciate it, and yes, sometimes its brain is stuck in an oblong-rectangular box.
Saskatchewan is beautiful. It is easy to understand why the licence plates read “Land of the Living Skies”; no matter how corny it may sound. Between epic sunsets, cumulus cloudy days, an uninterrupted view of our stars at night, and an occasional Aurora Borealis show, it can be hard to keep your eyes on the horizon. Which, when what’s below the horizon is a smattering of blue and yellow fields – flax and canola, respectively (among others)- you could be missing a lot.
For truly spectacular star-gazing, head to Saskatchewan’s southwest border with your telescope. Grasslands National Park is one of the darkest and quietest places in all of Canada. The lack of light pollution makes for some absolutely gorgeous scenes.
Saskatchewan has lakes galore. Fun fact: between all of its lakes and rivers, Saskatchewan’s surface is over 12% water, and water sports are very popular among locals. It’s common for families to have a cabin (no, not cottages for you Eastern Canada folk, although the terms mean the same thing) by a lake that’s completely outfitted with a boat, tube, water-ski’s, and fishing gear.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are of clutching onto a tube for dear life while my friends father pulled us along in his motorboat; and the eventuality of falling into the middle of the tube and being stuck there until rescued.
Saskatchewan is not all flat. Perhaps a point based solely in rebuttal, sure, but I feel I have to at least mention the Qu’Appelle Valley. As a kid and into my teens, I’d frequently hike the hills of the Qu’Appelle, which was only ten minutes away from where I grew up. The valley is also great for quadding and dirtbiking, the latter of which I was particularly fond of back in the day. It was always an adventure to explore the area and find an old abandoned cemetery, or to spot a bear before running for dear life.
A Saskatchewan bush party will beat clubbing in the city any day. Maybe it’s the small-town girl in me, but sitting by a fire in the middle of nowhere, drinking with my friends, and getting into crazy shenanigans will forever trump putting on a tight dress and getting hit on by a greaseball man bobbing his head to Miley Cyrus remixes in a club. But that’s just me. Those who farm together get drunk in bushes together, and when you’re in the sticks with not much to do, you tend to invent some wild happenings.
If, however, you go to Saskatchewan looking for a night on the town, try Saskatoon or Regina – they’ll be able to offer you a butchered, albeit interesting, representation of whatever it is you’re looking for.
It’s all about community. Once you get to know people in Saskatchewan, you’ll see that they travel in packs and they look out for each other in ways I have never seen in the big cities. Even if they have never seen you before in your life, they will wave as they pass you on the highway and start up a conversation with you about your lineage in the post office.
And it’s all about food. Many small towns in SK are comprised of families who’s roots can be traced to Eastern European and Scandinavian countries, with many of these immigrants having migrated to the area in the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s. Cabbage rolls galore, let me tell you.
So if you go to Saskatchewan, make sure you know a Grandma who can hook you up with some perogies and torte.
Nature, generous people, community, outdoor activities, and of course I can’t forget about the festivals!
In the summer, be sure to check out music festivals such as Regina Folk Festival, Craven Country Jamboree, and Rock The River Saskatoon.
And for a truly entertaining, educational, and family-friendly experience, check out Mosaic: A Festival Of Cultures; a three-day event celebrating Regina’s many diverse cultures.
On the surface, Saskatchewan may just be a “fly-over” province, but if you take the time, it has a lot to offer. Never judge a book by the illiterate who tell you it’s “flat and boring”.
What are some of your favorite Saskatchewan activities?