Prairie Boy Confessional: Redefining Saskatoon, the “Paris of the Prairies”

Canada

North America

This post was contributed by Nate Biliske Lang.


When I say Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, what comes to mind? For Canadians, they probably associate this part of Canada with the imagery of long, FLAT wheat fields and the sound of a tractor plowing the field. Which is not entirely wrong …but trust me when I say there is so much that we have to offer!

Firstly, my name is Nate. I am 23 years old, born and raised in the smack dab middle of the Canadian prairies. I am from the city of Saskatoon (named after a berry), the biggest city of the province Saskatchewan. Growing up in Saskatoon there were a couple of things I noticed.

 A, yes even though we’re the biggest city in Sask’ we are by large a small city. 

 B, that “small town little house on the prairies” mentality is very present. 

 Lastly C, we are consistently told that we are the “underdogs” of Canada.  

You see, yes, I definitely had dreams of exploring the bigger metropolises of Canada such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. But the more I travelled, the more I discovered that Saskatoon is actually pretty cool and has a lot to offer travellers.

Okay,

“Underdogs”

“Nothing to see”

Anyone who has listened to Lorde’s song “Teams” and identified with the lyrics, “We live in cities, we’ll never see on screen” has heard those two previous phrases told to them.

Saskatoon is named the “Paris of the Prairies” (side note: anyone from Paris reading this, I totally understand your confusion to this title). The name always confused me, but it makes quite a bit of sense!

Aesthetically, Saskatoon (especially downtown) looks like if a Hallmark movie was an indie film. There are tons of murals, coffee shops, historic hotels (Delta Bessbourough looking over the riverbank), pubs, clubs (including a thriving gay bar scene), art gallery, theatres (cinema and stage), shopping, and restaurants.  

Over the years of my early 20’s, I have had the privilege to visit many exciting cities in North America. Most recently, I visited New York for a course I was taking over the summer. I absolutely loved meeting people from all around the world and especially the conversations that can give you a different outlook on the world and on ourselves.

And of course, the famous question always comes up first, “Oh cool you’re from Canada, what part are you from?”. Typically, if I was speaking to other Canadians, the moment I mention Saskatoon they typically would say “I never would’ve pinned you as a Saskie” (sorry I left my overalls and straw hat at home) or  “Why do you live there?”

But this wasn’t the case in New York, frankly because this was the first time my fellow students had heard of Saskatoon and they wanted to know more. 

That really made me think.

Why am I always preparing myself for some placed embarrassment about my home roots? If I’m interested in what small city/ town in Australia they’re from, why wouldn’t they be interested in mine? This is the conversation that I feel a lot of us have, especially when we travel! All of the things I loved about my home city came spewing out as I discussed where I grew up. And just as I saw my new friends’ faces light up in interest…so did mine, in a different way! As I listened to my colleagues describe their homes, I began to recognize the similarities in our cities and just how connected we all truly are.

  • Saskatoon has the most beautiful skies all year round, day or night.
  • There are more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in Canada. Bon Appétit!
  • Our Art Gallery hosts an incredible year-round Picasso collection.
  • We have a STELLAR Jazz festival that attracts world class performers such as John Legend and Lauryn Hill.
  • The Saskatoon Pride Parade is a city-wide celebration and the largest in our province!

Coming back from New York to Saskatoon, I (for the first time) really noticed how lucky I was to be a prairie boy, and what that can all mean. My roots, the experiences I have gotten to have here, and how in many ways this small city has given me the tools to take my curiosity of the world to new heights! I am proud!

Damon has mentioned in one of his travel vlogs how the more he travels the more every place looks like Indiana. And I really connect with that! With every new experience we have, it can connect us full circle to the original ambition and need to have such experiences! And new places and faces become beautifully more and more familiar! In return, this allows us to experience our homesteads not as a comparison to the rest of the world, but for the energy and unique beauty that it is! 

Why am I always preparing myself for some placed embarrassment about my home roots?

What I’m trying to say is that I’m unsubscribing to this

“Underdog”

“Nothing to see” notion!

Because I’ve learned that’s simply not true! Everybody has a story and every place is the library that hosts the pages for you to write it! Although I’m not as internationally travelled as some, what I have learned travelling in North America is that there is so much more too see, even at my own front door! 

My original prerogative to travel was to escape and recreate my vision of myself. But in the end, it not only allowed me to embrace the new, it also allowed me to love and take pride in my past. 

So, to all the Prairie Boys and Girls out there, all over the world. Cheers to our spirit to explore! Oh, and I finally understand why Saskatoon’s called the “Paris on the Prairies” …but you’ll have to visit to see for yourself!

Happy Travels!


Meet Nate:  My Name is Nate Biliske Lang. I’m a 23 year old Actor, Film Nerd, Coffee Loving, Under eye bag enthusiast from the Canadian Prairies. Keep up with Nate on IG. 

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