Saskatchewan didn’t welcome us, but the people did!

July 27th, 2009 by scott and becky

When we finally crossed the border into Saskatchewan, we were disappointed at the lack of a “Welcome to Saskatchewan” sign. This is the second time in recent memory that we were looking for a photo op that turned out to not exist! Oh well. Although we did not get a formal “Welcome to Saskatchewan”, it did not take long for us to notice how much friendlier the people were. In less than an hour, someone pulled up to talk to us while we were riding, and another person pulled over when we were stopped to make sure we were OK. It was almost like we entered a whole new country!

The other immediate difference was the road. You could see the provincial boundary based on how the nice road turned to crap once we hit Saskatchewan. One of the locals told us that Highway 51 was once listed as the worst highway in Canada. It no longer has that honour only because it is now “under repair”. Unfortunately however, the repair work was very minimal when we passed. There were places where the road was down to one lane because the other lane had eroded so badly and other places there the grooves were ten to fifteen cm deep. We figure it is likely to cause anything without a high clearance to bottom out.

Not exactly a great road
At least they admit it isn’t a great road.

We had hoped to make it to Kerrobert for our first night in Saskatchewan, but the road conditions and the north wind put an end to that plan. We also got a bit stuck because there were no services along the highway between Consort and Major – and it being a Sunday, most of the stores in Consort were closed. We pulled into Major at 7 pm very short on water. There were a few farmsteads close to the road where we probably could have got some, but we held out hoping for The only thing open in Major was the “OK Kafe” and the attached “OK Tavern”. We stopped into the Kafe and Jerry, the owner, made us a two wonderful hamburgers – perhaps the best burger in Saskatchewan, and certainly the best one we’ve had in ages! His brother owns a feed lot only 3 km from Major and they pasture a few of the best cattle for personal use – and use in the OK Kafe. It was wonderful to taste some real grass-fed beef again.

Another couple who entered the restaurant offered to give us a ride to Kerrobert given the late hour. We declined hoping to find a closer place to camp, and continue with our goal of riding all the way across Canada. Later, Jerry kindly offered a spot in the yard behind the cafe and allowed us to use the showers at the OK Inn (next to the cafe). Given that we were beat and there was no way we could make Kerrobert before dark, we happily accepted his offer. We were delighted at such hospitality our first night in Saskachewan, and enjoyed a delicious breakfast the next morning too.

Jerry and Becky in front of the OK Kafe
Jerry and Becky in front of the OK Kafe

If you’re ever passing through Major, stop in and say hi to Jerry – tell him the folks from Ottawa on the funny bikes sent you.

121 km, 6h 45 min – killer north wind and bad road in Sask

One of 6 or 7 Alberta commandments, displayed at the border
One of 6 or 7 “Alberta Commandments” displayed at the border. Others include: “Think Safety – safe driving starts wtih you!”, “Speed fines double when workers present”, “Alberta Checkstop: What are you willing to lose”, “60 kph limit when passing stopped emergency vehicles”

Part of a map of the farms and owners in the Major area
Part of a map of the farms and owners in the Major area. Each square is a quarter-section; a half-mile by a half-mile or 160 acres. Most farmers will farm at least a few quarter-sections, although they may not be adjacent.

Grain Elevator in Major
The Grain Elevator in Major – a fixture in almost all prairie towns

Elevation Profile
Download GPS Track in GPX format

3 Responses to “Saskatchewan didn’t welcome us, but the people did!”

  1. Jason Says:

    Hi Scott and Becky,

    Margo and I are friends of Peter and Darlene’s and are proud relocated (to Ottawa) “Gappers” as “foreigners” (like Newfies :) ) call Saskatchewan. We’re happy you had a warm welcome in our home province and hope that continues! You are lucky to see and capture a picture of a traditional “prairie giant” (aka grain elevator) as there are fewer and fewer dotting the Saskatchewan skyline – Viterra (formerly Sask Wheat Pool) is consildating grain collection at larger, concrete terminals – those wooden elevators that remain are either slowly being taken down or the occasional farmer’s cooperative have purchased them – soon they will only be on “Corner Gas” DVDs.

    The welcome to Saskatchewan sign you are striving for may be captured only upon your leaving SK…I know there’s one on Highway 16 (aka The Yellowhead) on the SK-MAN border (don’t know if you’re continuing that way or not. They are on the AB-SK border, but probably not where you crossed in.

    Happy trails – and enjoy a Great Western beer or Old Dutch ketchup chips – although those are now available in ON at the Metro!

    P.S. Have you seen any dogs? They’ve probably been running away for a couple of days and the owner can still see them! :)

  2. Richard Guy Briggs Says:

    Hi Scott and Becky, and Jason,

    Your stories of sparse services and the comment about “prairie giants” recalls our experience crossing Canada (Vic-Mtl) in 1991… We left Maple Creek that day, leaving the Trans-Canada Highway at Swift Current to take Highway 363… We had hoped to have supper at Neidpath. When we got there, nothing seemed to be open and we saw no-one, so we had little choice but to continue if we wanted something to eat that night or the next morning. We continued. While we didn’t get rained on, after dark there were 3 isolated lightning storms waaaaaay off on the horizon, far enough that no thunder was heard. We finally got to Hodgeville after 23:00 after completing 230km that day (the longest of the trip), 35km more than planned. A local guy openned his pizzaria to make us a pizza, bless him. We pitched our tent in the village baseball diamond.

    8 months after completing the trip, I was reading my Canadian Geographic (I’ve had a subscription for several decades) and recognized a double-page photo of a prairie town featuring a “prairie giant”, thinking: “I’ve been here.” It turns out that the photo was of Neidpath, and the article title was “Ghost towns of Saskatchewan”.

    I just finished a 135km trip in one day with my 6 year old son Nicolas. I’ve been doing this trip annually since 1986 and it normally takes 6.5 hours. Here’s a photo as we left: http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/07/25/07-37-33i1.html He did really well! If he was bored, he didn’t tell me. He didn’t fall asleep. He was probably too busy counting motorcycles (171).

    Looking forward to seeing you when you return.

  3. Meike Says:

    You hit the nail on the head.
    They are a hybrid of cattle and buffalo. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattalo
    Beefalo are a fertile hybrid offspring of domestic cattle, Bos taurus, and the American Bison, Bison bison (generally called buffalo in the US). The breed was created to combine the best characteristics of both animals with a view towards beef production.

    The term Cattalo is defined by United States law as a cross of bison and cattle which have a bison appearance; however, in Canada, cattalo is used for hybrids of all degrees and appearance. In the U.S., Cattalo are regulated as “exotic animals” along with pure bison, elk, and deer. Beefalo are primarily cattle in genetics and appearance with the breed association defining a full Beefalo as one with three eighths (37.5%) bison genetics while they call animals with higher percentages of bison genetics as “bison hybrids”.

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