To reach Western Canada, a crossing on the Prairies is mandatory. Rather than crossing them in one go on the highway, we took advantage of being slow to take our time to “fly over” the two prairie provinces: Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Manitoba: The Beginning of the Prairies and Central Canada
Arriving from Ontario on the highway to Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, the mandatory stop is the sign that marks the longitudinal center of the country. We had fun photographing the truck in front 🙂
We stopped in Winnipeg mainly for the Royal Mint, where the Canadian currency is still minted today, in addition to the currency of 70 other countries.
We also took the time to walk through the city and ask questions to the locals about life in this part of the country.
Oak Hammock Marsh in Canada’s Prairies
Just a few miles north of Winnipeg is Oak Hammock Marsh, a conservation center for prairie marsh flora and fauna. We went there for a day trip to observe animals. Unfortunately, it was so hot that even the ducks were looking for shade. After walking for 15 minutes in the tall grasses of the marsh, we were covered with ticks and spiders. So we ran back to the truck to picnic in the shade. It was still a great visit. We really enjoyed the inside part of the center of the marsh.
Riding Mountain National Park
This park was not on our list of things to do at all, but since we were not far away and we did not want to cross the province on the highway, we made a little detour. With no regret, so much has happened to us.
When we arrive in the early evening, we come across a bear walking quietly next to the park gate. This is our first bear of the trip. 🙂
We sleep on a picnic area in the park, at the edge of a lake. It peaceful, and we hope to see animals in the evening. Instead, it rains, and we get attacked by mosquitoes all night, there are hundreds in the RV … They are so small, we do not even know how they get in the truck … I almost didn’t sleep!
The next day, we are at the visitor center early to get information on the park and decide what the day will be like. Despite the fatigue, we decide to go for a hike of a dozen kilometers to try to observe animals around a lake, the Moon Lake.
No animals, but a hike in really abundant vegetation. We are soaked by the water that covers the plants at our feet. As the trail is around a lake, we imagine that we can picnic on a bank at the edge of the water, but there is no place where we can reach the lake, it is barely even visible during the whole hike. We finish as quickly as possible and we eat at the picnic area of the parking lot. We put our feet in the water to cool off, and Pierre-Adrien comes out with a leech. 😀
In Riding Mountain National Park, “wild bison” can be seen in an enclosure accessible by a gravel road. We decide to do this loop before leaving the park. The gravel road is in very bad condition. We drive slowly, we don’t want to break something in the truck. After many kilometers, it is the breakdown, the engine turns off!
It’s a bit of a panic, and we don’t have cell reception. We imagine that it can be a gas breakdown, fortunately, we have a 20-litre jerrican that we add immediately. We’re not starting… The oil is ok, the temperature is ok, we do not understand … So we stop a car and when we gather our things to go get more gas, in a panic, Pierre-Adrien can’t find his wallet, so we don’t have any money. We explain to the nice couple that we finally don’t need their help… They leave and of course, Pierre-Adrien finds his wallet… 😀
He decides to go under the truck to see if everything is okay, because we do not hear the electric noise when we start. Indeed, the injection pump was disconnected from all the shaking on the gravel road!
We managed to leave, but we didn’t see any bison. 🙁
After this tiring night and day, we really needed to stay put on a campsite. Luckily, a hundred kilometers away, there was a campground by donation offered by the city of Russel with electrical outlets and a dump station (fee for water) right next door. So we settled in this spot for a few days to rest. On site, we met Jim and Laurie Pierce, whom we will see again in British Columbia 2 months later.
In Russel, we were only 16 km from Saskatchewan. It was so nice at this campground that we preferred to stay longer and not go to four planned parks in Saskatchewan: Prince Albert National Park, Candle Lake Provincial Park, Meadow Lake Provincial Park and the Grasslands National Park. For the first 3, it was a question of time and distance, we did not have enough time to go so far and do everything we wanted to do, even if we had not stopped in Russel for so long. And for the last, I read that it was just as nice to visit this park in winter. This is on our list for a weekend when we will be settled.
Saskatchewan, Canada’s prairies
Saskatchewan is really the flat and yellow country, the prairies, fields of culture as far as the eye can see, with some hills.
Little Manitou Lake
We stopped at this spa destination in the middle of nowhere for the water of Little Manitou Lake, Canada’s Dead Sea. There is nothing spectacular about it. It is not beautiful, but it was very nice to swim in relatively warm water compared to the Great Lakes waters that we had left in Ontario.
After the swimming break, we went to town. In Regina, we stayed at the Science Center.
We came to Regina for the Mounted Police Museum. We visited the museum on a Monday, Cadet School Graduate Day at the RCMP Police Training School (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). As a result, we were attending Sergeant Major’s parade with the families of the cadets. This parade is included in the museum visit with a small train that takes you to see the buildings of the school and explains how it works. It was a very nice visit. The museum is very well built. : D
We were a few days away from meeting with my parents. But, we had some shopping, laundry and repairs to do on the truck. We stopped overnight in a campsite in Moose Jaw to do laundry. When we arrived in Brooks, Alberta, one day before my family, we found a garage that could repair our leak of steering fluid, which we had since the beginning of the trip and diagnosed since the beginning of the Prairies.