The province of Saskatchewan is in the Great Plains region. It is bordered by Manitoba (E), Alberta (W), the United States (S) and the Northwest Territories (N). The southern border is the 49th parallel (which is the United States/Canada boundary). The 60th parallel is the northern boundary. Its shape resembles a rectangle. The area is 652,330 sq km (251,866 sq mi). Saskatchewan ranks fifth in size among the provinces of Canada.
NATURAL REGIONSSaskatchewan lies in two major natural regions: the Canadian Shield (north) and the Interior Plains (south).
The CANADIAN SHIELD makes up about forty percent of the surface area .
South of the shield are the INTERIOR PLAINS. In the time of glaciers most of this lowland was under the waters of Lake Agassiz, a prehistoric lake. During the Ice Age a great delta ( deposits of earth and sand ) was formed. The Plains region is mostly flat with some gently rolling hills and valleys.
- area - Its southern edge begins north of the Saskatchewan River at the Manitoba border, continues west-northwest across the province, through Lac La Ronge to the Alberta boundary south of Lake Athabasca.
- landscape -The shield is an area of very old rocks which came from ancient mountains. Great glaciers moved across the shield creating an area dotted with thousands of lakes, rivers and bogs (poorly drained land).
GRASSLAND, PARKLAND AND FORESTSaskatchewan has three natural VEGETATION REGIONS - the grassland (south), the parkland (central) and the boreal forest (north). Each region has different soil and different plant growth.
Although Saskatchewan is one of the Prairie provinces, only a little more than one-fourth is "true prairie" . The original grasslands of Saskatchewan disappeared as settlers arrived and began to farm. The prairies are divided into
- tallgrass prairies (across the province through Regina and Saskatoon.)
- shortgrass prairie (farther southwest, less rainfall)
North of the prairies is an area between the grasslands and the forests called the parklands or aspen grove belt. Deciduous trees (aspen, poplar and birch) grow in the southern region. Deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall. Coniferous trees (spruce and pine) grow in the northern part of the region. There are patches of trees (called bluffs) and tall grasses. Settlers who came to the parklands cut down most of the aspen groves.
The remainder of the province is forest . Coniferous trees grow in this region. The poorly drained areas are called muskeg (swampy land where moss and water plants grow).
THE LAND - highs and lows, sand dunes, buttes
- Saskatchewan is not just flat land where you can see for miles and miles. There are some rolling rounded hills and valleys.
- The highest spot (1392 meters or 4567 ft. above sea level) is in the Cypress Hills in the southwest corner of the province. This is the highest spot in Canada between Labrador and the Rockies.
- Another high point in the southwest corner of the province is called the 70-mile Butte. Here the ground rises 100 meters above the valley floor in Grasslands National Park.
- The Badlands of south central Saskatchewan have unsually shaped rocks, sandstone buttes and cliffs.
- The lowest spot in Saskatchewan is Lake Athabasca in the northwest part of the province. Here it is 213 meters above sea level ( 699 ft.)
- The Athabasca Sand Dunes along the south shore of the lake are the largest dune fields in Canada. How were the dunes formed ? The glaciers deposited the sandstone. Then as the glacial lakes dried up, the wind caused the sand to form in piles called dunes. Some of the dunes are up to 30 meters high and 1500 meters long.
- Desert-like sand dune areas can be seen at the Great Sand Hills , Douglas Provincial Park and Good Spirit Lake.
RIVERS AND LAKESMore than twelve percent of Saskatchewan is covered by lakes and rivers. Over 100,000 of the lakes and rivers are in the northern half of the province in the Canadian Shield.
There are two large freshwater lakes - Lake Athabasca and Reindeer Lake. Part of Lake Athabasca is in Alberta, and a small part of Reindeer Lake is in Manitoba. Other large lakes in Saskatchewan are Wollaston Lake, Cree Lake, and Lac La Ronge.
Lake Diefenbaker is a large body of water that was formed in 1967 when Gardiner Dam was built on the South Saskatchewan River.
There are three major rivers in the province - the Assiniboine, the North and South Saskatchewan and the Churchill River. Other rivers are the Qu'Appelle, the Frenchman River and the Souris River.
The Qu'Appelle weaves its way across southern Saskatchewan with a string of eight lakes from Buffalo Pound (west) to Round Lake and Crooked Lake (east). The scenic Qu'Appelle Valley is a recreational playground.
Saskatchewan also has numerous wetland areas (lakes, flats and marshes) where waterfowl and shorebirds gather in large numbers.
North of Lake Athabasca on the Grease River is Hunt Falls. The falls drop 15 meters (nearly 50 ft.) and are 60 meters wide ( 197 feet ). Some other falls are Nistowiak Falls, Smoothrock Falls, MacFarlane River Falls and Elizabeth Falls.
Geography of Saskatchewan - Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan
Ecoregions of Saskatchewan University of Saskatchewan
map of the Ecoregions of Saskatchewan