Amy Wall stands on the Meewasin Trail

Five things you may not know about Meewasin

Ask almost any runner in Saskatoon about their favourite place to run and their answer will be the same: the Meewasin Trail network.

The dozens of kilometres of multi-use trails that snake along the South Saskatchewan River are maintained by Meewasin, a non-profit organization that runs off of donations and government funding. The Saskatoon Road Runners Association, which hosts the Saskatchewan Marathon, has a long history of raising funds for Meewasin. Participants of last year’s virtual Saskatchewan Marathon were invited to donate to the organization when they registered — and collectively gave more than $5,500.

The money flowing from runners to the non-profit is expected to be higher this year as the SRRA and Meewasin announced a formalized partnership, with all proceeds from the Saskatchewan Marathon going to Meewasin for the next five years.

“We are so excited to be formalizing a long and successful partnership between Meewasin and the Saskatoon Road Runners through the Saskatchewan Marathon,” said Amy Wall, Meewasin’s manager of marketing and fund development. “People love to run for a good cause, and what better than the trail so many are training on.”

Money from the Saskatchewan Marathon will go toward developing new trail and enhancing trail sections that need an upgrade.

The Meewasin Trail
The Meewasin Trail network.

Here are five things you might not know about Meewasin:

  1. Meewasin was founded in 1979 as a partnership between the City of Saskatoon, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan as the solution to protecting Saskatoon’s most valuable asset: the South Saskatchewan river valley. The name comes from the Cree word miýwâsin, which means “it is beautiful.” In addition to maintaining the river valley trail system, the organization reviews developments near the river and conducts public hearings on them.
  2. The next sections of trails to be enhanced are around Kinsmen Park, with work around Kiwanis Park also possible this year if funding is available. Work by Kinsmen Park includes widening existing trail to six metres, planting new vegetation, combining the two existing parking lots into one and improving lighting.
  3. Meewasin is busy — and not just Saskatchewan busy; we’re talking big-city busy. The trail logged 2.24 million visits last year, up from 1.87 million in 2020. “This is on par with river cities like Chicago and San Antonio for the number of visitors,” Wall points out. “The Meewasin Trail has been a major resource for physical and mental health throughout the pandemic; and numbers show that”.
  4. The Meewasin Valley is huge, covering 6,700 hectares. That’s the equivalent of 13,400 football fields. Within that you can find more than 105 kilometres of trails that take runners and cyclists over, under and past seven bridges from the Gordie Howe Bridge in the south to the Chief Mistawasis Bridge in the north. Runners looking to get some mileage can follow the Meewasin north roughly 20 kilometers from the Gordie Howe Bridge to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, which includes the new Southwest development.
  5. The names of the Saskatchewan Marathon victors winners are immortalized on bricks near the Diefenbaker Centre. If you go looking, you can find Brainsport owner Brian Michasiw’s name six times for his victories in 1992, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2013. New bricks are installed each summer with the names of the runners who won the race that spring. . While the victors winners of the 2020 and 2021 virtual races did not get bricks with their names, the winners of this year’s in-person race can expect to be added to the path of fame.

To learn more about the Meewasin, visit its website. To register for the Saskatchewan Marathon go online.