Four Days of Great Music and Unforgettable Fun at Craven Country Jamboree

Include some fantastic music in your summer travel plans!

Include some fantastic music in your summer travel plans!

©2008Angie Haggstrom

Running in the beginning of July is one of the biggest music festivals in Canada. Craven Country Jamboree 2008 is over, but next year’s show is already in full swing. With some of the biggest names in country music in one of the friendliest places in the Canadian Prairies, it’s no wonder people travel here from all over the world.

Located at Craven, Saskatchewan in the beautiful Qu’Appelle valley, the World’s Greatest Country Music Festival is a short drive from Regina. Their show has hosted some of the world’s biggest music stars on their stage throughout their 25-year history. Reba McEntire, Roy Orbison, Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw and the list goes on and on.

Besides an amazing lineup the show also includes a wide variety of activities. You can hang out in the beer gardens and listen to the tunes. There are Pro Bull Riding events, beach parties, a 50/50 lottery, and cowboy church. The surrounding communities also hold many different events and sales throughout the show.

So where do you lay your head while you’re here? Right here, of course! The grounds includes open group camping where you find yourself a spot and set up camp. Reserved camp sites are available as well away from the crowds, but you might want to book those early. The general camping area is $40 for their 2009 show and reserved areas range from $75-$100.

The 2008 Jamboree had sold out all 23 500 tickets before the show had even started. The music linup included the talents of Sara Evans, Mark Chesnutt, Paul Brandt, Toby Keith, Sawyer Brown, and many more. Tickets are already on sale for the 2009 festival. Prices range from $139 – $179 for the entire show and there are only 21 000 available.

If you are looking to include an unforgettable event in your travel plans next summer, you should definitely consider this event! If great music and a fun time isn’t enough, there are so many more things to do. Regina has a natural history and science museum as well as a host of other attractions and services. Until then…

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(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/music-craven-country-jamboree/)

Fort Walsh and The Cypress Hills Masacre the Focus of a Movie

For those of you who found the story of Fort Walsh and the Cypress Hills Masacre, CBC has the perfect thing. A movie entitled “The Englishman’s Boy” tells the tale of the massacre and the history behind it. The fantastic movie stars Bob Hoskins and Nicholas Campbell. The ‘Indians’ in the movie are portrayed by many of the local Aboriginals that live in the area.

(This post can now be found here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/fort-walsh-cypress-hills-masacre/)

Three Romantic Manitoba Getaways on a Budget

Dog Sledding in Manitoba

Dog Sledding in Manitoba

©2008Angie Haggstrom

Just because gas prices are rocketing doesn’t mean you have to turn your romantic getaway or honeymoon into a staycation. Manitoba has some fantastic spots to get an unforgettable vacation at prices you can handle. Budget vacations means thinking outside the box and a taste for trying new things!

Northern Manitoba – “Bluesky Bed & Sled”

Dog sledding anyone? Believe it or not, this remarkable vacation is affordable for even the tightest of budgets. Once you arrive at the fantastic bed and breakfast you will immediately fall in love with the local area. The quaint B&B is beautifully decorated giving you the feel of luxury and comfort in one space. You almost seem to travel back in time as you open the door.

Once you have settled in, a tour of the area is a great place to get started. The B&B work in conjunction with Bluesky Expedition gives you the perfect opportunity to see and learn about this amazing ecosystem. The sledding tours are led by Manitoba native and resident expert Gerald Azure and his amazing four-legged friends. Best of all, there are opportunities for guests to see the area and get to know the team all year round. Definitely worth the trip!

City Vacation – Bob and Margret’s Place

If it sounds like you are stopping in to stay with a friend, you are exactly right. Located next to the river, this stunning and historic house is a home away from home. You get the benefits of living in your own home with the added benefits of staying in a hotel at reasonable rates! From here, you can spend afternoon sightseeing at the many local attractions and beautiful scenes in historic Winnipeg. The city often hosts a variety of events and festivals all year round, so it is always a good idea to check around. The B&B is the perfect opportunity to take a lunch for a picnic. Head down to the river or to the nearby Vimy Ridge Memorial Park or Munson Park across the river.

Winnipeg has some great places to see during you stay. With a donation, the Grant’s Old Mill is a great opportunity to see a real working mill from the 1800s. The Living Prairie Museum and the Manitoba Crafts Museum are fantastic as well. The Manitoba Museum, the Children’s Museum, and the Forks National Historic Site do charge an admission, but it is definitely worth the small charge.

These are just two great romantic honeymoon vacations available in Manitoba. When you are looking to travel to the area, keep your eye out for deals. Many places like the Manitoba Tourism website has many great deals. You can get passes that get you into the best of Winnipeg’s sites or deals on accommodations and adventures for Churchill and the rest of Manitoba. Whether you would like to see polar bears or city sites, you are sure to find it here at a price you can afford!

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(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/manitoba/romantic-manitoba-budget-getaways/)

Fort Walsh: Horses, Whiskey, and Murder

James Morrow Walsh

James Morrow Walsh

©2008AngieHaggstrom

South West of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan Canada is a national historic site that not many know exists. Part of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Fort Walsh National Historic Site is a recreation of the Trading Post, town site, cemeteries, and North West Mounted Police (NWMP) Fort that once flourished here. The Trading Post was a major trading point in the west and was an important part of daily life for the Aboriginals, traders, and settlers who lived here. In fact, the events that occurred in this area changed life on the Canadian Prairies forever.

The area had been a hub of activity before the construction of the Fort and even before Farwell’s Trading Post. The local tribes often used this area for winter camps because of the trees and abundant wildlife in the park. The Metis people (those who had Aboriginal and French lineage) also settled into the area. In fact, you can still see the tipi rings and the cellars of the Metis shanties to this day.

Then, in the 1870 a man named Abe Farwell moved out west and built a trading post here to trade furs and supplies for the Hudson Bay Company. The tribes and fur traders (often called wolfers) camped not far from the post and would bring in their pelts and collect their much-needed supplies. This was a huge benefit to the area at the start. European settlers received furs, beads, and other supplies from the west and the people here could get pots, tobacco, lanterns, and other items that were simply not available this far west.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all innocent. Farwell also brought in whiskey, which the natives and wolfers traded for freely. One night in 1873, the wolfers were drinking heavily and chatting away when they noticed their horse missing. Immediately the local Nakota tribe was blamed for stealing it. The drunken wolfers gathered up their buddies, grabbed their guns, and headed towards the village. It is not known who fired the first shot, but what is known is the devastation left behind. By the end of the fight, men, women, children, and even the elderly were murdered where they stood; almost the entire tribe was eradicated.

The worst part was yet to come. After the massacre was over, the horse was found a short time later not far from the wolfers camp. The horse’s owner hadn’t tied him off properly and the horse had simply wandered off. The traders were taken to trial, and even with Farewell ‘s testimony, they were found to be innocent of their charges. Today, this event is known as the Cypress Hills Massacre.

Chief Sitting Bull

Chief Sitting Bull

This event did cause two positive changes in the Canadian prairies. First, because the wolfers went to court, the Aboriginals eventually respected and trusted the NWMP. This became vital three years later in 1876 when General Custer was defeated in the ‘Battle of Little Big Horn.’ Chief Sitting Bull and the Sioux would arrive and stay until they signed treaties and return to the United States in 1881. Secondly, the Massacre led to the arrival of the Canadian Mounties (NWMP) and the building of Fort Walsh in 1875. James Morrow Walsh initially ran the Fort. He would become a great friend of Chief Sitting Bull and would eventually arrange talks between the American Government and the Sioux.

After a long and trying fight, the Mounties would eventually bring peace to the area. After there was no more buffalo for the wolfers to trade and the Aboriginals had been settled onto reserves, (the Nikaneet still live on a reserve in the Cypress Hills not too far from the Fort), the need for the Mounties was gone and they left in 1883.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) returned to the Fort in 1942 and used it to train and breed their horses until 1968. This would lead to the creation of the famous RCMP Musical Ride and their signature black horses.

There is so much to see at the Fort Walsh site and the quiet countryside makes it a peaceful and interesting afternoon. You can get a tour of the Fort including the Trading Post, the museum and theatre, the cemeteries, the town site, and even enjoy the picnic or cafeteria. They even have cannon demonstrations, the Musical Ride, and other events throughout the year.

If you would like to take more information about the area or history, here are some sites that might interest you:

A virtual tour of Fort Walsh

Comprehensive information about Abe Farewell and the Fort

Pictures from the Fort

Thank you for taking the tour of the Cypress Hills!

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(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/fort-walsh-horses-whiskey-murder/)

Breaking News: Cypress Hills Alberta Visitors Center is Now Open to Winter Visitors

The Visitors Center in Cypress Hills Alberta will now be open all year round! The center has just announced they will hold a grand opening in the coming days to celebrate its expansion into the winter season. They will not only be able to guide visitors about wildlife, sightseeing spots, and other valuable information in the area, but they will also be holding a variety of events and interactive programs for their winter visitors. This is great news for those seeking a romantic Christmas vacation at a or just getting away from the stress of daily life.

(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/alberta/cypress-hills-alberta-visitors-center/)

Cypress Hills Alberta: A Wild Outdoor Adventure or a Relaxing Retreat

Reesor Lake - A Great Place For A Day in the Prairie Sunshine

Reesor Lake - A Great Place For A Day in the Prairie Sunshine

©2008 Angie Haggstro

The Alberta side of the Cypress Hills is a quiet haven that can be as civilized or as wilds as you want it to be. Downhill skiing, water skiing, and jet skiing are just a few of the activities you can enjoy here. If you prefer a more relaxed vacation, why not spend a romantic weekend at the Elkwater Lodge taking nature walks and fishing.

If you enter the park from the #1, Elkwater greets you with bang. As you crest the hill, the beautiful lake appears at the foot of the woods, and if you continue around the lake, the small little cabin community of Elkwater introduces itself with style. If you are looking for a place to stay, there is a multitude of options. The campground has a variety of different sites depending on your camping style. Tenting sites are nestled into the bush giving you privacy and the feel of seclusion. Other campsites available include a range of fully electric and non-electric spots that are private, shared, or design specifically for large groups.

Cabins for rent in the area supply you with quiet, quaint cabins to the ultimate in rustic luxury. A small Bed and Breakfast is also open in the area. The opulent Elkwater Lake Lodge can easily become your home away from home. There is a wide selection of rooms available including suites, cabins, and magnificent condominiums. The new facility features an award winning culinary staff in the Buglers Restaurant that serves everything from delicious pastas to rabbit. If a manicure, pedicure, or massage is in order, there is the Woodlands Massage and Spa located right there for your convenience.

Elkwater also has an additional restaurant and store run by some of the nicest people you will ever meet. There is a service station located on the main road into town as well as a visitor’s centre that is a wealth of information about the area and often holds various programs throughout the season. While you are here, be sure to take the time to enjoy the animals and scenery in the area with a hike on several of the established trails or make your own way. You will have the opportunity to see all sorts of wildlife including moose, squirrels, deer, and owls as well as a selection of rare flowers and plants. Some of the local favorites are wild raspberries, strawberries, and beautiful orchids.

The summer season is host to a variety of activities. Mini golfing, fishing, and swimming are great to start your holiday. There is also biking, boating, and a full sized golf course available. In the winter, you can enjoy downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, ice skating, or even an afternoon just playing in the snow and enjoying the fresh, peaceful outdoors.

If you do decide to go for a drive and the weather has been nice, drive to the east and head towards ReesorLake. It is not the smoothest backcountry road you will ever be on, but it is definitely worth the drive so long as it hasn’t been raining. Reesor Lake is a massive lake with enough space to enjoy their favorite activities from fishing and boating to wind surfing and jet skiing.

Come for a visit, enjoy the area, and feel free to explore! You may even fall in love with the area and decide to stay.

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