Excerpts from 1,500-word article


Waskesiu, Sask: Grey Owl, The naturalist who is quoted often in this central Saskatchewan park, describes it best:

"The whole region" he wrote, "is one vast wilderness of lake and forest, and if 1,500 square miles (3875kmē) is not enough for you, you may pass east and west without knowing the difference, and north as far as the Arctic Circle with little interruption except that provided by the trading post." Traditional trading posts have since disappeared but that small detail aside, most of the park remains unchanged, preserved for present and future generations to enjoy.

Prince Albert National Park is a great environmental mosaic that fairly teems with wildlife. Representative of Canada's southern boreal plains, its grassland region supports prairie animals, while northern forests are home to wolves, elks and bears.

An attractive feature of this, and most of Canada's national parks, is that you don't have to be gung-ho on hiking and canoeing to enjoy the wilderness experience. Gentle walking trails and waterways take one into regions where the power of nature is overwhelming. But then, if you so choose, at day's end you can return to a comfortable cottage, modern hotel room or motorhome within the park boundaries....

At the fully serviced trailer park here, we are allotted a sun-drenched site, its clipped grass studded with pine trees. A brief walk in one direction brings us to a grocery store, and in the other to Lake Waskesiu. Super-clean showers and toilets are minutes away.

These days some 700 visitors a year are interested enough to make the trip to Grey Owl's cabin, which is no more accessible now than when he lived there. Built on the lake's shore, it allowed the beavers entry under a wall to an indoors beaver lodge. Living with them this way, Grey Owl had a unique opportunity to study the creatures at close range. Through his writings, two of his beaver friends, Rawhide and Jellyroll, became almost as famous as the author...........

It was years before the impact of Grey Owl's work as a naturalist outweighed the shock of his fake pedigree. Now he is remembered only as a man who lived with the beavers and promoted their preservation. His cabin has been restored. Grey Owl, Anahereo and daughter Shirley Dawn are buried nearby.

If an overnight trip to Ajawaan sounds a little too rugged, you can join a modern-day naturalist on a wolf howl or star gazing expedition instead. Or take yourself on one of many backwood trails that weave through aspen and spruce forests. Or go fishing. Few easterners think of Saskatchewan when planning a fishing trip, yet a third of the park is water - much of it enjoyed by fishermen.

IF YOU GO: Prince Albert National Park is about 50 miles (80km) north of Prince Albert in central Saskatchewan. The park operates several campgrounds. Waskesiu accommodation includes motels, cottages and a hotel.