Experience Saskatchewan’s Wild West at these unique stops along the way
Cruising the Trans-Canada Highway, through Saskatchewan – arguably Canada’s most underrated province – travelers looking for unforgettable western-flavored stops and adventures have plenty to choose from!
Just off the highway is Cypress Hill, a geographic area shared between the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan where the natural beauty of Canada’s prairies and hills and the history of Canada’s wild west come together . And right next to Cypress Hills is Maple Creek, a small town that has quintessential Canadian Wild West charm, with cowboy-style accommodations, nature preserves, delicious wine tastings, a dinosaur park, and wait: cowboy poetry!
The Cypress Hills have had many names, in many different languages in the long history of pre and postcolonial Canada, due to the many peoples, Native Americans, First Nations and European immigrants who settled in the area over eight thousand years ago. . . It was a popular wintering site for its many natural resources.
A bloody and key event in Canadian history was the Cypress Hill Massacre, in which, in 1873, a group of American hunters opened fire on a camp of Assiniboines. The event created friction between Canada and the United States and was one of the catalysts for the creation of the North West Mounted Police or Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The site of the massacre is where Fort Walsh, a Canadian historic site, was built.
Today, Cypress Hills is a geographical, natural and protected reserve, constituting the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. The eponymous Cypress Hills surround miles of grassland, teeming with natural and historic landmarks and attracting thousands of visitors each year.
Within the park, travelers can visit the historic site of Fort Walsh, camp in one of the many campgrounds – which range from bare minimums to fully equipped – or enjoy the trails, hills and lakes perfect for hiking, trekking, horse riding. , country biking and fishing.
The nearest town, 21 kilometers from Cypress Hills, is Maple Creek, population 2,000. A small town born from the construction of the Canadian Transcontinental Railroad out of its (aren’t they all good western towns?), in Maple Creek it’s like the Wild West isn’t really a bygone era but a way of life (though thankfully much less wild).
Winner of the title of Western Canada’s Largest Town in 2014 by Western Horse Review magazine, and affectionately named “The Old Cow Town”, with Old West heritage present in the town’s architecture, museums and even street signs, Maple Creek is the place to put on your cowboy boots and go exploring – and for a smaller town, there’s plenty to discover!
Wine & Dinner
Besides being the cowboy center of Saskatchewan, Maple Creek is also known for its culinary experience. Try wine tasting at Cypress Hills Winery, a hearty steak dinner downtown at the Rockin’ Horse Cookhouse & Bar, or enjoy the Taste of Maple Creek, a citywide food festival where diners from all the city present their food and their specialties.
For accommodations, travelers have options such as the quaint The Resort at Cypress Hills, which has wood barbecue grills and picnic areas available against the backdrop of the natural beauty of the Cypress Hills.
For a more quirky, but shall we say certainly unique, concept option, there’s the Ghostown Blues B&B, where guests can stay in pioneer accommodations, literal sheep wagons, and every piece of architecture has been carefully thought out. restored and moved from their historical contexts. It’s like staying in the most comfortable history book!
Beyond the great outdoor activities at Cypress Hill, Maple Creek has featured facilities for golf, swimming, team sports, and curling – aka 3D ice chess.
Culture and history in Cow Town of Saskatchewan
Maple Creek has a handful of museums and cultural event centers that shouldn’t be missed while cruising the city.
The Oldtimers’ Museum, established in 1926, showcases life as it was in Saskatchewan’s frontier days.
The Jasper Cultural & Historical Center is a museum housed in a former western school building and holds exhibits in rooms with many different themes chronicling the Old West, the settlement history of the area. Visitors can step into “The Parlor”, “The Railway Room”, “The School Room” and more, and step into another era in Maple Creek.
Festivals and cultural events enliven this western city! Beyond the Taste of Maple Creek festival, there’s also the Maple Creek Heritage Festival, the recreation of the Battle of Little Puck, and the Cowboy Poetry and Western Art Gathering – and yes, that’s correct as fun as it sounds!
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