Moose Jaw: murals and more ....
Moose Jaw is a nice destination for day trip from Regina, about 75 km’s away. The first thing to enjoy is the drive over Highway 1. For me as a Dutchman it is incredible to drive such a straight road; it is just like a ruler through the plains of Saskatchewan. Driving these road you do understand while all cars in Canada do have cruise control; it is so empty and you don't see hardly cars.
Moose Jaw has a couple of interesting sites for tourists. There are the “Temple Gardens Mineral Spa” with water up to 40º C. Nearby is a casino. On the main street you will find the famous “tunnels”. During a guided tour you get a good impression of the way Chinese ‘slaves’ did work and live under the ground in very bad circumstances. Other tunnels were used by gangsters for smuggling alcohol into the States.
But Moose Jaw is perhaps most famous for its murals. About 40 buildings are decorated with (mostly) historical pictures about Moose Jaw and Regina. They can be found on buildings in town. Get a map with this murals at Tourism Moose Jaw, 50 Diefenbaker Drive.
Oh, there is a lovely tearoom/giftshop called Cranberry Rose, 436 Langdon Crescent !!!
- Road Trip
Back to the Industrial Age
If you are interested in history, old buidlings and equipment or just looking for a good day trip from Regina, the Claybank Brick Plant Historical Site is a good place to check out. This is a national heritage site that is approximately 1 hour from Regina so would be a good day trip, especially if you combined it with golfing at nearby Long Creek (see Golfing in Things To Do).
My dad worked here until the plant closed down so I am intimately familiar with the buildings and operations of this historical plant and have always found it fascinating. Since the closing, a lot of heritage money has been pumped into this site to upgrade the buildings and make it into a very interesting tourist site.
Rather than paraphrasing what this site is all about, check out the website link for lots more information.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Just enjoy St. Nicholas Church
This little wooden church is situated in the Qu'Apelle Valley, east of Craven nearby Lumsden. Take road '99' from Craven and you can not miss this lovely church.
Stroll around and look at the old tombstones and off course take a look inside this simple wooden church. This is the oldest remaining church of Saskatchewan.
But most of all: enjoy the quietness of this spot.
From Regina tahe Highway 11 to Lumsden, turn off and take highway 20 to the north, in Craven highway 99 to the east and after a couple of km's you will see the church on your right hand side on the other side of the valley.
- Road Trip
A lot more industrialized than I had realized
The electrical contracting and consulting company that I'm now working for in Regina does a great deal of business with various heavy industries in western Canada. We provide technicians and electricians to help out with the hands-on work during planned shutdowns or emergency breakdowns as well as engineering services dealing with protective relaying and also studies to protect the workers from the life-threatening effects of electrical arc flashes.
Once I began to visit some of our customers, I realized just how heavily industrialized Regina and all of Saskatchewan really is. The IPSCO Steel Mill on the edge of Regina is the largest in western Canada, using two electric arc furnaces to melt huge bits of scrap metal and then pouring it out of giant ladles, like the one shown here, to forge the steel into wire, pipes and giant slabs (such as in the 2nd photo). The 3rd photo gives an overall view of the mill, with the -20 C winter weather making the steam and smoke seem more dramatic than usual!
Within eyesight of IPSCO is another of Regina's industrial sites - the Consumers Cooperative Refinery (4th photo) which started operations in 1935 and has expanded over the years to its present capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil per day. We are currently working with them on plans for a larger emergency diesel generator to supply essential services in the event of a power outage.
Since Canada is the largest producer of potash (used for fertilizer) in the world, the 5th photo showing the Belle Plaine mine west of Regina should come as no surprise. It is unusual in that it mines by drilling and then injecting water up to about 5000-ft deep into the salt deposits, causing the salt to dissolve and form a huge underground cavern. The briney mixture is then pumped to the surface where it is evaporated into solid potash. We are investigating another job there to upgrade their huge electrically operated drills and pumps.
- Road Trip
- Business Travel
Buffalo Pound Provincial Park – with buffalo
Buffalo Pound Provincial Park is named after a ‘buffalo pound’, which was used by the first nations of the Canadian plains for hunting buffalo. In the park were once areas were the hunter corralled the animals. The plains bison were reintroduced to the park in 1972.
We visited Buffalo Provincial Park during autumn and ‘of course’ couldn’t use the summer amenities like a swimming pool, beaches, camp- and playgrounds, but still there was a possibility to make some walks in this scenic landscape of Buffalo lake and the surrounding rolling prairie hills, dotted with yellow coloured trees.
We started our walk(s) from the car park close to the lookout tower. First we hiked the ‘Bison Trail’, more or less along a buffalo paddocks. But we did see ‘our’ buffalo from the lookout tower; a herd of about 30 of these grazing ‘monsters’. (It is possible to walk to the Nicolle Homestead.)
After returning to the car park we did also the ‘Marsh Boardwalk’ into the wetlands of Nicolle Flat. The boardwalk through reed and cat tails ended in the middle of the Nicolle Flat Marsh on a place called ‘A Room with a View’. Ideally located for viewing (water)birds.
From Regina: Highway 1 to Moose Jaw, a couple of km’s before turn off to the right on highway 301, follow the signs.
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Big Muddy Badlands, remote and impressive
The Big Muddy Badlands were formed thousands and thousand of years ago in the last ice age, when the Wisconsin Glacier began retreating. Melt water from the glacier eroded this area into ‘badlands’. Nowadays this remote valley, once part of this glacial melt water system, is on some spots about 3 km’s wide, has a length of 60 km’s and a depth of 160 metres.
Big Muddy Badlands (or valley) is one of the most remote, rugged and driest areas of the Province of Saskatchewan. We visited it (by car) from Regina after a drive of about 160 km’s through the impressive vast plains.
Driving along Highway 34, still through the prairies, a sign along the road ‘Big Muddy Valley’ told us we were approaching the badlands. And suddenly the road descended rather steep into the cleft. The first eroded hills were visible and we made a short detour on one of the gravel roads trying to come closer to this spectacular scenery.
At the bottom of the valley another sign (which stands rather far away from the road, so we missed it initially) indicated the road to ‘Castle Butte’. This gravel road leaded us about 6 km’s into the badlands till Castle Butte; a 60 metres high ‘rock’ of clay and sandstone, which rises from the flat valley floor. From a distance it looked like a solid rock, but up close we could see the deep eroded clay slopes. It is almost remarkable the whole hill isn’t washed down during the past years.
We climbed to the top (be aware it is very steep on some places) and were awarded by fantastic views over the impressive scenery of the Big Muddy Valley.
This road is about the only way to see more of the Big Muddy Badlands if you are not on a guided tour; more sights are mostly on private land. Guided tours are just available from early June to early September and leave the village of Coronach already at 9.30 am (for info www.bigmuddybadlands.com).
From Regina (about 160 km's) to the south: highway 6 > highway 13 > highway 6; about 19 km's south of Bengough and 12 km's north of Big Beaver.
- Road Trip
Fort Qu’Appelle – fish and lake
Driving from Regina through Highway 10, we suddenly descended into the Qu’Appelle River Valley and reached the little village of Fort Qu’Appelle. These valleys are the ‘negative’ hills of Saskatchewan, which is not as flat as a lot of people think. Another proof: Fort Qu’Appelle offers during winter time down hill skiing !!
Fort Qu’Appelle is ‘surrounded’ by four lakes: Katepwa, Mission, Echo and Pasqua Lake and is one of the most popular destinations in South Saskatchewan for water sports and beach activities. The village itself offers all kinds of facilities, it has the Fort Qu’Appelle Museum, with the story of the history of the region, some galleries/artisans and a pottery. During the summer months every Saturday morning goes a Farmer’s Market.
On the South shore of Echo Lake ( 5 or 6 km’s from the village) lies the Saskatchewan Fish Culture Station. This fish hatchery raises fish from eggs to the adult stage, which are then distributed to various fish and lakes in the region. In the summer and during weekdays there are guided tours with free admission.
Directions: about 1 hour drive from Regina through Highway 10.
- Water Sports
Condie Nature Refuge
This is just a small nature park in the middle of the Saskatchewan plains. The heart of the park is the dammed Boggy Creek by Canadian National railways to create a water reservoir for their steam engines. Nowadays a place to observe waterfowl and other birds, as well as marshland and grasslands habitats with native plants.
Within Condie Nature Refuge are some trails and a picnic site. It is open all year and is free of charge.
Directions: 14 km Northwest of Regina along Highway 11, off at exit A.
- Hiking and Walking
A Wild Ride!
As part of the RCMP graduation festivities, we were taken for a high speed ride around their driver training course, complete with screeching tires through hairpin turns! This is done in a typical 'souped-up' cruiser used for highway patrol duties, like this one, equipped with a high performance engine, special suspension and heavy duty brakes. It is quite a thrill accelerating down the straightaways and braking at the last moment to negotiate the various obstacles between you and the next straightaway.
- Family Travel
Prairie pioneer life
The Motherwell Homestead is situated approximately 1 hour Northeast of Regina Follow ‘Highway 10’ till the turnoff for Abernethy. You will step back in time in this prairie homestead of western Canada’s settlement period.
On the site you will find the old Italian-style house from stones, as well as a huge barn and some old farm machinery.
Gift shop and restaurant.
On your way back you may stop in Fort Qu’Appelle and take a visit to the fish hatchery on the south bank of Echo Lake.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
'Wild' animals just outside Regina
Next to the Ipsco plant you find some grazing buffalo’s and deer in their paddocks.
On the same grounds is also a heated swimming pool (for the kids).
Ideal if you are travelling with children, but also a nice stop on your way North or Northwest
Situated: along ‘Highway 11’ to Saskatoon just outside Regina.
Step into a country pace
Leave Regina over ‘Highway 11’ and after 30 km’s you will find the ‘Lumsden exit’. Even better you take halfway the exit (left) for Deer Valley. Take a look at Condie Nature Refuge and Deer Valley Resort and drive through the amazing plains to Lumsden.
Suddenly you descend into a lovely valley and ‘step into the country pace’ of Lumsden.
On the main street you will find some beautiful houses, shops, a good art gallery (old post office) and a café/restaurant in the old station. Lumsden has lots of craftspeople.
Some km’s to the North on ‘Highway 11’ is another exit to Regina Beach.
Lovely beach and the best ‘fish and chips’ shop of SK.
Echo Valley Provincial Park
Regina is kind of "off-the-beaten-track" itself, but alright...
Echo Valley lies about 50 km north-east of Regina, just west of Fort Qu' Appelle. It consists of a huge lake (where the people dig a hole in the 1 meter-thick ice to fish) and some trails around it.
Not in Regina and therefore...
Not in Regina and therefore included as 'Off the Beaten Path,' John's Country Cafe offers specialty coffees and a wide assortment of soups, sandwiches and desserts in Swift Current.
The Mountie Museum... if you're already in Regina, you might as well go. What else are you going to do?
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