|South Saskatchewan River Valley at dusk. Photo credit Sherri Grant, Val Marie, SK|
In less than 3 weeks the eyes of the curling world will be trained on my small city in the prairieland of Saskatchewan. Teams, or rinks as they are called in this sport, will arrive from 11 countries. The town will be awash in visitors and this guide is for those who want to take some time away from the rink. Yes, rink is the word for the team and also the word for the arena where the game is played. Confused yet? Put on your slider and hurry hard as I take you with me for the next day and a half.
|Ice on pond on a sunny day. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.|
|The cutbanks on Swift Current Creek on the south side of town. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.|
Rather than having a cuppa at the obvious choices of Urban Ground or Starbucks opt to join coffee row at the downtown Timmy's (Tim Hortons). Retired farmers and business men alike gather to shoot the breeze. Eavesdrop all you want. They won't care. And with any luck you can have a prairie specialty with your coffee, butter tarts.
|Photo credit Sarah Galvin.|
When I pulled into this dusty prairie town I was drawn in by the remnants of history. The Court House, Lyric Theatre and several other buildings gave this city a sense of place and time. It aroused my interest. Swift Current is no different than so many old Canadian cities and towns. Many historical gems have been razed. The Swift Current Museum has created walking and driving tours of historical Swift Current that help you to envision its previous glory.
The Healy Hotel immediately created a stir when I put out the word I was looking for little known facts about our town. Jacki MacDonald shared a little known bit of history. Her sister's first husband said when he was tagging along with his older brothers they found tunnels by the train tracks. The Healy is known for having more than one outlaw as a patron. Located a mere two blocks from the train station made it an ideal hideout. Even Al Capone spent time here during the Prohibition. Rumour has it these are long forgotten tunnels were used by gangsters. Swift Current has a convenient location close to the US border. The Soo Line Railway ran through here from the States providing access for those hiding from the law. The hotel was demolished only in 1989.
From the words of the University of Alberta Library "The Healy Hotel stood at the corner of Cheadle and 1 Ave NE. confirmed reports of a tunnel leading from the railway station to the hotel to allow for safe dispatch".
|Photo credit University of Alberta Libraries. Opened 1914.|
|The Lyric Theatre. Built 1912.|
|First United Church. Construction began in 1912.|
|Swift Current Court House. Completed in 1916.|
|Photo credit Al Hartley|
Still downtown? Stop for lunch at a local favourite Pizza sTOP.
Time to stretch your legs and get out of town. There are a number of Hutterite Colonies nearby. Go for a visit but call first. They are very busy. Don't call on a Sunday though.
|Nothing better than Hutterite buns. They will be served at the Opening Banquet for the Games. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.|
While you are driving north on Highway #4 look out for the Lonely Tree. Honk and make a wish. This is only 6 km north of the city. If you decide to drive out at night time, say around 10pm or later you might be lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis, 'The Northern Lights'.
|Lone Tree. Photo credit Prairie Fire Photography by Craig Hilts.|
Drive a little farther to Lake Diefenbaker and Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. The park is closed in the winter but driving down into the valley is simply breathtaking. You will most likely find people ice fishing on the lake.
Before dinner visit Black Bridge Brewery. Stop by to sample the beers and to purchase your growlers for take out!
|The tasting room at Black Bridge Brewery. Photo credit Black Bridge Brewery|
It's an early dinner tonight so we can catch a live concert later. There are so many choices and many of them Greek! I would opt for The Akropol Lounge Next Door. Not only do I love the name and the lounge is upscale but John Gannitsos is the world's best host. Ask for the Greek special. Plus he feeds every musician who comes to perform at the Lyric.
The Lyric Theatre was opened in 1912 and built at a cost of $50,000. It is one of the oldest running theatres in the province. It is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar refurbishment. Tonight they are presenting the talented Jason Plumb, Danny Olliver, Megan Nash
There will be a display of photographs at the Lyric by members of Image West Photographic Association. More of their works are on display at the Art Gallery of Swift Current. These are a part of the Saskatchewan Prairie Light Photography Festival 2016
|Jason Plumb. Photo credit Jason Plumb.|
|Upper level of The Lyric under renovation. Photo credit The Lyric Theatre.|
|Photo credit Living Sky Casino.|
Sunday, March 20
Parts of southern Saskatchewan are referred to as the Bible Belt. There could not be a better description for the Swift Current area. There are more churches than people, almost. You can find several Christian denominations including Greek and Ukrainian Orthodox. There is also a mosque but no synagogue or Hindu temple, to my knowledge.
|Ukranian Orthodox Church. Photo credit Sarah Galvin.|
Brunch time. Downtown check out the menu at Sinano Greek Resto or take in the brunch buffet at the Living Sky Casino.
Go skating. We have had a very mild winter so far and the outdoor skating rinks are not ready. Check out the ice at Fairview Arena. Located at 101 Hayes Drive. Or Northhill Indoor Ice at 4 Avenue NE & Ashford St.
|Photo credit Sarah Galvin.|
|Photo credit Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame|
How to get here -
Fly into the Regina International Airport and rent a car. Drive 2 1/2 hours west from Regina on the Trans Canada Highway.
Arrive by Greyhound Bus or STC (Saskatchewan Transit System).
There is an airport to accommodate small private jets and planes. This is a century airport and trained pilots for World War II. In September the world famous Snowbirds of the RCAF will present an airshow.
Where to stay -
The hotels and motels are on the highway. Home Suites Inn, Holiday Inn, Best Western and Green Hectares Bed & Breakfast are a few choices.
And if you return to venture outside the city there is a world to explore.
|Great Sandhills Park. All photos Sarah Galvin|
|Summer storm looming south of Swift Current.|
|Murraydale Rodeo, oldest in western Canada.|
|Great Sandhills Park.|
|Driving up to the bench near Cypress Hills.|
|Dinosaur bone exposed in East Block of Grasslands National Park.|