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When you see Ashlyn George’s lifestyle of being a globe-trotting writer, blogger, and online personality, one would never know she was intended to be a high school teacher. Upon completing two degrees in 2010, Ashlyn booked a flight around the world and never looked back. In 2015, she became the official travel blogger and online personality for the province of Saskatchewan (The Saskatchewanderer) and now runs a successful blog, The Lost Girls Guide. We caught up with Ashlyn to get her recommendations for things to do in her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
What do you love most about your hometown?
Saskatoon is the perfect sized city – big enough to have all the amenities but small enough you can bump into people you know while running errands.
What are your favourite things to do in your hometown?
I love exploring the Meewasin Valley Trails and the riverbank that bisects the city – whether by foot or on my bike. I often meet up with friends by the river to hang out or visit some of the great shops and restaurants nearby.
Where are your favourite places to eat?
I love picnics with friends – whether we make it or grab take out from one of the city’s food trucks to enjoy in the many green spaces in Saskatoon. Rural Saskatchewan also has some amazing restaurants to road trip out to, in particular, JB’s Bistro in Mortlach for brunch and my all time favourite, Harvest Eatery and Fresh Market in Shaunavan.
Where are your favourite places to go out?
I am an outdoors kind of girl so most weekends you’ll find me heading out of the city for a range of activities in the province. In summer I like to camp, hike and bike. Recently I completed my introductory course on whitewater canoeing in Northern Saskatchewan (the Boreal forest is one of my favourite places to adventure). In the winter I like to cross-country ski, snowmobile and snowboard. We don’t have mountains here, but we do have some decent sized hills. I have yet to ice fish but I’m hoping to try it out this winter.
The Boreal forest is one of my favourite places to adventure
Do you have any activities or adventures that remind you of home?
As I spend a lot of time travelling globally, I love coming back to Saskatchewan and adventuring locally. The best part is that you can have just as many awe-inspiring adventures here in the province as you can throughout the rest of Canada or even the world. Dog-sledding, wind surfing, and even skydiving – you can definitely get an adrenaline fix here.
What is it about your hometown that makes it unique?
Saskatoon is such a culturally diverse city. I love walking into a local coffee shop and hearing five different languages being spoken and the locals teaming up and playing dominoes or card games. The city also offers a wide variety of restaurants as well as festivals throughout the year. There’s never a dull evening in the Paris of the Prairies.
As I spend a lot of time travelling globally, I love coming back to Saskatchewan and adventuring locally.
What is it about your hometown that inspires you?
The level of opportunity in Saskatoon (and Saskatchewan) is fantastic and there are so many young people pursuing their dreams here. Not only is it great to connect with other like-minded individuals but it’s helpful to have a solid support system of people who truly want you to achieve your best. It’s through this support that I’ve been able to find success and why I keep coming home between trips.
When did you decide to travel instead of becoming a high school teacher?
The summer after I completed my degrees I had a job interview unexpectedly fall into place. I walked out of that teaching opportunity hoping they wouldn’t select me so I could spend some time travelling. And thankfully, they didn’t. That enabled me to design a five-year travel plan that changed my life. Things always seem to work out for a reason, don’t they?
How does Canada, as a travel destination, compare to other places you have travelled?
Canada is bursting with some pretty epic adventures whether in the mountains of the west, along the rolling prairies in the middle or the coastal towns in the east. You can experience anything and everything in Canada and the space to enjoy a bit of solitude while doing it – I love that we have so much space to explore and so many real adventures you can go on. I plan to spend my whole life exploring this country as there are just so many things to see and do.
I walked out of that teaching opportunity hoping they wouldn’t select me so I could spend some time travelling. And thankfully, they didn’t.
Can you tell us a little about your experience as the Saskatchewanderer?
I was hired as the official travel blogger and online personality for the Government of Saskatchewan for one year in 2015. Essentially, I was able to experience the best of living, working and playing in my home province. I was fortunate to experience everything from the great food we not only grow and produce in the province but the technology we’ve built to make food production more safe and efficient. I was also able to explore some beautiful places in the province that few people are aware of. One of my favourites? The Sand Castle and Sunken Hill Trail near Beechy, Saskatchewan. It was great to share my adventures publicly with people who are just as passionate about Saskatchewan as I am.
What was the best day or trip that you got to experience through that program?
It really is hard to choose as I had so many extraordinary experiences in Saskatchewan. My top three? Flying with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds demonstration team out of Moose Jaw, driving my own team of Alaskan Huskies near La Ronge, and racing a stock car at the Estevan Motor Speedway. Can I add a fourth? Learning how to windsurf at Lake Diefenbaker with the Saskatchewan Windriders. Saskatchewan offers so many outdoor adventure activities but it’s not something people are used to thinking about.