1. Saskatoon has been inhabited for at least 6,000 years.
Saskatoon, the Canadian city known as the ‘Paris of the Prairies’ because of its seven bridges, was a major meeting place 4,000 years before the European city was founded. Though European settlers first arrived in the area along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River in 1883, First Nations peoples had been gathering in the Opimihaw Creek Valley just to the north for thousands of years. Ancient arrowheads, pottery fragments, bison and other animal bones, stone tools and tipi rings have been discovered around Wanuskewin Heritage Park.
2. Saskatoon is where field nurses were first recognized as a part of Canada’s military.
During the Northwest Resistance of 1885, the government forces set up a field hospital in one of the city’s first houses owned by the Marr family. From April to July, wounded soldiers were brought back from the battles at Fish Creek and Batoche to be looked after by the doctors and nurses who had traveled from as far as Winnipeg or Ontario to help. These nurses were the first ever to be recognized as a component of Canada’s military field forces. Very big for the time and place, this two-storey, Second-Empire-style home with its mansard roof and dormer windows provided a great deal of space in which to tend to suffering soldiers.
Today, the Marr Residence is a historic site. Visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like for the city’s earliest settlers. Check out the second-floor room that has been set up to resemble the field hospital as it would have looked in 1885.
3. In less than 150 years, Saskatoon has gone from ‘No Fun’ to ‘So Fun’.
In 1882, the Temperance Colonization Society in Ontario received a grant of land from the Canadian government. A site was selected and surveyed on the South Saskatchewan River and settlers began arriving the following year. What originally began as a teetotalling colony has become the home of Great Western Brewing, several microbreweries and Lucky Bastard Distillers not to mention the many night clubs, bars, and licensed restaurants. The city has one of the highest rates of restaurants per capita in the country! Try some of Prairie Sun’s Crazy Farm Ale, 9 Mile Legacy’s Saskatoon Berry Blonde, or Paddock Wood’s Saskatcheweizen.
4. Saskatoon is Canada’s Coffee Capital.
Saskatoon has the most Tim Horton’s per capita of any city in Canada. That means that the morning after your fun-filled night in the City of Bridges, you will have no trouble finding a double-double and a few Timbits.
5. Saskatoon has Canada’s only perogy drive-thru.
Prairie people love their perogies, which are a staple of any Saskatchewan diet. These delicious dumplings can be filled with sauerkraut, mushrooms, or berries but, by far the favourite filling, is potatoes and cheese. You can grab some of these tasty treats as takeout at the drive-thru window of one enterprising Saskatoon restaurant, Baba’s Homestyle Perogies. Baba’s menu also includes cabbage rolls, borscht and smokies.
6. Saskatoon is one of sunniest spots in Canada.
As the city’s slogan states, ‘Saskatoon Shines’! Whatever the season, whether the ground is cloaked in snowy white or graced with green grass, the sky overhead is likely to be filled with sunshine. The city’s residents enjoy an average 2,381 hours of sunshine every year, a fact which undoubtedly contributes to their sunny dispositions! If you are looking for a place to soak up the sun, visit one of the city’s 198 parks or drive out to the beach at nearby Pike Lake Provincial Park.
7. Saskatoon has one of the country’s best hiking trails.
Another great way to enjoy the city’s many sunshine-filled days is to hike, walk, jog or cycle the Meewasin Trail. Winding 80 kilometres along either side of the South Saskatchewan River, the Meewasin Trail passes through numerous parks, natural areas, and even downtown. Twenty kilometres of the trail forms part of the Trans Canada Trail, which when completed will be 22,000 kilometres long and cross the country from coast-to-coast.
8. Every summer, Shakespeare journeys from Stratford-upon-Avon to Saskatoon-upon-Saskatchewan.
Another summer stop along the Meewasin Trail is PotashCorp’s Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival held each year from June to August. Every year, local actors produce two of the Bard’s plays. Sometimes these productions are done in a traditional manner but other times they adopt a contemporary setting that truly reveals the timeless nature of the English playwright’s masterpieces.
9. Saskatoon has a thriving music scene.
Saskatoon is a city that supports its singers, songwriters, and musicians. Hard-core rocker Reignwolf (aka Jordan Cook) is the latest Saskatoon musician to capture the attention of a national and even international audience. He follows the likes of Joni Mitchell, The Northern Pikes, The Sheepdogs, One Bad Son and The Deep Dark Woods. Many of these artists got their start playing in such local bars as Buds on Broadway, Louis’ Pub, and Amigos Cantina. Stop by any of these establishments and listen to the city’s up-and-coming musical talent.
10. The world’s largest snowball fight was held in Saskatoon.
Every winter, it snows in Saskatoon. The landscape turns white and, though the sun still shines, it can get very cold at times. However, this doesn’t stop the local people from going outside and having fun. Hockey is big in Saskatoon, the city where Gordie Howe (‘Mr. Hockey’) himself grew up. Indoor and outdoor rinks can be found throughout the city during the winter. There are also miles of cross-country ski trails to enjoy. In 2016, the largest snowball fight ever took place in Diefenbaker Park in Saskatoon with 7,681 people getting in on the action. So, don’t let some snow stop you from getting some exercise and enjoyment — the locals certainly don’t!