Don’t let anyone tell you that the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is boring. There’s much more to the Land of Living Skies than endless prairies. So what exactly is Saskatchewan known for?
You’ll find out below with these surprising, educational, and fun facts about Saskatchewan. They are organized into general Saskatchewan facts, random interesting facts, and finally Saskatchewan history facts.
Table of Contents
General Saskatchewan Facts
- Saskatchewan is the middle of the three prairie provinces, with Alberta to its west and Manitoba to its east. It is also considered part of Western Canada.
- Saskatchewan is also bordered by the Northwest Territories to the north, and Montana and North Dakota states of the USA to the south. It is kitty corner to Nunavut to the northeast.
- Of the 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada, Saskatchewan is the only one whose borders are totally defined by parallels and meridians. It is located between the 49th and 60th parallels North, and the 101°21’41″ and 110th meridians West.
- Despite being considered a prairie province, the northern half of Saskatchewan is actually covered with boreal forests.
- Saskatchewan is one of only two provinces or territories that are landlocked (the other is Alberta).
- Saskatchewan is 651,036 km2 (251,366 mi2), making it the 7th largest province or territory. It is similar in size to Afghanistan.
- Almost 10% of Saskatchewan is water, including over 100,000 lakes.
- All of Saskatchewan only has 1.18 million people, less than the cities of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, or Calgary.
- Half of Saskatchewan’s population live in the province’s largest city, Saskatoon, or the capital city, Regina. The vast majority of the province live in its southern third.
- 10% of people in Saskatchewan are First Nations, and another 5% are Métis, more than any other province except Manitoba and the territories.
- Indigenous groups in Saskatchewan include Cree, Dakota, Nakota, Dene, and Saulteaux. The province includes territories covered by treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10.
- People from Saskatchewan are called Saskatchewanians, or less commonly, Saskatchewaners.
- Saskatchewan is named after the river of the same name, which comes from the Cree word for the river, ᑭᓯᐢᑳᒋᐘᓂ ᓰᐱᐩ kisiskāciwani-sīpiy (first Romanised as Keiskatchewan), and meaning “swift flowing river”. The North and South Saskatchewan rivers meet to form the Saskatchewan River northeast of Saskatoon, which later drains into Lake Winnipeg.
- The flag of Saskatchewan is green and gold, representing forests in the north and fields of grain in the south, with a prairie lily and the province’s coat of arms.
- The province’s official animal is the white-tailed deer and official fruit is the Saskatoon berry, named after its largest city, and often used to make jam or pie.
- The Saskatchewan slogan “Land of Living Skies” was chosen in 1997 as the winner of a license plate slogan contest. There were 33,587 entries.
Random Interesting Facts about Saskatchewan
- Saskatchewan is known for having its own unique slang, with words like bunnyhug (hoodie), buttcrack (referring to rural areas in the middle of nowhere), and dainties (cookies or sweet treats).
- There are also claims that the Canadian slang word “hoser,” referring to an idiot or hillbilly and popularized by Bob and Doug McKenzie, originated in Saskatchewan (this claim is unverified).
- Like in Edmonton, Alberta, the Saskatchewan Legislature Grounds in Regina are referred to as The Leg (pronounced “The Ledge”).
- Saskatchewanians are also known for shortening many other common and proper nouns. Some examples: Pil for Pilsner beer, Roughies for the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team, ODR for outdoor hockey rink, and the X for Queen City Ex, an annual outdoor event in Regina.
- Saskatchewan shares one city with Alberta: Lloydminster. Residents of the whole city use Alberta time, though.
- Despite being geographically located in the Mountain Time Zone (the same as Alberta), Saskatchewan is in the Central Time Zone. However, because it doesn’t do daylight savings time like its neighboring provinces, it has the same time as Alberta in summer, and same as Manitoba in winter.
- Saskatchewan is the sunniest area in Canada. Lower Saskatchewan and Alberta are sometimes called the Sun Belt of Canada.
- Saskatchewan receives over a dozen tornadoes per year, on average.
- The hottest temperature ever recorded in Saskatchewan was 45.0°C (113°F), while the lowest was −56.7°C (−70°F). That’s a difference of over 100 degrees Celsius (or 183 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Besides plains are forests, Saskatchewan has some large sand dunes, including the Great Sand Hills in the south and the Athabasca Sand Dunes in the north, which are world’s northernmost major active sand dunes.
- Athabasca Lake (shared with Alberta) and Reindeer Lake (shared with Manitoba) cover a combined area larger than Montenegro.
- Saskatchewan has two national parks: Prince Albert National Park and Grasslands National Park.
- Prince Albert National Park was named after the town of the same name, which was named after the husband (and cousin) of Queen Victoria. It is north of Saskatoon in the boreal forest. It is one of the places in Saskatchewan where you see purple beaches, caused by garnet sand carried there from the Canadian Shield.
- Grasslands National Park in the far south wasn’t created until 1980. It is one of the country’s last remaining undisturbed prairie grasslands and home to the country’s only black-tailed prairie dog colonies.
- Cypress Hills, an interprovincial park shared with Alberta, were never glaciated, and thus contain a totally different landscape, flora and fauna than the plains that surround them.
- Saskatchewan has 39 provincial parks (compared to around 500 in Alberta and 1000 in British Columbia).
- Saskatchewan has no UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but Wanuskewin, a First Nations center in Saskatoon, is on the tentative list.
- The Last Mountain Lake Bird Sanctuary in between Saskatoon and Regina is the oldest bird sanctuary in North America.
- Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan has the world’s largest moose, Mac the Moose. After Norway built a larger one, Moose Jaw added taller antlers to reclaim the title.
- Saskatchewan is home to numerous other curious roadside attractions, include the world’s largest coffee pot, paperclip, lily, and a replica of the Eiffel Tower.
- The T. Rex Discovery Centre in Eastend houses the skeleton of the largest T. Rex ever found, named Scotty and found in 1991.
- Little Manitou Lake is like the Dead Sea – it contains so many minerals that you can float on it, either on the lake or in the hot spring hotel on its shore. There is also a thermal hot spring spa in Moose Jaw called Temple Gardens.
- Moose Jaw is also home to the Al Capone Tunnels, originally built by Chinese railway workers to escape persecution, and where the famous gangster supposedly hid out and bootlegged alcohol in the early 1930s.
- 60% of Canada’s wheat is grown in Saskatchewan.
- Saskatchewan is also the world’s leading producer of mustard and pulses (like chickpeas and lentils).
- Saskatchewan’s economy was traditionally agriculture-based, but today that makes up less than 10% of the GDP. Mining, oil, finance, and social services make larger contributions.
- Saskatchewan has 250,000 km (160,000 mi) of roads, more than any other province. That’s enough to travel around the world 4 times.
- Though today considered a conservative, right-wing province, Saskatchewan was socialist and left-wing for most of the 20th century, even acquiring the nickname People’s Republic of Saskatchewan.
- Some famous people from Saskatchewan include actors Leslie Nielsen, Kim Coates, and Cas Anvar, actresses Kari Matchett and Tatiana Maslany, NHL players Gordie Howe and Glenn Hall, indigenous artist Alen Sapp, and indigenous musician Buffy Sainte-Marie.
- Alberta-born musician Joni Mitchell first made a name for herself performing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
- No Canadian Prime Minister has ever been born in Saskatchewan, but John Diefenbaker grew up there.
- Saskatchewan has produced more NHL hockey players per capita than any other province. The beer company Budweiser has given the province an ice sculpture and wooden trophy to say thanks for this. However, Saskatchewan has never had its own NHL team because it doesn’t have the population to support it.
- The province is also known for curling and football, with Regina’s Saskatchewan Roughriders being the province’s only CFL team. Fans are collectively known as Rider Nation.
- The English psychiatrist Humphry Osmond was the first in the world to use the word “psychedelic”, while researching the application of psychedelic drugs at the Weyburn Mental Hospital in Saskatchewan.
Historical Saskatchewan Facts
- 1.8 billion years ago, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, part of a continent called Churchill Continent, collided into Ontario. Saskatchewan was still mostly covered by an inland sea until the time of the dinosaurs.
- Indigenous remains in Northern Saskatchewan go back as early as 6000 BCE.
- At the time of European contact, Athapaskans (Dene or Chipewyan), Cree, Nakota, and Dakota First Nations lived in Saskatchewan.
- In 1670, English King Charles II claimed a vast area that would come to be known as Rupert’s Land, which included Saskatchewan.
- In 1774, the first trading post in Saskatchewan, Cumberland House, was built on the Saskatchewan River in the province’s northeast.
- In 1870, when the Canada Confederation was formed, Saskatchewan was not a part of it yet. Rupert’s Land, which Saskatchewan had been a part of, was sold by the Hudson’s Bay Company to Canada, and the area of Saskatchewan became part of the Northwest Territories.
- In 1882, Saskatchewan was designated as one of the official districts of the Northwest Territories.
- In the early 1880s, the trans-Canadian railway was built across Saskatchewan. Migration to the area increased through to the early 1900s, and the prairies were heavily promoted in England, with many making the move to open farms.
- From 1876 to 1882, Fort Battleford in western Saskatchewan was the capital of the Northwest Territories, after which it moved to Regina when it was decided the railway line would go through Regina rather than Battleford.
- After treaties were signed with the First Nations, the Métis people felt left out. Many Métis and First Nations were also unhappy with the hunting laws.
- In 1885, the Métis, along with local First Nations, staged a rebellion, with the Métis leader Louis Riel at its forefront. Louis Riel had previous led the Red River Rebellion, which had led to the formation of Manitoba.
- In late 1885, Louis Riel was tried and executed for treason in Regina.
- In 1905, the province of Saskatchewan was born, with Regina as its capital.
- The Saskatchewan Roughriders became a team in 1910.
- In WWII, the global price of wheat tripled, and Saskatchewan boomed, but this crashed after the war, and got especially bad during the Great Depression. In WWII, Saskatchewan boomed again.
- In 1916, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba became the first provinces to allow women to vote.
- After liquor was banned in 1916, bootlegging took off in the 1920s, and gangsters including Al Capone conducted whiskey smuggling from underground caves in Moose Jaw and Cypress Hills. Moose Jaw came to be known as “Sin City of the North” and “Little Chicago”.
- In 1944, Saskatchewan had the first socialist government in all of North America, and in 1961, the province got the first universal health plan in North America.
- In 1949, First Nations gained the right to vote in Saskatchewan.
- After WWII, mechanization allowed farms in Saskatchewan to grow much larger and be more productive.
- In 1969 and 1970, the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon accepted grain for tuition fees to help rural folk handle an international drop in wheat prices.
- In 1992, the government of Saskatchewan signed a major agreement with the provinces indigenous people, allowing them to buy land for their bands.
In 2017, a plan to build a major oil pipeline from Alberta and Saskatchewan to eastern Canada was cancelled.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Saskatchewan (along with Alberta) had the lowest rates of vaccination of any province.