Go West, Day 24 – Moose Jaw, SK

Author: Larry St Aubin

We cross the prairie from Grasslands to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It is only a 2.5 hour drive so have lots of activities planned for Moose Jaw.

On September 15th, 1874, the Cree, Assiniboine and Saulteaux Peoples entered into a sacred covenant called Treaty 4 with representatives of British Crown- Queen Victoria. This process took six days to complete. Treaty 4  was entered into on a government to government basis that recognizes First Nations sovereignty and governance. Several First Nations bands entered into Treaty Four at a later dates. Treaty 4 includes major cities such as Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton to name a few.

It was early morning when I packed up. Got a pre-dawn photo of the grasslands. One of the advantages of getting up early, besides sunrise photos, is you just might see a bison standing on the side of the road.

Saw the sun peeping over the cow field. Mom and calf were cautious but curious of the tourist.

Saw a sign for a Point of Interest. There was an earlier one but missed it. Saskatchewan puts them right at the point when you have to turn. Going 100 km makes that a little difficult. I saw the little blue spot in the distance, slowed down and drover up to the sign. Unfortunately…

I took a photo and rotated it on the computer to read it. The Old Wives Massacre. I had passed a tourist attraction sign earlier for the Old Wives Lake Bird Sanctuary.

Moose Jaw – Canada’s most notorious city. The tourism folks also mailed me a visitor guide. They’ve turned their reputation into a slogan and tour attraction. Rum runners used Moose Jaw’s underground tunnels during Prohibition. Rosie Dale, a brothel owner who was banished from the city, used used unmanned, trained horses to bring customers to her. And, allegedly, Al Capone visited the city on business. And the visitor guide had a section on not-so-notorious things to do with your dog.

According to Moose Jaw City records, the name comes from the Plains Cree – moscâstani-sîpiy meaning “a warm place by the river”, indicative of the protection from the weather the Coteau range provides to the river valley containing the city.

Mac the Moose, created in 1984, Mac was constructed by Saskatoon artist, Don Foulds using a steel frame, covered with metal mesh and completed with 4 coats of cement. 

“In 2019 comedians Justin and Greg discovered that Mac no longer had the title of World’s Largest Moose. Stor-Elvdal, Norway had built a moose that was just over 32 feet tall. After receiving media attention from all around the world, we decided that we could not let Norway win this competition for the world’s largest moose.”

“After much discussion and debate we decided that we would take Mac’s old antlers off and give him newer, bigger, and better ones. We received many kind donations, including a donation of $25,000 from Moosehead Breweries. On June 5th, 2019, we removed Mac’s original antlers. Mac then spent his summer with no antlers, which confused many of his visitors!”

“Team Mac worked hard all summer and into the Fall to make sure that Mac’s new antlers would be perfect. Team Mac included Steady Metalworks, Orion Taxidermy, and many others. On October 10th, 2019, Mac’s big day finally came! Mac’s new antlers were revealed to a huge crowd, making him, once again. the world’s tallest moose.”

When I was coming into town there was a tourist attraction sign for Big Murals. I went into the visitor information centre where Mac the Moose was to ask. Not only was there a walking tour, she gave me a detailed, printed map.

Moose Jaw has a thriving public art scene. The murals were many and in very good condition. There were far to many for me to cover so we concentrated on a 2 block radius.

Parked the car in front of the Capitol Theatre. It is Sunday so no paid parking, no traffic and wasn’t too hot for the pugs

Tribute to the Age of Theatre by Brian Romagnoli, 2002. Celebrates the theatre of Moose Jaw, the cultural centre of Southern Saskatchewan in the 1920s

Capital Theatre Mural by David Butler, 2007. A ticket for the theatre in its heyday with a bevy of beauties to grace the stage.

Dancing of River Street by Brian Romagnoli, 2002. Offers a romantic retrospective glimpse of the exciting nightlife of River Street in the 1920s

Old Time Threshing Bee by Paul Geraghty, 1992. A tribute to the farmers who made the prairies the bread basket of the world.

Tribute to Victoria School by Joanne Dusel, 1999. Whimsical look at Victoria School on opening day, featuring long time teacher Faye Baker.

This one wasn’t in the tour guide.

Veterinarian Mural by Noella Cotnam, 2007. A tribute to all the veterinarians who served in Moose Jaw over the years.

Winter Carnival by Grant McLaughlin, 1992. This mural shows winter carnival events which were popular during long prairie winters.

Tribute to the Metis Community by Ray Renooy, 2007. Mural of Louis Riel

The Last Dambuster by John Butterworth, 2007. Ken Brown was a Moose Jaw native who flew with the famous Dambuster Squadron during World War II and was awarded the CGM. Dambusters bombed dams in Germany. I read the book when I was a teenager.

The Canadian Mosaic. This one was quite special and saw it when I went for the trolley tour. 150 communities across Canada created Community Murals that reflected the history and culture of Canada. Moose Jaw’s contribution is composed of 823 tiles painted by residents honouring the Snowbirds flying team. All the murals were linked up as a train to celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial (150th birthday)

Rosie’s on River Street – lunch on pet friendly patio.

The waiter first brought out the water bowls – good sign. Greta adopts the “one ear flipped back” look in honour of Rosie.

Greta decides she likes it better sitting where the waiter has to walk by.

However, the Swiss cheese/mushroom burger with sweet potato fries comes and she comes to check it out.

A pint of Rosie’s Red Ale

The Travelodge of Moose Jaw. I booked this one through Airmiles. I was only using it to sleep so didn’t need much – and I didn’t get much. It has earned the distinction of the worst hotel of the trip.

There was no one at the office when I checked in. I had to call long distance. The man who answered said someone will be there shortly. I got checked in on the ground floor. Its a motel so drove the car right to the door – that was about the extent of the good things. The room came with a kitchen that was 1950s.

I remember as a kid having a cupboard like this in the kitchen

I have no idea where the air conditioner backs on to. It is facing the window and outside door. No Keurig here, coffee is made in the microwave.

The mattress is as uncomfortable as it looks. Greta says it is better than the tent.

Moose Jaw has a Trolley Tour company. You can take the Historic tour or the Ghost tour. I chose the True Crime tour.

This first thing I noticed was the heat. Walking into it was like an oven. The driver could have started the car earlier and turned on the A/C. He did turn it on when he started up but the car didn’t cool down even after the hour’s tour ended.

I won’t relate the stories. They were true crime and full of blood and gore – which was the whole idea. The presenter read well and at a pace that was easy to follow.

The drive took us all around Moose Jaw so it was a chance to see not just the main drag but the neighbourhoods. Sometimes he would stop and the presenter would point out a house that related to the story.

One story told of a man who murdered his 5 children. The blue house was pointed out at where it happened. I thought, imagine living in that house and everyday the trolley car stops and people look out at your house.

The children were buried in this cemetery in an unmarked grave in little white coffins. That is how most of the stories went but in greater detail.

Moose Jaw Hometown Fair. I had to at least pop over to the fair. It was the last couple of hours left of the fair so fairly (pun) empty.

It was what I expected a prairie fair to be.

I went looking for a corndog. I remember going to Toronto’s exhibition when I was young and eating a corndog. I found an Asian food truck that sold Korean Corn Dogs

And, of course, a Lemonade.

The Canine Stars show was just starting. The world class trainers use dogs that are rescued from shelters in the States, Canada and Mexico.

After explaining how to train your dog through rewards, they setup the jump platform. The first dog was just learning but ready to show off. The first time Rudy decided to go around.

However, on the next try she did a clear jump.

Chick pea, the bullie mix, tried next. After doing this all weekend, she was just too tired to make that final hurdle. She tried 3 times. But she got the cheers she deserved.

This one jumped the highest.

The had a pool and jumping off platform setup. There wasn’t water in the pool – there were hundreds of soft balls for the dogs to jump into. Couldn’t get a good view so didn’t video. That was about it. I headed back to the motel.

One thing about the place it was only 1/2 block from Crescent Park – the big main park of Moose Jaw. However, when I got to the entrance with the pugs

I mean, really, what is it with parks with No Dogs signs? I did see another guy with a German Shepherd. Later I would spot another dog being walked. Guess it is more honoured in the breach.

The Moose Jaw Museum, Art Gallery and Public Library are in a building just inside the park. A project to carve sculptures into the trunks of trees was around the building. Nice

And that was our day. Pugs are tired out. I’m tired so I don’t even feel the hardness of the bed. Tomorrow is Winnipeg and a very special day.