The South Saskatchewan River near Leader is one of the most outstanding natural attractions in the province. The diligent and patient bird watcher will be treated to rare species of birds that frequent the spectacular river valley.
The riparian woodlands of the Leader area are the largest of their kind in Saskatchewan, and the largest tract between the Cypress Hills and the northern forest. The cottonwood stands are home to the Pileated Woodpecker, Golden Eagle an Great Blue Heron.
The extensive grasslands in the valley attract various rare species such as the Ferruginous Hawk, Long-billed Curlew and Loggerhead Shrike, as well as the endangered Burrowing Owl.
St. John’s School is a Provincial Heritage Site, and was built in the 1920s.
The building is a shining example of the one room schoolhouses that covered the prairies for the first half of the century.
St. John’s School is completely original, and features furnishings from the period. You’ll find it 8 and a half miles/14 km south of Leader on Highway 21.
Blumenfeld Church is a Provincial Heritage Site and was erected in 1915. The interior of the church is one of the most beautiful in Canada. It has been carefully maintained and includes all the original furniture and fixtures.
Behind the church is a Grotto made of prairie stones, where members of the Catholic religion gather once a year to enjoy a church service which is called “Pilgrimage.”
Tours are available in the summer on Sundays from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. The church is located 10 miles/16 km south of Leader on Highway 21. Turn east when you come to the sign, then travel another 4 miles/6.4 km.
The Estuary Hutterite Colony has been settled beside the Saskatchewan River since 1958. Entering the Colony is comparable to visiting another world. The Hutterites have preserved their culture, their language, their way of life, and their religion.
The Estuary Colony is up by 7 in the morning and always hard at work. They are very active people, yet they will always make time for visitors. They love to share their culture, and visitors are always impressed by their quietness and friendliness.
To arrange a visit to the Colony, please call 306-628-4116. You will be provided with a tour guide who will show you the area and answer all your questions. The Estuary Colony is 10 miles/16 km west of Leader on Highway 741. Turn right on 635 for 3 miles/4.8 km and then left for 1 mile/1.6 km.
Checkerboard Hill is one of the most scenic locations in the province of Saskatchewan. The imagery changes with the season, and it’s also the vantage point for many of the historical sites that you will find in the Leader area.
From the top of Checkerboard Hill there is an unforgettable view of the river and the land that surrounds it. There are markers located at the top which provide visitors with a background to the area.
To visit Checkerboard Hill, drive 4 miles/6.4 km west of Leader on Highway 741. Turn north for 4 miles/6.4 km, then turn west again. Here you will see “The Checkerboard”.
The Great Sandhills encompass 1900 sq. km of Southwest Saskatchewan and are one of the largest in the country. The view from the top of the hills is breathtaking, and visitors to the area consider it a once in a lifetime experience. The largest sand dunes are 25 meters in height and cover several hectares of land.
Only a fraction of the Sandhills are actually exposed sand dunes. The remainder of the area is covered with native grass which help bind the sand together. The dunes are fringed by small clumps of trees which include aspen, birch and willow, and by rose bushes, sagebrush and chokecherry. As they are subject to strong winds from the northwest, the sand dunes move east at a rate of almost four meters per year.
To visit the Great Sandhills, travel 12 miles/19.3 km east of Leader to Sceptre. Take the grid road on the east side of Sceptre. Follow the road south 6 miles/9.6 km from Highway 21, then follow the curve west for 1 mile/1.6 km before turning south again for 6 miles/9.6 km. This road is an all season access, and is privately leased by local ranchers who use the land as summer pasture for their cattle. All fires and camping are prohibited in the Sandhills. Parking is allowed only in designated areas. Please remember to respect the environment; take only pictures, leave only footprints.
GPS: N50°41.611′ W109°16.899′
GREAT SANDHILLS MUSEUM & INTERPRETIVE CENTRE
Located in Sceptre just minutes down the road from Leader, the Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre is a great place to start your adventure in the Great Sandhills. Museum staff will be pleased to tell you everything you need to know before starting out for the dunes.
Take a walk down memory lane and stroll the wooden boardwalks of the interior exhibits. Eleven room displays each depict a different theme.
The grounds feature a historical village with barn, church, antique machinery and wildflower gardens.
The Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre is located along Highway 32 in the Village of Sceptre and is open seasonally May to September. For information visit www.greatsandhillsmuseum.com or call 306-623-4345.