The train is a mode of travel I enjoy whenever I am visiting England or Eastern Canada. Living in the prairies, I do not have ready access to passenger trains. The closest one to where I live is a two and a half hour drive north to Saskatoon to catch the VIA rail to points east or west. That is why I was delighted to see The Southern Prairie Railway advertised in tourism information earlier this year. No, it isn’t an extensive railway system. However, it does provide a taste of travelling by rail across farmer’s fields with lots of typical views along the way.
2013 is the railway’s second year of operation. It is located in Ogema, Saskatchewan which is southwest of Regina, Saskatchewan’s capital city. We went on the 1 ½ hour Heritage train ride which is a return trip to Horizon, Saskatchewan where you are able to disembark for a tour of a grain elevator. It was Father’s Day so before embarking on our trip there was a lunch at the Deep South Pioneer Museum. Lunch consisted of beef on a bun with salads and baked beans which we took ‘to go’ because lunch was not included when I booked the tickets so we did not arrive early enough to sit and eat with the other passengers, most of whom were tucking into dessert when we arrived. There are costumed guides on the train that provide some commentary, point out deer, and answer questions. Along the way we saw numerous deer (white-tailed and mule), numerous colourful birds (red-winged blackbirds in abundance), an elevator on its side in a pond (they discovered too late that due to all the nails holding the elevator together, they were unable to take it apart/move it and over it went), and endless skies and fields. Do not expect a fast train. The vision of the railway is to provide people with an understanding of what the pioneers in the 1920s would have seen when they travelled by train across the prairies and it achieves its goal.
Included in the price of the ticket is admission to the Deep South Pioneer Museum and we spent as much time there as on the train trip. There are numerous buildings and each of them is filled with artifacts of farming life.
There is also a star gazers trip, a pitchfork fondue trip, a trip to Pangman’s Saturday Farmer’s Market and trips that can include a train robbery. Monies collected from the train robberies go to specified charities. One of the guides was also talking about plans for a chocolate lover’s trip in the future. Sign me up for that one!
For information on booking, schedules and fees check out their website at www.southernprairierailway.com.