In our article – “Top-Rated Attractions of Saskatoon” – we will discuss the small and fastest-growing Canadian city – Saskatoon. Saskatoon is also known as “Paris of the Prairies” and “Bridge City” and it is popular for its nine beautiful river crossings. Saskatoon is rich with Saskatchewan culture and it is a city you do not want to miss if you are on the lookout for a memorable vacation with your family or even a short weekend getaway with friends.
The streets of this metropolis boast a tantalizing mix of new restaurants and bars which add to the city’s fast growing economy. Yet, none of this urbanization has taken away from the vitality of its culture whose essence is portrayed through Saskatoon’s 65 plus annual events, most of which are to be showcased during the summer months. The golden wheat fields that surround the city only add to the charm and provide all the more reason to visit this scenic part of the world where new world traditions blend seamlessly with a rich Cree history that gave the city its name. With all that it has to offer, this Canadian city promises an unforgettable few days to all those who choose to vacation here.
The history of Saskatoon begins when the Canadian Government, in hopes of stimulating plentiful agricultural Settlements on the land that comprised the prairies, decided to offer up land for colonization. During this time, a group of Temperance Activists who hailed from Ontario formed the temperance Colonization Society (TCS) whose plans for the land coincided with that of the Government under the principles of Temperance. As a result, in the year 1882, under the leadership of John Neilson Lake, the TCS gained ownership of around 313,000 acres of land that presided on both sides along the bend of the South Saskatchewan River. This was where the 3100 colonists aimed to establish what they believed to be a “dry” community that was far from the influence of Alcohol. This piece of land that sits between what is today known as Warman and Dundurn is the site where the early foundations for the city of Saskatoon were laid.
The development from village to city was fairly slow in the beginning due to various reasons like the absence of a railway line and the river being too shallow for navigation. It was during 1890, when the first railway line arrived to the colonies that any notable growth was witnessed. This was when the settlement on the west banks of the river flourished around the first railway station. In 1899, the East as well as west sides of the river saw tremendous growth and the west bank decided to retain the name Saskatoon while the East side changed its name to Nutana. In 1903, a third settlement developed in the area as well and with the improvement of civic amenities, the three settlements were merged to form present day Saskatoon.
Geography and Climate
The city of Saskatoon sits on either bank of the Southern Saskatchewan River. This land is immensely fertile and vital for the region’s agriculture. The river is one of the top 10 largest rivers in Canada and the lack of mountainous topography around this area renders the land relatively flat and this is vital for urbanization and infrastructure development. The city is spread over an area that comprises a few hills which define its highest point, believed to be either the Sutherland Suburb in the East or the Silverwood-River Heights areas in the north. The lowest point of the city is where the river cuts through and there are multiple smaller bodies of water scattered around the city.
The climate of the city is described as ‘cold-semi arid’.The seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are easily distinguishable throughout the year and are prone to irregular and sometimes drastic changes in temperature. Saskatoon is faced with summers during which it gets the most sunlight of all cities of Canada and highest temperatures vary from 15 C to 30 C in the months of July and August. This is considered as the best time to visit the city as most of the noteworthy activities happen around this time of the year. The winters on the other hand, are long and cold with temperatures that are mostly below the freezing point. Winters typically begin in the month of November.
Wilderness and Wildlife of Saskatoon
As a metropolitan city, Saskatoon is developed and is mostly flat with very few variations in topography. This limits the variety of Animals that can be seen in Saskatoon in the wild to coyotes, skunks, foxes, moose, deer, rabbits, porcupines, beavers, muskrats and such others.
Best Attractions and Events of Saskatoon
Here is a comprehensive list of some of the most delightful events, experiences and places that Saskatoon has to offer that are guaranteed to cater to all interests and budgets:
1.Remai Modern Museum
This public contemporary and modern art museum situated on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River is a must visit for those who dabble in or just simply enjoy the pleasures of art. It was named for Ellen Remai, who donated the resources required for its construction, maintenance and functioning. It opened its doors to the public in 2017 and is home to around 8000 glorious permanent pieces of art estimated to have a value of C$40 million created by native as well as international artists. Apart from the permanent pieces, the museum inherited 7700 works of art from Mendel Collection which date back to the 20th century, Painted by artists like Emily Carr, Lawren Harris and others that were showcased in the now obsolete Mendel Art Gallery.
The museum also holds the world’s largest collection of Pablo Picasso’s ‘Linocuts’ that are numbered to be around 405 as well as multiple Picasso Ceramics that were all donated to the museum by patrons.
In addition to showcasing art and holding travelling exhibitions, the museum hosts Linocut programs(workshops), talks and film screenings for visitors in order to provide an overall unforgettable experience.
Address: 102 Spadina Crescent E, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
2.Ukrainian Museum of Canada
The Ukrainian Museum of Canada holds mesmerising Ukrainian artifacts such as their unique Pysanki(Easter eggs), textiles and paintings. It holds up the Ukrainian culture in Canada through its various efforts in educating the public about recent as well as ancient aspects of the lives led by the Ukrainians who migrated to Saskatchewan. This is done through the various Events organized by the museum, the Talk shows they host as well as the group tours they plan. It also promotes Research by allowing students, educators or institutions that are interested, access to its archives and libraries. It supports volunteering activities such as help with setting up exhibitions and also takes memberships.
The museum also includes a quaint gift shop where you can get yourself Ukrainian collectibles, cook books and other such souvenirs to remember the experience.
3.Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Just about 15 mins from the Saskatoon International Airport and downtown Saskatoon, this proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site is a historical center that aims at preserving and educating the masses about the lives and interests of the very first settlements in the area that date back to over 6000 years. These settlers who migrated to the area are believed to have come in search of shelter from the winters as well as sustenance which they found in the form of bison hunting. Inside the complex is one of Canada’s biggest Archeological digs where artefacts are found regularly, some dating back thousands of years. One of its main attractions is titled the ‘Medicine Wheel’ which is a formation of boulders that the settlers consulted while hunting Bison.
Today, the site serves as a tourist attraction, a gathering ground for Spiritual uses as well as an active Archeological dig that aids in Research and education. They hold events such as guided tours of the grounds and patrons get to spend the night in a Tipi that they learnt to build as well. The restaurants are known for sourcing all their ingredients locally and offer a variety of first Nation Cuisine as well as contemporary style dishes which satisfy the tastes of just about anyone who visits.
4.Riversdale Park, Saskatoon
Reputed as one of the oldest neighborhoods of Saskatoon, the Riversdale Park is close to Downtown Saskatoon. Home to some 3124 residents as of 2011, it majorly consists of detached, low-density dwellings. The first settlers trickled into this part of Saskatoon during the 1890s. For those interested in studying the architecture that was prevalent during the time, this neighborhood is a must-visit. Its many historic buildings include the Albany Hotel that was built in 1906, St. Thomas Wesley United Church, built-in 1912, the Landa House, constructed during 1912, The Roxy Theatre, Built during the Great Depression and many other such others. It is also known to host the Winter Carnival, one of the special events of Saskatoon during the month of January/February.
5.Meewasin Trail Map
Saskatoon owes its beauty partly to the Scenic River trails and Bridges that are dotted along the South Saskatchewan River. Walking these trails is a major and enjoyable aspect of life in Saskatoon, as locals mention. Of these trails, the Meewasin Trail is one of the most Notable. It winds through most of the Tourist attractions, parks as well as bridges along its 60km length. During the Summer months when it is most enjoyable, the trail offers activities like canoe launches, bird watching and is even a popular biking trail year-round.
6.Prairie Lily Riverboat
Another way to appreciate the beauty of the Meewasin Valley Trail is from onboard the Prairie Lily Riverboat cruises hosted by the Prairie River Cruises Ltd. They offer a variety of services ranging from Sightseeing cruises from Tuesday through Sunday, Dinner and Brunch cruises for Sundays as well as Chartered events onboard. The best time to be able to admire the beauty of the river and city to its fullest would be during the Summers. For those looking to spend a romantic evening with their significant other in a picturesque setting, look no further, for this scenic cruise offers Dinner facilities as well, starting at C$54 per person.
7.The Museum of Natural Science, University of Saskatchewan
Located within the walls of the University of Saskatchewan, the Museum of Natural Science is housed in the Geology Building. It is regarded as a centerpiece and through its many exhibits, both static and for demonstration, it explains how the Earth evolved into what it is today. Those visiting the Museum can also stop to admire the Gothic architectural style of the University and may even visit the Observatory to stargaze on Saturday nights when it is open to the public.
While on campus you can stop by the Diefenbaker Canada Centre which is a museum of sorts that holds archives that relate the life and career of John.G Diefenbaker, Canada’s 13th President.
8.Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
This annually hosted Jazz festival is officially called the Sasktel Saskatchewan jazz festival. It is largely held in the gardens of the Delta Bessborough Hotel for sponsorship reasons and features a wide range in genres of music but mainly focuses on jazz, blues and folk music. Typically held during the end of June, this festival attracts a colossal number of patrons each year and is held for a duration of 10 days, showcasing local as well as international artists. So, Music fanatics out there, keep an eye out for show dates of your favorite artists!
9.Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo
Formerly known as the Dominion Forest Nursery Station, this land was used as a nursery for growing and shipping 147 million trees across the Northern Prairie Provinces. The trees grown were largely Caragana, Ash, Maple, Elm and Willow. Established in 1913, the nursery remained functional through to the year 1966 when it was closed and later, a part of the region was reopened as a park and during summer months, is a beautiful place to enjoy picnics and outings with family and friends.
The zoo in question is housed within the park and currently holds around ninety species of birds and animals which captivate adults and children alike.
In addition to the zoo, the park also holds a drive through Event called the Enchanted Forest Holiday Light Tour during the summer and only during this time, from the month April to October, the park charges visitors a fee.
10. Saskatoon Farmers’ Market
The Saskatoon Farmer’s Market is a non-profit cooperative that strives to bring the freshest as well as the best of the locally produced agricultural goods to the residents and visitors of Saskatoon. Having been established in 1975, it is one of the oldest and most credible markets in the city and is held in the previously mentioned neighbourhood of Riversdale on Saturdays and Sundays. In this utopia of organically grown fruits and vegetables, one can also find baking ingredients, food that is indigenous to the province, fresh dairy and dairy-related products marmalade and such other mouth-watering commodities. Do visit the market if you wish to experience the best Saskatoon has to offer in terms of agricultural produce.
Recommendations for places to stay in Saskatoon
The Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton is one hotel that is affordable and offers free parking as well as amenities such as an indoor pool and complimentary breakfast.
The Top of the Inn Sheraton is another hotel that is moderately priced while providing amenities like meeting spaces, indoor pool and affords a beautiful view of the river. It advertises a waterpool as well. It is centrally located.
Delta Hotels by Marriott Bessborough is a period hotel that boasts amenities such as hot tubs, indoor pools and dining options that include multiple cuisines. It is affordably priced and centrally located as well.
In order to make the most of your stay at this beautiful city full of endless possibilities, it is advisable to schedule your activities based on research about event timings, ticket availability and plan in advance so as to enjoy everything the city has to offer while leaving out none of the noteworthy attractions. Do let me know which of these attractions you would like to visit first, in the comments!