Downtown Saskatoon (you may also know it by it’s former name, the Central Business District)
Downtown was originally home to the Canadian National Railway yards. The Qu’Appelle, Long Lake and Saskatchewan Railway reached Saskatoon in 1890 and crossed the South Saskatchewan River where the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge now stands, causing a boom in development on the west side of the river. In 1901, Saskatoon’s population hit 113.
Retail, hotels and services sprung up around the rail yards and eventually became the primary draw to the area. Today, the Midtown Plaza, Saskatoon’s largest shopping mall sits on the site of the CNR Station and has tried to keep it’s architecture alive.
Unlike many downtown cores across Canada, Saskatoon’s core stayed relatively strong through the recession of the 1980s. In recent years the downtown has come alive with businesses such as BHP Billiton, SNC Javelin, and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan either setting up or expanding corporate headquarters. The influx of people working downtown has meant new stores, restaurants, and nightspots appearing up and down 2nd Avenue.
Downtown is also home to the city’s art and convention centre; TCU Place, Persephone Theatre, River Landing and the soon to be completed Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan.
Along the riverbank, the Meewasin Trail guides you along the riverbank as you explore beautiful Kiwanis Park and Friendship Park. Along this stretch of Spadina Crescent you will see St. John’s Cathedral, Knox United Church, St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Sheraton Cavalier, James Hotel and the Bessborough Hotel.
The northern part of downtown is largely residential high rise apartments which are some of Saskatoon’s most desired properties. Close to both downtown and the Meewasin Valley, they do a good job of providing a work/play balance for many.
By the Numbers
- Population | 2,819 (slightly off of the Mayor’s long time goal of 10,000 people downtown)
- Homeownership % | 19.2
- Average Value of Dwelling | $ 366,106
- Average Household Income $ | 59,462
- Average Household Size | 1.4
- Municipal Ward | 6
Where to Eat & Drink
Poached Breakfast Bistro/Flint Saloon
Poached by day and Flint by night, this intimate venue offers great breakfast and appetizer options. This place comes highly recommended and is not to disappoint for a great evening out on the town or as a fun place to gather with friends.
The Rook and Raven
Saskatoon’s premiere location to head after a day of work or shopping with both a great dinner menu and much loved appetizers. It is also a favourite haunt of local politicos and reporters on Monday nights after Saskatoon City Council is finished. You may never know who you will run into.
Bon Temps Cafe
New Orleans inspired scene and menu with mood lighting that will temporarily transplant you. With a party of 6 or more and 24 hour notice, you can partake in the ‘Cajun Spice Boil’ complete with your fair share of crawfish, shrimp, andouille doubloons, potatoes and corn cobettes. Pot clanging and “Laissez les bon temps roulez!” hollering will follow you home.
Winston’s English Pub & Grill & Rembrandt’s
Winston’s Pub is located in the heart of downtown Saskatoon in the historic 100 year old Hotel Senator. Come experience a global tour for your palette, in a local heritage site! Winston’s has gone under many transformations since its beginning. Aside from its aesthetic appeal, the architecture also reflects an evolution in pub culture. The double level floor layout speaks to a time when men and women were segregated in drinking houses; the century old engineered turret rock room offers old world charm. Now, this same brick work is home to over 100 international bottles, cans and 72 taps of local, Canadian, and international stouts, ales, lagers or ciders.
Ayden Kitchen & Bar
Top chef Canada, Dale MacKay recently opened this new and highly anticipated restaurant on 3rd Avenue. It’s a great place to relax after a busy day exploring Saskatoon, even if it does mean losing Souleio from 3rd Avenue.
The Samarai Japanese Restaurant
A Saskatoon institution for 25 years, he Samurai Japanese Restaurant offers seating at their teppanyaki table side preparation tables or at our new sushi bar. Enjoy a spectacular and entertaining cuisine for dinner every time you drop by.
The Bus Stop Refreshments
Delicious summertime treats served from an antique double decker bus, located across from the Delta Bessborough Hotel and Saskatoon’s beautiful downtown riverbank. Open daily from Apr to Oct, weather permitting.
Fantastic collection of Scandinavian and European inspired modern furniture, lighting and decor. Knowledgeable owners source and showcase contemporary pieces made in Canada and do a great job of sharing their passion for design with customers.
This boutique for women has two locations in the city, one on 2nd Avenue and another on Broadway. The Banjo Outpost is it’s sister store for men. Or is that a brother store?
Some of the most unique furniture finds in the city happen at Hiddenstitch. Specializing in handmade, repurposed and vintage home decor, this little shop will be sure to surprise you.
Meewasin Trail (and River Landing)
The Meewasin Valley Trail was named one of the Top 10 Greatest Hikes in Canada by Reader’s Digest Magazine in 2012. The trail runs along both sides of the river, working it’s way under the bridges, and through landscaped parks and natural areas. Residents and visitors flock to the trail to cycle, jog, stroll or simply gaze at the scenery. You can walk it anytime you want. In the summer we recommend getting out and taking your bike for a spin. For those of you just passing through, check out Saskatoon Bicycle Rentals.
Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink
In 2006, Reader’s Digest named the Meewasin Skating Rink the best skating rink in Canada and it has gotten better since then. With two warming shacks, free skates to borrow and it’s free (but accepts donations). One of the best spots in Canada for some winter fun.
SaskTel Jazz Festival (late June)
The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival features a mix of international jazz groups, outstanding Canadian musical artists and talented local musicians playing everything from mainstream jazz to gospel, world-beat to Dixieland and the blues. The festival includes: ticketed and free daily indoor/outdoor performances, late night concerts, riverbank music, a main concert series, and performances in the beautiful Delta Bessborough Gardens.
Taste of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon’s festival of fabulous food will feature 30 of Saskatoon’s finest restaurants serving their house favourite dishes in beautiful Kiwanis Park each July. The menu is outstanding, from succulent entrées to delicious deserts to specialty items.
PotashCorp Fireworks Festival
The hub of activity for the PotashCorp Fireworks Festival is Saskatoon’s spectacular River Landing, along the South Saskatchewan River in the heart of Saskatoon. Live shows take place on Friday and Saturday evenings at two locations: the Amphitheatre at River Landing and across the river in Rotary Park. Both evenings are topped off with a fantastic fireworks display set to music.
The Sturdy Stone Centre
Have you ever pictured in your mind a building that is so ugly, you just have to see it. If you have, you were probably thinking of Saskatoon’s best (worst?) example of brutalist architecture, the Sturdy Stone Building.
Saskatoon has done many things right over the years and to counter those good things, the Sturdy Stone Building was built. This 13 story building was built in the Brutalist style of architecture and opened in 1977. Floors 3 to 7 are used as a parkade, with the remainder of the building being office space. It was designed by the architecture firm of Forrester, Scott, Bowers, Cooper and Walls. Not only is the building truly horrible, they demolished a beautiful building to build it. Sigh. That was called progress at one point in our history.
The James Hotel
Former apartments were converted into this thoughtfully designed boutique hotel. Rooms were designed using an efficient european scale and are complimented by a chic lobby and lounge. This romantic getaway can leave you wondering what city you’re visiting.
Sheraton Cavalier Hotel
Neighbour to the historic Bessborough Hotel, this 8 storey hotel was built in 1960. While the interior has been completely upgraded, the exterior has a fantastic retro feel that continues to age well. Not only is the restaurant a fun place to stay in (with a waterside, It also is a great place to unwind after a long work week as it features the 6Twelve Urban Lounge to boot.
The Delta Bessborough hotel is a four star, ten-story hotel. This historic hotel was built as part of Canadian National Railway expanding rail network to serve passengers. Like most CNR railway hotels, it was built in the chateau style, completed just prior to the Great Depression, and is Saskatoon’s most recognizable landmarks.
The Best of Downtown
Downtown has several great aspects to it but we are going to go with 2nd Avenue. You have the Persephone Theatre and State and Main anchoring the south end of it while a series of shops, restaurants, and pubs line the street for six blocks. It’s one of the best streets of Saskatoon.
The Worst of Downtown
Idylwyld Drive is one of the busiest streets in Saskatoon and looks like it. It’s often dirty, hard to cross, and other than a couple of restaurants, it has few interesting attractions. Hopefully with the north downtown revitalization and changing traffic patterns, Idylwyld Drive can be redesigned as a grand boulevard.
If you are a cyclist, you will notice that Saskatoon has very few cycling paths and none that are separated. It may be a place to avoid during rush hours.
- City Councillor: Charlie Clark (Ward 6)
- MLA: David Forbes (NDP)
- MP: Maurice Vellacott (Conservative)
- Business Improvement District: The Partnership