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Report 1739: Six Weeks in Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC where English Tourists Donít Get to....

By Eleanor from England, Summer 2009

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Page 9 of 9: Grand Cache, Peace River and back to Edmonton

photo by Eleanor

William A Switzer Provincial Park - Kelly's Bathtub with Jarvis Lake Behind

From Jasper we did a big loop back to Edmonton by Grand Cache, Peace River and Slave Lake. This was well off the usual tourist beat. In fact the UK agent we had approached about booking had tried to tell us there was no accommodation in Peace River.

On the way to Grand Cache we called in at William Switzer Provincial Park. We parked by Jarvis Lake and did the new Nature Trail around Kellyís Bath Tub. We saw plenty of evidence of beavers but no animals. This was a delightful short walk along a good path. We also tried to do the Beaver Ranch Trail but the trail was indistinct, poorly way marked and the bridge across the stream was no longer there.

We did a long detour along a gravel road to Rock Lake at the southern end of Willmore Winderness Park and walked along a track by the lake shore. We were the only people in the world there. We also walked to Sulphur Gates just north of Grand Cache. The path in places is steep and there are signs warning of dangers. The view down to the river was amazing.

Grand Cache is a small, pleasant, new, industrial settlement. We wished we had allowed an extra night at Grand Cache as we would have liked to walk more in this area, especially beyond Sulphur Gates. Tourist Information was very helpful and sent me loads of information about walks.

The drive up to Grand Prairie was nice with our last views of the Rockies. Grand Prairie is a big, brash modern town. We drove through without stopping and were suddenly back into the prairies again. We stopped at the tiny settlement of Sexsmith. This had become very run down until Sexsmith merchants undertook a revitalisation program to bring downtown area back to 1920s with wooden frames and boom town frontages, vintage street lighting, gazebo, old fashioned clock and livery barn. We went into the hotel for a cup of tea. The young lass behind the counter couldnít get over our English accents. I think we were the first English people she had met. ďI could listen to you all day.Ē The cook was brought out to listen to us. We asked for directions to Paszkowski Farmhouse. I think they must have rung them up as soon as we left as the guide was waiting for us.

We also went to Historic Dunvegan Park where we had a guided tour by a costumed interpreter. Again we were the only tourists there. It rained steadily while we were there.

Peace River was a pleasant small place in delightful countryside - rolling hills, woods, water as was Slave Lake. We drove back to Edmonton through Swan Hills (a very depressed mining settlement) and managed to miss the turn for Centre of Alberta Grizzly Bear trail. Fort Assiniboine was a pretty small place. We particularly liked the serpentarium (pile of stones) in the centre of the village, which is used by garter snakes. We visited the small museum with its reconstructed fort buildings and then headed for the Klondike (Vega) Ferry and civilisation.

We had a night at Fort Saskatchewan before catching the plane back to England.

It was a trip to remember. All the planning and research paid off. We had enough time to do everything we wanted and got into areas not on the typical tourist trail. The Canadians were so welcoming and friendly. They were intrigued by an English Woman coming to research her Canadian roots.


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