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Saskatoon Travel Guide

Saskatoon is actually Saskatchewan’s largest city with a population of over 230,000,[1] despite being colder than the provincial capital of Regina. Situated at the centre of a prairie parkland, Saskatoon has a Western air to it – a scene of cowboys and horse trailers. The city is located in an area of trees and farmland along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, and north of the province’s wheat-growing belt. This river is linked by several bridges and the banks are home to several recreational parks, lined with new, low-rise buildings. The edge of the town is filled with wide downtown streets.[2]

Seemingly remote, Saskatoon is the centre of today’s world of agribusiness, serving as an important distribution centre. It is also one of the world’s richest mineral resource-laden regions, where you’ll find everything from petroleum, gas, and uranium, to gold and potash. Key Lake nearby is actually the most productive uranium mine in the world, with the largest potash deposits. Its agricultural biotech industry is no slouch either; its University of Saskatchewan is among North America’s top bioscience research centers. The campus, situated on the east bank of the river, is the city’s largest employer.[3]

Unfortunately, Saskatoon doesn't have many tourist at­tractions, but it offers visitors great eateries, comfortable accommodations, and warm and friendly people, making it great stopover for ventures into the wild North Country.[4]

Saskatoon’s downtown core is a fairly small area on the west bank of the South Saskatchewan River that has most of the city’s main attractions. This is a good thing, as most of the sights are within walking distance of each other. The streets are laid out in a grid system with 22nd street dividing the city into north and south sectors. Idylwyld Drive, meanwhile divides the city between east and west.[5]

Bessborough Hotel
The Bessborough Hotel is a grand chateau styled hotel, considered to be the most distinguished landmark of Saskatoon. It sits on the west bank of the river and is lined with trees, parks, and recreational areas. It was built in the 1930s as a railway hotel.[6]

Kiwanis Park
Kiwanis Park is located right by the Bessborough Hotel. It is a nice picnicking spot. Canoes and paddle boats can be rented. You can also take a riverboat cruise at the park. It departs from the park’s bandstand. A guide provides commentary and refreshments are served on board. The cruises only run in the summer.[7]

Ukrainian Museum of Canada
The Ukrainian Museum of Canada at 910 Spadina Crescent East is on the north side of the river bank. It is open daily during the summer months but only on select days the rest of the year. The museum preserves the culture of the early Ukrainian immigrants who settled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The immigrants were peasants from their home country. The museum displays artifacts, crafts, art work, textiles, costumes, and historical photographs. The gift shop at the museum sells Ukrainian arts, crafts, and cooking books.[8]

Mendel Art Gallery and Civic Conservatory
The Mendel Art Gallery and Civic Conservatory at 950 Spadina Crescent East is a modern building that sits on the north river bank. The gallery has a permanent collection of old and contemporary European and Canadian works. It hosts several temporary exhibitions every year. The building houses a small conservatory as well as a gift shop.[9]

University of Saskatchewan
The University of Saskatchewan campus sits across the river from the Mendel Art Gallery and Civic Conservatory. The campus consists of a series of graystone buildings. Tours of the campus are provided at Place Riel Campus Centre. Campus attractions include the Museum of Antiquities, the Biology Museum, the Observatory, and the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery. The university also has a John Diefenbaker Centre. It houses memorabilia and papers from the Prime Minister’s term in office from 1957-1963. The Little Stone School is worth a visit as well. This was the first schoolhouse in Saskatoon and dates back to 1887.[10]

Western Development Museum
The main attraction in Saskatoon for many tourists is the Western Development Museum. It is located at 2610 Lome Avenue South. There are four museums of this kind in Saskatchewan. The others are in Moose Jaw, Yorkton, and North Battleford, each devoted to a different aspect of Saskatchewan’s history. The museum is kind of unique. It is themed “Boomtown 1910”, bringing to life that period of history in Saskatchewan. Inside, you’ll find a reconstruction of an entire street as it was back in 1910, complete down to the smallest detail. The period is represented not only visually but also in smells and sounds. This gives visitors a vivid impression of life back in the day. You can stroll through wooden sidewalks and gaze at automobiles and horse-drawn buggies on the street. On display are the remedies sold at the pharmacy. Other stores are there for you to peer into through the windows. There is even a silent movie running at the picture house. Other recreations include a school, bank, railway station, and a fully-equipped Chinese laundry.[11]

The museum also has collections of old farming equipment, aircrafts, and cars, including a display of the mail order services used by families in those days.[12]

Forestry Farm Park and Zoo
The Forestry Farm Park and Zoo is about 5 miles or 8 kilometers from northeast downtown along Attridge Drive. This zoo has about 300 animals and birds living in an area set with trees and flowers. The birds and animals are mostly indigenous to North America. There are recreational areas in the park as well as barbecue and picnic spots.[13]

Events and Festivals
In June, Vesna Festival, an ethnic celebration, takes place.

Every July, Saskatoon throws a week of agricultural events called the Exhibition. This event features livestock shows, parades, dances, music, racing, and other competitions involving agricultural equipment.[14]

In August, Folkfest takes place. It celebrates the different ethnicities and cultures of Saskatchewan.[15]

Thoroughbred racing takes place in the summers at Marquis Downs Racetrack, which is off Herman Avenue and Ruth Street at the Saskatoon Exhibition Center.[16]

Horseback riding can be enjoyed at the Sandhills Stable 10, which has a number of riding trails and campsites where suppers can be prepared around the campfire. There are also jogging and cycling paths that run throughout the park and parallel the river. Sandhills Stable 10 is along Lome Avenue about 6 miles or 10 kilometers south of Saskatoon.

Cross-country skiers can check out Forestry Farm Park. It is about 5 miles or 8 kilometers northeast of downtown Saskatoon.[17]

Downtown center has the best shopping. This is the area between First Avenue, 25th Street, and the river. Several department stores, shopping malls, and galleries are found in this area. On the east side of the river, around Broadway and Victoria Avenues, there are outlets, antiques, and arts and crafts shops. The Western Development Museum and the Ukrainian Museum both have gift shops, too, that sell arts and crafts.[18]

The nightlife in Saskatoon is not the best. There are a few cultural events held every year. The rest of the time, you can visit a few theatres to enjoy various performing arts. The Saskatoon Symphony, ballet companies, and top-name entertainers, for example, perform regularly at the Saskatoon Centennial Auditorium on 35 22nd Street East.[19]

In the summer, the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival takes place in two tents. One tent is located on the riverbank. This event features performances that embrace on innovative interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays.[20]

Bars and nightclubs do not exactly about in this town, but there are some nice ones in the hotel lounges. The Bessborough Hotel’s Samurai Lounge is a classy place to enjoy a drink or two.[21]

The original inhabitants of the site of Saskatoon were buffalo hunters who hunted the area for over 5,000 years. Saskatoon, as a settlement, was first established in 1882 by Methodists from Ontario. They founded it as a temperance colony. Growth of the city was slow. The population was only 113 at the end of the 19th century, despite the completion of a railroad link in 1890. However, many immigrants from Europe, namely the Ukraine, arrived in the early 20th century. They were attracted by the agricultural potential of the area. The city was incorporated in 1906 and University of Saskatchewan was established a year later.[22]

How to Get There
Saskatoon’s International Airport is a 10-minute drive from the downtown area.[23] Airlines providing domestic flights in and out of the airport include Air Canada, WestJet, Transwest Air, and Pronto Airways. Northwest Airlines has flights to the U.S., namely Minneapolis while Skyservice Airlines has routes to the holiday destinations in Mexico.

VIA Rail serves Saskatoon and connects the city with Winnipeg, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, and Jasper. The terminal is on Chappell Drive on the western fringes of town. There is a bus that transports people from the terminal to downtown and back.[24]

Greyhound provides services to and from Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Jasper. The station is located on 50 23rd Street East.[25]

Highway 11 reaches Saskatoon from Regina. The Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) reaches the city from Alberta in the west and from Manitoba in the east. Within the city, Highway 16 becomes Idylwyld Drive. If you are coming from La Ronge Provincial Park or Prince Albert National Park, Highway 2 is the route to take; it connects with Highway 11 just south of Prince Albert, which will take you all the way to the northern fringes of Saskatoon.[26]

Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.

“Saskatoon.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saskatoon>

[1] Saskatoon
[2] Carroll, 142-43
[3] Id. at 143
[4] Id. at 142
[5] Id. at 144
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] Id.
[11] Id. at 144-45
[12] Id. at 145
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] Id.
[16] Id. at 146-47
[17] Id. at 147
[18] Id.
[19] Id.
[20] Id.
[21] Id.
[22] Id. at 143-44
[23] Id. at 149
[24] Id.
[25] Id.
[26] Id.

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