Tourism in the Canadian prairies, Manitoba and Saskatchewan

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In general, the prairie provinces are well known for their cold, cold winters, but little is said about the tourist attractions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and by the way, there are lots of cool and interesting things to do there. Alberta is also considered one of the three prairie provinces but has already been the subject of issue#82 (Wave June and July 2019).

Manitoba

Manitoba lies in the longitudinal centre of Canada and has a very varied landscape stretching from the ocean coastline in the north to its southern border with the United States. Visiting that province means traveling through the original lands of different indigenous peoples where you can explore urban architecture, arts, and cultures, as well as mountains, tranquil lakes, and rapids. Check out the list of some things you need to see and do in Manitoba:

  • Northern Lights

From January to March is the best time to watch the sparkling curtains of multicolored lights dancing in the night sky, an unforgettable experience. The town of Churchill, in northern Manitoba, is one of the top three places on earth to witness them.

There are travel agencies that offer night tours to check out this natural phenomenon and inside heated vehicles! Another option is to go further south and stay in a cabin by the Flin Flon lake (near the Saskatchewan border) where you can see them all year round.

  • Polar Bears
Cute polar bear cub standing ion snow covered ground outside of Churchill, Manitoba

When mentioning Churchill, it is worth knowing that this is one of the few places in the world where polar bears can be observed in the wild. There are a few different ways to see the bears, but it is best to use a tour guide because they follow strict guidelines to protect the bears, and have tundra vehicles that provide a safe way of dealing with snow and ice, apart from protecting visitors from the bears. They may be cute, but at a distance.

Staying in accommodation along the Bear Migration Route can be an exciting and unique experience.

  • Riding Mountain National Park

This is a national park that can be visited all year round and whose landscape is a combination of forests, grasslands, and super clear lakes and rivers. The park is home to several wildlife species including moose, wolves, bison and many birds. With 400 km of trails, you can walk around the whole area. The cold and deep lakes are perfect for fishing.

  • Steinbach Heritage Village

This village recreates Mennonite life from the 16th century to the present day with over 20 furnished buildings spread over 40 acres. When there, you will discover historical and heritage treasures from Poland to Russia to Canada. In Steinbach, you can dine at a restaurant where the traditional Mennonite meal is served, explore a classic barn and visit a Dutch mill (in operation during the summer).

  • The Forks

Wave gave a special mention to Winnipeg, the provincial capital, in issue 79 (December 2018), but it’s worth talking a little bit more about The Forks, one of the city’s most beloved places. An important site for over 6,000 years, The Forks has been a meeting place since the time of the Aboriginal people who used it as a meeting place and later dealt with buffalo hunters right in that location. Today there is a wide range of shops, restaurants, entertainment, and attractions.

The Forks also houses the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the Children’s Museum of Manitoba, the Arctic Glacier Winter Park, the Boardwalk Promenade and the market with its impressive six-story tower and observation deck.

More information: travelmanitoba.com

Saskatchewan

Manitoba’s neighboring province has numerous heritage and cultural attractions such as museums, dinosaur excavations, Aboriginal heritage, theaters, spas, etc.

Saskatchewan is known as the land of living skies. Its giant sky appears to be alive in many different ways, especially when it fills with birds as far as the eye can see. On a cloudless night, the sky lights up with thousands of twinkling stars.

Here’s our list of some things you need to see there:

1. Athabasca Sand Dunes

An area accessible only by floatplanes, these dunes stretch 100 kilometers along the southern shore of Lake Athabasca, forming the largest active sand surface in North America and the most northerly sand dunes in the world. The good news is that this gem is part of a provincial park that is divided into three administration zones. Each has different rules regarding camping and visitor activities.

2. RCMP Heritage Center

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is one of the most iconic things in the country. In Regina, Saskatchewan’s capital, visitors will find a center hosting multimedia exhibits and engaging programs. The museum tells the story of the RCMP to the world and also has a parade with troop inspection, a cadet band, etc.

3. Regina

One important thing to know about Saskatchewan is that its capital is not Saskatoon, but Regina. The name of the province’s second-largest city (Regina means “Queen” in Latin) is named after Queen Victoria. The city has public tours, a 100-year-old symphony orchestra, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, which has exhibits on the province’s history, geology, and natural history, and the Mackenzie Art Gallery, where free admission gives access to local and international artists.

4. Moose Jaw Tunnels

Beneath the quiet Moose Jaw lies a network of tunnels connecting buildings in the city centre. Built in 1908, the idea was to make an underground steam system. However, the project was abandoned, but it was later used to hide the Chinese railway workers who escaped persecution during the so-called Yellow Peril or unable to pay government income tax. In the 1920s, they were used to store rum during prohibition in the United States, in addition to gambling and prostitution. There is substantial evidence that the famous gangster Al Capone visited the city.

In the year 2000, the city restored the network of tunnels and they became a tourist attraction. Visitors can take two theatrical tours: one to relive the days of Al Capone and another to experience what those Chinese immigrants went through down there.

5. Prince Albert National Park

For those who like adventure and nature, the park’s landscapes include marshes, big lakes and a lot of wildlife. In what was once the home of the First Nations people, one can follow the Bagwa Paddling Route, which is a night canoe or kayak circuit that covers several lakes.

Learn more at tourismsaskatchewan.com