We didn't actually stay here, but dropped in for the lookout point at Valley campsite. We let the entry staff know of our plan, so we didn't have to pay the entry fee. There are lots of campgrounds and hiking trails though for those who have more time. And for those staying the night, I've read the lookout point is a great spot for watching the sunset.
Well, it's not much of a park...fenced-off piece of lawn more like with a statue in front. But it has great historical significance (which unfortunately many locals seem to have forgotten seeing as nobody seemed to know where it was!). The statue commemorates the signing of Treaty 4 by Chiefs of the Cree, Saulteaux, and Assiniboine First Nations in 1874. In short, by signing the treaty, the Chiefs agreed that they and their people would move to reserves and take up land ownership, thereby giving up their nomadic lifestyles (which would, of course, open up the west more to European expansion). Treaty 4 Gathering is held every year over the week of September 15, during which time pow-wows are held daily. Treaty Park also serves as a memorial cemetery for those believed to have died during treaty negotiations.
There were a couple of interesting abandoned homesteads on this little trip of about 2.5 hours in total. The first was this solitary house sitting alone in a field quite some distance from Highway 640, as I approached the Qu'Appelle River valley.
The second group of buildings was along the side of Highway 727 after I had crossed the Qu'Appelle and was heading east along its northern cliffs, directly into the sun (2nd photo). I stopped for a closer look at them, starting with the old wooden garage that had begun a serious collapse (3rd photo). Walking around to the sunny side of the former homestead, I took another couple of shots of the house itself, now just a shell without windows or doors. Their old hedge with pretty yellow blossoms was doing well though.
The last time I had seen the narrow Qu'Appelle River in its valley was two months previously in late-March, when it was still frozen with a solid sheet of ice across it (my 'Lumsden' page) - at least here it has all changed back to normal water with the Swallows in-flight everywhere! The view of the river in the 2nd photo was taken from Highway 640 as I was about to descend into the river valley and shows the highway winding back up along the far northern valley wall. Things were looking more alive now in early June with green leaves on the trees and the ice long gone. The final photo shows the view as I left the valley floor and continued my drive as I climbed back up to the high ground - you can glimpse parts of the many hundreds of loops in this 'ox-bow' river as it slowly meanders its way along.
As I crossed the Qu'Appelle River, I passed by this lonely old Texaco gasoline station with a horse grazing its front lawn. There was still a large white propane tank off to the left side and a single gasoline pump directly in front of the building, but there didn't seem to be much activity going on. Because of a legal spat with Pennzoil, in 1985 Texaco was served with a US$10.5 billion settlement payment, forcing them to declare bankruptcy in 1987 and to sell off their Canadian assets in 1989. The fact that there is still a circular Texaco sign on a post in front of this place suggests that it doesn't deal with gasoline sales any longer because a new supplier would have changed it. They do have a pretty little spot as I turned to look back at it while climbing out of the valley (2nd photo).
Until I took this little drive, I wasn't even aware that there was a string of lakes in Saskatchewan called the Fishing Lakes! My provincial may isn't very detailed, so it didn't specifically name the four wider bodies of water formed by the Qu'Appelle River as it flows through the valley - Pasqua, Echo, Mission and Katepwa Lakes. This is the first view I had of these lakes, as I cruised along Highway 727 near the outer end of my looping drive from Regina.
It wasn't long before I was headed down the twisting gravel road toward Echo Lake (2nd photo) and speed had to be kept down to 60 kph or so because of the washboard effect of bouncing the car around on those turns! You can also see the paved highway on the other side twisting its way back up to high ground. The final photo was taken just after I crossed the small bridge over the Qu'Appelle here as it returned to its normal width - showing the view west and the high bank along the right side where Highway 727 runs.
The four lakes are not very deep because the Qu'Appelle is not really a large river. This limited volume of water, combined with the fertilizer-contaminated rainwater run-off from the numerous fields along both sides of the river leads to aglae attacks as the summer heat builds up, making the beaches unsuitable for swimming.
It was early on a fresh 14 C morning as I headed out of Regina to see what the surrounding countryside had to offer. Fifteen minutes later I spotted a White-tailed Deer slowly walking out onto Highway 46 as I neared Balgonie. There was plenty of time to slow down as it calmly walked across the road, only breaking into a run after I stopped my car for a better look.
Shortly after that, I was surprised to come across this large herd of American Bison enjoying their morning feed - I hadn't realized there was a game farm with these animals so close to the city (although I had seen a few of them in the small IPSCO nature park within Regina). Ten minutes later, after I had turned north at Balgonie to switch to the backroads, I came across another smaller herd - all of which were lying at their end of field. At my end of the field was a white Llama (2nd photo), also lying down. Because these animals can grow to 6-ft tall and weigh 450-lb as well as being very territorial, they have successfully been used to protect herds of sheep from predators like coyotes and wolves. That got me thinking that maybe it was the guardian of the Bison herd - but those beasts look like they can take care of themselves too!
When I stopped to take a few photos of the Llama, it slowly arose and then came directly over to the fence to check me out (3rd photo). It was only later that I found out that, when Llamas become annoyed, one of the first things they do is spit at you. Depending on how annoyed they are, they can reach deeper into their series of three stomachs to retrieve vile things to spit! We parted on the best of terms.