The Riverlands Heritage Preservation Region is located in what is called the Aspen Parkland. It is part of a transition zone between the dry grasslands to the south and the boreal forest to the north and extends from southwest Manitoba to the northwest through Saskatchewan and into central Alberta. Before settlement and increased agriculture uses, bison roamed this region for many thousands of years.
The Aspen Parkland is characterized by open plantings of trembling aspen and oak groves, mixed tall shrubs, and intermittent fescue grasslands. The region is covered by balsam poplar tress; white spruce and balsam fir trees can also be found, as well as some creeping juniper.
The Aspen Parkland has some of the most productive agricultural land in the prairies and much of the ecoregion has been converted to agriculture. The soil in the area is very rich and dark, know as ‘Czernozem’, which means ‘black soil’ in Russian. The richness of the soil produces a wide variety of crops, visible when visiting the area during growing season.
BIRDS & WILDLIFE
The landscape in the area has many “tree-ringed, small lakes, ponds, and sloughs that provide a major habitat for waterfowl”. More than 200 species of birds live in the Riverlands territory. Too many to name here, they include various varieties of ducks, grebes, purple martins, hawks, magpies, waxwings, burrowing owls, eagles and egrets. Pelicans are also known to breed in the area. Riverlands is also home to various kinds of butterflies.
More than 50 species of mammals live in the area, including various kinds of shrews and bats, rabbits and hares, chipmunks and squirrels, muskrat, porcupine, beaver, wolves, coyote, weasel, badger, deer, moose, lynx, mountain lion, and bear. Amphibians and reptiles can be found in the area. Almost all species are native to North America.
The North Saskatchewan River starts from the Saskatchewan Glacier, which is located in the Columbia Icefields in Alberta. Its water source is mostly melted snow and rainfall from the Rocky Mountains. The North and South Saskatchewan Rivers join to make the Saskatchewan River east of Prince Albert and it empties into Lake Winnipeg.
Many different fish species live in the river. It is a home for 27 different species of native fish, such as Walleye, Burbot, Northern Pike, Sauger, and Lake Sturgeon.
Indigenous people have lived on the North Saskatchewan River for more than 10,000 years. For them, the river was a source of food because they used it for fishing. It was also an important transportation route. With the river, it was easier to trade, first, with other bands, and later than with European traders who also used the river to explore the land. In the 18th century, when traders began to move to the west of the country, almost half came from along the North Saskatchewan River.
The Riverlands Heritage Preservation Region offers many opportunities to appreciate the beautiful river valley, to fish, canoe and explore, and pause for picnic lunch along your way.