Saskatchewan here we come!

Canada's flag
North America » Canada » Saskatchewan
August 31st 2015
Published: October 24th 2015
Edit Blog Post

Nicola LakeNicola LakeNicola Lake

First campsite on our journey was still in B.C.
The summer fun had ended, including a fun-filled week with the six grandchildren. There was no excuse for not getting onto the planning for the long-awaited trip to Saskatchewan.

But first we had to get there. It is a fair distance from Pender Island to Preeceville, SK. We loaded the truck with all the “stuff’ we needed for a fairly complex trip. Camping equipment, “visiting” clothes, dress-up clothes for the Celebration of Life for Dianne’s Dad, books, cameras, computers (in case I get inspired to write the blog as we go; as you can see, I didn’t)… lots of stuff.

Dianne had been reading a lot of material about camping holidays. Especially the part about pulling off the road and camping for free when you are just stopping for the night. She planned our route with the typical Dianne attention to detail. From Pender, up the Coquihalla, to Edmonton via the Yellowhead highway, down to Carstairs for the Celebration of Life, over to Manitou Springs to see the Canadian version of the Dead Sea, then to Preeceville, the furthest point on this trip. The return trip would include Moose Jaw for the tunnels, Cypress Hills for the hills, Blackfoot
A campfire at last!A campfire at last!A campfire at last!

With fire bans all over B.C., Dianne was glad to get into Alberta where campfires were allowed. Even a little rain didn't dampen her spirits.
Crossing for their interpretive centre, Drumheller for the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum and then home through the Crowsnest Pass and the southern route to the lower mainland. But plans have a way of changing.

On our way

In fact, before we left, the first stop was changed to Cedar where long-time friends, Barb and Bob, were spending a few days on a golfing holiday around their anniversary, We met at the Mahle House (a fine dining restaurant owned by our son, Stephen, and his wife, Tara) so we not only had a very pleasant dinner with good friends but we got to see two grandchildren for a short visit.

Our next stop was going to be an attempt at finding a place to just pull off the road and spend the night enjoying “free” camping. We pulled off the Coquihalla highway near Merritt and drove around. Several of the places mentioned in the books Dianne had were not places where I would be happy stopping. None had tables to use for meals and, more important, washrooms. The weather was iffy so we planned to sleep in the back of the truck. We ended up parking at Monck
Leaving the mountains behindLeaving the mountains behindLeaving the mountains behind

The second night camping just beyond the mountains. Not sure if this lake had a name but it was just beside our campground. It snowed the day after we left!
Provincial Park, located on the west shore of Nicola Lake. This would be a very nice place to spend a few days if we weren’t on a mission. The views you see of the Nicola valley as you drive down the Coquihalla highway have been favourites of mine for years. This just whetted my appetite to do some more exploring.

Day two of our travels was a long driving day up the Yellowhead highway, through the National Parks and out the Alberta side. I poured over the Alberta camping guide looking for a campground and found one just 5 kilometers off the main highway near Hinton. That sounded perfect. What the guide didn’t say was that the road was really rough. When we got there we found it was a self-registration campground which wasn’t a problem but there was no one around. Not just no campground attendants but also no other campers. Spooky. We set up to sleep in the truck again as the weather was threatening. We managed to have supper and sit around the campfire reading for a while before the rain suggested we might like to take our books into the truck.

Of course, nature
Memories of a former life.Memories of a former life.Memories of a former life.

We stopped for lunch near Wabamun Lake east of Edmonton. We had spent many hours camping there in the 70s and 80s. I don't remember this specific set of equipment but it did remind me of things I won't be doing any more.
called in the middle of the night but we caught a break because it wasn’t raining as we stumbled to the outhouses. Just after we crawled back into bed, two vehicles pulled in and did a slow circuit around the campground, then pulled away. Probably just some young people looking for a quiet place to party but it was a bit unnerving as nobody knew where we were. Even we weren’t sure where we were and we had no cell phone reception!

The next day dawned bright and sunny although a bit cool for sitting around the breakfast table until the sun rose above the trees. However, we were just passing through and soon were on our way to Edmonton, after a stop for breakfast at Smitty’s in Hinton.


We had lived in Edmonton for 15 years back in the 1970s and 80s. Lots of memories there and still some good friends who luckily were in town. We had a wonderful three days of visiting. Theo and Joan we had met when we first moved to Edmonton. Their daughters used to babysit for our kids. Now these same daughters are grandmothers. Yikes, where does the time
Keep on truckingKeep on truckingKeep on trucking

As we pulled into Edmonton, we passed this old truck. I liked the vanity licence plate.
go? We met Anita soon after and we spent many good times over pot luck suppers. Gerry and Karen are friends we met on Pender who have moved back to Edmonton where he had been a prof in the physics department. Lots of fun.

Joe and Rosanne hosted our stay there and took us on several great walks, some of which included stops at interesting coffee shops. Even though the area is pretty flat it was good medicine for my pelvis after the long drive. We were able to spread out our slightly damp gear and borrowed their downstairs fridge so we could refreeze our ice packs for the cooler. This would have ramifications in the days to come.

Celebration of Life

Dianne’s Dad had died in July but it was decided to hold his Celebration of Life on the Labour Day weekend as it was possible to get everyone together at that time. Much like her Mother’s Celebration last year, it was a great family time. Chris was such a marvelous guy it was easy to listen to his children, their spouses and grandchildren reminisce about his 97 years. The famous quartet of Keith, Derek, Stephen

The day of the Celebration of Life for Dianne's dad we got quite a display of rainbows. We also had one the day of the Celebration of Life for Dianne's mother. They both really loved rainbows. A final message?
and Russell did their usual great job with a singing tribute to Grandpa.

The aforementioned ramifications were felt when I was reorganizing the truck. I could account for food, tent, thermarests, canopy, camp stove…. Where the heck were the sleeping bags? Rats, I had opened them up to air out in Joe and Rosanne’s basement and in the repacking had left them there. We thought we could go to our next destination with a slight detour back to Edmonton but decided that would make too long a day. So Dale and I made a “quick” trip to Edmonton to get them. That was five hours I won’t get back but it was a good decision. And thanks to Dale for driving me.

Manitou Lake, Saskatchewan

Ever heard the expression “Getting there is half the fun”? That didn’t necessarily apply to this section of the trip. We took back roads across Alberta and into Saskatchewan. The map showed there was a fairly direct route to Manitou Lake but didn’t mention that there was a section of Highway 15 in SK that wasn’t actually a road, let alone a highway (see pictures). Luckily, it was daytime and not raining.
A taste of things to come?A taste of things to come?A taste of things to come?

Everybody jokes abut how flat Saskatchewan is. This vista was still in Alberta!
We told one lady we had come on Highway 15 and her question was “And you're still alive?”.

We had never heard of Manitou Lake until we mentioned to some folks that we were going to Saskatchewan. It is a small saltwater lake and, even though it has only half the density of the Dead Sea, it still allows you to float easily. In the last few years rising water levels have caused havoc with the lake and, being the end of September, it was a little late in the year to swim in the lake. The Spa has several indoor pools that are heated to a very pleasant temperature. Floating in the pools was incredibly easy due to the high mineral content. Our room came with a day pass so we were able to spend lots of time there on an in-and-out basis.

The days were clear and great for walking around town. The local miniature golf course normally closes on the Labour Day weekend but the owner was doing some maintenance and chose to leave the “Open” sign out. We had the course to ourselves and had a nice chat with him afterwards. We did a
Traffic light?Traffic light?Traffic light?

In the middle of nowhere? it was red when we pulled up so we stopped to scratch our heads. Just over the top of the hill, the lane on the opposite side of the road was completely washed out for about 30 feet. one lane traffic!
walking tour of the local campground which is very nice. Whether tenting or RVing, you would enjoy the campground and it is not far from the lake and the spa.


After two days at the spa, we loaded the truck and headed for Preeceville to visit our friends who moved from Pender to 500+ acres in eastern Saskatchewan. Some would say this area was the middle of nowhere but they would be people who haven’t seen its beauty. What’s next? To be continued…

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19



We don't make a habit of photographing washrooms but thought these were worth it.

This is more what we expected. Lots of harvesting with views in every direction.
Highway 15 in SaskatchewanHighway 15 in Saskatchewan
Highway 15 in Saskatchewan

If you are going to Manitou Lake from the south west, check the status of Highway 15 before you go.
Good buddyGood buddy
Good buddy

We were lucky it wasn't dark or raining. We followed this huge truck for about 30 kilometers on this "highway".
High waterHigh water
High water

Wikipedia says water levels are declining but you wouldn't know it from the shore by the Spa. Most of the beach at Manitou Lake was underwater!
Great Wall of ManitouGreat Wall of Manitou
Great Wall of Manitou

In fact, the lake is so high in places that they have built these retaining walls along the shore in town and have stiles every once in a while so you can get over them to the beach.
Miniature GolfMiniature Golf
Miniature Golf

Almost as good as cappuccino bar!

Three temperatures that don't seem too different unless you go from hottest to the "coolest". Floating with no effort is very relaxing. You don't even have to tread water to stay afloat in the deep end.

Every once in a while you get a break from the farms. A potash plant will pop up out of nowhere.
More high waterMore high water
More high water

We saw a lot of this sort of thing in south western Saskatchewan. I am pretty sure they didn't put these power lines in the middle of the lakes.
Meadow's Edge Bed and BreakfastMeadow's Edge Bed and Breakfast
Meadow's Edge Bed and Breakfast

Our ultimate destination for our Saskatchewan trip. Located on 565 acres near Preeceville, 3.5 hours east of Saskatoon, and operated by Michael and Kathleen, our paddling friends from Pender. If you talk nicely, Michael will even sell you one of his three books (or all three!).

Tot: 0.087s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 13; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0312s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.1mb