The small town of Outlook came about as a result of two Canadian Pacific Railway employees arriving there in late-August, 1908 and marvelling at the view they beheld across the South Saskatchewan River. Little more than a year later Outlook was a town and supplies to build a bridge across the river were rolling into the community. While the world's highest stone support abutments were constructed in the river, an existing CPR railway bridge in Lachine, Quebec (built in 1885) was taken apart and reassembled in 1912 on the abutments in Outlook as part of this new railway in western Canada. This 914-metre (3000 ft) long structure was finally retired from rail service in 1987 and was later converted to become part of the Trans-Canada Trail system, as well as becoming the longest pedestrian bridge in Canada.
On this particular day, I arrived in mid-February whilst all tourist facilities were closed down. This view of the stone and closer-in steel piers holding up the bridge was taken as I made the short walk from the tourist parking area up toward a small visitor's area on the east bank of the bridge. The 2nd photo shows the visitor information area, as well as the Canadian and Saskatchewan flags, as the footpath leads onto the bridge. Even though things were closed, the actual bridge itself was open for exploration (3rd photo). However, since I was only wearing my shoes, it was cold and I had a destination to reach in Alberta, I decided to save that walk for summer! The final distant overall view of the bridge was taken from the highway as I continued my journey westward to Alberta.
The South Saskatchewan River is actually part of a string of rivers starting with the Bow River in the Rockies of Alberta that flow for 1,939-km (1205-mi) before it empties into Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. From there, its waters eventually reach Hudson Bay via the Nelson River.
The first time I drove through Outlook I did not even realize that Canada's longest pedestrian footbridge was located there - I was on a mission to get to Alberta to perform my weekend house-building tasks. However, because I have always loved bridges, I did stop to have a look at the old highway bridge that crosses the South Saskatchewan River there. This is a distant view of that old orange steel structure as seen from the walking bridge on my February, 2008 trip through town. The 2nd photo shows it from the side of the highway in November, 2007 (before the river was frozen!) as I stopped prior to crossing the new concrete/steel bridge that replaced it.
I have not been able to find out much information on the old bridge, other than that it was closed in the mid-1990s after being damaged by a high truck load that struck its support members. The not-so-appealing new bridge cost $11 million and took two years to build, opening for traffic on October 8, 1998.
Although not as pretty a scene as you would encounter in the summer, with its green grass, golden fields and colourful flowers, I still had to stop and admire some of the many weather-beaten and decrepid buildings that kept coming into view as I drove along Highway 15 west of Outlook. This photo shows a typical conglomeration of old farm buildings and the results of the constant beating from the wind and temperatures they have to endure. Mixed in with the bunch is one of the newer type of grain storage bins - a circular steel one that is much more resistant to both rot and rodents!
A little further along was another old barn with a cute steeple to let the airs waft through its loft (2nd photo). In the old days, the smaller rectangular hay bales would be stored in structures like these and dragged out throughout the winter to feed the farmers herds. Nowadays, the hay bales are huge circular things like the one in the 3rd photo. They are so tightly packed that they are either stored outside in large rows or just left here and there in the fields and broken open for the animals as need be.
It was not long after I left Gardiner Dam heading east on Highway 44 before warning signs of 'broken pavement', 'slow down' and 'rough road' began to appear - despite the fact that my road map of Saskatchewan showed a perfectly normal 'red' road there. Sure enough, it soon turned into alternating patches of pavement with large potholes that had to be dodged or just completely unpaved sections with loose gravel. Luckily, the traffic was so light that I could weave back and forth across the entire highway as I dodged the various obstacles! The same thing happened to me on the first of my trips back from Alberta in November, 2007 when I decided to take a 'scenic' route to Regina via Highway 32 to Swift Current. That one was even worse and there were no indications on the map that it was any different than any of the other smooth 'red' highways I had been using. The worst part about those sections is flying rocks from on-coming vehicles cracking your windshield.
Anyway, both the car and I survived and I even managed to spot a lonely Coyote in a field beside the road - not far from Gardiner Dam and its power lines. By the time I stopped the car and dug my camera out, the animal had retreated quite a way but it turned sideways every so often to take a look at me. Later on, as the high clouds and late afternoon darkness continued to advance, I came to another typical example of old farm buildings including small grain storage sheds and a derelict windmill. Those sights plus the fact that the road returned to a normal surface after 17-km got me out of my grumpy mood over the potholes! Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on the province - after all, with 250,000-km (150,000-mi) of roads and highways, Saskatchewan has the most road surface to look after in all of Canada and it is second from the bottom in population density.
Saskatchewan is "The land of the living sky." It says so on the province's license plates.
Once, while hitchhiking from Courteney British Columbia to St. John's Newfoundland I was lucky enough to be picked up by Mr. John Buche.
John was kind enough to show me rural Saskatchewan and I was lucky enough to stay with his family for several days at the Buche homestead in Outlook Saskatchewan.
Outlook Saskatchewan is half way between Saskatoon and Regina. It is wheat country. And the farms stretch for miles.
Saskatchewan is dotted with small agricultural oriented towns like Outlook. Many have had their heyday and have grown much smaller as the youth move to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Edmonton and other large cities.
At one time there was a house on every quarter section around Outlook. Today you can drive for miles along the backroad and not see a settlement; Perhaps only an old abandoned church.
Close to Outlook is the Gardiner Dam and Lake Diefenbaker. They are on the South Saskatchewan River. Hydro electric power is generated at the dam site. The reservoir is used for summer and winter recreational activities; fishing, boating, iceskating etc.