Do you know the meaning of the word, “Batoche”?
Trick question— no one knows what “Batoche” actually means. Xavier Latandre, who was known as “Mr. Batoche” founded the community back in 1872.
The Carlton Trail stretched between Fort Edmonton and Fort Garry, making Batoche a convenient stop along the way. By 1885, Batoche was a booming community with about 1500 people in the area. Compare that to Saskatoon's 60 habitants, and you can't help but wonder how one community grew, and the other disappeared off the map. The answer: the CN Rail. After Major General Fredrick Middleton won the Battle of Batoche in 1885, the Canadian Government decided to avoid Batoche and run the railway through Duck Lake instead.
History can be complicated, but at the Batoche National Historic Site, I found it easy to put two and two together. This Canadian historic site is beautifully maintained. I loved how many of the interpreters wore 1885 period clothing, especially on the 'Journey Through Time' tour. Everyone who worked on site was knowledgeable, and there were many kids’ activities to make the learning as interactive as possible.
I have fond memories of visiting the Batoche Heritage site back when I was a kid, and I must say that it was great to visit the site again and get a refresher on my Canadian History. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!
After my tour of the Batoche Heritage Site, I hit up a popular french festival, La Fête Fransaskoise.
La Fête Fransaskoise – known as “The Party of Parties” is a celebration of French culture in Saskatchewan. In case you are wondering, “Fransaskois” is the term used for the francophone (french-speaking) people who live in Saskatchewan. And get this – there are 47,000 people in Saskatchewan who can converse in French. La Fête Fransaskoise has been a summer tradition for the past 30 years.
Originally, the festival toured around the province, taking place in a different French community every summer. Today, the festival is held at the Back to Batoche Site—a perfect location with tons of campsites, a canteen and a huge outdoor, covered stage area.
La Fête Fransaskoise is a chance for francophones to reunite and share their culture. Friday night started out with local singer-song writer, Sylvie Walker, followed by Regina-based band, Indigo Joseph. The night finished off with Shawn Jobin, a Saskatchewan local, with featured guest, Ivy, from Quebec.
After the main stage performances, the party continued for many of the younger Fransaskois down in the camping area. There was a bonfire which was an excellent chance for friends to catch up. A DJ also blasted out dance music that continued into the wee hours of the morning. There were even people hula-hooping with fire! I also gave it a try!
La Fête Fransaskoise opened up my eyes to the French culture of Saskatchewan. Being one of Canada's official languages, it was great to experience the language in Saskatchewan. You don't need to speak French to enjoy the festival, it is open to everyone.
If you have the chance next year, both La Fête Fransaskoise and the Batoche National Historic Site are worth a visit.
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