Story by Jenn Smith Nelson
LUMSDEN, SASKATCHEWAN — The small town of Lumsden, perfectly positioned in the Qu’Appelle Valley, teems with charm and beauty thanks to its hilly panorama. These days, there’s much more to enjoy than the view.
An award-winning distillery and organic fruit orchard producing tasty takeaways are driving traffic to the small town of about 1,600. Quirky shops on Main Street, nearby nature activities, lakes and golf courses also add to its allure. A mere 15 minutes from Regina, Lumsden offers a sweet reprieve from the city.
Creative Spirits at Last Mountain Distillery
Leaving their banking and finance jobs behind, Meredith and Colin Schmidt moved to the province in 2008 and started the distillery two years later, running it out of their garage. Now in a much larger facility they continue to produce mainly vodka and whiskey, each batch handcrafted. With the flexibility of artisan distilling, the couple enjoys creating batches of specialty spirits. One such product gaining notoriety these days is their dill pickle vodka.
Made much the same way as pickles, only with a substitution of vinegar for vodka, this is a match made in heaven for salty palates. Best use for it? Pair it with a summer Caesar.
Last Mountain products can be found at Regina and Saskatoon farmers’ markets and off sales throughout southern Saskatchewan.
Don’t miss: Try the Private Reserve Whisky ($50 for a 750 ml bottle; winner at the Sippin’ Whisky of the Year at the Canadian Whisky Awards). Tours available ($7-$10 per person).
Tasty Organics from Over the Hill Orchards
Cherries on the prairies? Sounds a bit odd maybe, but in fact there is a lot of cherry growing going on these days — a reason why Over the Hill Orchards has expanded its product offerings.
For more than a decade, the orchards have been beating the (weather) odds, producing hearty fruits, expanding year by year. Dean and Sylvia Kreutzer have built on the popularity of their “prairie cherries” and now grow up to 11 kinds of fruit each year, including apples, apricots, grapes and special varieties of strawberries.
With over 3,000 cherry trees, the “prairie cherries” (botanically known as dwarf sour cherries) are a well-known provincial sensation and a match made in heaven when covered in milk and dark chocolate. But other products are quickly gaining in popularity.
Over the Hills Orchard jams, spreads and juices, all organic (and gluten free) can be purchased at the farm, farmers’ markets and within local shops like Last Mountain Distillery.
Don’t miss: Try the Cherry Juice ($3-$9) – it’s like drinking a cherry pie! Flavourful, tart and sweet. And, since we were just on the subject of mixology — why not use the juice and mix it with a Last Mountain vodka? Just a thought.
Tours available ($10 per person, includes a slice of cherry pie).
Other stops to make while visiting Lumsden:
Boutique shopping: Lumsden’s boutique shops offer a hip, friendly and urban appeal. Conveniently housed together in the same building is clothing store Three and La Vault, which offers eclectic upcycled/recycled home décor. Across the street is the nifty Painted Parasol, which sells a mish-mash of knick knacks.
Delicious baked goods: Make a stop at the Fourth and James Bakery if hunger strikes. Expect good coffee and fresh, delectable baked goods. Get there early though as this yummy eatery isn’t exactly a well-kept secret — people know about it, love it and empty the store shelves quickly — especially on the weekend.
Don’t miss: The Parmesan pretzel (only available Saturdays).
Horseback Riding in Saskatchewan
Take in valley views via horseback at Beaver Creek Ranch & Horse Centre, a working cattle ranch located just minutes from Lumsden and spread over 200 acres of rolling hills in the Qu’Appelle Valley. It offers horseback riding and home-cooked cowboy fare.
Don’t miss: Try the “cowboy sampler” barbecue.
Get Some Green Time In at Deer Valley
If some swing suits your style, play a quick nine or 18 at Deer Valley, a championship golf course. Situated along Wascana Creek, the course measures almost 6,800 yards from the back tees.
Family Fun at Pumpkin Hollow
A visit to Pumpkin Hollow is a treat for children of any age. How can you go wrong with a fun but challenging corn maze, a giant pillow trampoline, kiddie corral, hay jumps, pony rides and more?