I won't deny that there are some glaring gaps in the Canada 150 Countdown.
These regional omissions were pointed out to me several times as July 1 neared. As “Canucklehead” put it in a comment: "The Canada 150 Countdown? Where's Manitoba? Yukon? The WHOLE DAMN EAST COAST? Time for a new title!"
Then there's this comment from “From The Rock”: "Still waiting for something from Newfoundland. Why don't you come visit?"
Honestly, I would like nothing more. Between now and the Canada 200 celebrations I plan to attend as a vampire or mummy, I solemnly pledge to explore more of the six provinces and two territories that aren't covered by the Ontario-Quebec-BC-Alberta-NWT Countdown. (Happy now, Canucklehead?) Now that my Atlantic Canada and Yukon/Nunavut to-do lists are out there, here are the six spots at the top of my 50-year itinerary for Manitoba and Saskatchewan:
Getting a first-hand look at the world’s largest land carnivore sounds worthy of my bucket list — but getting eaten by said carnivore does not. In Churchill, however, polar bears padding across the tundra can be viewed safely from tractor-wheeled tundra buggies, one of many local diversions that help make this town on the shores of Hudson’s Bay a true gateway to the North. Beluga whale watching flourishes in summer — visitors can even snorkel with them — and bird-watchers flock here in spring. Winter, meanwhile, is the best time to go dog-sledding and watch the Northern Lights dance overhead.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Now vying for World Heritage Site status, this complex explores 6,000 years of Northern Plains Indian culture. More than 20 hands-on archaeological sites litter than property, along with walking and snowshoe trails, a medicine wheel, and a buffalo enclosure. For a more immersive experience, year-round teepee sleepovers include bannock and muskeg tea, as well as traditional storytelling around a campfire.
I regret never visiting Taylor Field, the former home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, to watch my Calgary Stampeders put the hurt on the Green and White. Thankfully, the CFL's best fans continue to sport hollowed-out watermelons, which is something I simply must see given my world-class Watermelon Scramble skills.
Riding Mountain National Park
Sitting atop the Manitoba Escarpment, this World Biosphere Reserve lures hikers, paddlers and cross-country skiers to forested hills and valleys, deep gorges and plentiful lakes. This diverse parkland must contrast beautifully with the surrounding prairie, with a beautiful-looking forest skating rink and 200 kilometres of XC ski trails adding to the allure.
Grasslands National Park
Deer? Check. Antelope? Check. A home where the buffalo roam? Check — that is, after a herd of plains bison was reintroduced to Grasslands in 2006. With its pristine namesake terrain, fossil-rich badlands and ancient tepee rings, this relatively recent addition to Canada's national parks provides a glimpse of prairie life before European settlers moved in. With a complete lack of artificial light earning it “dark-sky preserve” status in 2009, I'm confident I'll get a superb look at the heavens because, you know, the skies are not cloudy all day…
Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort
As a bath person, Canada’s largest geothermal mineral-water rooftop pool sounds too good to miss. And if said soak is combined with an “Indian Spice Hot Oil Massage Treatment” at the Sun Tree Spa, all the better!
WHERE TO STAY
A short walk from Mosaic Stadium, the Delta Hotels Regina is an ideal option for visiting CFL fans.