Saskatoon’s River History Stories

Saskatoon’s River History by Canoe – September 2007

A keen, but diverse group including several University students, a young German couple, and several mid-aged friends offer their reminiscences of a perfect fall day – paddling, roasting corn, watching migrating birdlife and viewing the valley colors.

A Diverse Group of Paddlers on the South Saskatchewan River

A Diverse Group of Paddlers on the South Saskatchewan River

Indian Head Agricultural Students Ply the Scenic South Saskatchewan River

By Holly McLean, September 2007

University students on a fall day trip on the South Saskatchewan River

Holly, Erin, Natalie & Thomas enjoying a fall day on the South Saskatchewan River (Photo: Dominique Hurley)

We were ready for a day of canoeing as the late morning sun welcomed us onto the South Saskatchewan River. We were inexperienced, but willing to learn under the direction of our guides. For being not far from the City of Saskatoon, the morning atmosphere by the river was relaxing and quiet. It was beautiful with blue skies, gorgeous fall colors, high river banks and sandy beaches. We were entertained by migrating birds and chatter with fellow paddlers on the river. The mid-day stop for lunch was enjoyable with a delicious corn roast cooked over a camp fire. Jeff, our local historian shared “10,000 years of history” on the South Saskatchewan River as well as interesting facts about the area. The end point of the trip was at the scenic Berry Barn near Saskatoon. All told, the day proved to be a great opportunity to get outdoors and experience the Saskatchewan landscape!

I got to experience the gorgeous Saskatchewan scenery by canoe.

– Holly McLean Newport, Nova Scotia

The relaxing river and peaceful environment was a great get-away from everyday life.

– Erin Zahradka Winnipeg, Manitoba

It was a great adventure to finish off a glorious Saskatchewan summer.

– Natalie Ryan Edmonton, Alberta

The guided tour was an excellent way for me to discover the South Saskatchewan River and spend an enjoyable day outdoors.

– Thomas Ernst Edmonton, Alberta

German couple enjoying a fall day trip on the South Saskatchewan River

Gunnar & Yvonne Amidst Fall Colors on the South Saskatchewan River (Photo: Dominique Hurley)

Silence, Nature & History – A German View of Canadian Canoeing

By Gunnar Triltzsch

Although we have been to Saskatoon many times for business, we have never had the chance to visit the surrounding area. A canoe trip on the South Saskatchewan River, as advertised on the CanoeSki website, sounded like the perfect opportunity to see the scenery away from the city centre and the highway.

With only little canoeing experience, we started our trip with an introduction to the basic canoeing techniques and what to do if we were to fall into the river (As the river was at low water at that time of the year, standing up would have been sufficient to escape). All equipment was provided for the tour and seeing each other wearing brightly colored life vests was already the start of the fun.

Once we embarked on the river and managed to stay on course using our newly acquired paddle strokes, we could relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery adorned with brilliant fall colors and blue sky. The view from the river really was a different perspective and the absolute silence around us was quite an experience. When we booked the tour, we were hoping to see some of the wildlife living close to the river and we were not disappointed: many migrating Canada and Snow Geese were taking a break on the river banks and it was quite a sight to see a flock of them take off or land on the river and to hear their chatter. Moreover, we saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree right next to the river and a kingfisher flying by.

A fall corn roast on the South Saskatchewan River bank

You can roast more than corn on a campfire! (photo: Dominique Hurley)

For lunch we stopped on the river bank and Cliff, our guide, prepared a fire for a traditional corn roast together with his team. This was our first corn roast and we found it extremely delicious! After the meal we listened to a “Short History of Time”, a summary of the local history of the river and its people from the ice age to the founding of the City given by Jeff, a historian from Saskatoon. Also, for the remainder of the trip, Jeff entertained us with short stories about historic events connected to the section of the river we were paddling. Whoever said that history can’t be fun, hasn’t met Jeff yet!

On the last part of the trip, Cliff did an excellent job guiding us through the maze of small channels and sand islands, which offered lots of dead end opportunities to follow. Apart from one or two times, when our canoe got grounded on a sand bar (which added a good part of adventure to the trip), we made it quite smoothly through the low water and finally landed our canoes at the exit point, which came much too early for our taste. It really was a wonderful day, close to nature as we hoped it would be and a truly Canadian experience for us. We’re looking forward to doing a longer canoe trip one day and can definitely recommend this trip to anyone.

Three Good Friends Try a New Adventure

By Doreen, Colleen & Lee

On the CanoeSki River History canoe trip on the South Saskatchewan River

Sisters Doreen & Colleen, part of the threesome looking for adventure (Photo: Dominique Hurley)

Three young women (50ish) looking for adventure, set out on a canoe trip. On a beautiful September morn, you could not have asked for a more perfect day. The air was warm, the sun was bright and the water offered a calm and peaceful welcome. Cliff Speer and his highly organized crew started us off, 22 km up river with the safety do’s and don’ts of canoeing. After a short period of time, we learned to keep our legs in the canoe, balance and maneuver our vessel.

There were eight canoes in the water ferrying seventeen individuals; experience ranged from first-timers to well experienced voyageurs. We enjoyed the tranquil sound of the paddles as they entered and exited the water enabling us to power our own means of transportation. We witnessed sand owls, shore birds, majestic eagles and more. Part way down river, we stopped for a well earned delicious shore lunch, and enjoyed listening to Jeff our local archivist giving us the history of the river and its surroundings.

This is certainly one adventure we will be taking again, as every bend in the river offered us a breathtaking new view!