Rural Sask Heart Beat: Summer Road Trip

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Gilles Laberge

Summer is many things; it's warm, it's beautiful, it's exciting; but most importantly of all, it's the best time of the year to pack the car up and head out on the road. There is still plenty of time to enjoy a Summer Road Trip of your own. This article showcases some interesting art galleries, studios and small town businesses located throughout Rural Saskatchewan. Some places I have visited, and others are on my travel list of rural attractions to visit in the future. Either way, you can use this as an itinerary around which to sculpt your next summer road trip.

 Ardill Hotel

Ardill Hotel

Ardill
You may have passed by or even stopped in Ardill, Saskatchewan before. It's a fun little stop worth making while you travel along Highway #2, between Moose Jaw and Assiniboia. The Ardill Hotel officially holds Liquor Licence #1 in Saskatchewan. The Hotel was granted that license in 1965 and is still open to this day, regardless of the town itself not having a single long term resident.

Arelee, SK
Arelee is located 60 km West of Saskatoon. It's not even large enough to warrant being called a village. It's merely a hamlet and according to the most recent census, only 10 people call Arelee home. You won't find much there besides the Mennonite Brethren Church, which has been standing since 1946. But Arelee is where you can find Arelee Art, the art studio of Ric Pollock. Pollock creates art from found and reused materials. He opened the gallery in his home in 2018. So, it's still pretty fresh. I visited Ric in Arelee as part of a Summer Road Trip I took in July 2015.

Check out Ric's Website - www.folkartbyric.com

Big Beaver
Aust's General Store had been run by the Aust Family since 1959. That's where you can find Big
Beaver Apparel
; which sells t-shirts, bunny hugs, hats and other assorted merchandise all emblazoned with logos advertising "Big Beaver Saskatchewan", "306" and "Aust's General Store". You can actually find all the "Big Beaver" merchandise online too.

I visited Big Beaver and Aust's General Store a number of years ago. It
is about time I made a trip back to Big Beaver to purchase a new sweater.

Website - www.bigbeaverapparel.com

  Photo: Saskatchewanderer   Ronnie Aust, the current owner of Aust's General Store

Photo: Saskatchewanderer

Ronnie Aust, the current owner of Aust's General Store

Brownlee
Brownlee is located only 58 km Northwest of Moose Jaw on Highway #42. Until recently, there really wasn't any reason to stop in, but along came Smooth 42 Craft Distillery and the game changed; Brownlee now has a tourism industry. Smooth 42 is located in the former Hockey Rink at 400 Cathcart Street; if you're in the town it's hard to miss. Smooth 42 Vodka Batch #001 was available on the weekend of April 20th to 22nd, 2018. They also make Handcrafted
Saskatchewan Vodka, Green Coconut Rum Flavoured Liqueur, Slanted Sailor Caribbean Style Dark NOT Rum, Apple Pie Moonshine and Caesar Ready Vodka. Amongst other places, they have showcased their products at both the Moose Jaw Homegrown Farmer's Market and the Swift Current Farmer's Market this summer.

I stopped in at the distillery on my way to Elbow back in June and had the chance to try some of their products and tour the distillery.

 Smooth 42 Distillery

Smooth 42 Distillery

About that Elbow trip: You can read about it here: Rural Sask Heartbeat: Elbow, SK

Davidson
Davidson isn't far from many of Saskatchewan's biggest cities; only an hour's drive from Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw. It's a perfect destination for a day trip. It's home to the famous 7.3 meter-high coffee pot, amongst other things.

Panther Swimming Pool opened at 400 Hamilton Street in 2017. What a great way to cool off on a hot afternoon.

Also in Davidson you can find the work of Gail Prpick. Gail and her husband Tom bought the former Bank of Montreal building in 1997. She opened And Art Gallery at 112 Washington
Avenue in 2017. Grand Opening of the gallery was on November 17th of that year. And Art Gallery is near the top of my travel list of rural attractions to visit in the future.

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Fife Lake

Fife Lake is a lovely little hamlet with a population of only 32 people. It's only 20km east of Rockglen. There's no lake in Fife Lake though; the hamlet is named after a lake that sits 11km to the Northwest. Lawson & Gail Harkness have owned the Fife Lake Hotel for 40 years. They've used the hotel as a means to be charitable in the past. The Fife Lake Hotel raised $16,053.50 for Telemiracle 42. Fife Lake Hotel is currently For Sale. 

Lafleche
Lafleche has a population of over 400 people, so it's practically a city compared to most of the other places I've mentioned in this story. It's located 105 km SW of Moose Jaw and about 80 km North of the United States Border.

The Lafleche Credit Union was the First Rural Community Credit Union in Saskatchewan; it was formed on April 19th, 1938 and celebrated it's 80th Anniversary in 2018; what a milestone! They have another branch in Glentworth.

I recommend checking out the Wood River Bar & Grill, located at 700 Main Street (Edge of town), It's open 7 days a week from 11 am to 11 pm. They've got great Burgers, Steak and Pizzas.

Another joint worth checking out is Trigo Food & Drink at 132 Main Street on. It's brand new. Adam Henwood opened the restaurant on  February 6th, 2018. Trigo takes chicken wings seriously and they concoct some delicious looking ice cream treats. 

Maple Creek
The old Cowtown, Maple Creek, is known as the Gateway to the Cypress Hills. It services 250,000 tourists a year, so they've got to supply passersby with something to do.

Geoff & Connie Phillips opened The Art House at 110 Sydney Street in 2017. Geoff is a well respected artist in the area; he's known for having painted the Maple Creek Heritage District
Mural. The Art House offers a lot more than just art behind picture frames; they have paint nights and teach classes for all ages as well.

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Maple Creek and the Art House is on my travel list of rural attractions to visit in the future.

Nokomis
Nokomis is a town of 400 situated on Last mountain Lake.

Jeff Allport opened Nokomis Craft Ales in August 2014.  It celebrated its 4th anniversary in June; They make a great IPA and the Satori comes highly recommended. Nokomis Craft Ales is a microbrewery located at 301 - 1st Avenue East, and they also make Golden Ale, a Pale Ale and a Brown Ale.

But you don't necessarily need to visit Nokomis to try the brew. You can enjoy it on tap at a number of establishments in Saskatoon, Craven, Estevan and Regina. But if you're in Nokomis you can get it at the Nokomis Hotel (111 Main Street), 
Check out their website - www.nokomiscraftales.com

Ogema
The Deep South Pioneer Museum was established in 1977 and officially opened to the public in July 1980. Ralph, the 12 foot long Grasshopper was built in 1989; there aren't many other 12 foot long Grasshoppers out there. Also on site is a 30 foot Wheat Sheaf. If you've driven there, the wheat sheaf might be self-explanatory; but the Grasshopper also holds some significance. In the 1980's, the Weyburn area was inundated with Grasshoppers.

Archie Shaver opened the Jean Shaver Art Gallery in 2016. It's located right there at the Deep South Pioneer Museum, so you can check them both out at the same stop. Archie opened the gallery to honour the work of his mother, Jean Shaver. The Gallery houses 22 of her oil paintings and a few clay sculptures. The Museum is only open during the Summer, but the museum
can be open by request during the Winter.

It is on my travel list of rural attractions to visit in the future.
Website - www.deepsouthpioneermuseum.ca

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Regina Beach
Regina Beach rests on the south end of Last Mountain Lake. Only 58km Northwest of Regina. It's one of the best beaches the province has to offer. 
The Blue Bird Cafe (Formerly Butler's Fish 'n Chips) is located right down by the beach at 108 Centre Street. It is celebrating it's 90th year in business in 2018. The business is only operational in the summer; so plan accordingly. It is open May Long Weekend to the September Long Weekend.

Young
Young is a village of 250 people located 25km Northwest of Manitou Beach. Michael R. Gaudet painted a mural for the little village that happens to be the world's largest free-standing mural. It's called "Forever Young". The mural was unveiled on August 26th, 2017. It is a whopping 20
feet high and 80 feet long with 52 panels.