By Ruth Griffiths of Rural Roots.
In the summer of 1997, Anna and Michael Clancy of Saskatoon packed up their three sons and headed out on a voyage of discovery. In 52 days they visited all 110 regional parks in the province and recorded their findings for a book called Discover Saskatchewan.
What they discovered that summer is one of Saskatchewan's the best kept secrets.
"We saw Saskatchewan as people seldom see it," says Michael, "You never knew what kind of treasures you were going to find around the corner, recalls Anna Clancy. "I didn't know Saskatchewan had so many ecological differences."
The Clancy's had already visited all of the provincial and national parks in the province. During their travels they frequently saw signs for provincial parks but, could rarely find any information about them.
In 1996, they mailed questionnaires to over one hundred parks and half of them replied.
"The response was phenomenal," says Anna. "They were so pleased that someone from the city would want to know about their little park.
Anna mapped out a travel plan that looked like pin wheels. They would stay for several nights at one of the parks and visit the others in the area. They involved in the planning their three sons: Liam, then 15, Brendan, 14 and Devlin, 11.
"The boys talked about what they were going to see when they got there," explains Anna. "They had a big interest in hiking, fishing, and canoeing."
"Camping is what we do best," says Michael. "We decided to see something in the process. "The first park they visited that summer was Palliser Regional Park at Riverhurst on Mother's Day and the last was Clearwater Lake Regional Park near Kyle on Labour Day. They saw all 110 regional parks that summer with the exception of the three winter parks which they visited in 1998 because there was so little snow in the winter of 1997.
They logged 16,542 kilometres and collected 25 pounds of notes.
Many of the parks have hidden resources. For example, they saw hundreds of hummingbirds at Lady Lake Regional Park near Preeceville because of thousands of dollars worth of flowers planted by volunteers.
The guide book says: "No doubt about it, this park is in a class of its own for the sheer number of flowers planted here each year by the many volunteers. Broad walkways are lined with perennials and annuals in huge beds, with benches to rest upon and tall trees for shade. The floral array in this park is a testament to the years of dedication, hard work and vision of a handful of people who have laboured long for the benefit of visitors."
The Clancy's book also includes information about the history of each regional park. The book is cross-indexed to make it easy to find the park you know or facilities in an unfamiliar area.
The Geographic Information Systems Division of the Canadian Plains Research Centre at the University of Regina, provided maps for the book and a section at the back of the book which defines the features of each of the province's ecological regions.
A User's Guide to Regional Parks
By Michael Clancy and Anna Clancy,
Published by Canadian Plains Research Centre, Regina,1999,
paperback, 230 pages, $19.95 ISBN 0-8897-124-3
Patches Ventures Ltd.
Carrot River, Saskatchewan
Postal Code S0E 0L0
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