I don’t know what my son finds so electric about spinning a metal steering wheel that’s sticking out of the ground, but after nine or ten rotations the water predictably cascades from the nearby ‘Fisherman’s Net’ umbrella-like structure. As the water bounces off the pavement, every face in the spray park immediately lights up…and my son’s face beams the brightest.
At 10 years old, I hope he’s not old enough to already feel the happy/sad sandwich of nostalgia, but as he continues to outgrow our usual summer traditions, he still insists on visiting The River Landing Spray Park at least once per summer.
Designed as a scale three dimensional map of the Saskatchewan Water Basin, it stretches from Mountain Waters to Hudson Bay with every step you take reflecting 100 kilometers.
Yes, it sprays water….but drenches you in geography. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I can still remember the first time we came here. I helped navigate him through the ankle deep water and silently protested “there’s no way Lake Winnipeg is THAT much bigger than Lake Manitoba”. Google would later confirm it was.
As you re-familiarize yourself with landmarks like Gardiner Dam and Fort Vermillion you have to appreciate the location of the actual water spray feature itself. Built in the heart of downtown Saskatoon and overlooking the South Saskatchewan River, it’s a beautiful setting and one that covers all your needs for a flawless summer afternoon.
For the parents…. it’s free, there are benches, large areas of grass, shade and a snack shop to purchase coffee and ice cream. For the kids…well, every few feet there’s something ready to expel water in your face. There’s a giant sturgeon statue that sprays water, an irrigation-tower-thingy that sprays water, the aforementioned giant fisherman’s net that sprays water…and holes in the ground that also shoot water at random intervals. (Maybe the developers ran out of ideas at this point? Who cares? The ground holes are an awesome unexpected surprise!)
As my son continues to spin the wheel, I catch glimpses of ‘my little boy’. He’s still buried in there somewhere, unlocked by the memories of the many hours spent here as a toddler…. and it’s comforting, as everywhere else I look I’m confronted by change. To the right: construction on the new Mendel Art Gallery continues. To the left: the middle 1/3rd of the Victoria Bridge remains unreachable in the centre of the river (the City recently….and dramatically, blew up the 1st and 3rd sections) and behind us the Meewasin Valley Centre, after 37 years of crafts and puppet shows, closed its doors for good this past June.
But none of that matters right now because I’m on my second cup of coffee, my 10-year-old is laughing like a giddy 4-year-old and I’m soaking up every second of it, because by next summer he might be “too old” to get his pant legs wet on our annual pilgrimage from the Nelson River to Drumheller.
Address: 414 Spadina Crescent East, Saskatoon