Andrew Konoff scored one of the best summer jobs in Canadian travel when he was hired as the Saskatchewanderer this year. After submitting a video and online voting, Andrew was selected to travel Saskatchewan all summer, blogging about all the province has to offer at saskatchewanderer.ca. As the summer winds down, we caught up with Andrew to find out what he has loved most about his summer in Saskatchewan.
Q. You have said that there is a perception that Saskatchewan is “flat and boring.” Have you been able to dispel this?
A. I really try to show visitors the whole province. It’s not just flatlands. From the far-northern Uranium City to the Big Muddy Badlands by the U.S. border, every place I’ve seen has been so different from the last that it’s really hard to believe that it’s all in the same province. I have travelled over 12,000 km this summer, and I haven’t come close to seeing everything there is here.
Q. What has been your coolest experience as The Saskatchewanderer so far?
A. If I had to choose one adventure, flying across the Athabasca Sand Dunes —the most northerly sand dunes in the entire world—would be it. It’s one of those places that you really don’t expect at all—Sand dunes in Saskatchewan? The most northerly sand dunes in the world? Yes. It is all here.
Q. What have you learned while exploring your own province?
A. I’ve gone wakeboarding, paddle-boarding, golfing, flying, digging at an archaeology site and a billion other things. I’ve learned something new in each case. I’ve also learned a number of practical skills in this job—I’ve become a better writer, a better interviewer, a more interesting film-maker and way more organized. Toss on some more social media expertise and I have a great skill set.
Q. What are the five can’t-miss experiences if someone is visiting Saskatchewan for the first time?
A. I’ll throw in a healthy mix of what we’re known for, and what we’re not:
- Roughrider games. Go to Taylor Field (well, that’s what the locals still call it – named after Air Force pilot and former Roughrider Neil Taylor, who once lost his glass eye on the pitch after an especially hard tackle) and revel.
- Music festivals. You could go to Saskatoon’s Saskatchewan Jazz Fest, the Craven Country Jamboree, the Ness Creek Music Fest or the Regina Folk Fest and see any number of artists of incredible renown play in a great Saskatchewan setting. Ness Creek’s northern location is probably the most picturesque, though the Jazz Fest’s venue is absolutely awesome.
- Our beer. Bushwakker’s, Paddock Wood, Brewster’s —those are the eldest of our craft brewing institutions, but there are more micro- and nano-breweries being hatched every month.
- The north. The boreal forest is beautiful and eventually it gives way to the Canadian shield—this is not your stereotypical Saskatchewan, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single sheaf of wheat.
- The south. Yeah, it gets beat up a lot for being flat and supposedly boring. But go half an hour in any direction and you’ll find the friendliest people, all of them ready with advice about where to go next. A few stops you can make quite easily off the Trans-Canada highway: Katepwa, Maple Creek and Gravelbourg.
Q. You’ve had the ultimate Saskatchewan experience. What would the ideal Andrew Konoff Great Canadian adventure be?
A. I would probably eat across the country—I’m a huge foodie, and that has sort of seeped into my coverage of Saskatchewan. I’d be sure to highlight craft beer along the way too, of which Saskatchewan has a great tradition. I’d also like to venture off into little-known parks and naturally beautifully areas of the country, because those are things that have been amongst the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in Saskatchewan this summer.