Oh, Canada! What better way to spend Canada Day than riding across it on a mission to see as much of it as possible. 😊
My first stop for the night was Meadow Lake, SK, where I stayed last night. This is apparently Saskatchewan’s newest “city”, so I assume it must be growing! Certainly, there are signs of that in the larger chain stores and restaurants that show up along the main road.
I stayed at the Woodland Inn last night and really liked it. Rates are reasonable, rooms are nice, spacious and clean, and the staff friendly. Rates include a breakfast with choices of hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, toast, juice, coffee, etc. I would recommend it without hesitation.
I got up in good time and it was already spitting rain. Loaded up the bike anyway and had a bit of breakfast. By the time I was ready to go, the rain had pretty much stopped and I headed out to take advantage of that for as long as it would last. Planning to just hit the road, the little voices were telling me that I should just take a little ride around the town. I toodled up a road for several blocks and then picked a random street and turned onto it. There was a big statue of a cowboy erected in 1970 to honour the pioneers of the area. A little the worse for wear, I still thought it was a pretty cool choice and said something about the personality of Meadow Lake.
Then the universe really threw its toe into the day! Continuing up the road, I see a prominent store called Madill’s Drugs! Thinking of my friend Elaine, who was a Madill before she married, I took a photo and texted it to her with the caption “Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan”. Now, Elaine has always been near and dear to my heart. We discovered we were kindred spirits on a frightening level right from the start. Turns out that I had discovered a link to a few branches in her family tree they had not been able to connect. I told her that maybe she should shake that family tree a little harder and see if a Derry pops out. Maybe we share a genetic memory. Of course, if that were true, Brian, who is already a little spooked by this connection we have, might head for the hills! There’s only so much magic a guy can take!
Hwy 55 is an excellent road and, being Canada Day, was practically deserted. It rained off and on, but not heavily and the ride was lovely. I shouted (I don’t think you could call it “sang”) Oh Canada at the top of my lungs a couple of times and sat back to enjoy the smell of green and the prettiness of the countryside. Some of the canola is beginning to ripen already, giving that bright yellow contrast to all the surrounding green. Still being quite a ways north, there is a lot of the muskeg landscape and the crops have large patches of boggy ground. It must be a challenge to farm. I kept expecting a moose to step out of it, but then I would see a field of cattle.
I passed through Green Lake on my way, which is a tidy, very pretty little community. I don’t think I saw the lake, but the river running through was so picturesque, I had to stop and take a few photos, rain notwithstanding.
The next little surprise was the Cowan Dam, which was full of pelicans! There’s a fetching little campground there, so I cruised through it and then stopped to watch the pelicans for awhile before carrying on.
Looking for a bit of a break, I stopped at Big River and topped up with fuel and stopped for a bite to eat at the Esso station restaurant. It was a busy place, which is always a good sign when you are looking for a place to eat. The food was decent and people were friendly. After ordering, I looked up and saw an amazing waffle sundae menu on the wall! If only I had known, I wouldn’t have bothered with lunch! Big River is a sizeable town and again, very well kept and appears to be prospering. It was nice to see these small places along the road doing well, and I hope it continues.
The original plan was to head for Prince Albert National Park, but I didn’t book ahead and with the long weekend, nothing was available. I headed for Prince Albert instead, arriving in the early afternoon. I booked into the Twilite Motel, which is set back from the road a bit and a better rate than some of the surrounding big ones. The room is clean, the bed is good and the staff are lovely and personable. Happily recommend it. Since I don’t have a tiara glued to my helmet, these places are perfectly fine for me! I also prefer motels when I’m riding because I can park my bike outside the door and it makes it so much easier to load and unload Night Fury.
Once unloaded, I went for a tour about Prince Albert. It is one of the oldest settlements in Saskatchewan and was settled by Reverend James Nisbet in 1866. Timber and good farmland initially attracted settlers to the area. A couple of decades later, the rail line came through and Prince Albert became a hive of activity as a hub for steamboats and rail traffic. Twentieth century discoveries of gold, uranium and now diamonds, have continued to contribute to the economy of northern Saskatchewan.
I paid a visit to the local museum and it is clear that Prince Albert has an active historical society. The museum has some really wonderful displays from PA’s history: settlement stories, Metis displays, fire trucks, war memorabilia, lifestyle displays of rooms with period furniture and clothing, memorabilia from notable people who lived and visited. I was surprised and delighted to see a little display about Lucy Maude Montgomery, who lived here for a very short time. If I had ever known that, I had forgotten. It was in Prince Albert that she made her first intimate girl friend that may have provided the basis for her friendship between Anne and Diana in her Anne of Green Gables novels. The whole museum is quite delightful. Upstairs, they also have a tea room with a balcony so you can sit and enjoy tea with a view of the river.
I took a ride around Prince Albert before looping back to the hotel and found it to be a nice little city. Within an hour of PA National Park, I expect there is a fair bit of tourist traffic through as well.
Time to wrap up my prattling and think about an early bedtime. Hope everyone had a Happy Canada Day. Be grateful for the where and when you were born!
P.S. Don't forget to click on the Trivia Bits button at the top of the page for your short history lesson on Saskatchewan!