May 9th - Saskatoon - Nipawin

As today's drive was relatively short at just under 300kms Wendy and I decided to have a look at Saskatoon before heading north-east to Nipawin. Kenny and DeeAnne left early so that he could go fishing. Apparently, Nipawin is famous for its Northern Pike. We joined Bob and Thelma at breakfast and they left shortly after, leaving us to go for a walk along the river and downtown.

Outside the hotel there was a London Transport double-decker bus which had been converted into a hot-dog stand. We couldn't believe it when Bob told us that he knew this particular bus, as he recognised the registration number as one of the fleet of buses owned by a bus company he had worked for in the 1960's.

We walked down through a small park to the river walkway and went past this memorial to the 3,598 Canadian soldiers who died at the battle of Vimy Ridge in the First World War.

From the river bank you can look up at the impressive Bessborough Hotel. It was built at the beginning of the 1930's but because of the Great Depression it wasn't opened until 1935.

One of the surprising facts we learnt about Saskatoon was that there is a large Ukrainian community and just a few hundred yards from the hotel there is the Ukrainian Museum. We were to see further evidence of the Ukrainian influence on Canadian society later in the day.

We went back to our hotel to pack up our bags, but before we left I went online to see how Chelsea were doing in their final league game against Wigan. As most will now know, Chelsea won 8:0 and with the win became Premiership Champions!! As we say at Stamford Bridge, 'Up the Blues'!!!

We drove out of Saskatoon heading north. Shortly after we turned on to the minor roads heading for the town of Melfort and we came across this wonderful church. It was standing all on its own in the middle of thousands of acres of wheat fields. It was called the Ukrainian Catholic church. Wendy took these photos of the Landcruiser and the church.

The next 'port of call' was the town of Wakaw, where we saw the tiny law office of John Diefenbaker who was Canadian Prime Minister between 1957 - 63.

We drove on through wide open farmland and saw this amazing trestle bridge. Apparently, it was an abandoned railway bridge. Quite a sight standing there at the side of the highway.

We reached Melfort around 2pm. As we drove into the town we saw that it called itself the Northern Lights Capital. When I stopped to fill up with diesel I asked the attendant about the Northern Lights and he said that they could be seen if you were lucky, though they were no longer a regular sight. As we are driving further north I wondered if we would be lucky, especially as the weather is fine with not too much cloud to obscure the sky.

The remainder of the drive, about 100kms to Nipawin was uneventful and we arrived at our the motel to be told that both Kenny and DeeAnne and  Bob and Thelma had arrived. When we went to our room we found out that they were not in the motel and presumed they had gone off  fishing.

We decided to unload our bags and drive about 30 kms north to Tobin Lake, where we thought we might find the others. The lake is about 45 kms long and was created when they dammed the Saskatchewan River.

We had a snack parked by the side of the lake and then drove back to Nipawin to see the old Nipawin Bridge that crosses the Saskatchewan River. It is a wonderful looking bridge which takes cars on a single track road under a railway line that is still used by the Canadian Railways.

After we drove to and fro across the bridge I did my 'Stand by Me' bit (for those who remember the film) when I walked along the railway track. It was quite an experience looking along the track with the river flowing under the bridge and at any moment I expected the train to appear!!


Shortly after we got back to the motel the others arrived. Kenny showed us this photo he took of the fish that he caught.

I'll report more about this tomorrow!

All in all another great day. Tomorrow we drive about 280kms to the small town of The Pas in northern Manitoba, the most northern point of our trip.

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Our ninth adventure drive, this time from Salt Spring Island, Vancouver Island in the west of Canada, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the east, with an approximate distance of 5,000 miles.