I promise to get back on the Ecuadorian journey soon, but with the beautiful fall colours surrounding me, I wanted to share my recent discoveries from a road trip this past weekend to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I made the journey to Saskatoon to present a travel writing workshop at a writer’s conference promoted by the Professional Writers Association of Canada. The fall colours along the 1870 kilometre round-trip journey were my bonus.
I’d been to Saskatoon before and remember being impressed by this lovely small city, but the trip this year gave me insight into the reason people move to Saskatoon and are soon enamoured with its history and culture, subtle beauty, quality of life, and ease of getting around.
Delta Bessborough Hotel
We had the great pleasure of staying at the Delta Bessborough Hotel, a historic property built in the early 1930′s as the last of the iconic Canadian National Railway hotels. If you’ve travelled across Canada, no doubt you’ve stayed at or visited some of the other CN hotels that include the Banff Springs Hotel, the Chateau Lake Louise, the Chateau Frontenac, Hotel Fort Garry, and other stand alone properties that are icons in each of their respective locations across Canada.
The Delta “Bess” as it’s known by the locals is truly the number one iconic property in Saskatchewan, both in its origin as the most modern and luxurious hotel of its time, and in today’s world as the only four-star diamond property in Manitoba or Saskatchewan. Stefan Deprez, director of sales and marketing, gives historic tours of the hotel to groups and dignitaries and proudly points out the extensive amount of memorabilia and historic photographs on display to preserve the past, but that $6.5 million in recent renovations boast a “transitional styling” that successfully marries the contemporary with the traditional. You’ll see the original ceramic floors and deep enamel tubs in the guestrooms, but also have free wifi and flatscreen TV’s.
What I really loved about our location at the Bess is that it stands right along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River in the downtown of the city, with beautiful walking trails and the Kiwanis Memorial Park to provide comfort and diversions for joggers, dog walkers, lovers, and happy families. I saw a lot of smiling faces and was greeted at every turn by folks just enjoying the great outdoors on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
With seven bridges that cross the South Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon is known as the City of Bridges. It also boasts having more hours of sunshine annually than any other major Canadian city. No wonder the people are smiling! Sunshine certainly makes me smile.
And so does chocolate, as you know! I found a Laura Secord store in the Midtown Plaza, a shopping centre just a short walk from the hotel. And I’m told that Harden & Huyse is an artisanal Belgian chocolatier worth checking out. Saskatoon-based Arriba makes a terrific raw chocolate bar that I had the pleasure of tasting in Winnipeg. And there are others such as Callebaut. That’s a lot of good chocolate variety for a small city.
Indeed, I was surprised to learn that at only 260,000 people, Saskatoon is Saskatchewan’s largest city. It may be small on population, but it’s big on hospitality, natural beauty, quality of life, and cultural offerings. I’m glad knowing I’ll be back in less than nine months for the TMAC conference!
Have you been to Saskatoon (or Saskatchewan?) What were your impressions? Please share them with us and join us back here the week of October 1st when we’ll continue life’s journey.