Welcome to the first blog of Travel Tuesdays! Today we are featuring the gorgeous Qu’Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan via the writings of my first blog collaborator; Sarah Lorinczy. She’s a Saskatchewan native who calls Alberta home and has a unique passion for the beauty that both provinces have in abundance. Sarah will be a future collab as well, sharing some of the interesting and beautiful places in her home province that most people might not know about.
Without further ado, Sarah’s take on the Qu’Appelle Valley!
Nobody sees it. Its hidden amongst golden fields, small towns and family farms that are rich with history and tradition. It flows through the province like a ribbon – connecting Saskatchewan’s heritage, people, hidden gems and breathtaking views.
I’ve spoken to many out of province travellers and they usually describe their drive through Saskatchewan the same way. It’s flat, there’s nothing to look at and we couldn’t wait to see the beautiful landscape that Alberta promises once they’re through. This will always be disappointing for me and so many other Saskatchewanians because we know just how beautiful Saskatchewan really is. It also makes me feel sorry for all of the passerbyers that didn’t get to experience all of the views that we call home.
If you follow the well travelled path that the Trans-Canada provides, it is a fairly flat drive, not filled with much depth. But just a few kilometers north of the #1 highway, off the beaten path is the Qu’appelle Valley. It stretches 430 kilometers throughout Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The valley and its river passes through numerous communities and farm land. It is also home to a few ski hills and lakes that each have their own unique communities.
I grew up in Neudorf, a small farming community 5 kilometres north of the Qu’appelle valley. The area of the valley I know best spreads from Round Lake to Fort Qu’appelle – a small portion of the valley, but it is one of the many reasons why I love my home province with such deep passion.
The lakes in this portion of the valley are extremely small to someone who is accustom to the Great Lakes of Ontario or even some lakes in Alberta. There’s a quiet beauty to them though – as the saying goes – they be small but mighty. Round Lake, Crooked Lake, Katepwa Lake, Mission Lake, Echo Lake and Pasqua Lake are all scattered throughout the valley floor within a 2 hour distance of each other. They are connected by small river channels, quilted farmers fields and endless dirt roads. The communities seem so similar to a traveller, however each lake and its people have their own personality and atmosphere. Of course they all have the quintessential coffeeshop/restaurant that is assumed to be in every small town. If you happen to stop for a coffee in any of these places and talk to some of the locals, you will be welcomed with open arms and hearty conversations of the past. They each have their own set of shops such as gift stores, handmade boutiques and antique stores filled with their own cultivated culture. Once you visit each individually, you will learn that these small communities can stand on their own.
A village that is one of my favorites to take a drive to is Lebret. It sits on the edge of the valley overlooking Mission Lake, and it gets some of the best prairie sunsets I’ve ever seen. This community looks small and rough around the edges, but once you drive down the main street, you uncover some of the hidden gems I was talking about. The Little Glass Hut and the Antique Store are across the street from one another and are filled with hand-crafted one of a kinds and treasures of generations that came before, but the thing that really makes these places great are the people behind them. You can see the pride in their eyes and voices as they welcome you and show you what they have to offer. Lebret is also home to some awe-inspiring architecture. One is the striking fieldstone Roman Catholic Church built in 1925 located in the heart of Lebret. The other is the tiny chapel nestled on the side of the valley overlooking the village and Mission Lake – you must hike to get there following the Station of Crosses. Down the road from Lebret is the town of Fort Qu’Appelle. There is plenty to take in there – shops, restaurants, and places to stay. It has a running ski hill during the winter months, and it is surrounded by lakes as well which gives it a relaxed lake-life aura year round. They are a must when you go.
By far, what captures my heart the most about this vastly unseen terrain is the portion of valley that is a patchwork of fields, abandoned homesteads, schoolhouses and churches. It lies between Highway 47 and Range Road 617. You can follow a scattered path of dirt roads that may not lead you to fancy resorts or mountain views but allows you to see generations of hard working farm-land and give you a bewildering feeling of calmness that I’m not sure I’ve felt anywhere else. You can explore this land for hours, uncovering its past and giving yourself time to take a breathe of fresh air from the hustle of life today.
For me, the best and only way to end a day visiting the Qu’Appelle Valley is sitting at the top during sunset, overlooking the raw, staggering beauty that Saskatchewan hides… only a few kilometers off the beaten path. Nobody sees it.
I hope you guys liked it! I’m going to have a plan a trip through Saskatchewan to check out Qu’Appelle Valley now.
Thanks for stopping by!