Saskatchewan, known as the Bread Basket of Canada and the world, is home to prairies where crops of wheat, oats and barley are produced on endless vistas.
Small towns, with silos their central focus, are scattered over the land picturesque with thousands of lakes and thick forests. Hunting and fishing opportunities are beyond compare. Regina, the provincial capital, is a smart, forward city. This tempting array makes Saskatchewan a winning vacation destination.
The slogan here is Land of Living Skies – and one visit is enough to convince visitors of its apt resonance. The mighty North Saskatchewan River, wide and proud, offers walleye, pike and perch to fishermen; kayaking, canoeing and house boating to enthusiasts; and a thread of history to the First Nations peoples of Canada.
Things to do
We toured the Government House in Regina with our guide, Kara, where admission was by donations. The Government House is a true Canadian treasure, built in 1891, and first served as the official residence of the lieutenant governor of the Northwest Territories until 1945. Currently, this restores multipurpose Heritage Facility is the working office of Lt. Gov. Vaughn Solomon Schofield, who hosts several events and visitors throughout the year. The Government House is home to the Edwardian Gardens, which were created by George Watt in the early 1900s, and gives visitors a chance to step back in time. Hosted by the Government House Historical Society, each month, Victorian Teas have been a time-honored tradition since 1991.Reservations are required for a cost of $12 per person. Visiting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Center, which celebrates an integral part of Canada’s history and culture since 1873, was inspirational.
Our legislative tour/walk took us around the gorgeous Wascana Park. The Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly Building was built on Wascana Creek, named for the Cree word Oskana which means “bones.” Which a dome that reaches 184 feet tall, the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly Building was built by Premier Walter Scott and is currently undergoing huge renovations. Artist Edmund Morris’ collection of Indian portraits displayed in the Legislative Building is quite stunning.
The highlight of our trip was fishing on Tobin Lake, part of the Saskatchewan River system, which measures 15 miles across with depths of 2-100 feet. We met our guide, Kevin, a former conservation officer in Manitoba who has been guiding here for years. The biggest walleyed pike on record was caught with minnows on Tobin Lake, weighing in at 18.75 pounds, at 33 inches. Because of that, Tobin Lake gets lots of visitors!
“Jigging for walleye is when you have a minnow on a bobber; they nibble at it; give it a yank,” Kevin said. “In the area, fishermen catch perch and trout. You can catch four a day.”
Our boat darted here and there on the bright water. While most of the fish remained below the surface, we did manage to get a few. Rain kept us off the lake the next day or we surely would have headed back.
Saskatchewan has world-class freshwater fishing in 100,00 pristine lakes and rivers! Texans love it here. Hunting in Saskatchewan induces elk, deer and moose. Outfitters can be hired for all of these!
After a day of gold at Evergreen Golf Course in Nipawan, we then drove to the town of Waskesiu Lake, located on the eastern shore of Waskesiu Lake within Prince Albert National Park. Four seasons stretched before us with summer skies overhead and fall’s yellow, gold and red leaves shedding a coat, as winter peeped around the corner and summer said goodbye. Just how far north in Saskatchewan? Several days before our September visit, when Houston was still sweating in the upper 90’s, the first snow fell in Calgary! We knew we were definitely in the north, as the days started darkening by mid afternoon, as we observed miles and miles of land and quietly drove in Prince Albert Park. There was very little traffic. During the summer moths of June, July and August, it gets busy with tourists, but September slows to a beautiful slide into fall. The cold, cutting winds shook the leaves floating before us in the colors of persimmons, cranberries and limes. Cattails were plump and stately. Our last stop was Elkridge Resort. Well, wow! There we were in Northern Saskatchewan and a lovely four-star resort was tucked just off the highway. Built originally as a gold course for a bored billionaire, now it is a hotel, condos and a master-planned community. Our cottage echoes the designs of the hotel – green birch floors, trees and leaves in every art piece, rugs, lamps and chandeliers. There were upscale amenities, a spa, dining room – all secluded by the lake and the fabulous Elk Golf Course.
The Capitol Restaurant and Cocktail Bar in Regina has great food! Loved it! It’s modern, yet reminiscent of the 1920s. A daily menu is posted online, including an amazing list of appetizers such as escargot ceviche, fresh shucked oysters, Chimichurri pork ribs and much more! We had a lunch at Regina’s 20 Ten City Eatery, which provides free valet parking, and is a dining destination in downtown Regina serving lunch and dinner. The lunch menu offers soups and salads galore, along with features that include quiche, fettuccine, tacos and crab cakes. The dinner menu has a variety of starters and a wide selection of main-course choices, including surf and turf, seafood, lamb and chicken, with suggested wine pairing with each dish.
Dinner at Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar in Regina brings local flavor to a new standard. Executive Chef and Regina native Jonathan Thaumaturge uses locally grown and milled flour, and local bison for burgers and rib-eye steaks. We enjoyed dinner at Copper Ridge Dining Room at Elk Ridge Resort in an elegant setting in Waskesiu. Auden Kitchen & Bar is located in the City of Saskatoon. Young, fresh and lively, the artistic aesthetics and interesting twists on the menu makes for a fun evening.
Our accommodations included The Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina, which is fantastic, old and grand; Northern Greens Resort in Nipawin; the secluded Elk Ridge Resort at Wakesiu and Delta Bessborough Hotel, which is lovely, locates in downtown Saskatoon on the South Saskatchewan River. There is a huge Texas connection with affordable flights to the great outdoors of Saskatchewan. With the Canadian exchange rate a colossal bargain, it’s like getting a third off to go fishing, golfing, hiking, hunting, touring and dining. For example, a recent round trip flight on United was booked for less than $400. Regina and Saskatoon are two of the best-known cities however, many cities and communities in Saskatchewan excel in good food, shopping museums and nightlife. There are a number of interesting itineraries at tourismSaskatchewan.com/experience-Saskatchewan and lots of hunting and fishing information may be found at www.tourismsaskatchewan.com/about-saskatchewan/travel-guides-and-maps/online-guides or call toll free 1-877-237-2273.