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If you are planning a family vacation in Saskatchewan, consider a bed and breakfast. Kids especially love B&Bs on farms and guest ranches.

Popular in Europe for decades, bed and breakfasts only began to appear in Canada in 1972. Today, these family-owned lodgings stretch from coast to coast. The Saskatchewan Bed and Breakfast Association (SBBA) lists names, addresses, phone numbers and websites for more than 75 city and country guest houses, vacation farms and guest ranch B&Bs.

Girls holds lamb at vacation farm.
Girls holds lamb at vacation farm.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Accommodations on farms

Don't expect a Hilton in a Saskatchewan B&B. Unlike hotels and motels, each vacation farm is unique, except for the bed, breakfast and some of the warmest hospitality you'll encounter anywhere.

So don't be surprised to encounter a cat snoozing on a rocking chair or, as we discovered during our trip, kids' paintings on the fridge and cowboy boots lined up by the door.

Staying at a B&B

We experienced a typical bed and breakfast stay at a working farm in southern Saskatchewan. Because we arrived late, we stayed up just long enough to join our hosts, Debbie and Len, for tea and homemade chocolate cookies, before settling into the cozy bedroom next to the kitchen.

The appealing scent of frying bacon woke us up. Or, maybe, it was the birds singing, or the baaing of sheep. Having slept soundly, we woke refreshed, eager to explore our surroundings.

Farm breakfast

Breakfast was tasty and plentiful: fresh fruit, bacon, eggs and toast made from homemade bread. Debbie, Len and their two children joined us for breakfast.

Feeding sheep
Feeding sheep
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Debbie even shared her bread-making secrets with us, which we put into practice a few weeks later, with successful results. "I sometimes make pancakes or bran muffins," she said, "but I always make full breakfasts."

We would gladly travel to Saskatchewan again just to sample her homemade chokecherry syrup. Debbie not only picks chokecherries, but also buffalo berries and saskatoon berries to make into pies and jams.

Gift certificates

"I also pack lunches, make dinner and do laundry, on request," said Debbie. Judging by the size of her bountiful garden outside, plenty of fresh vegetables on likely on the menu. Meal prices were a bargain.

Compared to B&Bs in California and Europe, the cost of a farm vacation in Saskatchewan is hard to beat, especially compared to hotels. Saskatchewan Bed and Breakfast Association sells bed and breakfast gift certificates in multiples of $50.

Things to do

We learned that our bed and breakfast was located near Grasslands National Park, where you can see prairie dog colonies, coyotes, antelope, white-tailed deer, badgers, foxes and golden eagles.

Boy rides sheep (mutton-busting).
Boy rides sheep (mutton-busting).
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

"One fall, we saw 300 antelope crossing the fields together," said Len. "We felt as if we were in Africa."

Family vacation

For parents with children, the real pleasure of a country vacation is the opportunity to participate in farm life. Kids' activities can include milking cows, gathering eggs, driving a tractor, picking berries and feeding animals.

We watched a boy mutton-busting (a kid's version of bareback-riding, on a ram rather than a horse). His sister had fun feeding sheep and cuddling lambs.

Our hosts could also make arrangements with local families for chuckwagon rides through the Saskatchewan countryside. Horseback riding is especially popular. "We watch our guests ride in the pen, and if we feel they can handle the horses, we let them free to roam the ranch," explained Len.

Family rides horses across prairie grass.
Family rides horses across prairie grass.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Depending on the time of year, guests can help round up cattle, or visit a First Nations archeological site and a natural corral, once used by horse-thieves. "It's surrounded on three sides by hills," explained Debbie. "The cattle get in, but can't find their way out."

Our brief visit whetted our appetites for more B&Bs in Saskatchewan. As we got in the car, the entire family, and even the family dog gathered to see us off. It was obvious that owners of vacation farms enjoy their guests as much as their guests enjoy them.


Saskatchewan Bed and Breakfast Association: www.bbsask.ca

Tourism Saskatchewan: www.tourismsaskatchewan.com

More things to see & do in Saskatchewan

Big Muddy Saskatchewan Tour

Wood Mountain Stampede and Rodeo Ranch Museum

Canada Historic Sites - Fort Walsh Saskatchewan

RCMP Heritage Centre and Training Academy Tours

Eastend Saskatchewan T. Rex Discovery Tour