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Nearly 300,000 people live in and around Saskatoon, making it the largest city in Saskatchewan. It was founded in 1882 as a temperance colony, or colony that prohibited the use or sale of alcohol. The name Saskatoon comes from the sweet, violet-colored berries in the area known as saskatoon berries. The city is famous for its river crossings and is sometimes called "Paris of the Prairies" or the "City of Bridges." Saskatoon is home to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that traces the First Nations history in the region back over 6,000 years.

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Located on the virtually treeless prairies of central Saskatchewan, Regina is the capital and second largest city of Saskatchewan. Originally named Wacaba, the Cree word for buffalo bones, it was renamed "Regina" after Queen Victoria. "Regina" is the Latin word for queen. Regina was made capital of Saskatchewan in 1906. In 1912, most of Regina was destroyed by a powerful tornado called the Regina Cyclone. The tornado killed 28 people, making it the deadliest tornado in Canadian history. According to legend, however, one of Regina's most popular attractions was born from the disaster. Determined to build a structure for his wife that could withstand tornadoes, Francis Nicholson Darke commissioned the finest stone masons to build a fortress in downtown Regina modeled after a medieval European castle - complete with a bomb shelter in the basement. Today, Stone Hall Castle is the only medieval castle in Canada and is one of its most famous attractions.


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Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw is the fourth largest city in Saskatchewan. Residents of the city are called "Moose Javians." It is unclear how the city got its name. One theory posits that a section of the Moose Jaw River that runs through the city is shaped like the jaw of a moose.

Interestingly, the city of Moose Jaw has a network of underground tunnels built in 1908 that were supposed to support a steam engineering project. The project was ultimately abandoned, but the tunnels were used to hide Chinese railway workers who could not pay the Canadian "head tax," or, who were subject to discrimination and violence from White workers who feared that Chinese workers were displacing them. In the 1920s, the tunnels were supposedly used to illegally store alcohol destined for the United States during Prohibition, earning the city the nickname "Little Chicago." Chicago gangster Al Capone was even said to have visited the tunnels. Today, the "Tunnels of Moose Jaw" is a popular tourist attraction.


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Lake Athabasca

Lake Athabasca is a large lake in northwestern Saskatchewan and northeastern Alberta, although 74 percent of the lake is in Saskatchewan. The name Athabasca is a Cree word meaning "there are plants one after another." Covering an area of about 3,000 square miles, it is the eighth largest lake in Canada. It is about 176 miles long and at its widest is 31 miles. Its maximum depth is 407 feet.

Lake Athabasca was heavily contaminated in the 1980s by gold and uranium mining operations that were staged along its shores. In 2013, the lake was further contaminated by over 250 million gallons of wastewater from a coal mining operation.

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Reindeer Lake

Reindeer Lake is a large lake on the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border. 92 percent of the lake is in Saskatchewan. In the past, great herds of caribou, also called reindeer, would descend upon the shores of the lake during their migration, which is how the lake got its name. Reindeer Lake covers an area of about 2,180 square miles, making it the ninth largest lake in Canada. It has a maximum depth of 719 feet and an average depth of about 56 feet.

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Prince Albert National Park

Located in central Saskatchewan, about fifty miles north of the town of Prince Albert, Prince Albert National Park was established in 1927 to protect the region's pristine lakes and boreal forests. The park is famous for its three large lakes and excellent fishing opportunities. Not surprisingly, Prince Albert National Park is a sanctuary for wildlife including a free-ranging herd of about 400 bison, wolves, black bears, otters, beavers, loons, eagles, and one of Canada's largest breeding populations of white pelicans.

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Grasslands National Park

Established in 1981, Grasslands National Park protects the region's expansive prairies on the northern boundary of the Great Plains. It is one of Canada's last remaining pristine stretches of mixed-grass/shortgrass prairie grassland and its only national park dedicated to grasslands. Grasslands National Park is the home of Canada's last remaining population of black-tailed prairie dogs. It is also home to wild bison, pronghorns, burrowing owls, sage grouse, and even the occasional wolverine or grizzly bear.

Grasslands National Park is one of Canada's dark sky preserves. A dark sky preserve is a nocturnal environment that has exceptional views of stars at night. Because it is dominated by grasslands, the sky appears especially expansive at Grasslands National Park. For this reason, it is known to be the darkest of Canada's dark sky preserves.

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Qu' Appelle River

The Qu' Appelle River is one of southern Saskatchewan's principal rivers. Rising from Lake Diefenbaker, the Qu' Appelle flows about 270 miles into the Assiniboine River in Manitoba. The river derives its name from a Cree spirit legend told to French fur traders. According to legend, the Cree people would hear voices along the river which sounded like "Who is Calling?" Qui Appelle is French for "who is calling?" The Cree would respond and the call would echo back.

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South Saskatchewan River

South Saskatchewan River

The South Saskatchewan River rises at the confluence of the Bow and Oldman Rivers and flows 865 miles to its mouth in the Saskatchewan River. Both the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers are tributaries of the much smaller Saskatchewan River.

For much of its history, the South Saskatchewan River would completely freeze in the winter, creating dangerous conditions in its port cities of Saskatoon and Medicine Hat, Alberta. In the 1960s, the construction of the Gardiner Dam diverted much of the water to the Qu' Appelle River, mitigating the danger.

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North Saskatchewan River

The North Saskatchewan River is a glacier-fed river that rises in Alberta's Rocky Mountains and flows about 800 miles to the Saskatchewan River. It passes through Banff National Park and flows alongside the famous Icefields Parkway.

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Cypress Hills Massacre

The Cypress Hills Massacre was a violent incident between American wolf hunters and a group of Assiniboine people. On June 1, 1873, the hunters fired their guns into the camp, killing 20 or more people. The Americans, who had been drinking heavily, claimed the Assiniboines had stolen their horses. The claim was vigorously denied by the leader of the group, Little Soldier. Despite the violence, none of the perpetrators were ultimately convicted of any crimes.

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The treeless plains and big skies of Saskatchewan

Fast Facts About Saskatchewan

Population: 1,100,000
Area: 251,750 sq. miles
Capital City: Regina
Largest City: Saskatoon
Currency: Canadian Dollar
Official Language: English
GDP (Gross Domestic Product) $79.4 Billion

Nine Interesting Facts About Saskatchewan

  • Saskatchewan is the sunniest of Canada's provinces.
  • Saskatchewan is sometimes called "Land of the Living Skies."
  • Saskatchewan has more miles of roads than any other province.
  • Regina is the home of Canada's Royal Mounted Police.
  • Saskatchewan gets more tornadoes than any other Canadian province.
  • Most of the mustard produced in Canada comes from Saskatchewan.
  • More than half of Canada's wheat comes from Saskatchewan.
  • The term "hoser" was first used in Saskatchewan. It was first used to describe someone who was stealing fuel from farm equipment using a siphon hose.
  • The provincial bird of Saskatchewan is the sharp-tailed grouse.


Saskatchewan Flag

Saskatchewan Flag
The green in the flag represents the northern forests and the gold represents the wheat fields that characterize the southern portion of the province. The Saskatchewan coat of arms is in the upper left portion of the flag, and the provincial flower, the western red lily, is pictured on the right side of the flag.