The Prairie Provinces – Getting Here
If you are coming to Canada, you can’t miss the Prairie Provinces. An oasis of forest, grassland, and lakes plunked down right in the middle of the country, the region’s central location makes getting here a breeze. Just remember: with only 2.1 million people living in an area of over a half million square miles, there is a lot of space here. If coming by car or train, don’t be panicked by the lack of people and abundance of nature; that’s how we like it.
Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina all have international airports that service major destinations in Canada, the United States, and in the case of Winnipeg, overseas.
The three major air carriers servicing Saskatchewan are the Canadian carriers Air Canada and West Jet, and Northwest Airlines out of the US. If you are flying between Canadian cities, West Jet is invariably your best price option; tickets generally cost about half of the comparable Air Canada fare.
In addition to these three carriers, Winnipeg is also serviced by the charter airline Canada 3000, which serves international vacation destinations, and often sells-off unsold seats for budget prices.
Canada’s classic train journey, the Canadian (which travels from Toronto to Vancouver), passes through Saskatoon and Winnipeg. The train has been recently renovated into its original art deco style, and is a convenient, comfortable and affordable mode of transport. Be warned, however, that the train pulls into Saskatoon at 2:30 in the morning; unless you have accommodation pre-booked, be prepared to nap in the station.
Some sample train fares, as of July 2001:
Greyhound travels through a number of communities along major routes in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Transport Company links almost all the small communities in Saskatchewan with an efficient bus system.
If you are coming to the Prairies by car, the major route of entry is the Trans-Canada Highway, which travels through Winnipeg, Regina, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current. Saskatoon lies on the Yellowhead highway, in between Edmonton and Winnipeg, and can also be reached via Highway 4 from Calgary.
There are a dozen border crossings between the US and the Prairie region. The two largest, 24-hour ports are: in Saskatchewan, en route from Minot, North Dakota to North Portal on Highway 52; and Emerson, Manitoba, on the I-29 from North Dakota. There are number of other border crossings along both Montana and North Dakota, with differing hours of operation and facilities. Check with Canada Customs for more details on these points of entry.