Aiming to escape the evils of alcohol in Toronto, settlers of the Temperance Colonization Society arrived in 1883 to set up a "dry" community on the site of what is now Saskatoon. In isolated sod homesteads set far apart on open prarie lands, and with long cold winters, life could be difficult and lonely in the early years, and the town grew slowly at first. In 1906 Saskatoon became a city with a population of just 4,500, but it took until the post-war years for it to become Canada's number one area of economic growth.
There's plenty to do in summer months. Like many cities across North America, life here is gay friendly: for a week each June it boasts one of the largest Pride festivals in Western Canada. A lively local queer population can be found at two local gay bars, and there are plenty of trendy art and design–inspired restaurants and bars located in the hip, revitalized Riversdale neighborhood.
The performing arts scene includes three professional theater companies: Persephone, The 25th Street Theatre, and Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan. Also on stage: the French language La Troupe de Jour; the Saskatoon Gateway Players; and the Fringe Festival. The city's main theatre for the performing arts, TCU Place is Saskatoon's Arts and Convention Centre. The Broadway Theatre features repertory cinema art films and community theatre productions.
Other cultural institutions include The Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Saskatoon Opera company, choirs, folk music groups, bands and the Bassment Jazz Society with an annual June Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. The Saskatchewan Intercultural Association showcases performing arts of their members at Folkfest each August, and Yevshan is a local Ukrainian folk-ballet ensemble.
The Remai Modern Art Museum, opening in 2017, will include the world’s most comprehensive collection of Picasso linocuts among its modern art exhibits. Other galleries include: the university's Kenderdine Gallery, the Nutana Collegiate Memorial Art Gallery collection of early Canadian art, the avant-garde A.K.A. Gallery run by local artists, the Paved Arts new media artist run center, and the Affinity Gallery of the Saskatchewan Craft Council. See SNAC for more local galleries. The Museum of Antiquities at the University of Saskatchewan displays full scale replicas of ancient Greek, and Roman, along with Medieval sculptures. Diefenbaker Canada Centre is the Museum and Archives, honoring Canada's 13th Prime Minister.
Saskatoon's John G. Diefenbaker International Airport has scheduled and charter airline services from regional destinations plus Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, along with US airports such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Minneapolis. Cities in Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic have seasonal connections.
Saskatoon Transit operates Route 12 City Centre/ River Heights bus service from Saskatoon Airport to the downtown transit hub, and most major hotels, with departures every 30 minutes between 6am-6pm, Monday through Friday. Taxis and rental cars are also on hand.
Saskatoon is a stop on Via Rail, the Canadian transcontinental passenger route. Saskatoon station is located in the west end. With many provincial transportation connections and a central geographic location, this has been called The Hub City. The Saskatchewan Railway Museum is located just outside the city.
The STC Bus Depot (50-23rd Street East) has Saskatchewan Transportation Company passenger transportation throughout the Province of Saskatchewan, plus Greyhound Bus connections to points all across North America.
Renting a car from one of six international companies may be the best option for most visitors; located across the concourse from airport arrivals, or from downtown locations.
Saskatoon Transit has city bus service throughout the area, at $3 for a single ride. There are bike racks on all full-sized buses. See their website for more details.
Media & Resources
For info about gay life in Saskatoon, visit OutSaskatoon
Planet S is Saskatoon's bi-weekly city magazine for lifestyle, the arts, music and restaurant reviews.
Calderhouse Inn (848 Saskatchewan Crescent E; 306-665-7263), 1910-era house, river bank walking trails, four gay-friendly private suites, in-room full hot breakfast, WiFi.
Delta Bessborough (601 Spadina Crescent E; 306-244-5521), iconic, skyline-dominating 1935-era building overlooking five acres of gardens beside the South Saskatchewan River, 225 elegant four-star rooms/suites, spa, pool, and sauna. Garden Court Café, Stovin’s Lounge, and Samurai Japanese Restaurant dining. Summertime outdoor Metric Garden Lounge.
The James (620 Spadina Crescent E; 306-244-6446), Saskatoon’s premier luxury downtown hotel, contemporary boutique style, lobby cocktail bar, private balconies, river views.
See a dozen hotel suggestions at our map and listings pages.
Diva's (110-220 3rd Ave S), gay/ mixed nightclub dancing, karaoke, drag shows, theme parties and contests.
Louis' Pub (93 Campus Dr, U of S), mixed/gay-friendly campus cafe/bar poutines, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and snacks; karaoke, outdoor deck, live bands, drag shows and other queer special events.
Pink (69 24th St E), gay/ mixed nightclub dancing, drag shows, women's nights, live music, special holiday and theme party events.
Theater & Performance
Broadway Theatre (715 Broadway Ave), art film screenings, community repertory performance theatre productions.
Persephone Theatre (100 Spadina Crescent E), professional theatre company, contemporary plays and musicals.
Roxy Theatre (320 20 St W), Riversdale 1930s era cinema, independent and art house foreign film screenings.
Restaurants & Cafes
Homestead Ice Cream (822 Victoria Ave) popular parlour, old jukebox, friendly gay cowboy owner, over 350 ice cream flavors; quirky items include coconut curry, dill pickle and peanut butter maple bacon donut.
Solar Gardens and Firestock Cafe (SK Rt 60, south of Saskatoon), succulent plant arrangements, cacti on 50-acre property/ five greenhouses; April-December wood-fired pizza/ freshly baked bread, full bar/ wines, glass conservatory. Ceramic studio/ gift shop, over 200+ bottles of balsamic vinegars and oils.
See two dozen restaurant and cafe suggestions, many in and around the Riversdale district, at our restaurant & cafe listings and map pages.