Land of Living Stories: Virtual road trip visits Saskatchewan's hidden gems

CBC is looking for Saskatchewan’s undiscovered gems to visit virtually. Tell us all about the people, places and things that make your community shine.
Land of Living Stories logo.

CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories explores the hidden gems across Saskatchewan. 

Craven, Sask. 

Map showing Craven, Sask. and area.
(CBC Saskatchewan)

For many Saskatchewan residents, the word "Craven" is synonymous with the Country Thunder Festival. The massively popular event — formerly called the Big Valley Jamboree — brings in thousands of country music fans every year, turning the quiet community of Craven into the biggest party in Saskatchewan for one week. 

But locals say that part of the Qu'Appelle Valley is home to so much more: gorgeous scenery, rich history and sprawling country roads.

Enjoy the Qu'Appelle Valley virtual road trip here.

Biggar, Sask.

Biggar, Sask. and area.
(CBC Saskatchewan)

"New York is big. But this is Biggar."

That's what the sign reads when you drive into the town of Biggar, Sask. While the size of the town is anything but big, the heart of the community certainly is. 

Check out the virtual trip to Biggar here.

Bengough, Sask.

Map showing Bengough, Sask. and area.
(CBC )

Bengough is best known for its annual Gateway Music Festival. It's a musical mix of established acts, like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Steve Earle, and homegrown Saskatchewan talents including Colter Wall, Belle Plaine and The Garrys.

Bengough's small businesses give the town a charm that festival-goers and visitors love. 

Since the festival is postponed this summer due to COVID-19, check out this virtual road trip to Bengough and some neighbouring gems.

Norquay, Sask.

Map showing Norquay, Sask. and area.
(CBC )

While there are great spots all over the province, the campsites and sprawling forests of eastern Saskatchewan provide a particularly spellbinding experience. 

"Where prairie meets pine" is the slogan for the Norquay, Sask., a town about 240 kilometres northeast of Regina, near the Manitoba border.

That tagline could not be more accurate. There is a jolting change as you drive slightly north of Norquay into the thick forests surrounding Parr Hill Lake and Townsend Lake in Porcupine Hills Provincial Park.

But before we get to the backwoods roads of eastern Saskatchewan, we've got a few stops to make. 

Missinipe and Uranium City, Sask.

Map showing Uranium City and area.

Saskatchewan is home to many rural municipalities. Some of them are so engulfed in nature, you feel like you're stepping into another time — a time when things were simpler and people lived off the land.

That could not be more true of the north central and far north regions of the province, areas characterized by the Indigenous people who live there and their connection to the land. 

Travelling north from southern Saskatchewan, you leave the open plains of farmland for a landscape that is peppered with lakes, trees and rocky terrain. 

Enjoy the voyage north here.

Qu'Appelle Valley

Map showing Qu'Appelle Valley and area.

A longing to be closer to her identity as an anishnaabe kwe, along with grief, drew Danna Henderson to the land. She began taking long walks in the wilderness near her home after her father died in the winter of 2019.

To Henderson, the valley holds history and a sense of duty to Mother Earth. 

Dickie Yuzicapi is from Okanese First Nation. He tells the stories of why this part of the Qu'Appelle Valley is called the Calling Lakes.

Blink and you'll miss the small village belonging to Starblanket Cree Nation that sits to just to the northwest of Lebret. 

Chief Michael Starr welcomes us to Wahpimoostoosis landa, which translates to White Buffalo Calf in English. 

The Starblanket community has deep and, at times, heart-breaking ties to the Lebret Indian Residential School that stood just across the road from one of its villages. 

Our journey around the valley ends back at Echo Lake, in the village of  B-Say-Tah. Local resident Linda O'Halloran summed up why she chose the Calling Lakes area as her home. 

"I love this valley with every inch of my soul. I love the seasons. Right now the colours are dissipating but they just look fantastic this year," she said. 

Explore Qu'Appelle Valley: land of love, history and healing

North Battleford region

Map showing North Battleford region.
(CBC News)

It is worth looking at the land around North Battleford, Sask., through the strokes of Allen Sapp's paintbrush. 

In his paintings you will find scenes of families helping families, Cree drumming circles, early ways of farming the land, mothers with their swaddled babies and families joining around the fire to eat. 

It's a sincere look at what makes the community electric with life, strength and beauty. 

From agriculture to iconic Indigenous art, the North Battleford region has much to be proud of.

Explore the region here.

Green Lake and region

Map showing Green Lake and region.
(CBC News)

Green Lake, about 45 kilometres east of the city of Meadow Lake, is one of northwest Saskatchewan's oldest settlements  and it's predominantly Métis.

This land on the west side of the sprawling Prince Albert National Park is home to swaths of boreal forest. The Métis of the northwest region call the area, lush with nature, the gateway to Saskatchewan's north.

Explore the region here.

Beloved plants and historical gardens of the province

Map of some of the province's most notable plants and gardens.
(CBC News)

Any trace of Saskatchewan's historic railway gardens is now long gone, but the province's residents continue to fill their backyards and cities with beautiful and nostalgic plants. It's a perfect reminder for us to take time and smell the flowers. 

Learn about some of the province's most notable plants and gardens here.

Duck Lake area

Cartoon-like map showing Duck Lake area.
(CBC News)

Much of the beauty of Saskatchewan lies in its people and vast fields.

All experiences of those who live here are unique in their own way, but a few things are certain. Saskatchewan residents love the land, respect their history, and look at both the past and future with equal reverence.

Explore the region here.

Prince Albert National Park area, Ness Creek and Ogema

Cartoon-style map of Prince Albert National Park.
(CBC News)

Land of Living Stories is taking a mini trip back to some places we've already been to tell the stories we missed last time.

Our trip includes Prince Albert National Park, which is a hotbed for wildlife sightings, from free-ranging bison to deer, wolves and frogs.

We head north of Sturgeon River Ranch to Ness Creek and its festival grounds. The Ness Creek Music Festival was created by tree planters in 1990.

Lastly, we feature Ogema which is home to the Southern Prairie Railway, a tourist attraction out on the open pastures.

Explore the region here.

Traditional foods and family connection

Indigenous salad recipe.
(CBC News)

Food has always been a unifier with the ability to connect people and evoke feelings of nostalgia.

No matter what culture or spot on the globe you come from, everyone has a dish that brings back fond memories.

Land of Living Stories visits four different Saskatchewan residents who each have a story about how food and family intertwines.

Serving kindness through food-giving initiatives

For this special edition of CBC's Land of Living Stories, we're shining a light on community food initiatives and those who give back. 

CBC's Laura Sciarpelletti walks us through some of the people fighting food insecurity, to a bread baker who donates to a community fridge, to a Sikh community that makes community meals to give away, and up north, where a community is working on increasing their food self-sufficiency. 

Read more about the initiatives here.

Fish Lake Métis Settlement

Cartoon-style map shows Fish Lake Metis Settlement to Prince Albert.
(CBC News)

On this virtual road trip we will journey up north to a very special Métis settlement with a history of displacement, settlement and advocacy

Learn more about Fish Lake Métis Settlement here.

Sask. regional parks

A cartoon-style map shows the location of Manitou and District Regional Park and Last Mountain Regional Park, southeast of Saskatoon, as well as Pine Cree Regional Park, southwest of Regina.

Summertime means camping. And many of us have certain parks we flock to with campers, tents and barbecues in tow. 

Regional parks hold a special place in the hearts of many people — some have been going to the same regional parks for most, if not all, of their lives. 

So pack up your picnic baskets and beach umbrellas.

Read about three of Saskatchewan's most beloved regional parks here.

Moosomin and area

LOLS 16 Map
(CBC News)

Just two days in southeast Saskatchewan reveals a thriving community of immigrants, a yodeling painter, a chef who returned to his hometown with dreams of creating delicious high quality dishes, frost-painted trails and the legacy of a historian who dedicated his life to preserving historic photographs of his beloved region. 

Take a journey through southeast Sask. which reveals thriving Filipino community, passion for heritage, mouth-watering food.