In Search of the Elusive Saskatoons

Cypress Interprovincial Park

Alberta, Can.

July 17-30, 2000

In our travels across North America it has become a challenge to find something that is elusive. Such was the case of the elusive Saskatoons. While we were staying at the CG in Brandon Manitoba, the owners, Fay and David Paskewitz, first talked about Saskatoons. Well, never having heard of Saskatoons we asked, "What are they?" They looked at us as though we had lost our minds. "You mean you've never heard of Saskatoons?" Our response came instantly and together, "Nope." Well, they had some fun with us for awhile and finally described in detail the large succulent berries that resembled blueberries but were far larger and with a distinct taste all their own. They said we probably wouldn't find any in the wild as there had been a late freeze in May and most of the local berries were killed off. As we drove around the area, seeing the sights we kept a constant vigil, looking for Saskatoon trees. Now, you have to remember, we had no idea what the berries looked like, let alone the trees. I looked in the Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Out on the sand dunes. Nope not there. Then as we returned into town we saw a sign, "U-Pick Saskatoons." YES! We would get our berries. Then we found out they would not be ripe until several days after we were scheduled to leave. Darn! Off we went to Regina to continue our search. We asked at the campground and they said they were new to the area but thought it was far too developed to have Saskatoon trees growing wild. Oh well, Moose Jaw is next, eh? We pulled into Moose Jaw only to have everyone we asked tell us they didn't know where we could find any Saskatoons. Finally on the morning we were leaving someone said, "Oh, there's some in a town about 20 miles north of here." Oh well, off to Medicine Hat and the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. After we settled in, we went to the local restaurant called the Cypress Landing. The food was fantastic and the hostess/manager was a delightful lady by the name of Jean. She seemed to be very knowledgeable about the locale so we asked our usual question. "Do you know where we can find some Saskatoons?" Oh yes, she said, at my place. We kind of chuckled and said, "Sure". She told us she was sincere. She would give us a map to her house (which was some 40 miles SW of the restaurant) and we could pick some there. We thanked her, but told her it would help if we knew what they looked like. Well, she got someone to cover the front door and disappeared for awhile. Soon she came back out with a bit of frost on her hair, and told us she had to climb into the freezer to get some. And then handed us a napkin with some frozen Sasktoons on it. They did indeed look like large plump blueberries. It was all we could do to wait for them to thaw. And then........chomp. Good! They did indeed have a taste all their own. Sweet but a strange aftertaste. Jean told us she would ask the cook to bake a Saskatoon pie if we would be in the next night. She then proceeded to draw us a picture of what the leaves looked like. She asked an employee of the Provincial Park if he knew where we could find some Saskatoons. He said he didn't think there were any in the Alberta side of the park but there were some near Fort Walsh. Armed with this knowledge we started the long drive to Ft. Walsh. I was driving and told Bob to keep an eye out for Saskatoons. However, as he was looking at the map, I looked to my right as we approached Lake Resor, and stopped the truck. "Bob, it's them!" I cried. I then maneuvered the truck into a nearby turnoff and took off on foot. As we approached the trees we saw the berries weren't quite as large as the ones Jean had showed us, but I picked one and tasted it. Yep! that was them. YAHOO! They were delicious. Bob brought the berry basket out of the truck (we carry a basket in the truck for just such momentous occasions) and we both started picking berries to fill the basket. However, I noticed that I seemed to be picking more than Bob. So, I peeked around the corner of the bush and watched as Bob picked. One for the basket, one for Bob. Two for the basket, one, two for Bob. Ah-hah the mystery was solved. Oh well, what the heck, that's where they were going anyway, eh? We finally did get the basket filled and we went on our way, satisfied that we had added a new "hand-picked" fruit to our repertoire.

Good Luck! Have Fun! and Stay Safe!