Saskatchewan road trip tips
May 8, 2009 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for current information about abandoned towns (or just good photo ops) in Saskatchewan, close to Regina/Wadena/Moose Jaw (but willing to drive for a few hours). More details included below.

So I'm heading out to SK in August. (Yes, a few months away, but I want to plan ahead). We're starting off in Moose Jaw and Regina to visit family, but then will have a good three or four days to drive around and scout before returning to Regina to head home. We'll probably go north to Wadena-ish at some point, since we have people there, too.

Can anyone point me to a good spot where I'll find lots of abandonments or anything else photo-worthy in that part of the province? We're not adverse to driving a few hours, and then crashing at cheap hotels along the way, so if we can make a circular-ish route out of it, that would be perfect. I know there are a few abandoned towns here and there.

Obviously, I'm going to google the hell out of this question, too, but any personal anecdotes would be appreciated, especially if it's current info. :)

(And also, any good places to stay/eat/whatever are appreciated, too!)
posted by wennj to Travel & Transportation around Saskatchewan (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know if they have information about ghost towns specifically but you could buy or borrow from the library (via inter-library loan if your local public library doesn't have them) these:

Local historian Bill Barry has a number of books on Saskatchewan place names. Not sure if any deal specifically with ghost towns - you could even try contacting him via his web site.

"Our Towns" by David McLennan
is the latest in the "place name" genre of books here in Saskatchewan. It's a beautiful book with tons of pictures and anecdotes but again, not sure about coverage of ghost towns specifically.

I can't remember if it was Bill or Mr. McLennan but I think one of them talked about doing a book specifically about ghost towns based on their research around the province.

You could make inquiries with the libraries in the major communities you're going to be visiting - Regina has a Prairie History room, Saskatoon has a local history room as well - not sure about Moose Jaw.

Other organizations like the Saskatchewan Historical Society, the Sask Archives Board and places like that might provide leads as would museums in the communities you plan to visit.

Courval, south of Moose Jaw, is the only ghost town that comes to mind and only because one of our current NDP leadership candidates is from there and often jokes about how "we lost 20% of own population last year, his name was Jim."

A Google search for "Saskatchewan ghost towns" provides some leads as well including this site.

I did a search of the RPL catalogue for "Saskatchewan ghost towns" and that also turned up some potential leads for books/videos you might try to track down.
posted by Jaybo at 5:46 PM on May 8, 2009

Oops, sorry for telling you to Google after you told us you were going to Google. ;-)

As for places to stay/eat, "Nit's" in Moose Jaw is pretty well regarded Thai, "Bushwakkers" in Regina has been called one of Canada's best brew pubs, the Copper Kettle spinach & feta pizza in Regina is a local legend. I love Lang's Vietnamese in Regina as well. Depending on your price range, The Willows on Wascana is high-priced but very good (and a bit cheaper at lunch) with a seasonal menu focusing on local ingredients. Indian Head, 45 minutes east of Regina on the #1 highway has the Craft-Tea Elevator, a restaurant/craft shop in a converted grain elevator (and is a beautiful small town as well worth taking a drive through - plus 15 minutes north is the scenic Qu'Appelle Valley.) Oh, it's pricey as well but the Spa in Moose Jaw is worth staying at - or stay in a cheap motel (there's an Al Capone themed one which is *very* cheap but serviceable) then go to the spa for a soak.)
posted by Jaybo at 5:51 PM on May 8, 2009

You might consider the other side of the border - I have spent a fair bit of time out that way on both sides and I can say that north western North Dakota will have a much richer availability of ghost towns and abandoned buildings; see this list or this map or chech out the flicker pool for the state or something similar for eastern Montana - which I am not as familiar as. Look for towns that are on the railways, but not on the highways in Nodak, and on the rivers but again not on the main highways. Montana has a fair number of old mining towns they tourist up as well.

If I was in Regina I would go to the distrikt (formerly the State and i can't remember what it was before that). Bring American smokes if you are planning ahead - one of my favorite places on the entire planet, I've been there a number of times, usually with about 4-5 year gaps in between. Note: it is dumb fun so don't go if you don't dance.

Also if you are a meathead dude: Go to Houstan Pizza and order the special loaded. To complete the experience you should also eat at Verns Pizza with its gross meat pie. They are ridicolous and then you will get mad cred from all the s'k folks back where ever you are from.

AH! Never mind - you are going up north so forget the states - it would be hours out of the way to cross the border.
posted by zenon at 8:53 PM on May 8, 2009

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