Great Wall of Saskatchewan - While backroading the small towns of eastern AB and western SK, we stumbled upon a little known attraction-The Great Wall of Saskatchewan! I'm probably safe to assume you didn't know that it existed! At least we certainly didn't; I lived in Saskatchewan for a few years and did a lot of touring around. Yet I had never heard of it and never noticed it on the map before?
This trip included some geo-caching and we wanted to get one near Smiley, Saskatchewan. (You get a smiley face on your map when you find a cache, so it only made sense we needed one there.) Funny enough, when I zoomed in on the map of the surrounding area, I saw something that caught my eye "The Great Wall of Saskatchwan". I asked the other 2 people in the vehicle if they had ever heard of it...nope. So off we went to check out what we expected to be a tiny little rock pile being called a great wall.
Driving up the street we could see it as we approached. We all had a good laugh but as we got closer we realized how big it really is. Only 1.6 km west of Smiley on a paved road, Hwy 772; the stone wall runs along the south side of the highway, east of a small lake. Built by Albert Johnson, this cool hand crafted stone structure is almost a kilometer long with a base of 6 feet and reaching up to 12 feet high in some spots, it's definitely a marvel to see. According to legends from the Johnson family, young Albert began building mini stone walls many years ago, to give himself shade in the treeless prairies while watching the family’s cattle grazing in the fields. The 1st rock was laid in 1962 and the last rock was placed in 1991 at the age of 82. An impressive amount of time and determination went into building this for the world to see.
About halfway down the "Stonewall road" as you're driving along, you notice a very unique building, a sod house! We had to stop to check it out and were very happy to see a guest book inside that we all signed and took a moment to see who else had stopped at this little known adventure destination. The house was an idea from a local Seniors Group in the late 80's who wanted to build a sod house replica and Albert Johnson knew of the perfect location! It was very interesting to go inside and see all the early settlers furniture they decorated with. Just the fact that the house is still standing in 2021 is impressive.
The Great Wall located west of Saskatoon, Canada just northwest of Kindersley Saskatchewan is not going anywhere anytime soon. Although some spots along the wall are succumbing to the elements with year upon year of wind, snow and ice, it's barely budged considering it's age. What a simple idea, yet such very strong statement to a life's work. It's built in such a way that no mortar was used. Each stone working together to stay in place for decades. Albert Johnson unfortunately passed away in 2001 but the wall remains, standing strong and tall almost 60 years since the 1st stone was placed.
Smiley Saskatchewan is a tiny spot on the map, but the things you can find on your way there, if you just take a moment to explore off the main roads, will surprise you. Hopefully this amazing piece of work will remain for many more years to fascinate people of all ages. Highly recommend taking a trip through Saskatchewan to find Canada's "Great Wall".
© All photo credits to Andrea Horning