Photographer Jeff Bartlett Reveals His Adventure in Northern Saskatchewan
In the summer of 2019, photographer Jeff Bartlett accepted an invitation to a mystery destination for a surprise adventure trip. The secret destination was revealed to him moments before his departure from the Calgary International Airport.
Here’s the story of Jeff’s Northern Saskatchewan adventure…
Prince Albert National Park and Missinipe were the two key locations on our adventure. The trip confirmed that there isn’t a better place, in Canada or worldwide, for a multi-day canoe trip. The Churchill River watershed is chock full of lakes and rivers that are ideal to explore in a canoe.
Saskatchewan’s biggest challenge is an undeserved reputation based on the scenery along the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s defined by the vast prairies, yet about half the province sits on the Canadian Shield. For anyone looking for a canoe trip, I cannot imagine a better destination.
Day 1: Saskatoon, Petrofka Orchard, The Crooked Bush
Later that afternoon we investigated The Crooked Bush near Hafford.
Day 2: Batoche National Historic Site, Prince Albert National Park, Waskesiu Lake
Driving north from Saskatoon to Prince Albert, we stopped at Batoche National Historic Site. The interpretive tour was the most meaningful experience of the trip for me. We learned about the Métis people and the 1885 North West Resistance. I had no idea that the last military battle on Canadian soil took place in Saskatchewan.
Prince Albert National Park is a good place to explore nature or enjoy wildlife watching, hiking or paddling and portaging through remote forest lakes.
In the afternoon we checked in to Elk Ridge Resort, nestled in the boreal forest, near the Lakeland region. We explored the resort from the treetops with a Treeosix Adventure Park zipline canopy tour.
Day 3: Prince Albert National Park, Grey Owl’s Cabin
We trekked to the cabin of famous conservationist Archibald Belaney, known as Grey Owl, on Ajawaan Lake. The guide from Waskesiu Marina Adventure Centre led us on the hiking and boating excursion to this legendary place.
Day 4: Missinipe Boat Trip to Twin Falls Lodge, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Nistowiak Falls
An early morning drive took us to Missinipe where we officially began our day of fishing with guides from Thompson’s Camps.
Afterwards, we explored the area around Holy Trinity Anglican Church. This is the oldest building in Saskatchewan, built between 1854 and 1860.
The church is located across the river from Stanley Mission, a First Nations settlement in the boreal forest on the banks of the Churchill River. People have lived in this area for thousands of years.
Standing at Nistowiak Falls, I was blown away by the sheer power of this incredible rapid river.
We took a scenic floatplane trip, viewing the whole area from about 2,000 feet in the air. We flew over some of the landmarks we’d seen from the water, like Nistowiak Falls and the church at Stanley Mission.
We spent our last night at Thompson’s Camps.
Day 5: Missinipe, La Ronge, Saskatoon
I think the biggest thing I appreciated was how passionate everyone was about their backyard. Our fishing guides on the Churchill River, the guide at Waskesiu Marina Adventure Centre, the staff at Twin Falls Lodge and the floatplane pilot in Missinipe were all so excited to show off their favourite locations. The trip wouldn’t have been the same without their enthusiasm.
I really want to head further and further north. I would love to join Churchill River Canoe Outfitters on their epic 8-day Athabasca Sand Dunes backcountry expedition. I’d love to see that landscape for myself. I think doing it with my own paddling power would make the experience that much more rewarding.
I long to get back and enjoy this amazing area at a slower pace, likely on a 5-10 day canoe trip. More time would let me relax and truly connect with the raw wilderness landscapes in northern Saskatchewan.
Jeff’s work profiles the art and craft of adventure through social media. His photographs and films capture rugged landscapes and ambitious adventure for a single purpose: to inspire people to get outside and explore our beautiful planet.