Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, we’re off to the Land of the Living Skies, the prairie province of Saskatchewan. Will this article stretch as long as the province’s horizon? Let’s find out:
Motto: “From Many Peoples Strength” – I hope Saskatchewan is home to a pocket of strongmen.
Food: Saskatchewan is know for Regina-Style Pizza, which is cut into squares, piled high with sandwich meats, green peppers (for the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team), sauce and cheese. The pizza was introduced in 1970 at Houston Pizza, which was run by a Greek family of four brothers. The province also offers the unique Saskatoon Berry, which are similar to blueberries.
Drink: While the Caesar wasn’t invented in Saskatchewan, the largest version of the cocktail ever made belongs to the province. In 2019, Last Mountain Distillery combined 4,572 shots of their Dill Pickle Vodka with 318 bottles of Mott’s Clamato, 20 bottles of lime juice and 18 bottles of Worcestershire sauce to make a 750-litre vat of the drink. The record-breaking creation was garnished with two steaks, two blocks of cheese and a full celery stalk.
Site to See: Prince Albert National Park can be found in the middle of the province. The park offers a number of scenic drives, along with guided hikes and other activities to see as much of the 3,975 square kilomeres as you can. A highlight of the park is the cabin of Grey Owl, an English naturalist, who faked being Indigenous. Named Archibald Stansfeld Belaney at birth, he was depicted by Pierce Brosnan in the 1999 film Grey Owl.
Street: Albert Street is a major route in and out of downtown Regina. The road includes Albert Memorial Bridge, which is the longest bridge over the shortest span of water in the world. The bridge is decorated with a number of Egyptian features and was meant to be a memorial to Saskatchewan soldiers lost in World War I, although plaques listing the names of these people were never installed.
TV Show: Corner Gas, created by comedian Brent Butt, centers around the townsfolk of the fictional Dog River. The show ran for six seasons and 107 episodes before a feature film and animated series followed. Thanks to the popularity of the series, April 13, 2009 was declared Corner Gas Day in Saskatchewan. The cartoon Fugget About It and live action sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie are also set in the province.
Movie: Percy, starring Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci and Zach Braff, is based on the legal battle between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and massive corporation Monsanto over the use of the company’s patented seeds. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, with Schmeiser being able to keep his farm. Sadly, the real life Schmeiser died a week after the film’s release.
Book/Author: Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell was published in 1947. The novel tells the coming-of-age story of farm boy Brian O’Connall during the Great Depression. A 1977 film adaptation was made, which became Canada’s highest grossing film of that year, taking in a whopping $1.2 million. A quote from the book was read by Donald Sutherland at the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Fictional Character: I’ve stumbled across one source that says antihero Deadpool is from Saskatchewan, so I’m running with it. Known as the Merc with a Mouth, this mercenary is known to crack non-stop jokes while taking care of business. Played by Canadian Ryan Reynolds, the Deadpool film franchise has done very well, with a third installment of the series scheduled to be released in November 2024.
Fictional City: Dog River is based on the town of Rouleau. It has a population of only 500 people, most of them eccentric. Creator Brent Butt named the setting after his own hometown of Tisdale, where the Doghide River can be found. If you ever find yourself in Dog River, make sure to never mention rival neighbour town, Wullerton, which causes citizens to spit on the ground in disgust (even in the newspaper, The Howler).
Actor/Actress: Leslie Nielsen, best known for his bumbling straight man character in movies such as The Naked Gun franchise and Airplane!, was born in Regina. Nielsen enjoyed a long career, beginning with serious roles, before turning to comedy, appearing in over 100 films and 150 TV projects. Nielsen has stars on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Song: Long Gone to Saskatchewan, by country artist Corb Lund, compares living in the province compared to Lund’s native Alberta. Lines such as “She’s a little bit flatter but the cows are as fatter/So I think I’m gonna get me a tent/Cuz I can buy up an acre beside a nice lake here/For what it costs me at home to just rent” make it clear Lund sees the positives of Saskatchewan, “Where the gettin’s good if you’re gettin’ gone”.
Band/Musician: Colin James was born in Regina. The rock and blues artist first gained fame as the opening act for Stevie Ray Vaughan in the mid 1980s. James has won seven Juno awards from 17 nominations. His association with Saskatchewan led to a cameo appearance in an episode of Corner Gas. James also performed for Queen Elizabeth II, during her visit to the province in 2005.
People: Professional wrestler Roddy Piper (real name Roderick Toombs) was born in Saskatoon. Piper was one of the biggest wrestling stars of the 1980s Hulkamania era, remembered as much for his work in the ring as for his Piper’s Pit interview segment, which launched countless feuds and storylines. Piper’s popularity led to a number of roles in film and TV, most notably the cult classic movie They Live.
Animal: Scotty is the name given to a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil discovered in Saskatchewan in 1991. What gained the fossil find so much attention is that Scotty is the largest T-Rex ever unearthed. Scotty can be found at the T.Rex Discovery Centre in Eastend. The dino was found by a high school principal and the name comes from the bottle of scotch the group shared in celebration.
Invention: For allowing me and my family to be able to receive medical treatments at no cost to us, Medicare (aka Universal Health Care) has to take this category. Former Saskatchewan Premier, Tommy Douglas, brought forward the Universal Health Care legislation in 1961, despite strong opposition by doctors, and is known as the Father of Medicare. Douglas was ranked The Greatest Canadian in 2004.
Crime: Saskatchewan has an odd history of mass murders, including Walter Bromley killing his five children in 1918; the 1967 Shell Lake Massacre, where Victor Hoffman randomly murdered nine members of the Peterson family; the 1969 Buffalo Narrows axe murders, where seven members of the Pederson family were bludgeoned; and the 2022 stabbing spree by Damien and Myles Sanderson that claimed 12 lives.
Sports Team: The Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League is a rare example of a non-hockey team being the top game in a Canadian province. Fans of the club are known as Rider Nation, with some diehards called Melonheads, for wearing watermelon helmets. The team has won four Grey Cup championships. It should also be noted, curling is the official sport of the province.
Athlete: Gordie Howe, nicknamed Mr. Hockey, was born in Floral. Howe played until the age of 52 (including six seasons in the World Hockey Association) and sits second on the NHL’s all-time list for goals, and games played, while ranking fourth in total points. Howe won four Stanley Cups and was named an NHL All-Star 23 times. Howe won the first NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Famous Home: Diefenbaker House can be found in Prince Albert. Designated a National Historic Site in 2019, it was the home of former Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker. The house is largely furnished with items from Diefenbaker’s Prime Minister residence in Ottawa. It should also be noted, Saskatoon’s international airport is named in Diefenbaker’s honour.
Urban Legend: The St. Louis Ghost Light or Ghost Train is a phenomenon in St. Louis, where people see a bright beam of light, similar to a train’s headlight, although nothing is actually there. The legend was profiled on the TV series Unsolved Mysteries and turned into a Canada Post stamp in 2014. Two high school students proved the spectacle was created by vehicle lights, but the legend has existed from before the invention of cars.
Museum: The Western Development Museum has four locations throughout the province, with the mission of highlighting the many advancements of Saskatchewan. Each location has its own theme, including: History of Transportation in Moose Jaw, Heritage Farm & Village in North Battleford, 1910 Boomtown in Saskatoon and Story of People in Yorkton. The museum network was founded in 1949.
Firsts: A few Canadian banking firsts occurred in Saskatchewan. Regina was the site of Canada’s first automated teller machines (ATMs); therefore, the first debit card transactions also took place there. Back then, the maximum cash that could be withdrawn from a machine was $30. Later, in 1988, Saskatchewan Credit Unions were the first financial institutions to issue debit cards to customers.
Company: The modern-day Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was created in Saskatchewan in 1928, when the province contracted the RCMP to become it’s police force. A number of other provinces would follow suit in 1932, with two others contracting the service in 1950. Only Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial policing. RCMP members can be recognized by their Red Serge ceremonial uniforms. The RCMP Heritage Centre can be found in Regina.
Events: The 1912 Regina Cyclone was the deadliest tornado in Canadian history, killing 28 people and causing approximately 300 other injuries. The natural disaster was responsible for $1.2 million in property damage, resulting in 2,500 people losing their homes. It took the city two years to repair all the damages and 10 years to pay off its debts from the incident. Actor Boris Karloff was in Regina at the time of the cyclone.
Miscellaneous: Saskatchewan is the only full province that does not observe daylight saving time. They remain on Central Standard Time year round, meaning during the spring and summer, they are in line with Alberta, while during the fall and winter, they are in line with Manitoba. This was the result of the 1966 Time Act, which I wish the rest of North America would adopt version of.
Saskatchewan: The Last Saskatchewan Pirate
- 1.5 oz Whiskey
- 0.5 oz Orange Liqueur
- 0.25 oz Dark Rum
- 0.25 oz Ginger Liqueur
- Splash of Grapefruit Juice
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- Dashes of Angostura Bitters
- Dash of Simple Syrup
- Garnish with a Lemon Twist
I would have loved to use Saskatoon Berry Liqueur for today’s drink, but it’s not available in these parts. Therefore, I went with this recipe, which gets its name from a folk song by The Arrogant Worms. The beverage uses Black Ginger Rum (would love to get my hands on the French product), which I achieved using Dark Rum and Ginger Liqueur.