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The Saskatchewanderer

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With over half of the landscape being covered by forest, one-third by farmland and one-eighth by freshwater, Saskatchewan is 651,900 kms² of adventure just waiting to be explored by residents and tourists alike.

Photos taken by the Saskatchewanderer
Left: National Indigenous People’s Day. Right: Narrow Hills Provincial Park. (Photos: Andrew Hiltz)

Saskatchewan has many rich and diverse stories to tell and beautiful places worth exploring, and the innovative staff in the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport and Tourism Saskatchewan have always known the world could use a little more Saskatchewan.

That's why we scouted high and low across the province to find a person who could create organic, user-generated content showcasing the province as the best place to live, work and play. This person needed to create informative and interesting content engaging audiences near and far. We found our first Saskatchewanderer in 2011.

The Saskatchewanderer started off as a summer student position, quickly expanding to a year-long role in 2014. For the first time, the Saskatchewanderer program welcomes a new title sponsor, Conexus Credit Union. Conexus is a Saskatchewan-based and owned co-operative, helping to improve the financial well-being of its members and communities. As a contributing sponsor, Conexus Credit Union will help ensure the program continues so that all great Saskatchewan stories can be told.

A partner from the inception of the program, CAA Saskatchewan continues as the official vehicle sponsor. The Wanderer will be safer behind the wheel, thanks to CAA for providing a vehicle, a CAA Saskatchewan membership, and gas vouchers.

Musician, self-proclaimed digital fanatic and voiceover artist, Leah Mertz has officially been announced as the 2020 Saskatchewanderer. Hailing from Saskatoon, Leah has plans to explore Saskatchewan and connect with the residents who make this province such a wonderful place to live and visit.

2020 Saskatchewanderer Leah Mertz
2020 Saskatchewanderer Leah Mertz

"I've always had an innate passion for storytelling and sharing people's voices no matter how big or small. The people are what makes this province great, and I will work closely with everyone I meet to honour Saskatchewan's cultural vibrancy, entrepreneurial spirit, vast diversity and beautiful landscape," Leah Mertz, 2020 Saskatchewanderer said. "I grew up on the prairies, and despite living all across Canada the past decade, I knew the prairies were where I was meant to be. More specifically, I knew Saskatchewan was where I was meant to be. I look forward to continuing the great work of the previous wanderers and, with your help, tell your stories and showcase this province like never before. It's 2020 and we're going big!"

The program is now in its 10th year as a successful marketing tool showcasing our province and all it has to offer. With nearly 100,000 followers, Leah will bring a unique perspective as a trained videographer and social media guru.

January 2020 paid homage to this special anniversary and to some special fan favourites over the years.

Ashlyn George, the 2015 Saskatchewanderer, kicked off her "week of wandering" with a cross-country ski trip to Duck Mountain Provincial Park. Ashlyn shared her experience on the trails and showed off the tiny home-style shelters located in the park. Never shying away from winter, Ashlyn enjoyed her week tubing down a toboggan hill and then becoming a tourist in her hometown of Saskatoon where she enjoyed ice skating and special cider at Crossmount. Ashlyn wrapped up her week in Meadow Lake Provincial Park building and then sleeping in her own quinzee in -30 degree weather!

Kevin Dunn, the 2018 Saskatchewanderer, entered as the next week-long wanderer. Kevin kicked things off with a trip to Echo Valley Provincial Park to enjoy "Skate the Park" – a skating loop through one of the campgrounds in the provincial park.

Realizing Saskatchewan offers lots of ways to enjoy winter, both outdoors and indoors, Kevin settled in to enjoy the mineral spas in Moose Jaw at Temple Gardens and the Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral Spa in Watrous. Kevin continued on an action-packed journey, winding up at Alive Sky Lodge where he overnighted in a luxury grain bin-style B&B.

Andrew Hiltz, the 2017 Saskatchewanderer, wrapped up this 10-year celebration by enjoying an epic food-cation. This trip included Solo Italia pizza on top of Castle Butte,

the best donuts in Saskatchewan from the Wadena Bakery,

smoked trout from Robertson Trading at Nistowiak Falls, and many fun and delicious stops in between!

2020 will bring new stories about all Saskatchewan has to offer, as Leah Mertz explains why our province is a great place to live, work, play and visit!

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