THE BATTLEFORDS -- It's a place where you can view matchlock firearms
from the 17th Century, visit the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame
or see the works of a world-renowned Cree painter.
It's also home
to two golf courses featuring some of the most beautiful vistas
in Saskatchewan and a museum that sports a delightful collection of
|A featured firearm is this Arabian
Snaphaunce (circa 1700).
The Battlefords -- the town of Battleford and The City of
North Battleford -- have much to offer the visitor. There's great
natural beauty here, myriad recreational and cultural opportunities
and a history as colorful and dramatic as you'll find anywhere in
Located near the confluence of the Battle and North Saskatchewan
rivers, the area that's now the Battlefords was a meeting place
for aboriginal peoples long before history was recorded. A fur trading
post was established here in 1785, and a North West Mounted Police
post was built (on what's now the outskirts of The Town of Battleford)
The early presence of the Mounties accounts for some of the fascinating
artifacts on display at the Fred Light Museum in Battleford. The
late Light, a businessman with family ties to the Mounties, collected
guns for more than 40 years. His namesake museum features a wide
assortment of firearms dating from an ornate Japanese Matchlock
(circa 1645) and an Arabian Snaphaunce (circa 1700), to 19th and
20th century military long arms and western rifles. The large assortment
of pistols evokes images ranging from pirates and gunslingers to cops and crooks.
|On main street in Battleford.
Also featured at the museum is a collection of mustache cups, each
manufactured with an adjunct to the rim that effectively separated
mustache from tea. A mustachioed gentlemen offered tea in a cup that
didn't have such protection could always use his portable "mustache
clip'', an example of which also is on display the museum. It's
another special collection that prospered from the prevalence of
the Mounties and their British convention.
Fort Battleford National Historic
Site is the busiest summertime attraction in the Town of Battleford.
But there's much more to see here, particularly, but certainly not
only, for the history buff. Grab a walking-tour map from staff at
the tourism kiosk at the Fred Light Museum and set off on foot for
a tour of the old town. Check out the Town Hall and Opera House
(still used as council chambers) and many historic homes. See the
beautiful court house (the oldest one in the province that's still
in use) and the post office (the second oldest, still in use, in
all of Canada) commemorated by a stamp issued in 1987.
The Battleford location of The Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame,
which houses more than 3,000 artifacts in the former Gardiner Presbyterian
Church (built in 1886) on 20th Street, is appropriate given the
first baseball game recorded in the North West Territories occurred
here in 1879.
Drop in at the Queen's and enjoy a brew in the oldest hotel in
Saskatchewan, or try the fine dining at Pennydale Junction restaurant,
a converted CNR train station whose name derives not from the television
show with a similar-sounding name, but from the first names of the couple who established it.
The Battlefords was the centre of government for the North West
Territories from 1876 to 1883, when Regina was crowned the capital.
|Sapp's "Going to Visit Friends"
is on display at the gallery.
On the other side of the North Saskatchewan River, at 1 Railway
Avenue East in The City of North Battleford, sits a solid old Carnegie
Foundation building that served for years as a public library. Today,
it's home to the Allen Sapp Gallery/The Gonor Collection. Sapp,
a Northern Plains Cree Indian originally from the Red Pheasant Reserve
but now living in North Battleford, overcame a sickly childhood,
a speech impediment and illiteracy to become a world-renowned painter
of life on the reserve.
The late Dr. Allan Gonor was Sapp's friend and a mentor who encouraged
the artist to paint what he knew from his memories of the reserve.
He arranged for the sale of Sapp's paintings and purchased others
himself. Approximately half of the Sapp paintings here are from
Gonor, donated by his wife Ruth. Travelling shows, often by other
Native artists, are exhibited at the gallery, as well. Other local
and regional artists are shown at Chapel Gallery, located at 891
- 99th St.
The Western Development Museum - Heritage Farm and Village, located
at the junction of highways 16 and 40, is a good place to learn
(or reminisce about) the history of farming in Saskatchewan. Antique
farm equipment and a 1920s farm and village are featured, as are
special events like the annual "Those Were the Days" threshing reunion
held on the second weekend of August. The nearby George Hooey Wildlife
Collection houses 350 exhibits of birds, fish and big game native
The Gold Eagle Casino on Railway Avenue is the busiest
entertainment venue in the Battlefords. The facility features 159
slot machines, a table games and poker room, and a simulated horse-racing
track. There's a restaurant, lounge and gift shop, and live entertainment
weekends at Blackjack's Saloon.
|- courtesy The North Battleford
Golf & Country Club
|The Battlefords area offers a
great natural setting for golfers.
With two river valleys in the immediate vicinity, the Battlefords
are blessed with handsome natural surroundings. Finlayson Island,
on the North Saskatchewan River near the Town of Battleford, is
a pleasant area for hiking, picnicking or just exploring. In winter,
the trails are used by cross-country skiers. Golfers, meanwhile,
can choose from the picturesque North Battleford Golf & Country
Club, on Riverside Drive, or the Saskatchewan Hospital Golf Course.
|The heritage village at Western
Arts and crafters from far and wide, meanwhile, look forward to
the Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival staged each summer in Battleford.
The festival is a weekend-long celebration and sale of crafts that
has grown to include parades, fireworks, and a street dance and
For two communities with a total population of about 20,000 souls,
the Battlefords truly have much to offer the visitor. It's a place
to delve into Saskatchewan's past, yes. But it's also a place to see much of the best of what
this province has become, and to catch wind of where it might be going.
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