South Saskatchewan

South Saskatchewan and Sasktachewan Rivers

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Natural Heritage

The South Saskatchewan and Saskatchwan Rivers rise in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, flows eastward across the prairies and meets with the North Saskatchewan River at the Saskatchewan River Forks. The Saskatchewan River flows from there into Lake Winnipeg, eventually emptying into Hudson Bay via the Nelson River.

The nominated portion of the South Saskatchewan River begins at Saskatchewan’s border with Alberta and continues to its confluence with the North Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Rivers. The nominated portion of the Saskatchewan River ends as the river leaves the province at the Manitoba border.

Because the rivers contain dams, they were not nominated for their natural values, but they nevertheless provide habitats for countless birds, mammals, and fish. The Saskatchewan River Delta, which straddles the border between Saskatchewan and Manitoba, is the largest inland fresh water delta in North America.

Cultural Heritage

The South Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Rivers were nominated for their cultural heritage values. A number of archaeological sites along the river indicate the presence of Aboriginal peoples as far back as 8000 years. The river was used as an important transportation and trade route, first by the Aboriginal peoples and then by European traders and was integral to the fur trade. After the fur trade expanded and the region became more populated, various conflicts arose between the Cree, the Blackfoot, the Gros Ventre plains people, and the European traders and settlers. The river became the theatre for subsequent conflicts, with losses on all sides. The battles of the Northwest Resistance in 1885 are among the most recent and most significant Aboriginal/European conflicts in Canadian history.

Batoche, a Métis community founded along the shores of the South Saskatchewan River in 1872 and the scene of the Battle of Batoche in 1885, is now a national historic site. Today, for the Métis people, Batoche is both a place to celebrate their culture and a sacred place of resistance.

Recreational Heritage

The placid Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan Rivers are perfect for a leisurely paddle downstream. There are also plenty of man-made lakes along the rivers that support sailing and all forms of boating. Pike Lake Provincial Park, located within a 30 minute drive of the city of Saskatoon, is located on the South Saskatchewan flood plain and provides a number of recreational activities such as swimming, camping, picnicking, golfing, hiking, and boating. Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park on Lake Diefenbaker also provides camping, boating, hiking and other recreational opportunities.

The South Saskatchewan River flows through the urban area of Saskatoon, providing a number of activities, such as hiking, walking, fishing and cycling along the river. The Meewasin Valley Interpretive Centre, Meewasin Trail, Wanuskewin Heritage Park and Beaver Creek Conservation Area are excellent river- and culturally-focused recreational resources in and around Saskatoon. There are also numerous festivals commemorating the historical and natural importance of the rivers.

Who Manages the River?

The proponent for the designation of the South Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Rivers was Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin. Other important players in the management of these rivers include the Meewasin Valley Authority, a conservation agency dedicated to conserving the cultural and natural resources of the South Saskatchewan River Valley, and Saskatchewan Parks, Culture and Sport, which provides leadership for the CHRS program in the province.

Fun Fact:

The eastern portion of Lake Diefenbaker is significant for supporting the largest population of endangered Piping Plovers in North America.

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