Most people go to Buffalo Pound Provincial Park in the summer to go camping or to spend a day at the beach. My favourite time of year to go is in the fall to see the trees turning colour. Saskatchewan has many trees and lakes in the north, but there aren’t many trees in the prairies. As you drive along the Trans-Canada Highway the only trees you see are those that have been planted by farmers around their homesteads as windbreaks or by the government along the highway to help drivers discern the side of the road in winter.
This past fall a couple of my uncles were visiting from England and we went to the park in search of buffalo. As you leave the highway and head for the park you drive through farmland. Suddenly you are at the park gates and on the top of the Qu’Appelle Valley that stretches across the province on an angle. In the summer the sides of the valley are green but in the fall they are a brownish colour and the trees in this part of the valley turn golden. Against the blue sky and the resultant blue lake in the valley floor it is a lovely sight. We slowly drove through the buffalo compound with our eyes scanning for big brown animals. Okay, it is more like a dirt track than a road and it has lots of holes. When we reached the end of the road we got out of the car and climbed the observation tower.
There are storyboards at the tower explaining how the First Nations people used to hunt buffalo. A buffalo pound was one of the techniques they used – herding the animals into a pen – which is how the park got its name. In 1972 there were a dozen bison introduced into the park. Now there are about 30. Most of the time the buffalo roam freely in the compound however, they are elusive. Luck was not with us and we did not see any buffalo. They were all hiding in the trees. Still, it was a lovely fall day and the scenery was well worth the short drive from Moose Jaw.