Spread across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta lies a vast stretch of plains and farmland known as the Canadian Prairies. Though it was originally known for its charming small towns, the region is now home to several budding metropolises as well. While culture and excitement may not typically come to mind when we think of the Prairies, their unique terrain, rich history, and down to earth atmosphere make many Prairies towns must-see destinations. Where else in the world can you walk among both dinosaurs and gangsters within a 600 km radius? Keep reading to find out more about some of the most intriguing towns and cities found in the Canadian Prairies.
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Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Now a cozy and unassuming city, it may come as a surprise to many to learn that Moose Jaw was once a major hub for bootleggers and gangsters. Due to its proximity to Chicago, Moose Jaw was an opportune spot to smuggle liquor south during the American Prohibition of the 1920s. Using underground tunnels, Chicago mobsters would negotiate deals for liquor supplies and hide out should they run into any trouble with the law. Today, you can experience the thrill and notoriety that the city once held through its attraction, “The Tunnels of Moosejaw.” The town also boasts a pioneer village and retro trolley, solidifying its spot as a historical haven.
Regina is a city known for its community pride, and after visiting, it will become clear why. Considered one of the sunniest cities in Canada, Regina is an oasis of nature and agriculture. One of the largest urban parks in North America, the Wascana Park is home to an urban forest of 350,000 hand-planted trees. Regina is also home to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, otherwise known as the Mounties. Visitors to the city can take a tour of the Depot grounds, a home base where countless Mounties have trained since 1885, and the RCMP Heritage Centre, a museum which tells of the rich history of the Mounties.
Upon first glance, Drumheller might not look like much. Yet this sleepy town is actually the site of major Canadian dinosaur revelations. Take the Dinosaur Trail, a 48-km drive that boasts life size dinosaur replicas, unusual rock formations and spectacular views of the prairie landscape. Be sure to pay a visit to the “World’s Largest Dinosaur,” an 86-feet tall (!) T-Rex replica that visitors can actually climb. If you’d rather keep your feet safely on the ground, Drumheller’s Royal Tyrell Museum is considered to have one of the finest collections of dinosaur artifacts.
If you’re a Canadian history buff, the town of Dauphin will be right up your alley. Named by explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes in 1741, Dauphin is historically a farming town. What makes Dauphin such as an interesting place to visit is the town’s dedication to the preservation of history. The Negrych Pioneer Homestead is the only Ukrainian homestead still in an existence, and has been dedicated as a National Historic Site. The Fort Dauphin Museum features pioneer buildings such as a blacksmith’s shop and a one-room schoolhouse, as well as artifacts from the fur trade and settlement periods.