Take a step off Highway 1
The sun shone brightly as the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announced the conservation of the Valley View property. It was a beautiful time to be in the gorgeous Qu’Appelle Valley, only 20 minutes from Regina.
The media event for the Valley View property announcement was a day of excitement, with local politicians, NCC staff and the media getting together to celebrate the protection of a truly beautiful and ecologically important area.
Having grown up in Regina, the Qu’Appelle Valley was close enough that it was often a refuge away from the city for me. It was a place where my family could go on a hike or ride our bikes. It was a great escape when life got too busy.
While at the media event, I couldn’t help but be surprised when I heard someone say “I didn’t know Saskatchewan had hills.” I just assumed that everyone knew of my little valley treasure so close to home.
Investigating the “I didn’t know Saskatchewan had hills” comment further, it turned out that it was a member of the media who had moved to Regina only one year earlier. He said he was from the East Coast and didn’t realize that Saskatchewan had anything but flat fields.
I could see the excitement in his eyes when he said he was an avid hiker and couldn’t wait to come back to the Valley View property for a hike. While I was happy that NCC could help share the beauty of Saskatchewan to people, it also made me feel sad that someone could live in the province for an entire year and not know about the natural beauty on our doorstep.
Many Canadians probably only know about Saskatchewan through classic jokes like, “Saskatchewan is so flat you can watch your dog run away for two days.” I have laughed at those jokes my entire life because they are funny! But the better I get to know my own province, the more I realize how incorrect they are. Sure, if you never leave Highway 1, which cuts across our southern prairie, you may think that Saskatchewan is nothing but flat cropland. But that would be like visiting BC and thinking there were no mountains, or visiting Nova Scotia and never seeing the ocean. You are just missing out!
Venture off Highway 1 and you’ll discover that Saskatchewan is full of amazingly varied topography with a multitude of different ecosystems. In the southern part of the province, the Moose Mountain Natural Area is an oasis of trees among the prairies, lakes and valleys. Valleys like the Qu’Appelle Valley and Cypress Hills dot the province. Worth noting is that boreal forest covers most of the northern half of our province. Saskatchewan also has unique ecosystems like the Athabasca Sand Dunes and the Northern Tundra.
Maybe Saskatchewan needs to be rebranded? Our friends to the south in Minnesota are known worldwide as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." The slogan evokes images of trees, wildlife and varied topography. It may surprise you that while Minnesota is indeed the land of 10,000 lakes, Saskatchewan boasts a whopping 100,000 lakes.
I realize that it is partly our fault that someone could live in Saskatchewan for an entire year without realizing we had hills. It is up to us to brag about the amazing places that our province has to offer.
At NCC we celebrate the amazing places Saskatchewan has to offer — places where people can explore and connect with nature — at naturedestinations.ca. Wherever you are in Canada, try to find out what unique place is right outside your door. If you have special natural areas that you like to explore, share them with others whenever you can!