European Buckthorn berries in the Meewasin Valley

European Buckthorn is a Pretty, But Invasive, Species

Invasive species on the Prairies take a number of forms, including insects, animals, and plant life. And each one of them does damage in their own unique way, primarily by pushing native species out of the environment. That has certainly been the case with European Buckthorn.

Known by many names such as Common Buckthorn or Purging Buckthorn, people in Saskatchewan know this devilish bush primarily as European Buckthorn. We’re most familiar with it as an ornamental plant but it can be devastating to natural Prairie landscapes.

How did the European Buckthorn end up here?

As the name suggests, you can primarily find this plant across most of Europe. But it’s also native to both western Asia and northwest Africa. It actually calls a large portion of the planet home, likely the impacts were not understood when moving it here. .

Cranberry Flats in the Meewasin Valley has had European Buckthorn issues

During the course of European colonization efforts, familiar plants were brought by settlers to North America. The earliest indications of European Buckthorn being established in this part of the world was in the 1800s, though it may have been even earlier than that.

It started as an ornamental plant in parts of the United States and primarily in Ontario. Thanks to birds eating the berries and transporting the seeds, it spread quickly and became part of the scenery quite unintentionally. Now, it can be found across the continent.

What’s the problem with European Buckthorn?

Like many invasive species, there’s nothing natural in the environment to keep European Buckthorn under control. The seeds and leaves are poisonous to pretty much everything but birds who only eat the berries, meaning nothing here is really eating the plants.

On top of that, it’s a particularly hearty species that grows quickly, taking over the environment from native species that

wildlife use for food, shelter, and more. The negative impacts on any area it appears in are apparent and can become drastic in a short period of time.

What can we do about European Buckthorn?

European Buckthorn berries in the Meewasin Valley

That’s a tough one. This is a plant that sprouts quickly, distributes a lot of seeds, dies, and the cycle repeats itself. A lot of people try cutting it off at the roots and use herbicides to kill it off. It can work, but that doesn’t prevent the seeds from growing. Also, it’s always preferable to avoid putting poison into the ecosystem whenever possible.

Realistically, the best thing to do is get your hands dirty and pull it out of the ground, roots and all. Then, repeat the process whenever you spot new growth from seeds. It’s not exactly high tech but it gets the job done.

Meewasin periodically conducts volunteer sessions on the lands we manage to help remove European Buckthorn from the ecosystem and we’d love your help. Just remember to always wear gloves when handling this species, do not eat the berries, and stay off of private property.

If you have any questions about European Buckthorn or any other invasive species, please contact Meewasin at (306) 665-6887 or

Get information about volunteering with Meewasin.

A beaver sits in the South Saskatchewan River Meewasin

The Diefenbaker Canada Centre Beaver Pond is a Happening Spot for Wildlife

There are places throughout the Meewasin Valley that are prime destinations to do some wildlife spotting. Beaver Creek Conservation Area is always marvelous. Chief Whitecap Park is loaded with a variety of birds year round. And the Northeast Swale almost always has deer lurking about, particularly at dusk and dawn.

The beaver pond behind the Diefenbaker Centre University of Saskatchewan MeewasinBut there’s one spot that a lot of people don’t consider checking out. For years, the beaver pond behind the Diefenbaker Canada Centre on the University of Saskatchewan campus, aka Devil’s Dip, has provided a home for the country’s most famous rodents. But this fall, they aren’t the only Meewasin Valley residents who have been seen in the area.

As always when looking for wildlife, there are basic rules that need to be kept in mind.

    • Be realistic. There are no guarantees in wildlife spotting and the animals you’re looking for may not be around.
    • Be respectful. This goes for the land, the other people around you, and especially the wildlife. It also means packing your trash out and not picking up “souvenirs” from the environment. Take a pic, don’t pick.
    • Be sensible. Keep a safe distance away from any and all wildlife.

A beaver enjoys a snack on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River Meewasin

Beavers on the Job

Calling beavers industrious is an incredible understatement. Their work damming off a drainage ditch leading from the University of Saskatchewan down to the South Saskatchewan River created the pond they now call home. And their aggressive tree collection methods have led to robust tree wrapping programs from the university and Meewasin.

That doesn’t change the fact that they are incredibly fascinating as well as highly beneficial for the local wetland ecology. Beavers can be spotted swimming, collecting trees, and taking naps in a sunny spot at this pond. They’ll be disappearing for the winter quite soon, so make a point to stop by before the snow flies if you’re walking the Meewasin Trail.

Muskrat and Mink and Porcupines, Oh My!

Beavers aren’t the only adorable, furry rodents who like the water and need a place to stay for the winter. And it looks like one of them has moved into the Beaver Pond! It’s reputedly common for muskrat to join beavers in their lodges and winter with them. At least one muskrat has recently been viewed in the pond a few times, so that’s likely the case.

Not all of the Meewasin Valley’s top rodents want to get in the water with the beavers. A massive porcupine was recently documented in the vicinity. Again, people know they’re around but it’s always fun to see one waddling down the trail. Just keep your distance as they don’t generally enjoy company on their strolls.

A mink pops up in the South Saskatchewan River MeewasinA surprising and rare visitor was also spotted at the pond by Mike Digout, a local wildlife expert and photographer who spends a lot of time there. He saw a mink hanging out in the pond with the muskrat and beavers. There are minks in the Meewasin Valley, but sightings are few and far between, to say the least.

While this might seem obvious, it’s always worth mentioning there is also an abundance of migrating birds hanging out around the river at this time of year. Naturally, there’s an absurd number of Canadian Geese but they’re not the only ones on the move. Keep your eyes peeled. You never know what you’ll see.

Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Herons, and Even Whooping Cranes Stop by Beaver Creek

Blue Skies over Meewasin Beaver Creek

Experience Fall at Beaver Creek Conservation Area

Migratory birds, hungry chickadees, and turning leaves make September one of the most magical times to visit Beaver Creek. With a series of four hiking trails to explore by foot, the site offers a number of ways to experience it.

Summer Wildflowers at Meewasin Beaver CreekCurrently, we are saying goodbye to the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds who were banded on site this summer by Ron Jensen and Meewasin staff. At the same time, we’re welcoming back the Sandhill Cranes who pass through as they migrate further south for the winter.

And a special thanks goes to Wild Birds Unlimited who provided feeders in support of our hummingbird banding program this summer!

This is the time of year the Black-capped Chickadees become even more curious as they begin to store seeds for the upcoming winter months. Seeds are handed out at the Interpretive Centre and are available by donation; please don’t bring other seed on site.

Although adorable, the ground squirrels and chipmunks do not need to be fed. This keeps everyone involved safe, particularly those precious little mooches. Trust us. They can handle their own business quite effectively.

What to know before you go

Some COVID-19 precautions are still in effect. Meewasin continues to have a capacity restriction and limited access to facilities at Beaver Creek . This provides a better and safer experience for our visitors and helps us to manage the pressure on this special conservation area.

Beaver Creek runs through the Meewasin Conservation Area

Meewasin requires the use of masks to access the washrooms in our Interpretive Centre. Meewasin works with children under 12 at Beaver Creek as regular visitors to our site and during our school programs. As this age group is not yet eligible for vaccination, masks continue to be an important tool to help us prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Until the children we serve are able to be vaccinated, Meewasin’s team members will wear masks in the Interpretive Centre and any time we are working with children. Members of the public wishing to use our washroom facilities must wear a mask to enter the building.

Thank-you for helping keep our staff and our youngest visitors safe!

Practice Good Stewardship While Adventuring

      • Take a pic, don’t pick! Although tempting to take a memento, a picture lasts longer and doesn’t impact sensitive habitats.
      • Stay on the marked trails. Help protect the plants and wildlife that call this place home.
      • The trails are for hiking only. No dogs or bikes are permitted on site.
      • Pack-it-in and pack-it-out. Please keep litter out of this special place.
      • Pack a water bottle. There is no potable water on site.

Beaver Creek is open from 10 AM to 5 PM, Wednesday through Sunday.

Questions? Contact Beaver Creek at 306-374-2474.

A Sandhill Crane flies above Beaver Creek Meewasin

Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Herons, and Even Whooping Cranes Stop by Beaver Creek

Fall migration is a marvelous time to be a birder. Numerous species that aren’t normally hanging around Saskatoon and area pop up on their way to their winter homes. And Beaver Creek Conservation Area often finds itself right in the middle of things.

This protected natural region provides a perfect stopover for several incredible species. Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Herons, and even the occasional Whooping Crane have been viewed there, making this a prime destination for local bird watchers.

If you do decide to come out to Beaver Creek and try to spot these beautiful creatures, there are a few things to keep in mind.

      • Be realistic. There are no guarantees in wildlife spotting and the animals you’re looking for may not be around.
      • Be respectful. This goes for the land, the other people around you, and especially the wildlife. It also means packing your trash out and not picking up “souvenirs” from the environment. Take a pic, don’t pick.
      • Be sensible. Keep a safe distance away from any and all wildlife.

Sandhill Cranes

A flock of Sandhill Cranes flies above Beaver Creek MeewasinDuring this time of year, hundreds of thousands of these magnificent birds are on the move across North America. Since they aren’t normally in such massive numbers around Beaver Creek and Saskatoon, seeing them during migration is always a treat.

A Sandhill Crane’s combination of a wingspan that can be up to 2.3 meters, their long, pointed bills, and their distinctive call certainly help them stand out. They can be spotted in the fields around Beaver Creek, in the conservation area itself, and flying overhead.

A Great Blue Heron stands by the South Saskatchewan River Beaver Creek Meewasin

Great Blue Herons

One of the biggest wading birds spotted throughout North America on shores and in wetlands is the Great Blue Heron. They also pop up in the Galapagos Islands, though if you’re not heading that way Beaver Creek is almost as impressive.

Thanks to the creek which winds through the Conservation Area as well as the nearby South Saskatchewan River, Great Blue Herons appear here with some frequency, particularly during migration. They are impressive to see every time.

Whooping Cranes

Calling the sound a Whooping Crane makes distinctive is an understatement. They sure didn’t get their name by accident. These large and stunningly white birds definitely pop in most environments, though their critically low numbers mean sightings are rare.

The chances of seeing one at Beaver Creek are low. At the same time, they have been known to migrate with the Sandhill Cranes. There have been a few people over the years who have spotted them nearby, so you never know what you’ll see if you keep your eyes peeled.

The City of Saskatoon Lift Station on the Meewasin Trail


City of Saskatoon Lift Station detour map Meewasin TrailStarting Oct 12, 2021, a section of the Meewasin Trail across from GD Archibald Memorial Park on Spadina Crescent East will be closed through 2023. This includes not only the main trail but also the lower part of the trail that’s closer to the river.

The City of Saskatoon is conducting a major upgrade to its lift station at that location which necessitates the closure. The main trail will have a bypass in place but the lower trail will be completely cut off throughout the duration of the work.

Please watch our website and social media for further details and re-opening dates.

City of Saskatoon – Construction Notice – Spadina Lift Station


A forest grows in Meewasin Park

National Forest Week Returns from September 19 to 25

Trees growing in Meewasin ParkIt’s hard to argue the importance that forests play in the world. Naturally, they help keep the air clear but they also provide habitats for an endless array of mammals, birds, and insects. Plus, research has shown they have a positive impact on our physical and mental health.

That’s why Canadians celebrate National Forest Week each year. In 2021, this incredibly important week of celebration runs from Sunday, September 19 to Saturday, September 25. And there will be events going on across the country.

In Saskatoon, that includes a massive tree planting event in Diefenbaker Park on Wednesday, September 22. Meewasin, the City of Saskatoon, and Tree Canada have partnered to plant 100 new trees in the park. The volunteer list is full for this event but that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate forests in your area!

The history of National Forest Week

This week actually dates back to 1920 when it was known as Forest Fire Prevention Week. While the overall goal was to promote greater public awareness of Canada’s forests, there was still the specific message of reducing forest fires attached to the event.

As time has gone on, we have come to understand the importance fire plays in renewing our environment. That’s why Meewasin has an active prescribed fire program. At the same time, that doesn’t mean we don’t work against careless fires being set anywhere by humans.

After being renamed in 1967, Forest Fire Prevention Week became National Forest Week. This was the start of an evolution of bringing in more of the human and environmental aspects of Canada’s forest resources while still including fires. And Canada has a lot of forest resources.

Celebrating our forests

The forest in Meewasin Park

Part of what makes National Forest Week so special are the various events going on across Canada. In Saskatoon, we have the previously mentioned tree planting day, which actually falls on National Tree Day. But there is more happening in other regions of the country.

A big part of the week is actually getting outside and enjoying nature. National Forest Week is a call to action, both to protect and grow our forests but also to understand them better. The best way to do that is by spending time in the forest.

However you choose to enjoy National Forest Week, just take time to do it. Simply stepping out into the natural world and taking a breath can do wonders for you. It also reminds you of how beautiful, precious, and precarious this resource is.

Check out the Canadian Institute of Forestry.

Check out Tree Canada.

Meewasin Planting Day at Diefenbaker Park.

A view of River Landing in Meewasin Valley Saskatoon

Meewasin Announces the Valley-Wide Monitoring Framework

Maintaining the Meewasin Valley is a full-time job for a lot of people.

Managing the resources of the Valley sometimes feels like an insurmountable task. The Valley currently spans 67 square km, which is the equivalent of 13,400 football fields! As such, effectively monitoring it and managing its resources is a challenge, one that Meewasin has been happily doing for more than 40 years.

But what is the Meewasin Valley-wide Monitoring Framework?

Glad you asked! Meewasin is in the first stages of building what we’re calling the Valley-wide Monitoring Framework. Rolls right off the tongue, right? During this five-year process, Meewasin is creating a network of like-minded environmental citizens and groups to work together to help watch over the Valley and monitor its important resources.

A scenic view of the Meewasin Valley SaskatoonAll of this information will help Meewasin in a number of ways. Most obviously, it gives us an ongoing narrative about what’s happening in different parts of the Valley. It will also help us plan for the future. Meewasin takes the long view of most strategies but anything related to the environment needs an especially long horizon, and we need a lot of information to make it happen.

The early stages of the Valley-wide Monitoring Framework are mostly internal to Meewasin itself. But the later stages are where we head outside and really get to work. Conservation groups, traditional knowledge-keepers, partner institutions, and stakeholders will all be involved.

That’s where you come in.

A big part of this project being successful will come down to the citizens of Saskatoon who frequent the Meewasin Valley. You being part of this Valley-wide Monitoring Framework is going to be the base of the whole operation. Without you, it simply won’t work.

Meewasin has only started building the Framework and the actual implementation of it is down the road, however we have many activities such as bio-blitz events and volunteering opportunities that will feed into this work.

To learn more about the Valley-wide Monitoring Framework, please check out the following.

Meewasin Valley-wide Monitoring Framework

Meewasin Valley-wide Monitoring Framework News Release

People walking down a trail in Meewasin Valley Saskatoon


The trail from Gordie Howe Bridge to the Sanitorium Site remains closed for repairs and improvements. Please watch our website and social media for further details and re-opening dates.

Trail closures in the Meewasin Valley Saskatoon

Sheep get ready to graze at Beaver Creek Meewasin

Sheep Grazing Demonstrations are BACK this Fall!

Click to see our Calendar for a full list of dates/times/locations.

Register here to join us in the Northeast Swale.

Register here to join us at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area.

Join us in watching and exploring targeted sheep grazing for conservation through free demonstrations!

Meewasin has been a provincial and national leader in using targeted conservation grazing with small ruminants, including sheep, to manage conservation lands in urban and semi-urban landscapes for over 17 years!


Sheep grazing at Beaver Creek MeewasinAnd this year, the sheep are baaah-ck!

Shepherd Jared Epp and his flock will be working with Meewasin for a total of 15 days from early September to mid-October at both the Northeast Swale and the Beaver Creek Conservation Area, offering FREE demonstrations to the public two times per day. These demonstrations are made possible with partial funding from the RBC Tech for Nature Fund!

These Demos are completely FREE! (Donations are welcome!)​​

Register and choose a FREE ticket or a ticket by Donation.

Tickets to register at either the Northeast Swale or Beaver Creek are online now, and you can join us through the Fall Season on selected dates. But hurry! These spots will fill up fast. 

Dates & Locations are up on our calendar.

The RBC Tech for Nature Fund

Meewasin wouldn’t be able to provide these efforts if it wasn’t for the financial support from the Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship program.

A huge thank you this year to the RBC Tech for Nature Fund for supporting this special and important project.

Jared Epp with his herding dog at Beaver Creek MeewasinMeet Shepherd Jared Epp, his sheep, and his dogs

Meewasin’s conservation grazing program encourages the public to participate in grazing demonstrations as provided by Shepherd Jared Epp and his dogs.

Jared works with the Meewasin Resource Management team, educating children and adults on grazing ecology, the relationship between predator and prey, the grazing history of the prairies, the species targeted for grazing, and how to get the sheep to eat them.


Click to see our Calendar for a full list of dates/times/locations.

Register here to join us in the Northeast Swale.

Register here to join us at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area.

Meewasin Outdoor Public Art Tour

The Meewasin Trail may be known for providing opportunities to connect with nature, snap photos of bridges, and learn Saskatoon history, but there are also many artistic and culturally-rich experiences to have while visiting the Meewasin Valley!

Even when a world-wide pandemic has halted many of the street fairs, festivals, and you know, regular summer and fall activities – there is still so much to see in Saskatoon!

Activity, 45 – 120 minutes

Ranked as one of the sunniest cities in Canada that also surrounds a beautiful river valley, Saskatoon is fortunate to boast over 90 kilometers of trail to explore the nature stewarded by Meewasin. The Meewasin Valley offers seemingly endless opportunities to witness stunning views on a lovely day in Saskatoon.

If you’re looking for an all-season, physically-distanced-safe, picturesque activity that combines both nature and culture in Saskatoon, then you’re reading the right blog! In addition to viewing some of the hundreds of fascinating species that call the Meewasin Valley home, you can find a lot of interesting (often) locally crafted public art along the Meewasin Trail!

To simplify your planning, we are going to share the details on a focused, logically organized outdoor experience that with a little movement, will help discovery many neat gems that offer amazing visual stories that turn into Instagramable #MeewasinMoment-s!

Welcome to what we call the Meewasin Southwest Outdoor Public Art Tour!

The Coming Spring

We recommend beginning your tour at the Victoria Park Boathouse where you can start by taking in the views of the wide open river from the end of the dock. Making sure to be courteous to any paddlers, start walking East on the Meewasin Trail heading downtown. before long, you’ll notice (either by sight or by sound) the large, 27-foot tall wind arch featuring a wind chime with two spires made entirely of stainless steel, named The Coming Spring. The Coming Spring, by Canadian artist, Gordon Reeve, was commissioned by the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the City of Saskatoon, with funding from the Government of Canada. The concept was selected and developed with extensive input from the community and guidance from Elders and Indian residential school survivors.

Its creation is in response to the Truth and Reconciliation  Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, No. 79:  Participate in a strategy to commemorate the contributions and history of Aboriginal peoples to Canada. The longer, 47-foot spire, pointing north, symbolically represents the First Nations’ long history. The 39-foot spire, pointing south, symbolically represents the history of the Métis Nation. Suspended high on each spire are moving chimes. The rustling and bell-like sounds the chimes make suggest the voices of children heard at a distance, representing the children taken by the residential system from all of the communities in Treaty Six Territory.


The Zhongshan Ting

Next, just East of The Coming Spring, another large installation in Victoria Park sits facing the South Saskatchewan River. This multi-patterned pagoda (as it’s known in English) is a commemoration to the first Chinese immigrants and their contributions to the early Saskatoon. It is officially called The Zhongshan Ting, which in the Chinese culture, a zhongshan ting is a communal place of worship and fellowship. The Zhongshan Ting is a perfect place to find some shelter or rest from the sun or rain while retaining a great view of the river.

This piece was graciously donated to the City of Saskatoon by the Zhongshan Ting Society. They hope the pillared structure will be a place to learn about Chinese architecture and culture. The committee also wants to see it used for weddings, school field trips, and Tai Chi classes while offering beautiful views near the riverbank.

Continue walking towards downtown, passing by the outdoor gym and under the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge, to find yourself transitioning into Riverlanding, which features colourful flags, coverings and features. As you walk East, you’ll notice the striking Pavilion Building that houses year-round washrooms and Riverlanding Snacks, then you’ll see the River Landing Spray Park, which is a display that educates about the Saskatchewan River Basin with a model showing geography and hydrology of the basin.

Launch Time

After passing by on the amphitheater, there is a winding trail that can lead you to the upper trail into downtown and towards the Meewasin Office building. Before climbing the winding trail, you’ll notice on the grass, a lineup of stones in the ground, which is a inquisitive display called Launch Time! Created by Prairie Design Group, a collective of four Saskatchewan artists (Mel Bolen, Charley Farrero, Michael Hosaluk, Sean Whalley). Launch Time is designed to engage the community, spark imagination, and encourage conversation on the role and purpose of public art.

The Design Group noted that “the work is evocative and playful, so that perceptions change and curiosity builds as the viewers move around the piece. Launch Time complements other aspects of the River Landing development, helping to make it a unique community space for all to enjoy.” Launch Time was commissioned by the Saskatchewan Arts Board as a Cultural Capital of Canada project celebrating the City of Saskatoon’s Centennial, and is also a blast to play peek-a-boo or have a fun photo shoot in with friends!

Prairie Wind

Once you’ve had a chance to let your imagination run wild and take a rest inside one of the Launch Time piece (or canoes?), wander up the rest of the winding trail up to the upper sidewalk, known as the Joni Mitchell Promenade – which pays tribute to the Saskatoon-native songstress. Head west towards the Remai Modern Art Museum, and prepare to be stunned by the art installment named Prairie Wind, which features 25 towering poles that are 15 metres tall and made of steel. The piece also features 16 state-of-the art LED floodlights at the base of the landmark which are controlled by a computerized system that allows the colours to change during different seasons and for special events. The base of the poles incorporate rubber bearing pads that allow the poles to move in the wind.

Prairie Wind was chosen out of 26 submissions for the design, fabrication and installation of a landmark in River Landing. The public, along with a community selection jury and City Council all provided input for the final decision. In the end, City Council chose “Prairie Wind” submitted by a team consisting of Lee-Koopman Projects from London, England, and Friggstad Downing Henry Architects of Saskatoon.

Tying back to the natural landscape adjacent to it, the plaza is made of a combination of poured concrete with stamped grass and river rock, connecting the urban environment with the prairie and the river. Prairie Wind draws its inspiration from the wind and the grasses that grow in abundance throughout the prairies and parkland surrounding the city. The experience of watching a field of tall grass swaying in the wind is one that is shared by all Saskatchewan people. As noted by the selection jury, “Prairie Wind serves as a visual link between the urban and the rural, the old and the new, the high- tech and the organic.”

Cut-out of Time

Lastly, meander towards the underside of the new Traffic Bridge off of Victoria Street. Turn your view away from the magnificent arches for a moment and notice the glimmer of the silver from the art piece named Cut-out of Time. This beautiful, carved display physically reflects the river, and symbolically reflects the significance of the river to Saskatoon’s development sits on the inner, north side of the bridge.

In December 2006, calls for submissions were distributed to invite “Expressions of Interest” to design, fabricate, and install an artistic interpretive element that reflects the significance of the river to Saskatoon’s development.  On March 26, 2007, City Council approved the purchase of the “Cut-out of Time” interpretative element by Elizabeth Yonza for tentative placement on the north side of the Riverfront path beneath the Traffic Bridge.

Now Go Explore!

There is a ton of cool displays to see in the city, including the University of Saskatchewan’s Sculpture Garden which is adjacent to the Meewasin Trail behind the Diefenbaker Centre, or the City of Saskatoon’s Public Art Collection but we’re happy you stuck around to learn about one of our favourite areas!

There are so many picture worthy spots to explore in the Meewasin Valley and the eight bridges are only the beginning! We hope you enjoyed our ‘tour’ and discover these new areas for yourself, or if you’re already familiar with the spots, that you learned a bit about some of the culturally-rich art installments in the Southwest area of Saskatoon! Now go explore and tag us on social media for a chance to get featured!