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Jun 21, 2014

More hotel rooms are being built and this is a clear sign for Tourism Saskatoon that this industry is booming in this city in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan.

Situated on the edge of nature, Saskatoon provides visitors with endless opportunities to energize your spirit and experience culture and beauty in a relaxed city environment.

According to Tourism Saskatoon, the rate of visitors coming into the city has more than doubled over the past six years.

Saskatoon brings in about $530 million from tourism each year, with 2.1 million visits.

Hosting the Saskatchewan jazz festival, a Cher concert and a pride parade all in one weekend, visitors from across Canada have travelled to the Bridge City last weekend.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Gateway to 100,000 lakes
by Jerry W. Bird


Adventure Roads BookI once read that 94,000 lakes dot the face of Saskatchewan. Last month at the Yellowhead Trans Canada Highway association convention I learned that the number they quote is 100,000, which is even more impressive. Over half contain fish - and 90% of these have never been fished. With 68 species hatching every year, small wonder our forefathers kept a spare canoe in the driveway. In days past, I attended Saskatoon's King George School and during my two years there, explored the hub city from all angles - by bicycle, raft, horseback, train, aircraft and much later in a racy Chev coupe (see our Yellowhead story). The Ukrainian Museum of Canada salutes an ethnic group whose names appear in cities, hamlets and hockey rinks throughout the west. A center of scientific research, Wanuskewin Heritage Park has an on-site archaeological lab, diggings and trails devoted to the Plains Indians cultural legacy. Batoche, an hour north of here has a sadder legacy - one of civil unrest.

A Gattling gun, military installations, and grave sites, give testament to the last armed conflict on Canadian soil. An audio visual show at Batoche National Historic Site relives the days during the 1880s Northwest Rebellion, when Louis Riel's Metis faced off against the British Empire. Hollywood's scarlet coated mountie movies pale in comparison to the real life, all Canadian saga.

Tourism Info
See our Saskatchewan
Provincial Parks on the Yellowhead Map.
For more about Saskatoon visit

The Granary - "If It Ain't Broke, Break it!"
What's the word on dining? Well, things have changed since my school days, when a family dinner was at the Dell, and a quick burger was at Jimmy's or Johnny's Inn. However, if you've got a yen for farm cooked food - shuffle on on down to the Granary. There's a landmark in Saskatoon known as The Granary, and it's one of the most successful restaurants in the Canadian West. It's a casual "contemporary" place known for it's friendly good service and great food. So, when owners Debbie Young Cloutier and her husband Remi decided to rebuild it, customers told them to their face they would never recapture the same ambiance.

The Granary- fotomationAnd the couple wasn't without a few reservations. They were about to break some fundamental laws of good restaurant management and they knew it. But they were looking to develop the full potential of the city block their family owned on 8th Street East, where the freestanding restaurant stood. The block also housed a KFC franchise owned by Debbie's father, Joe Young, the second KFC franchise owner in Canada.

The family proceeded to tear down the old building, relocate the KFC on the property, and construct a new building which would also house a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada. In doing so, they gave up The Granary's prime street facing location, moving the restaurant to the back of the property. With much less street exposure this was highly risky by restaurant standards. Then there was the idea that a new building was incompatible with a heritage-style restaurant whose theme was built around a former time and lifestyle in the Prairies. Finally, Debbie and Remi also wondered if, despite years of success, their theme restaurant might have nearly run its course, as theme restaurants are wont to do. Nevertheless, the pair was resolved to reinvent their eatery while recapturing the best of the past.

The original restaurant was designed 16 years earlier with help from Peter Cotton, who was then a member of the design team at Robert Meicklejohn Design Associates. The popular eatery had been created with a distinctive grain elevator profile that became an unmistakable landmark in downtown Saskatoon. Peter Cotton was invited back to help Debbie and Remi realize their redesign. Cotton, now with his own company, the Sunburst Design Team, reinstated the grain elevator profile so that it reached far above the general roof line, making the new Granary easily recognizable from the street.

The new design also incorporated original old beams and boards and integrated memorabilia to help re-create the restaurant's unique personality. Cotton and his team added a spacious new outdoor patio and enlarged the restaurant to accommodate more groups. "We're seeing more group bookings now,' says Debbie, 'and today we can accommodate a larger size of group." The expanded restaurant seats 200, plus 75 at the bar, while the patio adds seating for 90.

One of the ways Cotton maintained the familiar ambiance while increasing the restaurant's size was to create many vignettes within the walls. One of his favorites is a veteran's corner replete with memorabilia from both world wars. The purchase of an oil painting depicting a serviceman inspired Cotton's surrounding décor, including sporrans, propellers, flags and helmets. A walk through the restaurant reveals an old chaffer, an ancient potato planter, a cultivator, and suspended over the entrance, a John Deere tractor, it's peeled green paint barely visible. Other areas of the restaurant are dressed in native historical regalia, and as one rodeo rider pointed out, a bull rider's hat and a city brim hat.

"My father dreamed of one day owning a restaurant filled with Prairie life, and many of the antiques he amassed for decades couldn't be duplicated today," says Debbie.

The Granary menu has remained much the same from the start, since people come for the consistency in quality and value, explains the co-owner. The house specialty is Prime Rib while other features include steaks, Black Mountain Chicken, (so named for the local geography), BC salmon and Saskatoon Pickerel. A pastry chef arrives daily to prepare the cheesecake and Saskatoon berry pie, two favorites among the desserts.

"The new restaurant has proven to be extremely successful," says Debbie. "Sales have been up 25 to 30% consistently in each of the past four years since the relocation and redesign. Debbie attributes the impressive growth to both the new changes they made and to those ideas they maintained. While the newness might have attracted added customers initially, Debbie believes that the consistent increase in traffic is attributable in large part to the careful expansion and redesign of the restaurant and the development of its personality. The co-owner also maintains that her customers come for the consistency in food and service and for the value. Locals also relate to the Prairie life theme and enjoy showing off the heritage of Saskatoon, the Prairies and early pioneer life to visiting friends. "There's nothing else like it in Saskatchewan,' exclaims Debbie. "Everybody in this area has some family history that they can identify here."

Thinking of renovating your hospitality establishment?
Contact : Peter C. Cotton, Sunburst Design Team
Commercial Interior Designers
56 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON M5E 1A7
Tel.: 416-863-6743, Fax: 416-863-6041
Photos by Gene Hattori)

For more dining recommendations.
The Flying Gourment.

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