Difference between revisions of "Saskatoon"
Revision as of 21:25, 13 January 2013
Saskatoon is a city in central Saskatchewan. With a metropolitan population of about 257,000 people, it is the province's largest city. It's a little oasis among wheat fields.
The name Saskatoon comes from a native word for a berry that grows along the river called missaskquahtoomina. Saskatoon is located along the South Saskatchewan River and is known as a city of bridges, which has led, along with its cultural sophistication and wealth of Art Nouveau architecture, to its nickname as the Paris of the Prairies. Saskatoon is home to the University of Saskatchewan, which is home to "The Canadian Light Source"  which is Canada's only synchrotron.
When flying within Canada either Air Canada , Jazz , and WestJet  can be flown. These airlines link Saskatoon directly to major Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa/Montreal, and Toronto. Flights to Regina are served by Express Air - a West Wind Aviation company.
To get to the city centre from the airport:
The Canadian is a train operated by VIA Rail that departs three times/week from Vancouver to Toronto (and vice-versa). It serves passengers from Edmonton and Winnipeg. A train from Toronto will take over two days and the prices in economy are only slightly cheaper than flying, depending when you book.
Saskatoon is on the Yellowhead Highway branch of the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 16) which connects to North Battleford and Edmonton to the west and Winnipeg to the east. This highway is entirely divided (save for a few minor exceptions and construction zones) between Edmonton and Saskatoon. Saskatoon eastbound on Highway 16 to Winnipeg is single lane to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Highway 11 connects to Prince Albert to the north and Regina to the south and the leg to Regina is divided for all but a few kilometres of its length (driving time to Regina is about 2 1/2 hours). You can also drive via Alberta Highway 9/Saskatchewan Highway 7 from Calgary, but this highway is not divided except for some very short sections; nonetheless, it is the main route for Saskatonians and visitors wishing to drive from Saskatoon to Calgary, the West Coast and the northwestern US.
Saskatchewan Transportation Company connects Saskatoon to most Saskatchewan communities. Warning: as of 2012, a direct route to Calgary is no longer provided; the STC bus that formerly went through to Calgary now turns around at Alsask. Passengers wishing to continue must transfer at Alsask to much smaller, local bus.
Greyhound Bus Lines connects Saskatoon to most other cities throughout Canada by way of Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Sasktoon Transit  serves most of the city. Both regular and express (DART) service is provided. Most buses go through the downtown terminal and it is very easy to get anywhere in the city from this terminal, located between 2nd and 3rd Avenue on 23rd Street. Timetables for every bus can be found at the downtown terminal or online. At outlying stops, call the 'Phone & Go' line (975-7500) and use the 4-digit stop code to determine information about the routes that service that stop.
Saskatoon is a very bicycling friendly city and boasts the second highest per capita commuter cycling rate in Canada. Recreational cyclists will enjoy exploring the Meewasin Valley Trail along the South Saskatchewan River. Almost all parts of the city are accessible by bicycle and bicycle lanes and routes are marked along some key corridors... be careful because there are also a lot of bad drivers.
Walking is also a great way to get around Saskatoon. If your accommodation is in or close to the Downtown, you will be within walking distance to Saskatoon's best shopping, educational and cultural attractions.
Taxis are easy to find but generally pricey. A ten minute drive (enough to get you most places in the city if it's not rush hour) will cost $10-15. Call Blueline at 653-3333 or Radio at 242-1221, or just hail a taxi. Prices are set by the city so the cost should be equal.
All told, however, Saskatoon is a relatively compact city and outside of rush hour it's easily possible to drive across the city in 15 minutes or less. A traffic armageddon that had been predicted with the permanent closure of the Traffic Bridge (one of four road bridges into downtown) did not occur. The city is expected to soon complete the Circle Drive ring road system, a project that has been constructed in bits and pieces over the last half century.
The Bessborough Hotel overlooks the Saskatchewan River and is probably the most famous landmark in the city.
Be sure to check out the six bridges (including two railway bridges); sadly, the city's first bridge, the Traffic or Victoria Bridge, is (as of 2012) in the process of being dismantled.
If you have young children, the rides at Kinsmen Park cannot be beat. There is a miniature train, Ferris wheel and merry-go-round. Each ride costs $1 per person. Adult goes free with a paid child's ticket. This attraction is near the Kinsmen Play Village, the Ukrainian Museum of Canada and across the street from the Mendel Art Gallery.
There are various shopping malls all around the city. Midtown Plaza, is probably the most convenient place for tourists to go to since it is in downtown Saskatoon. It is the largest mall in the city with over 130 stores and services, with two fairly large department stores such as Sears and The Bay. The next biggest malls are The Centre at Circle and 8th on the east side of the city, and The Mall at Lawson Heights in the north; the latter is the closest major mall to the numerous hotels and motels in the airport area. Both malls are currently (fall 2012) missing their main anchor department store, the former Zellers chain, however both are scheduled to be replaced by Target in 2013-14.
Saskatoon Blades - Catch the local Western Hockey League team in action at the Credit Union Centre. The Centre is located in a remote part of northern Saskatoon; although there is a bus route serving the area, expect to have to take a taxi or rent a car.
Saskatoon hosts many festivals and events during the summer. These include:
Saskatoon Exhibition. Annual fair with the usual assortment of midway rides and live entertainment. Usually held in early August.
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan  - Saskatchewan's only professional theatre. Performs Shakespearian plays in a pair of large tents beside the Mendel Art Gallery in July and August.
Art in the Heart - this is a great little event in the Caswell area. There is artist vendors from Saskatoon, as well as crafts, face-painting and henna. Live local music is playing all day, and there is a kid's area in the Church Basement where they can do crafts and learn a play. Truly a unique experience to check out when in Saskatoon. Late September.
SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival  - Major jazz festival. Combines free public performances, beer gardens at the Bessborough Hotel with major artists, and various paid performances in venues around the city. Runs from mid-June through the beginning of July.
Northern Saskatchewan International Children's Festival  - Children oriented activities located on the riverbank of Saskatoon in June.
Saskatoon International Fringe Festival  - Street performances and alternative theatre centred around Broadway Avenue in August.
Folk Fest  - an annual, multi-cultural festival comprised of up to 25 ethnic pavilions located throughout the city. Inside each pavilion, visitors will find cultural displays, dance, song, food, folklore, fables and skits. Runs in August.
Canada Remembers Airshow  - Dedicating to remembering Canada's veterans, combines ground displays of intage aircraft, WW II trainers, fighters and bombers as well as the latest in jet-powered aircraft. Has active air acts which include vintage WWII aircraft, current military aircraft, and the Canadian Forces' Snowbirds Demonstration Team. Runs in August. 2009 will be its last year of performance.
""A Taste of The Saskatchewan"  - An Annual festival in which 30 of Saskatoon's finest restaurants are featured and provide Hors d'oeuvre and live entertainment. Often taking place in the latter half of July, the festival's riverside location provides an excellent atmosphere.
Diefenbaker Canada Centre  - The Diefenbaker Canada Centre is a unique public facility, combining the only Prime Ministerial archives, museum and research centre in Canada. The galleries feature permanent exhibits on Mr Diefenbaker, period replicas of the Prime Minister's Office and Cabinet Room (ca. 1950's) and temporary exhibits relating to diverse topics.
Mendel Art Galley  (950 Spadina Cres E) - The Mendel Art Gallery features contemporary and historical art. It is open every day except Christmas Day.
Meewasin Valley Centre  402 Third Ave S (along the S Saskatchewan River), ☎ +1 306 665-6887, 9AM-5PM. Local cultural and natural history - free.
Ukrainian Museum of Canada  - The Ukrainian Museum of Canada vividly preserves and recreates Ukrainian culture in Canada through temporary and permanent displays.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park  - 5 km north of Saskatoon on Wanuskewin Rd. Wanuskewin is an international visitor site to learn about 6,000 years of First Nations culture.
Western Development Museum  - The museum features 1910 Boomtown, the longest indoor museum street in Canada, which presents the time of pioneer settlement and farm expansion in the Canadian West. It illustrates the technological progression of agricultural and transportation practices through interpretive displays and extensive artifact displays. It also has a large collection of vintage farm machinery which is worth a look if you are interested in mechanical things.
University of Saskatchewan  - Many buildings in the University have permanent, free exhibits set up. Most notable is the Biology Building, which has 2 full-size models of dinosaur bones, as well as some animals to look at.
Do go shopping along Broadway Ave. There is lots of little boutique shops worth checking out.
Note: only a couple of hotels operate east of the river.
Saskatoon has a fairly high crime rate per capita, but this tends to be concentrated in small areas of the city.
The majority of the alphabetized avenues west of Idylwyld, from Avenue B through to Avenue Y (often referred to as "Alphabet Soup" by locals) are considered to be sketchy, with a high amount of gang/drug activity, violent crime and prostitution. It's probably best to avoid this part of town, particularly the alphabet avenues south of 22nd Street, and also immediately surrounding the 33rd Street intersection with Idylwyld. That said, it's usually relatively safe during daylight hours - and there's little reason for tourists to be in these parts of town anyway, although efforts are being made to turn 20th Street West into a destination centred on the historic Roxy Theatre.
Downtown has garnered a reputation for hosting a number of sometimes-aggressive panhandlers, particularly along 21st Street near Midtown Plaza and 2nd Avenue.
The east side of the river has the general reputation among locals of being safer than the west side.
The usual common-sense rules apply, and you should be fine.
There is a free wireless internet network in the whole of Saskatoon’s downtown core, as well as on the University of Saskatchewan campus .