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A Journey Back in time on Southern Prairie Railway

On my latest visit back to Canada, my nephew and I went on a little adventure, touring some of the sights in Southwestern Saskatchewan. Though I lived many years close by, this an area I have spent very little time there , especially as a tourist.  We covered quite a bit of ground for one day and it was good fun throughout.

We started off with the  St. Victor’s Petroglyphs provincial park. In case you are wondering, petroglyphs are ancient sandstone carvings.  I liked the humble little park  and we happened to be there to catch the gorgeous autumn splendour.  The petroglyphs, which I  heard about in my childhood, were a bit of letdown.  The main carving area was recently fenced off so you have to view from a distance.  We saw some squiggles here and there but I couldn’t make heads nor tails of them , except the Grad ’96 one (ah, I see why the fence now).  Still an enigma to me but a great little park.

Yup, I can’t figure it out

The main petroglyph area

Next up was a stop in Willowbunch to pay our respects to the Willowbunch giant.  Édouard Beaupré was born and raised in Willowbunch and grew up to be, well, a giant, standing over 8 feet tall and weighing a solid 170 kg.  There is a large museum dedicated to him if you want to learn more.

Life-sized statue

Sadly Edouard died at the early age of 23

The main event of our adventure was going for a  a little trundle on the Southern Prairie Railway from Ogema.  Train travel is definitely a novelty in Saskatchewan these days, in fact I had never ridden a train there before.  Southern Prairie Railway was conceived some years ago by concerned citizens in the area who do not want to see their community wither away and die like so many villages on the prairie.  They have been running tours for a few years now and the popularity is growing with most tours sold out in advance. Hats off to this innovative and hard-working community.

At the Ogema station
Full up

We went on the heritage train tour, a ride on the painstakingly restored antique train across the open prairie to the next village to check out the almost 100 year old grain elevator.  The  tour is guided throughout with plenty of opportunity for questions.

The parched prairie

There is a cool, little jump seat at the back of the train

Finally, the high point of the day (pardon the pun) was finding and climbing Castle Butte.  Finding it is a bit of mission as it on private land well off of the highway.  You have to take the various no trespassing signs as just a kindly suggestion.   Even from a distance it looks rather impressive the way it seems to have popped up out of nowhere in the  Big Muddy Valley. There were quite a few people checking it out while we there.  Though it isn’t all that high,  not so many people climbed it as it is rather steep and the crumbly soil offers very little traction.   I decided to give it a go and succeeded without  breaking anything but a sweat.  The peak really narrows to a kind of razorback and it was quite windy up top too, took me awhile to chill and enjoy once I got up there.  Check out the sweet view.

She’s a ‘butte-y”

slippery trail up the middle

Made it!

Thanks to my nephew for making this adventure happen.  There is plenty to see and do in this part of the prairies, we started quite early in the morning and were busy until nighttime.  On the drive back many deer were hanging out on the roadside, as my mom always used to say “watch for the deer”.

Booking:   Best to book the train tour in advance to avoid disappointment . You can book ti online at: http://www.southernprairierailway.com/

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Brad the Nomad

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I love to live a healthy lifestyle, learn new things and travel extensively without spending a fortune.

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