Saskatoon

Wanuskewin Heritage Park to unveil new look following $40M renovation during reopening

Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon will be showcasing its new look when it reopens this weekend following a COVID-19 related closure.

Park will open this weekend after months-long COVID-19 related closure

Bison at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon will be showcasing its new look when it reopens this weekend following a COVID-19 related closure.

The park is home to Canada's longest-running archeological dig with evidence of 6,000 years of human occupation and recently completed $40 million in renovations. 

A new bison viewing platform, new art galleries and a renovated trail system will all be available to visitors.

"It's not like we've stopped working during the pandemic," said Andrew McDonald, marketing and communications manager for Wanuskewin Heritage Park.

"There's been so much happening. So when guests come to the park, from the moment that you pull in through the front gates, you'll see how different things are."

McDonald said one of the most exciting changes will be the park's bison.

Fifteen bison are now living at the park. For many people, it will be their first chance to see them.

"A lot of people saw the videos and photo announcements that we had made of their births over the past couple of months," he said.

"But now they're getting bigger. They're getting ready for winter. And right now is is a time when the bison are really starting to grow those coats back."

The renovations at Wanuskewin Heritage Park include a bison viewing platform. (Chanss Lagaden, CBC)

Wanuskewin also plans on bringing back its popular archeology lab exhibit. While field school could not take place this year, McDonald hopes the exhibit will help remind people of the site's importance.

"There's going to be a wonderful opportunity to understand and see a lot of those pieces that have been pulled from the archeological dig site over the past couple of years."

Ultimately, he's looking forward to people returning to the park and reconnecting to the land.

"Many parents, myself included, are just looking for opportunities to get the kids outside and doing something," he said.

"You'll be able to do something with the whole family where you can feel safe, get some exercise and also do something together as a family. That's what I hope folks get when they come out to the park."

Wanuskewin will be open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. CST from Saturday, Sept. 5 to Monday, Sept. 7, and will be offering guided trail walks, a bison tour and traditional dance performance.

Everyone will need to wear a mask unless they are outside on the trails or in the plaza.

After the long weekend, Wanuskewin will be switching to its regular schedule of Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

now