River Trails of 1885 Canoe Trips – South Saskatchewan River (1 & 2-day trips)

River Trails of 1885 Canoe Trip: Petite Ville & Batoche (1-day)
Trip Overview

South Saskatchewan River near Batoche

Late afternoon light on the South Saskatchewan River near Batoche (Photo: Jeff O’Brien)

This one-day trip is a historical journey revisiting important sites and events that occurred along the South Saskatchewan River during the 1885 Northwest Resistance. We launch the canoe trip at Petite Ville, a provincially recognized archaeological site, about a 45 minute drive north of Saskatoon. After getting acquainted with the history of the semi-nomadic Métis bison hunters who occupied this winter encampment during the early 1870’s, we begin our river trip toward Batoche. Paddling downstream for several kilometres, we encounter Gabriel’s Crossing where Gabriel Dumont, Louis Riel’s military commander, operated a ferry during the late 1870’s, now replaced by Gabriel’s Bridge connecting the town of Rosthern with the Batoche region.

Our river trip continues downstream to the site of the historic Batoche ferry crossing where the Northcote steamer, pressed into military service by General Middleton, was disabled by Métis fighters. Also at this river crossing, the junction of the historic Carlton Trail connects Batoche with Fort Carlton on the North Saskatchewan River. We end the river trip here with a hike up the Carlton Trail to the National Historic Site where the Battle of Batoche took place. We will tour the site and take in the Parks Canada multimedia presentation on the 1885 Uprising.

In addition to the many historical attractions, our canoeing route has lots of natural appeal. The valley scenery is varied from low grassy terraces on the inside river bends to steeply wooded banks with deep coulees and natural springs flowing from the outside bends. The most likely encounters with wildlife will involve larger birds such as American Pelicans and Great Blue Herons. Also, Bald Eagles are occasionally observed in the river valley.

Trip Details
Duration: 1 day
Scheduled Dates:
2017
July 16
Aug 13
Sept 2
Custom departure dates for groups can be arranged.
Geographic Area: South Saskatchewan River – Batoche region
Nearest Communities: Rosthern, Saskatchewan Canada
Paddling Venue: River flatwater with mild current
Adventure Rating: Novice – a modest degree of fitness and upper body conditioning will help prepare you for paddling and portaging
Minimum Age: 14
Paddling Distance: 20 km (12 mi.)
Hiking Distance: 2 km (1.2 mi.)
Price per Person: $175 plus 5% GST

Booking Info

Gabriel's Crossing and Bridge over the South Saskatchewan River

Gabriel’s Crossing in 1885 and Gabriel’s Bridge today over the South Saskatchewan River

Itinerary

The day trip begins with an early morning departure from the CanoeSki base in Saskatoon. We head north to the town of Rosthern and then east on highway 312 toward the river. The access to Petite Ville where we launch the canoe trip is via grid roads and a scenic pastureland trail with spectacular overviews of the South Saskatchewan River valley. The Métis inhabitants of Petite Ville abandoned the site in the mid-1870’s, so it is now a provincially designated archaeological site. Upon learning a bit about the area, we begin paddling downstream toward Batoche. The first notable landmark on our river route is Gabriel’s Bridge, named after Louis Riel’s famous military commander during the 1885 Northwest Resistance. A few kilometres further we stop for a picnic lunch on the riverbank.

The rest of the afternoon is spent paddling to the junction of the Carlton Trail at the former Batoche East Village. Here we exchange our paddles for hiking shoes and follow the historic trail past remnants and interpretive panels relating to the Village. It is about a 2 km hike to get to the main Parks Canada interpretive centre where we take in the multimedia presentation and a guided tour of Batoche National Historic Site. Following the Batoche tour, we load the van and head back to Saskatoon, arriving about suppertime.

Paddling Distance – 20 km (12 mi).
Hiking Distance – 2 km (1.2 mi).

Hiking the Carlton Trail to Batoche

Paddlers hiking the Carlton Trail up to the Parks Canada  Batoche interpretive centre

Package Includes:

  • Canoeing and safety equipment
  • Pre-trip paddling & safety briefings
  • National Park entry fees
  • Nutritious riverbank picnic lunch
  • Certified instructor/guide
  • Historic and cultural interpretive activities at Petite Ville & Batoche
  • Return transportation by passenger van from Saskatoon

Prices shown in Canadian Dollars; applicable taxes extra
Advance booking required, subject to availability

To book your space on this trip, please see Registration

Packing List, Liability Waiver and Detailed Trip Info – contact Cliff Speer 306-653-5693 or cliff@canoeski.com


River Trails of 1885 Canoe Trip: Fish Creek & Batoche (2-day)

Trip Overview

Petite Ville Archaeological Site

Archaeologist Butch Amundson tells the story of Petite Ville Provincial Historical and Archaeological Site.

This 2-day version of the River Trails of 1885 Canoe Trip adds to the River Trails day trip with a starting point one day’s paddle further upstream on the South Saskatchewan River, plus one more short hike to another National Historic Site and an overnight wilderness style camp at Petite Ville archaeological site.

The canoe trip starts at the Hague Ferry about a half hour’s drive north of Saskatoon. From there we paddle downstream till we encounter the National Historic Site where the Canadian militia first engaged the Métis forces at Tourond’s Coulee/Fish Creek. There we hike the trail up to Middleton’s Camp where the general retired his soldiers to await reinforcements after suffering an ambush in the creek coulee by a small contingent of Gabriel Dumont’s fighters. Back on the river, we carry on paddling past the former village of Fish Creek with its ancient landmark church, deteriorating with disuse. The paddling day ends at our wilderness riverbank campsite at Petite Ville, the archaeological site of an 1870’s-era Métis wintering village.

The second day follows the same path as the 1-day River Trails of 1885 canoe trip, taking us downstream past Gabriel’s Crossing, site of a former river ferry and store operated in 1885 by famous Métis fighter Gabriel Dumont. In early afternoon, we reach the historic Batoche ferry crossing where the Northcote steamer, pressed into military service by General Middleton, was disabled by Métis fighters. Also at this river crossing the junction of the historic Carlton Trail connects Batoche with Fort Carlton on the North Saskatchewan River. We end the river trip with a hike up the trail to the National Historic Site where the Battle of Batoche took place. We will tour the site and take in the Parks Canada multimedia presentation on the 1885 Uprising.

In addition to the many historical attractions, our canoeing route has lots of natural appeal. The valley scenery is varied from low grassy terraces on the inside river bends to steeply wooded banks with deep coulees and natural springs flowing from the outside bends. The most likely encounters with wildlife will be with larger birds such as American Pelicans and Great Blue Herons. Also, Bald Eagles are occasionally observed in the river valley.

Trip Details
Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Scheduled Dates: 2017 July 15-16
Aug 12-13
Custom departure dates for groups can be arranged.
Geographic Area: South Saskatchewan River – Batoche region
Nearest Communities: Rosthern, Saskatchewan Canada
Paddling Venue: River flatwater with mild current
Adventure Rating: Novice – a modest degree of fitness and upper body conditioning will help prepare you for paddling and portaging
Minimum Age: 14
Paddling Distance: 41 km (25 mi.)
Accommodation: Wilderness camping in storm-proof nylon tents
Price per Person: $415 plus 5% GST

Booking Info

Itinerary

Batoche Church and Cemetery

St. Antoine de Padoue Church and Cemetery at Batoche National Historic Site

Day 1 will involve an early morning departure from the CanoeSki base in Saskatoon driving to the canoe launch point at the Hague Ferry about a half hour’s drive north of Saskatoon. Shortly after lunch on the riverbank we reach the trail that takes us up to the National Historic Site at Tourond’s Coulee/Fish Creek. From the river trailhead, it is another 8 km to the abandoned village of Fish Creek and its derelict but photogenic old church. Petite Ville is another 3 km downstream of Fish Creek, where we pull off the river to establish an evening campsite. An optional after-supper hike can be taken to reach the ridge top to capture a panoramic view of the South Saskatchewan River Valley.

Paddling Distance Day 1 – 21 km (12.5 mi).
Hiking Distance – 1.5 km (at F. Creek) plus 2 km (at P. Ville) Total 3.5 km (2 mi.)

Day 2 will take us downstream past Gabriel’s Bridge on highway 312 and on to Batoche. We arrive at the junction of the Carlton Trail in early afternoon, leave the canoes and hike the scenic trail past the former East Village of Batoche and up the valley slope to the Batoche National Historic Site headquarters. There we take in the museum and theatre presentation and join a guided tour of the site. By late afternoon, we load the gear and head back to Saskatoon, arriving in the City around suppertime.

Paddling Distance Day 2 – 20 km (12 mi).
Hiking Distance – 2 km (1.2 mi).

A CanoeSki tour group on the South Saskatchewan River

A CanoeSki group drifting downriver somewhere near Batoche

Package Includes:

  • Canoeing and safety equipment
  • Pre-trip paddling & safety briefings
  • Nylon tents
  • Waterproof packs for personal items & clothing
  • Park entry & camping fees
  • Nutritious meals prepared over an open fire
  • Certified instructor/guide
  • Historic and cultural interpretive activities at Fish Creek & Batoche
  • Return transportation by passenger van from Saskatoon

Prices shown in Canadian Dollars; applicable taxes extra
Advance booking required, subject to availability

To book your space on this trip, please see Registration

Packing List, Liability Waiver and Detailed Trip Info – contact Cliff Speer 306-653-5693 or cliff@canoeski.com


River Trails of 1885 Trip Tale

Brad Lefebvre

Exploring the Historic River Trails of 1885 by Brad Lefebvre, August 2010

A penchant for Saskatchewan history and outdoor adventure inspired Humboldt resident and businessman Brad Lefebvre and his sons to join a group of CanoeSki paddlers on the South Saskatchewan River. He sums up his river encounter with the 1885 North West Resistance this way>>>

River Trails of 1885 Media Stories

Gabriel’s Country by Allan Casey
Westworld Magazine summer 2012
Story Line: This historical river trails adventure trip includes a professional archaeologist telling stories of the Métis and their bison hunting military strategist, Gabriel Dumont. “There is no better way to understand the Métis circa 1885 than to peer into the life of this remarkable man who has been called a 19th century Che Guevara”, Casey writes.

Battle Still Reverberates by Peter Wilson
Saskatoon Star Phoenix July 3, 2010
Story Line: The CanoeSki River Trails of 1885 canoe trips explore the battle sites of the North West Resistance, including a hike to General Middleton’s camp at Fish Creek/Tourond’s Coulee.

For more stories involving major players in the 1885 drama, archival photos, a map of locations and events and much more, see the Star Phoenix May 13, 2010 special coverage commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Northwest Resistance.

Cairn at Middleton's Battle Camp at Tourond's Coulee/Fish Creek

Cairn at Middleton’s Battle Camp at Tourond’s Coulee/Fish Creek