Taking a Stroll in Saskatoon: A River Runs through it
February 26, 2018 | Jasmine Liska
Saskatoon—a city defined by the river that flows through it. The river allows the urban to mix with the wild. It’s a conduit for animals, a playground for people, and the best way to explore the city that will host this year’s Editors Canada conference (May 25 to 27).
Much has been written about Saskatoon recently, so to (mostly) avoid repetition, I want to take you on a tour of some of my favourite places along the river.
The first stop on this tour, and on most visitors’ lists, is the world-famous Remai Modern, our breathtaking new public art gallery. Located on the Meewasin Valley Trail, its expansive interior contains eleven galleries and houses a collection of nearly 8,000 pieces. In addition to visiting the exhibitions, check out the array of live programming designed to help the public engage more fully with contemporary art.
The nearby downtown is filled with incredible restaurants, many of which feature local ingredients, but for those wanting to enjoy the downtown scenery (and people-watch), I suggest a local beer on Cathedral Social Hall’s patio (try one from Swift Current’s Black Bridge or Saskatoon’s 9 Mile—you won’t be disappointed) and an ice cream from Bus Stop Refreshments on a bench in Kiwanis Park. Perfect.
Continuing downstream, you’ll find the Prairie Lily, our riverboat, which is a great way to see the city from a different perspective (and acquaint yourself with the local beaver population). Watching the sun set from the water is an experience that cannot be beat.
A few blocks from the Prairie Lily’s dock is City Perk, my go-to coffee shop when I need a bright, bustling place to write. I like to snag a bar stool at the window, and I can recommend everything on the menu. Their scones are particularly memorable.
If you continue travelling downstream, you’ll eventually reach Wanuskewin, an area with over 6,000 years of Indigenous history. It features a gallery for Indigenous artists, interpretive programming, and six kilometres of trails, a must-see for visitors to Saskatoon. While you can take the Meewasin Valley trail, it is a bit of a walk (about fifteen kilometres), so I suggest driving if you can.
If you choose to stay closer to the city, crossing the river on the Train Bridge—not for the acrophobic—will afford you not only beautiful views of the weir and the pelicans that fish near it, but will also take you to a more natural portion of the riverbank near the University of Saskatchewan. The smooth path overlooks downtown as it snakes its way through native grasses and chokecherry bushes. Keep your camera handy.
Nearby, the University’s collegial gothic architecture makes it one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada. I recommend seeing the Inuit art collection in the Edwards School of Business and visiting the Canadian Light Source, the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum of Antiquities, and any of the many art galleries. Or just sitting on the grass in the Bowl and taking in the surroundings.
Further upstream, you’ll find Broadway, an area filled with art, shops, and restaurants. Here, I’d suggest a wood-fired pizza from Il Secondo, a latte from Museo, and, if you’re willing to trust your GPS, a croissant from Venn Coffee Roasters. For those looking for a souvenir, the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s boutique is filled with fine Saskatchewan craft.
Finally, if you haven’t had enough food yet, check out Homestead Ice Cream on Victoria Avenue, which has over forty flavours of ice cream, including the very Saskatchewan dill-pickle flavour. It gets busy here on warm evenings, so I like to go early (and often).
Thanks for accompanying me for this short and not-at-all-comprehensive snapshot of Saskatoon. For your own, come to the conference… and plan to stay a while.