Fauna of Saskatchewan 17

•August 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

IMGP2216 2American White Pelican

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

Location: Wascana Waterfowl Display Ponds

Interesting facts:

– A baby pelican may eat up to 150 pounds of  fish before they are nine weeks old.

– The plate or projection on the pelican’s bill is shed after the breeding season.

– Pelicans never carry food in their bill pouches.

– They have a wing span of 8 – 10 feet, amongst the top ten in the world.

– Pelicans can live over 16 years in the wild, some live to be 25.

 

Port of Big Beaver, Saskatchewan

•August 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I discovered that the Port of Big Beaver had closed a couple years ago. Last year during my trip to the Big Muddy area I took a few pictures of the border crossing. The Canadian side closed April 1st, 2011. The Americans did the same nearly two years later – January, 25th, 2013. The crossing averaged only three vehicles a day and was not feasible to stay open.

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Douglas Sand Dunes

•July 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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The Douglas Sand Dunes were on my Saskatchewan must see list for some time. When we began our hike storm clouds were moving to the north and east around us. A park interpreter lead us and five others through the Dunes trail. It is about 3km one way and the most direct route to the dunes. Along the way the interpreter stopped to point out some of the flora: creeping juniper, prickly pear and pin cushion cacti, and wolf willow. She also discussed the history of the area. The Dune Trail itself was a great hike with changing scenery and short rolling hills.

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Once at the dunes we explored and took many pictures. As we were the storm had settled over highway 11 near Davidson over 10km away. We witnessed a tornado rotating and very briefly touching down. We spent a good thirty minutes on the dunes before heading back. Although labeled as a full moon hike, it was too cloudy that night to see moon rise.

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Tornado!

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Allow yourself 2 hours minimum to take in the dunes. The trail takes about 40 minutes each way and you’ll want at least another thirty or more at the dunes. Sunset provides excellent photo opportunities on the dunes. There are also the Juniper and Cacti trails to hike.

 

Douglas Provincial Park

•July 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This summer I had the opportunity to revisit Douglas Provincial Park. We stayed in one of the few remaining non-electrical sites on the edge of the campground. It was cozy, quiet, and a five minute walk to the beach/store or service centre. Most sites look well-treed with some privacy from neighbours.

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Diefenbaker Lake is very low this year and as a result the mud shoreline is extensive. You could probably walk for miles along the shore. The mud beach is smooth, dry, and ideal for building sandcastles. The lake was still enjoyable as it is very deep and long. We went for dips in the cool water and rented kayaks one morning. Paddleboats, water bikes, stand up paddle boards, and plastic canoes are also available to rent.

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One morning we biked the Trans Canada Trail south on Wolf Willow and the Qu’Appelle paths. The trails are mostly mowed grass, so a bit of a workout and not as enjoyable as dirt trails. We stopped at South Beach to take in the views. South Beach is known for its privacy and beautiful sand. It is accessible by vehicle down a grid road/goat path. However there are no amenities there.

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Trans Canada Trail

South Beach

South Beach

A unique feature of Douglas Provincial Park are the Sand Dunes. We were fortunate to attend a guided moon hike. It is about a four kilometre hike to the dunes. It is a neat area to explore and observe. A storm threatened overhead of us during our hike, but we made it out dry.

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A trip to the town of Elbow was also a part of our experience. We took in the marina, art gallery, and an antique store. Elbow also has a museum and sod house to visit.

We plan on visiting Gardiner Dam and hiking the full dune trails next time we visit!

 

Old Wives, Saskatchewan

•June 14, 2016 • 2 Comments

Old Wives (and Old Wives Lake) were named after a Cree event which is believed to have occurred in the 1840s. A Cree hunting party had followed a herd of buffalo into the Dirt Hills. They were surprised by a Blackfoot war party in the area. After a short skirmish, the Cree set camp but realized their predicament. They were determined to die like true warriors. However, the older women suggested they keep camp while the others escaped in the night. When the Blackfoot attacked the next day, the Cree camp held no loot and the older women were sacrificed for the safety of the younger, healthy Cree.

The village was formed in 1900. The post office opened in 1912. There were a few school districts in the area. The first opened in 1916. Bay Island School was established in 1919. The first store opened in Mr. Sheldon’s house in 1920 and moved to a new building in 1930. In 1931 the CPR laid tracks from Archive to Shamrock. A Pool elevator was built in 1933. Old Wives has been a ghost town for several decades. Many of the businesses closed in the 1950s and 60s. Bay Island School closed in 1950 and the store closed in 1968. In 1973 the railroad was pulled and later abandoned. In 1975 the elevator was moved to Bateman.

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Attunement

•June 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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“This was a time for silence, for being in pace with ancient rhythms and timelessness, the breathing of the lake, the slow growth of living things. Here the cosmos could be felt and the true meaning of attunement.”

-Sigurd Olson The Singing Wilderness

Hitchcock’s Cabin

•May 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

In a small resort, called Hitchcock’s Hideaway, on the shores of Lake Diefenbaker there is a log cabin. It was built by Orville Arthur “Jack” Hitchcock over one hundred years ago.

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Hitchcock was born near Voden Centre, Quebec in 1870. He was a machinist and steam engineer by trade. Apprenticing at the Fitchburg Steam Engine Company in Massachusetts for three years, he made only 6 cents and hour. His trade and a number of other factors soon led him west. He urged to travel, heard of the “Great West”, and he wanted to get away from the smog and smoke of the industrial East.

His first trip west was in 1894. He returned in 1903 and claimed to be the first white settler on the north side of Lake Diefenbaker. There were many Mexican natives and Metis in the area. Hitchcock and a friend began building his cabin in 1903 and completed it in the summer of 1904. It was built with logs, poles, mud, and sod local to the area. Jack lived there for the next sixty years.

Hitchcock was a conservationist rancher living off of wild game, fruits, fish, berries, cattle. The coulee provided natural springs for water. Jack also manufactured beds, chess sets, skis, tables, bow and arrows, chairs, and stools for himself. He had a compulsion for thrift reusing tin cans, fruit pits, caps, and wrappers.

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Jack loved reading, carving, writing letters, and music. He was also know for his marksmanship and had a collection of over forty guns. Many are now on display at the F.T. Hill Museum in Riverhurst. At 93 Jack boasted that he was still one of the best shots in the country.

Hitchcock did marry and have a daughter, although I couldn’t find anymore information than that. One of his greatest accomplishments was riding his motorbike from Massachusetts to his homestead in 1924. The roads were not great and he slept in his sidecar for the trip.

In his older years Jack was a great storyteller and was admired by many locals. He continued living in the coulee in his old age. On occasion he lived with friends and finally a senior’s home in Saskatoon where he passed away in June of 1964.